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3-month-old and 5-year-old girls rescued in sex trafficking crackdown

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(CNN) — Two sisters, one 5 years old and the other 3 months old, were rescued in Denver by undercover agents during this year’s FBI-led sting operation against sex traffickers, officials said.

The alleged trafficker, a friend of the children’s family, made a deal to sell them for sex for $600, the FBI said. The friend communicated with an undercover agent, the FBI said in announcing details of Operation Cross Country XI.

While this alleged crime alone is disturbing, 82 other juveniles were rescued during last week’s nationwide sweep. Some 120 people were arrested.

Despite the arrest numbers, the work is far from over.

“Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested — and the number of children recovered — reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

For these young children, life may never return to the way it was before. Holly Gibbs, a child sex trafficking survivor and the patient care director of Dignity Health, said, “Human trafficking is a global public health crisis. What happened to these children is a tragedy, and they have a long journey ahead of them. But for the moment, I am glad that they are safe.”

Average age of victims is 15

On October 13, the second day of the operation, a minor was rescued by the FBI in El Paso, Texas, when a 16-year-old female victim was advertised online for “entertainment,” officials said.

The girl was accompanied by a 21-year-old female who offered an undercover agent sexual intercourse with both her and the underage victim for $200, officials said. According to the FBI report, the woman as well as the driver, another female, who took the minor and 21-year-old to the undercover officer’s location, were arrested.

Among the recovered victims across the country was one from Russia. Local and state agencies were involved in the operation, as were police as far away as the Philippines and Thailand.

The average age of the victims recovered from this year’s operation is 15, the FBI said. Sellers tried to pimp them to outsiders from hotels, truck stops or online.

Sometimes, sex trafficking can involve family members or family friends.

Bradley Myles, CEO of the Polaris Project, which launched a human trafficking hotline, says traffickers often prey on those with trauma in their childhood history. And, he said, there often are problems down the road.

“There are ACEs, adverse childhood experiences, and the more ACEs that someone has the higher likelihood that they’ll experience other forms of trauma and abuse in life,” said Myles, who was not involved in the operation but said he hopes the children are given the resources they need to someday recover.

Focusing on the victims

At a press conference in Denver on Thursday, District Attorney George Brauchler reminded traffickers that undercover agents and task force officers are always lurking, be it behind cameras, on the Internet or in a casino, prepared to make another bust.

“To those out there who are watching this who might avail themselves at the opportunity to exploit children or to engage in even the adult sex trade, this is a bit of a warning. … The people that you can’t see behind those cameras, they are fins. They are fins in the water and they represent sharks who are there all the time.”

“And my advice to you is to stay out of those waters where the kids are, to stay out of those waters where exploited adults are for sex, because they are out there and they will get you. And when they get you, my office will handle the rest.”

The FBI continues to work with agencies and organization specializing in child protective services for the 84 rescued children.

There are still thousands of children locked in shackles as chess pieces in a game of sex slavery, and without consistent efforts, Myles said he doesn’t think it will end

“We are seeing about an average of 23 cases a day. So we need that daily drumbeat of a 24-hour response throughout the country,” he said. “Operation Cross Country doesn’t happen every day. But these cases are breaking across our country every day.”

Another elderly woman throws ‘lucky’ coins into plane engine, grounding flight

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ANQUING, China – For the second time this year, an elderly passenger grounded an airplane in China by tossing coins into the engine for good luck before the flight, according to an Agence France Presse report.

On Wednesday, authorities detained a 76-year-old woman – who was already flying with Lucky Air – after she apparently threw a several coins into the aircraft for good measure.

The flight was scheduled to take off Wednesday from an airport in the city of Anqing, in Eastern China, but was held overnight after the ground crew reported finding coins scattered on the tarmac next to the plane.

The passengers reportedly left the next morning for Kunming, in southwestern China.

In late June, a similar incident occurred. Police detained an 80-year-old woman after fellow passengers reported that she was throwing coins at the plane during boarding of China Southern Airlines flight CZ380 on the tarmac of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport.

