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Artemis I launch attempt set for Tuesday, but possible hurricane could delay plans

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(CAPE CANAVERAL, FL) -- NASA said Friday it is planning its third launch attempt of Artemis I on Sept. 27 after scrubbing the initial endeavor earlier this month.

During a press conference, officials said the launch window will open at 11:37 a.m. ET, but Tropical Depression Nine could delay plans.

Currently, there is only a 20% chance of favorable weather on Tuesday as Tropical Depression Nine heads towards Florida and may make landfall as a major hurricane next week.

However, Tom Whitmeyer, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said the team is not assuming the launch will be canceled just yet.

"It's still a tropical depression number nine, it's not a named storm," Whitmeyer told reporters. "We really want to continue to try to get as much information as we can so we can make the best possible decision for the hardware."

The team said it will continue to monitor the weather and will decide on Saturday whether to continue with the Tuesday launch.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

Since then, engineers and mission managers have been running tests to make sure the rocket is ready during its next attempt.

In a press release, NASA said the Artemis team encountered a hydrogen leak during a test run on Wednesday, but the issue was addressed and resolved.

The process of tanking, which includes filling the rocket's core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was also successful.

"We had a very successful tanking test all of the tanks," John Blevins, NASA's Space Launch System chief engineer, said during the press conference. "We were able to do some things that we won't have to do again, some things that we intended to do even on launch day that were left over from previous dress rehearsals. So, it was a very successful."

If the launch is scrubbed on Sept. 27, the next launch attempt will occur on Sunday, Oct. 2.

If that Oct. 2 is also a no-go, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

Over the course of the Artemis missions, NASA plans to eventually send the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon.

The federal space agency also plans to establish a moon base as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 or 2025.

 

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Artemis I launch attempt scrubbed due to possible hurricane

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- NASA said Saturday that is is scrubbing its third planned launch attempt of Artemis I, that was scheduled for Sept. 27, due to weather concerns. The announcement comes after NASA delayed two previous attempts in recent weeks.

Engineers will wait until Sunday night to decide if the rocket needs to roll back off the launch pad. If they do not roll it back, the next possible launch date is Sunday, Oct. 2.

If they decide to roll it back, that would begin Monday morning.

During a press conference Friday, officials said the launch window would have opened at 11:37 a.m. ET, but Tropical Depression Nine could delay plans.

As of Friday, there is only a 20% chance of favorable weather on Tuesday as Tropical Depression Nine heads towards Florida and may make landfall as a major hurricane next week.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center Track suggests the storm could become a major hurricane next week. It is projected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday into early Thursday as a Category 3 Hurricane.

"It's still a tropical depression number nine, it's not a named storm," Tom Whitmeyer, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, told reporters Friday. "We really want to continue to try to get as much information as we can so we can make the best possible decision for the hardware."

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

Since then, engineers and mission managers have been running tests to make sure the rocket is ready during its next attempt.

In a press release, NASA said the Artemis team encountered a hydrogen leak during a test run on Wednesday, but the issue was addressed and resolved.

The process of tanking, which includes filling the rocket's core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was also successful.

"We had a very successful tanking test all of the tanks," John Blevins, NASA's Space Launch System chief engineer, said during the press conference. "We were able to do some things that we won't have to do again, some things that we intended to do even on launch day that were left over from previous dress rehearsals. So, it was a very successful."

If the Oct. 2 launch is also a no-go, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

Over the course of the Artemis missions, NASA plans to eventually send the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon.

The federal space agency also plans to establish a moon base as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 or 2025.

-ABC News' Daniel Amarante and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report

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Amended Elijah McClain autopsy report to be released

Family photo

(NEW YORK) -- The Adams County Coroner’s Office in Colorado is set to release Elijah McClain's amended autopsy report after several news organizations sued for its release on Friday.

The report was amended based on confidential grand jury information, according to the chief coroner for Adams County.

The release comes before the arraignment of five former Aurora police officers and paramedics in McClain's 2019 death.

McClain, a Black 23-year-old massage therapist, died following an encounter with police in August 2019 while he was walking home from a convenience store.

A passerby had called 911 to report McClain was acting "sketchy" since he was wearing a ski mask on a warm night. The lawyer for the McClain family attributed this to the fact that McClain was anemic, which made him feel cold more easily.

Aurora police officers responded to the scene and confronted McClain. An officer can be heard saying in body camera footage that they put him into a carotid chokehold, which restricts the carotid artery and cuts off blood to the brain, according to the Department of Justice. McClain can be heard saying, "I can't breathe," in police body camera footage.

Paramedics arrived, giving McClain an "excessive" dose of ketamine, according to McCain's lawyer, and McClain suffered from cardiac arrest shortly after in an ambulance, according to officials. McClain was pronounced dead three days later.

Former Aurora Police Officers Jason Rosenblatt, Nathan Woodyard and Randy Roedema as well as paramedics Peter Cichuniec and Jeremy Cooper were charged with 32 criminal counts, including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault charges.

Their arraignment is set for November.

CPR News filed a lawsuit against the Adams County Coroner’s Office on Sept. 1, arguing for the autopsy report to be released. Several other local news organizations joined the effort after open records requests to obtain the report were denied.

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Category 2 hurricane may make landfall in Florida next week: Forecast

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- After a slow start to hurricane season, a Category 2 hurricane may make landfall in Florida next week.

The storm, currently known as Tropical Depression 9, is set to move into the warm waters of the Western Caribbean this weekend and is expected to strengthen to a hurricane by Monday morning.

Models forecast it to hit Florida's west coast during the middle of next week. But details on strength, track and timing could still change.

This would become the fifth hurricane of the season and would be named either Hermine or Ian.

September is the peak month for hurricanes. The season lasts until Nov. 30.

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Families of mass shooting victims find solidarity at US Capitol rally

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(WASHINGTON) -- Survivors and surviving families from at least nine mass shootings in the United States gathered Thursday on Capitol Hill to advocate for a federal assault weapons ban.

Advocacy organization March Fourth held the "Pass the Ban" rally, bringing in survivors from the recent Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, going all the way back to the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

After marches and rallies earlier this year in support of H.R. 1808, which proposes a civilian ban on assault weapons, the bill passed in the House in July and reached the Senate on Aug. 1.

With the Senate in recess for most of August, consideration for the bill has just begun, but it faces a tough road ahead: Senate Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster.

The bill would make it a federal crime to "knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD)."

Dion Green, who survived a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, in 2019, but lost his father in the tragedy, spoke at the rally in support of the legislation.

"We have to continue to come together like this, continue to be the game changers to prevent these events from happening again," Green told ABC News. "Our pain is real, and we're not alone."

Others echoed Green, saying they find solace in the support they're able to give one another, as many families present are still working through their grief from losing loved ones.

Nubia Hogan lost her father, Eduardo Uvaldo, at the July 4 parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. Hogan said she and her sister, Tanya Castro, have chosen to be his voice and advocate for a ban on assault weapons since he cannot speak for himself.

The sisters told ABC News if it takes marching and talking to politicians to prevent another family from being affected by a mass shooting carried out by an assault weapon, that's what they will do.

"These type of things shouldn't be happening. It's just like every month you hear about something going on… you have to put a stop to it…there has to be a change, you know, because families shouldn't have to go through what we're going through," Hogan said.

When it gets tough, they're able to find comfort through fellow shooting victims' family members that advocate alongside them, they said.

"It feels like we're with people that know… that understand us…that really understand us, because they've been through it. They lost someone. There's a connection. It kind of feels like you get an extended family," Hogan said.

The sisters added that knowing other loved ones who have experienced guilt helps them heal and feel less alone.

Jazmin Cazares, sister to 10-year-old Uvalde shooting victim Jacklyn Cazares, said people don't seem to understand the guilt she feels "for even waking up in the morning, let alone having fun," but finds purpose in advocacy.

She told ABC News that families like her own now find themselves in "a club that no one wants to be a part of."

Her father, Javier Cazares, rallied alongside Jazmin, and reflected on the gathering of families.

"Now more than ever we have more families of different shootings. We're a coalition of people from Vegas to everywhere else," Javier Cazares told ABC News.

He added, "We're getting bigger and bigger unfortunately for the same reason—our kids lost. At first you hear us one by one, and now you hear all the voices coming together and it's very powerful."

Survivors from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, who are now seniors in high school, came with the Junior Newtown Action Alliance and urged Senators to pass the assault weapons ban.

"Congress should've banned these weapons of war after Sandy Hook," Leah Crebbin, co-chair of the Junior Newton Action Alliance, said to the crowd. "The acts of terror and atrocities that have been committed will continue to occur if Senators stand by and do nothing."

Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., who authored H.R. 1808, told ABC News via email: "It is always so inspiring to see groups like the one who gathered on Capitol Hill today, though I wish they didn't need to be here. Families shouldn't be forced to demand that their representatives do their jobs and act to keep their communities safe."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New Jersey first state to introduce climate change curriculum in schools

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(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey public school students will be the first in the country required to learn about climate change while in the classroom starting this school year.

"Climate change is becoming a real reality," New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy, who spearheaded the initiative, told "ABC News Live" on Thursday.

The new standards were adopted by the state's board of education in 2020, but because of the pandemic, the roll out was halted, giving educators and districts more time to prepare the lesson plans for all students in grades K-12.

"The districts themselves are able to design whatever it is that the way they want to implement and interpret this new education standard," said Murphy.

Lessons will focus on how climate change has accelerated in recent decades and how it's impacted public health, human society, and contributed to natural disasters.

"You can look around the world, whether it's Pakistan that has a third of the country under water right now, or wildfires raging across the United States, and droughts in Asia," said Murphy. "Here in our own backyard in New Jersey, we have our own challenges. Whether it's sea level rise or microburst or algae blooms."

The program will also introduce students to careers in climate change, as federal and local officials work to combat natural disasters and create a greener economy by adding new jobs and increased funding.

"I want to make sure that the next generation of students and those who come after have the skill set necessary to be able to win and succeed at the incredible jobs that are going to be available as we all shift towards a greener economy," said Murphy.

Last month, President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act was passed, which aims to tackle climate change and analysts believe that it can create as many as 1.5 to 9 million new jobs in construction, manufacturing and service over the next 10 years.

In his first address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, the president said we're "already living in a climate crisis."

"No one seems to doubt it after this past year," Biden said. "Choosing which child to feed and wondering whether they will survive. This is the human cost of climate change. And it is growing."

Over the past few years, many state and local officials have taken action to involve their communities in the fight against climate change. Gov. Phil Murphy allocated $5 million in the fiscal 2023 state budget for climate education in March.

"A top priority of my administration has been to reestablish New Jersey's role as a leader in the fight against climate change," the governor said in a statement.

To help educators adapt to this new curriculum, the state launched the New Jersey Climate Change Education Hub, which gives teachers access to lesson plans, educational videos, and professional development.