“The passenger, surnamed Qiu, who has no prior criminal record or mental health issues, claimed she tossed coins as a prayer for a safe flight,” Shanghai Police said in a statement.

It added that officers found nine coins at the scene, including one that fell into the engine of the Airbus A320 aircraft, with others scattered on the ground nearby.

CNN contributed to this report.

Rainfall on track for the later half of the weekend… Brief chill next week, too

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What a fabulous stretch of weather we’ve seen this week!!  In fact, these Friday night football games this season have enjoyed some of the finest weather in years!!  And tonight will be no different as you can see with the temperatures above.  Fair to partly cloudy skies will be in order tonight with overnight lows only dropping in the upper 50s.

Clouds will be increasing in coverage through Saturday as a front moves in from the west.  Winds will remain persistent out of the south allowing temperatures to warm well into the 70s.  I’m still looking at the rainfall to arrive Saturday night before ending sometime mid-morning on Sunday.  Temperatures will be more seasonal for Sunday with highs in the lower 60s.

Low to mid 60s will be common on Monday before a stronger front rushes in on Tuesday sending highs plummeting into the low to mid 50s.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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Mom accused of hitting teacher in face with brick after student’s phone confiscated

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PITTSBURGH -- A Pittsburgh woman is accused of hitting her daughter's teacher with a brick after she confiscating the girl's cellphone.

According to KDKA, teacher Janice Watkins confiscated a fourth-grade student's phone on Wednesday because the district has a "no cellphone" policy. While taking the phone, the girl allegedly bit the teacher, prompting to school to call her mother, Dai'Shonta Williams,  to the school.

During a meeting between the three, the child claimed Watkins had choked her, at which point Williams got mad and allegedly told the teacher she was “going to get even.”

Investigators say Watkins was driving home after work when she noticed two people get out of their vehicle.

The woman approached Watkins’ car and allegedly threw a brick through her open driver’s side window -- hitting her in the head. After she was hit, she says the woman opened her door, dragged her out into the road and began punching and kicking her.

On Thursday, Williams was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count each of terroristic threats, stalking and reckless endangerment.

FBI assisting in Niger investigation

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(CNN) — The FBI is assisting Niger authorities in the investigation of the deaths of four US servicemen, a law enforcement official tells CNN, a routine step for the bureau when US citizens are killed overseas.

Another US official said FBI investigators are on the ground in Niger providing technical assistance and helping to gather and evaluate evidence related to the attack.

The investigators are based out of US embassies in nearby African countries, the official said, and reiterates the FBI role in Niger is not unprecedented, as the bureau often lends its expertise into terror investigations abroad.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the FBI’s involvement.

What we know and don’t know about the deadly Niger attack

Three senior US officials have told CNN that Defense Secretary James Mattis wants answers regarding the ambush on October 4. The investigation will be an effort “to get all the facts correct,” an administration official familiar with the review has told CNN.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mattis did not provide additional details into why the body of Sgt. La David Johnson was recovered nearly 48 hours after his 12-member team was ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters in Niger.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders was asked Wednesday whether President Donald Trump was satisfied with the information he has received about the mission and ambush.

“I believe they’re still looking into the details of that,” Sanders replied. “But I don’t think that the President can ever be satisfied when there’s loss of life from men and women in uniform.”

Ryan roasts Trump, Schumer at NYC political dinner

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(CNN) — House Speaker Paul Ryan roasted President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others during his keynote speech at Thursday night’s annual Alfred E. Smith Dinner.

Al Smith V — whose family hosts the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York — was once dubbed the “happy warrior of the political battlefield” by Franklin Roosevelt. The dinner traditionally brings together political rivals and roasts are part of the tradition.

It became a common stop for the two main presidential candidates during US presidential elections, and last year, Trump and Hillary Clinton were guests in what was an unusually tense event.

Here’s a look at some of Ryan’s best jabs:

On Trump’s Cabinet

“Enough with the applause. You sound like the Cabinet when Donald Trump walks into the room.”