The first lady said that while creating this program, she traveled to at least 10-15 schools and found that climate change was already being taught to some degree in most classroom settings. She added that having it as a requirement is necessary to ensure all students have the same learning opportunities, as they do with other required subjects.

Murphy added that within just the first month of the school year, teachers have expressed their excitement towards the curriculum, and that the state "has gotten great initial feedback."

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After Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Ricans are frustrated with electric grid, infrastructure problems

Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Fiona has pummeled Puerto Rico, an island whose infrastructure struggled to recover from the devastating Hurricane Maria that killed almost 3,000 people in 2017.

Fiona left many without electricity and water, including Pedro Julio Serrano, a resident and human rights activist.

"It's not a natural disaster. This is a political disaster," Julio Serrano told ABC News.

Some Puerto Ricans who spoke with ABC News are frustrated with the lack of progress in reconstructing the island so residents no longer have to worry about having running water, electricity, and safe roads, buildings and more.

After Maria, many elderly, sick, and disabled people died because they didn't have the electricity or access to the care and necessities they required, according to Puerto Rican officials. Following Fiona, hospitals and people in need of care have been left scrambling to find generators to support them, according to Puerto Rico's Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

"The vast majority of the people who died [from Maria] was because of incompetence and because people couldn't get their power back for months," Julio Serrano said. "What is happening is criminal."

Some residents said local and federal governments have had several years to fix things.

"We really shouldn't have to be resilient in the 21st century, when we're supposed to be a part of the richest nation in the world," Victor Amauri, referring to Puerto Rico's status as a U.S. territory, told ABC News. Amauri is a resident and spokesperson for Brigada Solidaria del Oeste, a local activist group.

Puerto Rico's electric system has long been unstable, even before Hurricane Maria devastated the island. As a result, blackouts have been a regular part of life for many residents for the last five years, according to island residents.

Those who spoke with ABC News say they blame LUMA, a private company that has operated and managed Puerto Rico's electric power transmission and distribution system since June 2021.

LUMA said it was currently working with customers to restore power and stabilize the grid.

"We will continue to work non-stop until every customer is restored and the entire grid is reenergized" LUMA Public Safety Manager, Abner Gómez, said in a statement. "While these efforts continue over the coming days, we strongly encourage customers to continue to exercise caution and stay away from any downed power lines."

Much of the federal money allocated to help fix the electric grid has not been spent due to disagreements between Puerto Rican officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on how to use it.

LUMA, as well as the Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi, did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Cynthia Burgos López, resident and executive director of La Maraña, a group dedicated to rebuilding Puerto Rico, told ABC News that residents hadn't seen the impact of federal dollars on the island.

"Being a colony from the States, we have a lot of money that's being sent all the time to Puerto Rico, but we have such a corrupt government, that nothing gets to the communities," she said.

Burgos López recalled the long, but recent history of government officials who have been embroiled in corruption scandals.

At least nine Puerto Rican mayors and several other government officials have been arrested on charges of bribery, extortion, and more in recent years.

Residents said they blame the long-standing corruption, under-resourcing and underfunding for why the island was not ready for Fiona, and why it will not be ready for the next storm.

"We know that without Fiona, we were not having light. So with Fiona, we were going to be monthslong without light," Burgos López told ABC News.

Some also told ABC News that barriers imposed by the United States -- such as the enforcement of the Jones Act, which mandates ships carrying goods between U.S. ports to be built in the United States -- have continued to place a financial strain on Puerto Rico and its residents due to increased prices of goods, though it's a furiously debated topic.

For now, residents are working together to ensure their fellow community members get what they need, and not waiting for outside help to touch down on the island. However, some residents and activists plan to protest, and demand action from officials in the wake of the storm's damage.

Amauri said there are long lines to get gasoline, people using generators to refrigerate their food, and residents are scrambling to find clean drinking water.

"People are suffering more each day," he said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Boy, 8, paralyzed in Highland Park shooting returns home

Jason and Keely Roberts

(HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.) -- After a little over two months of hospitalizations and rehabilitation, an 8-year-old boy, who was left paralyzed from the deadly Highland Park, Illinois shooting, was finally able to go home.

Jason and Keely Roberts said they are "at a total loss of words" at how to describe the feeling of having their son, Cooper, at home.

"There was a time, not all that long ago, where we were desperately and feverishly praying just for Cooper to live," the Roberts wrote in a statement Thursday. "To be able to have Cooper home and our family all reunited together again is such an amazing blessing."

Cooper plans on returning to school with his twin brother, Luke, at Braeside Elementary School in Highland Park, where the two can enjoy the third grade together.

Cooper was at his hometown's Fourth of July parade when a shooter opened fire on the marchers and spectators. The suspected gunman, Robert "Bobby" Crimo III, allegedly climbed onto the roof of a building and used a high-powered rifle to kill seven people and leave at least 38 others injured.

Among those injured was Cooper, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury when a bullet went into the child's back and exited through his chest, his mother, who was also shot in two parts of her leg, shared in a statement this summer.

The Roberts family said that they're happy to have Cooper home, but stated it's a difficult transition to "find, renovate or build" a new home that is wheelchair accessible and can work for the family.

Nevertheless, they said they're focusing on the good. Cooper, who has always loved sports, has found a new sport -- wheelchair tennis.

"Cooper is alive and home and our sweet and lovely athletic little boy has made up his mind that he is going to figure out new ways to play sports," the Roberts statement said. "We have no doubt Cooper will be wicked awesome at tennis… and any other sport he decides to play. It will just be different."

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New evidence alleges Ethan Crumbley exhibited more warning signs ahead of school shooting

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(OXFORD, Mich.) --  New evidence uncovered during discovery of the case of Ethan Crumbley allegedly shows that Oxford High School teachers and school officials failed to respond to warning signs exhibited by the accused school shooter in the months leading up to the November 2021 shooting, attorney Ven Johnson, who represents the victims and their families in a lawsuit, told reporters Thursday.

The evidence was allegedly uncovered as several lawsuits against the school, school officials, the school district, Crumbley and his parents have been filed. At least eight lawsuits accuse the school district and others of wrongdoing and failure to act in the months and days leading up to the shooting, despite teachers and counselors allegedly being aware of concerning behavior exhibited by the accused shooter.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot ordered the release of evidence in June, including school surveillance footage from the shooting. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith also enjoined coordinated discovery and other matters for eight civil lawsuits brought against the Oxford, Michigan, school and school officials.

Crumbley, who was a student at the school, is charged with 24 counts after he allegedly shot and killed four of his classmates on Nov. 30, 2021.

His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after allegedly failing to recognize warning signs about their son in the months before the shooting.

All three Crumbleys have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Johnson, in a press conference Thursday, said new details were revealed after deposing teachers and school employees who had direct contact with the accused shooter prior to the Nov. 30 shooting, including email correspondence between school employees and several instances where Crumbley's concerning behavior was not addressed.

Evidence allegedly uncovered included a school assignment submitted by Crumbley in late August 2021 on which he drew what Johnson alleged might be a magazine full of bullets, or a building. In sworn testimony, the teacher who discovered this drawing alleged she only saw the drawing on Nov. 29, just one day before the shooting.

In another instance, a Sept. 8 email from a Spanish teacher to the school's counselor discusses a school assignment in which Crumbley allegedly wrote that he feels "terrible" and that his family "was a mistake," Johnson said on Thursday.

Despite the school counselor being informed of this instance, the counselor allegedly never spoke to Crumbley, Johnson alleged.

Weeks later, a teacher sent an email to the school counselor on Nov. 10 raising concerns about Crumbley, saying he is having a rough time and that he may need to speak to the counselor, Johnson alleged.

The counselor testified in his deposition that he went down to Crumbley's classroom and asked him to step out into the hallway. The counselor then allegedly told Crumbley that if he is having a tough time, the counselor was available to speak with him. Crumbley allegedly responded "okay," according to Johnson.

Johnson criticized the counselor's actions, saying more needed to be done and that the counselor needed to follow up with Crumbley, considering this was the second time concerning behavior had been flagged to the counselor.  According to Johnson, another email uncovered was sent from a teacher to the dean of students and another school official, telling them that Crumbley was seen in class looking at photos of bullets on his cell phone. The teacher then looked at some of Crumbley's previous work completed earlier in the year and said it "leans a bit toward the violent side," Johnson alleges the email said.

The parents of Tate Myre, Justin Shilling and Keegan Gregory, all victims of the shooting, were present at the press conference with Johnson and criticized the school board's lack of transparency in the months after the shooting, saying its members should resign. Its president resigned last week after receiving months of backlash.

The school board had declined several offers from the state attorney general to investigate the shooting, saying it will launch a third-party investigation as soon as litigation in civil suits brought against the district conclude.

Separately, a Michigan judge ruled Thursday that Ethan Crumbley will remain in Oakland County Jail for adults, as part of monthly procedural hearing. Crumbley's trial was initially scheduled to begin in September, but was pushed to January 2023.

Attorneys for the Oxford Community School District did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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9-year-old boy seriously injured in bear attack while hunting in Alaska: Troopers

Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images, FILE

(PALMER, Alaska) -- Two people, including a 9-year-old boy, were injured in a bear attack while hunting in Alaska, authorities said.

The child suffered serious injuries, while a man sustained minor injuries, Alaska State Troopers said.

The incident occurred Tuesday around 6:30 p.m. local time near Palmer, located about 40 miles northeast of Anchorage, police said.

The pair, who are related, were hunting moose in the Palmer Hay Flats area, a state game refuge, Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel told ABC News. Troopers did not specify their relationship.

They came upon a brown bear that then mauled the child, troopers said. The man shot and killed the bear during the attack, police said.

Troopers and EMS responding to the scene following reports of a bear attack found the two victims, who were taken to a hospital in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley area, troopers said.

McDaniel said the last report he received had the child listed in "fair condition."

The brown bear was with a cub at the time of the attack. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game were unable to locate a cub in the area after ground and aerial searches, McDaniel said.

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NYC opening humanitarian relief centers for asylum seekers, mayor announces

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(NEW YORK) -- New York City plans to open humanitarian relief centers for asylum seekers coming from Texas and states along the southern border, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.

The Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will offer aid to individual and family asylum seekers by providing them food, medical care, shelter and casework services, Adams said in a press release. The centers will be the "first touch point" for asylum seekers arriving in the city, the release says.

"More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome in those 'yearning to breathe free.' Now, more than ever, it's clear that we are again dealing with a humanitarian crisis created by human hands. While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so," Adams said.

Since May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent thousands of migrants seeking asylum to New York City as part of his busing policy, Adams told "Nightline" co-anchor Byron Pitts last month.

"It's the worst type of politics," Adams told "Nightline." "It's hateful politics to raise his national profile and, you know what, you should not be doing it by taking away the respect and dignity of people who are in need."

The Republican governor defended his policy of sending migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Democrat-controlled cities, telling Pitts in a "Nightline" interview that Texas must secure its border.

Abbott also criticized Adams, calling him a "hypocrite because New York City is a self-declared 'sanctuary city,'" a city where the local government protects undocumented immigrants from deportation by the federal government.

Adams said during a June 21 press conference that the city would find shelter for migrants arriving from Texas under the state's "right to shelter" law.

But as thousands of asylum seekers arrived in New York City over the past couple of months, the shelter system has been strained.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received blowback from Democrats and some Republicans for sending two planes of migrants to Martha's Vineyard last week.

DeSantis said the move was a message to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to do their "damn job" and secure the border.

The new relief centers will be operated by the New York City Emergency Management agency and NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the city's public hospitals. Two centers will open in the coming weeks, with more to open as needed, the city said.

"This emergency response represents what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work," Adams said in Thursday's press release. "Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life."

ABC News' Deena Zaru and Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

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One aspect of Trump, DOJ saga 'a frolic and a detour,' former federal prosecutor says

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(NEW YORK) -- In another twist in the case against former President Donald Trump, who has been accused of keeping classified government material at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a panel of judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday gave the Justice Department the OK to continue their investigation into the documents.

The panel also said the Justice Department no longer has to submit those materials to special master Raymond Dearie for his review.

ABC News contributor and former federal prosecutor Kan Nawaday spoke with ABC News Live Prime to discuss the significance of the court order.

ABC NEWS LIVE: This feels significant.

KAN NAWADAY: It is significant, but in my mind not surprising. What was really significant was the fact that the district court judge enjoined the DOJ from using documents in an ongoing criminal investigation. It's basically following the law. So they're basically doing frankly what the district court should have done below.

ABC NEWS LIVE: What does this mean now as far as the special master is appointed? It seems like that's a moot point now.

NAWADAY: It is with respect to the classified documents. That whole special master thing with classified documents, that was a frolic and a detour.

ABC NEWS LIVE: At this point do you expect Trump's team will appeal this decision?

NAWADAY: I think they will. I think they have shown they will litigate every point at every stage and take every opportunity they can.

I can see them trying to get an en banc hearing, meaning all of the judges in the 11th Circuit to decide on this. So I think they're going to fight.

ABC NEWS LIVE: It seems the special master seems a little skeptical. They're saying it feels like Trump's lawyers are not providing enough significant or any documentation to suggest that Trump needed or declassified these documents.

NAWADAY: Exactly. They never did. They never did it before the district court, which is why everyone was surprised. Why is the district court having a special master to look into this? The special master said the same thing: 'Wait, there's no evidence that there was any declassification or any need.' And now the 11th Circuit has found the same thing.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And let's talk about Ginni Thomas, also a new development here. [She's] the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She's now agreeing to voluntarily talk to the Jan. 6 committee.

NAWADAY: I think that is significant. She's not making the Jan. 6 committee subpoena her. And we'll see maybe one day what her testimony is. I think down the line, the fact that she is testifying, and is potentially a fact witness may have implications for Justice Thomas with respect for any case that ever goes up to the Supreme Court that may involve the testimony of his wife.

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Alex Jones takes stand in 2nd defamation trial over Sandy Hook hoax claims

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(WATERBURY, CT) -- Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is testifying in a Connecticut courtroom Thursday in a second defamation trial to determine what the InfoWars host should pay to Sandy Hook families.

The tempestuous testimony was so frequently interrupted by objections and sidebar conferences at the bench, Judge Barbara Bellis at one point told the jury, "You're going to get your exercise in today, those of you who wear Fitbits."

Jones, who has suggested the families who successfully sued him for defamation have a political agenda because they've done work on gun control, acknowledged the risks involved in his profession as a conspiracy theorist and provocateur.

"The world isn't an easy place. When people become political figures they get in the arena," Jones said.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Chris Mattei, pounced.

"Were you just trying to suggest that my clients, these families, deserve what they got because they stepped into the arena?" Mattei asked.

Jones answered "no" as his lawyer objected to the question.

Jones' testimony will resume this afternoon following a lunch break.

Bellis last year found Jones and Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems, liable in a defamation lawsuit for calling the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax.

The jury will decide how much in damages Jones should pay to an FBI agent who responded to the scene and eight families of victims that Jones called actors.

Prior to testifying, Jones has spoken out amid the trial outside the Waterbury courthouse this week, calling the judge a "tyrant" and the trial a "political hit job." In a press briefing Wednesday, he told reporters did not "premediatively question Sandy Hook," and that he apologizes if he has caused anyone pain but "didn't create the story" of Sandy Hook being a hoax.

He repeatedly said he would not perjure himself by saying he's guilty.

"You can't have a judge telling you to say that you're guilty when you're not. That is insane," he said.

There is no guilt in civil trials like this one. The plaintiffs successfully sued Jones for defamation in November 2021 over his comments, which included calling them "crisis actors," saying the massacre was "staged" and "the fakest thing since the three-dollar bill."

Bellis found Jones liable for damages by default because he and his companies, like Infowars, showed "callous disregard" for the rules of discovery. The jury will now determine much Jones and Free Speech Systems will have to pay the families of children killed in the massacre.

The jury so far has heard from several parents, including Jennifer Hensel, whose 6-year-old daughter, Avielle Richman, was among the 20 children killed in the massacre. She told the jury Wednesday that she still fears for her family's safety after years of receiving hate mail from people questioning that her daughter had died and checks the backseat of her car before getting in.

After her husband, Jeremy Richman, died by suicide in 2019, she started receiving emails from people calling his death fake as well, she said.

"People were in the cemetery around Avielle's grave marker looking for evidence that Jeremy had died," Hensel said.

Other parents have also testified about death threats, rape threats and confrontations outside their homes.

The Connecticut trial comes a month after a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the victims.

In that defamation trial, Jones was successfully sued by the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre after he claimed that the shooting -- where 20 children and six adults were killed -- was a hoax, a claim he said he now thinks is "100% real."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Last seen in Lakeland: Is a husband responsible for his wife’s murder or is he imprisoned for the crime of another man?

ABC News

(LAKELAND, FL) -- Leo Schofield has been sitting in a prison cell for over 30 years, convicted in 1989 of killing his first wife Michelle two years earlier, and is still fighting to prove his innocence.

"Innocent is no part in it, no plan in it, didn't know it was happening, didn't know it was going to happen, and didn't want it to happen. That is me," he told "20/20" in an exclusive interview from prison that airs Friday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET.

Prosecutors argued that Leo Schofield, then 21, was a man filled with anger and waiting to explode against his wife.

Schofield’s defense attorney argued that there was no physical evidence connecting him to the stabbing homicide, and that the state’s timeline of events did not make sense.

Schofield's second wife Crissie and the non-profit organization The Innocence Project of Florida are among the supporters who have believed Schofield's story and have worked to exonerate him.

Evidence discovered in the past decade that Schofield and his supporters say link the murder to another man has become central to Schofield's case, but even that avenue has hit several legal roadblocks.

Michelle Saum Schofield, then 18, didn't arrive to pick up Leo from her job at a restaurant in Lakeland, Florida, on Feb. 24, 1987. Leo Schofield said he became concerned and began driving around town with his father and mother and talking to friends and family to find his wife.

Police, friends and family searched throughout the area and eventually found her car abandoned and broken into. Three days after she went missing, Michelle's body was found in a canal in Bone Valley, a region in central Florida.

She had been stabbed 26 times.

"I was so angry at God at that moment. I ripped my shirt off. I punched a tree, punched the ground, I was pulling grass out of the ground," Leo Schofield said.

Leo Schofield's past bouts of anger would become a factor in the investigation as neighbors, friends and family told investigators that he was volatile and argued with Michelle in their home. Multiple witnesses also described incidents of physical abuse by Leo against Michelle, including one account by Michelle’s best friend that Leo threatened to kill his wife.

A critical part of their investigation was an interview with a neighbor, Alice Scott, who told police that she heard the couple fighting from her bathroom the night Michelle Schofield went missing and that claimed she later witnessed Leo Schofield put a large object into the trunk of the car and drive off.

A couple who lived near the Schofield's told police that on the morning after Michelle Schofield's disappearance they saw her car and a truck belonging to Leo Scofield's father near the location where her body was found.

Police arrested Leo Schofield in June 1988.

Schofield's attorney questioned Scott's testimony at trial, claiming the timing of the alleged fight in the home conflicted with accounts of where he was seen at the time. Schofield's attorney said that Scott's testimony claimed the argument took place shortly before Leo Schofield was with his wife's father, which was several miles away.

The attorney contended that he couldn't have traveled from their home to his father in law's residence that quickly.

“In any case that you've looked at, you're going to find some discrepancies with witness testimony,” former Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill, who presided over the Schofield criminal investigation, told 20/20, “It's human. I don't think any witness was looking at their watch saying, ‘There's Leo.’ I think they were being as honest as they could be in approximating exactly what they observed.”

Alice Scott could not be reached by ABC News for comment.

During the trial, prosecutors called in 21 character witnesses who testified about accounts where they saw Leo Schofield act aggressively and violently. Some described events where they say Leo Schofield was physically abusive towards his wife including pulling her hair.

On the stand Schofield denied claims made by witnesses but admitted to slapping his wife twice.

Schofield maintained to 20/20 that he never physically hurt his wife during their relationship.

"Physical abuse is one type of abuse and then you have the emotional abuse, which I'm guilty of," he said. "I did a lotta yelling…and I wasn't beyond punching a wall and being very theatrical," he said.

In the end, a jury convicted Schofield of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Schofield continued to maintain that he was not involved in his wife's murder for years, and things began to change after he met Crissie Carter, a former state probation officer who later became a therapist and taught at Schofield's prison, in 1991.

After listening to Schofield's story and reviewing the court records on this case, Carter told "20/20" that she, too, believed he was innocent based on what she said were holes in the prosecution's case.

"What the state said is not lining up and what he's saying lines up exactly," Crissie Carter Schofield told "20/20."

Their relationship would soon become personal and the pair eventually married and adopted a baby.

During her research, Crissie says she came to a major discovery: fingerprints that investigators had found inside Michelle's car had never been identified.

"Whoever's fingerprints are in that car had to know something. We've got to figure out who that person is," she said.

Crissie Schofield hired a new defense attorney, Scott Cupp, who was able to obtain a copy of the fingerprints from the Florida State Police in 2004.

The prints were later run through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which was not available to Polk County investigators at the time and matched those of convicted murderer Jeremy Scott, who was serving a life sentence for a 1988 homicide.

Jeremy Scott is not related to Alice Scott, the neighbor who testified against Leo Schofield.

Questions also arose after the then St. Petersburg Times began reporting on the case and published an in-depth investigative article in 2007.

Alice Scott's testimony came under scrutiny after her ex-husband, Ricky Scott, told the St. Petersburg Times that she had a tendency to twist the truth. "No way Alice could've seen and heard from that little bathroom window what she said she heard and saw at the Schofields' that night," he alleged to the St. Petersburg Times reporters.

When reporters later questioned Alice Scott about her ex-husband's statement, she explained, "When I couldn't see and hear from the bathroom window that good, I walked to the screened porch where I could," which differed from her testimony in Schofield’s trial.

"She never said that at trial," Gilbert King, a Pulitzer-prize winning author who is the host of a new podcast about the case, "Bone Valley," told "20/20." " That was all new."

When asked about Alice Scott’s statement to the St. Petersburg Times, Jerry Hill told “20/20” that he believed Alice Scott was “credible” at the time that she testified and that his investigators verified her account.

“We had no less than three separate individuals go confirm that she could actually see what she said she saw, from where she said she saw it,” he said.

Leo Schofield's new defense team requested a trial based on the fingerprint evidence. During his 2010 deposition with Leo Schofield's attorney's, Jeremy Scott admitted to being a car stereo thief in the area during that time, but denied killing Michelle Schofield.

The request for a new trial was denied, as the court found that Scott's fingerprints alone would not likely have led to an acquittal on retrial and ruled there were no issues with the trial evidence that would have led to Leo's exoneration.

The decision devastated the Schofields, their attorney and other supporters.

"This was personal to me. I knew then the same thing I know now: Leo's an innocent man and it just hit me to my core," Cupp, now a circuit judge in Florida, told "20/20."

In 2016, Leo Schofield's defense attorney Andrew Crawford spoke with Jeremy Scott by phone and claimed that Scott confessed to him that he was responsible for Michelle Schofield's murder. The conversation, however, was not tape recorded.

"This is a huge deal, what Jeremy is telling me, because never before had he ever admitted any involvement in the homicide," Crawford told "20/20."

When questioned by state investigators, Jeremy Scott denied confessing but said he would take the rap for any murder if paid $1,000.

“Jeremy Scott, he's a red herring,” Jerry Hill said, “but he's the only herring they've got. And so they're going to stick with it.”

In 2017, Crawford enlisted an investigator to interview Scott again, this time with a tape recorder.

It was during this interview that Scott claimed that Michelle Schofield offered him a ride, and there was a struggle after a knife fell out of his pocket.

"Next thing I know, I lost it. I done stabbed her," Scott said during the interview. "I'm like panicking now because I don't know what just happened."

Crawford teamed up with The Innocence Project of Florida and made another request for a retrial, which led to an evidentiary hearing.

An emotional Jeremy Scott took the stand and testified that he killed Michelle.

During cross-examination, the prosecution pointed out multiple times over the years where Scott denied any role in Michelle Schofield's murder, as well as certain details that he could not recall or got wrong in his testimony, such as the clothes she wore that night.

The hearing took a dramatic turn when Scott was presented with Michelle's autopsy photographs, at which point Scott stated "I didn't do that."

"They took that as a flip flop that he recanted," Crissie Schofield said.

However, on redirect examination, Scott affirmed to the court that he did in fact kill Michelle.

"I killed her," he said.

Ultimately, Leo was again denied a new trial. The court ruled that the evidence did not meet the legal threshold for a new trial, and also made a finding that the testimony of Jeremy Scott was not credible.

An appeals court upheld the decision in 2020.

"I wish I could come up with a better word than devastation and disbelief and just madness. There's no way to understand it," Crissie Schofield said of her reaction to the court decision.

In 2018, Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Devil in the Grove, which led to the exonerations of four innocent men, was at a conference of circuit judges in Naples, Florida, when he was approached by Cupp and given information about Leo Schofield's story and his case.

King was at a conference of circuit judges in Naples, Florida in 2018, when he was approached by Cupp and given information about Leo Schofield's story and his case.

Since then, King , along with "Bone Valley" researcher Kelsey Decker, has been investigating the case and working on a Lava For Good 9-part true crime podcast on Leo's story, "Bone Valley," that launched Sept. 21, 2022. Lava for Good is run by Jason Flom, one of the founding board members of the Innocence Project and a well known advocate for wrongly convicted.

Scott was recently interviewed for the podcast and claimed to Gilbert King that “Leo [is] innocent. That man didn’t do nothing. He’s innocent.”

During her exclusive TV prison interview, “20/20” co-anchor Amy Robach played Jeremy Scott's recording for Leo Schofield.

"I have a lot of anger about it. He murdered my wife," he told Robach. "It's a hard thing to forgive."

Leo Schofield is eligible for parole next year, and even if he does get out on parole Crissie Schofield said she is insistent on clearing her husband's name.

"It doesn't end with Leo getting out. This is Michelle's story," she said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Puerto Rico's power grid is struggling 5 years after Hurricane Maria. Here's why.

Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

(SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO) -- Hurricane Fiona, which has become a Category 4 storm as it heads toward Bermuda, left in its wake large-scale devastation in Puerto Rico.

The storm reportedly left at least one person dead, caused catastrophic flooding and knocked out power across the island.

The blackout reminded many of the destruction wrought five years ago by Hurricane Maria, which caused roughly 2,975 deaths and demolished much of the island's infrastructure.

Over a million customers in Puerto Rico have experienced intermittent power outages since Hurricane Maria, with many losing electricity this time even before Fiona made landfall. As of Tuesday morning, electricity had not been restored for an estimated 1.18 million customers.

Things were expected to change after Hurricane Maria. Billions of dollars in federal support were set aside to repair the island's energy system but the problems persist.

"Outages have been occurring for one reason or another," Tom Sanzillo, the director of financial analysis for think tank the Institute of Energy and Economics and Financial Analysis, told ABC News. "It's beyond belief how bad the system is."

Here's what you need to know about Puerto Rico's power grid and why it remains fragile:

Didn't a power outage happen five years ago with Hurricane Maria?
Yes, it did. When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, in September 2017, the storm devastated the island's electricity grid. It took 328 days, or roughly 11 months, for the island to restore power to all of the customers who lost it during the hurricane, which marked the longest blackout in U.S. history.

The electricity infrastructure had shown signs of fragility even before Maria, said Sanzillo. As the economy in Puerto Rico weakened in the 2000s, the maintenance budget shrank and what has been deemed mismanagement exacerbated the shortfall, he added.

"The system is old and it's undermaintained," Sanzillo said. "Maria brought it to light."

The hurricane's impact prompted sharp scrutiny of the public utility in charge of the power grid -- the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Months before Maria, PREPA had declared bankruptcy, citing a $9 billion debt load. PREPA had issued bonds to finance the energy grid, but could not pay them back.

What was done to fix the electric grid after Hurricane Maria?
The years following Hurricane Maria brought a mix of public and private efforts to improve the country's electrical infrastructure.

Three years after Hurricane Maria, in September 2020, the Trump administration announced nearly $9.6 billion in federal funding for the repair of the island's power system. The sum made up more than half of the support that PREPA would need to modernize its electric grid over the ensuing 10 years, bond credit rating service Moody's said at the time of the announcement.

Billions in additional funds from FEMA brought the total support allocated for rebuilding the power grid to roughly $12.8 billion, FEMA said in June.

But FEMA has only spent a fraction of the overall money, and an especially small amount of the funds dedicated to "permanent works," or projects that aim to replace or restore a damaged facility for long-term use.

FEMA has spent $1.6 billion in emergency categories and $7.1 million for permanent works, Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, the executive director of Puerto Rico's Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency said in a press release in June.

In other words, as of June, the amount spent by FEMA on projects to permanently restore the power grid makes up 0.05% of the overall funds made available by the federal government.

The delay owes primarily to disagreement between FEMA and the government of Puerto Rico over the implementation of the funds, said Sergio Marxuach, policy director at the Center for a New Economy, a Puerto Rico-based nonpartisan think tank.

"This is a huge, gigantic megaproject and the scope of work for each component has been argued over with FEMA," he told ABC News.

A report released last week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan oversight agency, cited as a key impediment the conflict between FEMA and Puerto Rican government entities over the scope of projects. In addition, officials from the government of Puerto Rico said the island has struggled to obtain the materials needed to commence projects, causing delays of as long as 24 months, the report said.

Another reason for the slow progress centers on a system of reimbursement tied to the funds, which requires local officials to put forward the money for approved projects and later receive reimbursement from FEMA, said Cecilio Ortiz-García, a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley who studies Puerto Rico.

"The municipalities are broke," Ortiz-García told ABC News. "So that right there is basically a black hole."

Meanwhile, the island also privatized its electric system. In June 2021, a Canadian-American business partnership called LUMA Energy took over management of the electric grid.

The poorly maintained energy grid poses LUNA with a difficult task, but even so the company has performed "below expectations," Marxuach said. He cited the ongoing power outages that preceded Fiona and the slow repairs that followed them. "LUMA probably underestimated the scope of what they were undertaking," he said.

PREPA and LUMA Energy did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

LUMA said in a press release this week that its crews have been "assessing damage, performing critical repairs and working with PREPA and private generators" to reenergize the grid in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

"We want our customers to know that LUMA has been and will continue to work around the clock to restore power to Puerto Rico following the island-wide outage that began early Sunday afternoon," Abner Gómez, the company's public safety manager, said Monday.

Sanzillo said a "fundamental reason" for the intermittent power outages since Hurricane Maria stems from the electric grid's reliance on imported fossil fuels, noting that heightened energy costs amid the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have exacerbated a budget crunch as the rates paid by customers fail to offset higher costs. Meanwhile, the grid struggles to address facility deterioration tied to longstanding neglect, he added.

Renewables power 3% of the island's total electricity, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration based on the fiscal year 2021.

"The system is in a state of disrepair," Sanzillo said. "We're at the same place we were five years ago."

What happens next?
Most immediately, Puerto Rico needs to get its power restored. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declined to say how long it would take to fully restore the grid, but he said for most customers it would be "a question of days," the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

In the long term, additional federal funds are set to make their way into energy infrastructure projects on the island.

Annie Brink, an associate administrator at FEMA, said last week that the agency had made $9.5 billion available for a massive infrastructure project to fix Puerto Rico's energy grid. She vowed that the project would "build it back better."

Many advocates, including Sanzillo, have called for further investment in renewable energy, both as a means of relieving financial woes for the energy system and bolstering resilience in the event of another major storm.

The island's government appears to share that goal. The Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, signed into law in 2019 by then Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló, sets a goal for the island to obtain 40% of its energy from renewables by 2025.

"We should use money from the government to maximize investment in renewable energy," Sanzillo said. "If they did those things they'd be very far down the way of having a grid that works."

Ortiz-García said the prospect of future storms adds urgency to the task faced by Puerto Rico.

"There will be more Fiona's," he said. "There will be more frequent and more severe extreme weather events. The question is not on the side of the events. We know the events are coming."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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