On the dinner

“I don’t think I’ve seen this many New York liberals, this many Wall Street CEOs, in one room since my last visit to the White House.”

On Trump last year at the dinner

“I want to promise you, though, as I’ve heard a few stories about how the dinner went last year. So I want to put your minds at ease. You can relax about my remarks. I know last year that Donald Trump offended some people. I know his comments, according to critics, went too far. Some said it was unbecoming of a public figure. And they said that his comments were offensive. Well, thank God he’s learned his lesson.”

On Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“I want to thank Patricia Heaton. You know, Patricia and I do go back a long ways. Patricia Heaton, she is a Hollywood Republican. A Hollywood Republican. That is an oxymoron. Which clearly was the word that Rex Tillerson was searching for.”

On Schumer

“A lot of people, they ask me, you know, a guy from Wisconsin, what’s it like to work on a daily basis with an abrasive New Yorker with a loudmouth? But you know once you get to know him, Chuck Schumer’s not all that bad. I know why he’s been so hard on the President, actually. It has nothing to do with ideology. You see, Chuck’s mad that he lost his top donor.”

On the headlines from the dinner

“When you read the papers tomorrow, everyone’s going to report this thing differently. Breitbart’s going to lead with ‘Ryan slams the President amongst liberal elites.’ New York Times is going to report ‘Ryan defends the President in a state Hillary won.’ And the President will tweet ‘300,000 at Al Smith dinner cheer mention of my name.'”

On the White House resignations

“The truth is, the press absolutely misunderstands and never records the big accomplishments of the White House. Look at all the new jobs the President has created — just among the White House staff.”

On Clinton during the election

“I’m from Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a fantastic place to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone probably should have told Hillary Clinton that fact.”

On Steve Bannon

“The fact that you learn when you’re speaker: I am now second in line of succession since Steve Bannon has resigned. Very cool, very close.”

On Twitter

“Every morning, I wake up in my office and I scroll through Twitter to see which tweets I’ll have to pretend I didn’t see later on.”

On former House Speaker John Boehner

“Every afternoon, former Speaker John Boehner calls me up — not to give advice, just to laugh.”

On Trump’s insult to him

“You know, at one point, the President actually insulted me. I know that sounds kind of surprising. He described me as a Boy Scout who was boring to talk to. It didn’t hurt my feelings. What hurt my feelings was when my wife agreed with him.”

On Russia’s President Vladimir Putin

“I’ve learned that in Catholicism you are guilty until proven less guilty. I learned that God is always listening. As is Vladimir Putin.”

More than $200M in spending cut from Illinois budget

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has outlined more than $200 million in cuts it will make to the new state budget, including to human services, agriculture programs and transportation.

The cuts were presented in materials Rauner’s budget office gave to the four legislative caucuses.

Democratic Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago says the cuts include $89 million to human services programs, including autism services, after school programming and immigrant and refugee services. Other cuts include $85 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation, $41 million to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and $21 million to the Department of Agriculture.

Rauner’s administration says more cuts will need to be made, because the budget is still $1.5 billion out of balance.

Muscatine man admits firing into group of people last July

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MUSCATINE, Iowa — A Muscatine man arrested after allegedly shooting another man several times at the intersection of 6th and Linn Streets last July pleaded guilty to willful injury and intimidation with a dangerous weapon in Muscatine County District Court on Friday, Oct. 20.

Sebastian R. Perales, 20 admitted firing several rounds into a group of people standing at the intersection on July 27. At least one bullet struck Trinidad Santos-Salas, 36. Santos-Salas suffered a broken arm as a result of the attack.

Perales is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

11-year-old kicked out of Cub Scouts over gun control question to state senator

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- A Colorado Cub Scout who said he was kicked out of his den for asking a lawmaker too tough of a question is getting some big name support.

Ames Mayfield said he was told he could no longer participate in Scouts with his current group after a Scout activity involving a question-and-answer session with Colorado State Sen. Vicki Marble.

“He was supposed to research and ask a question that impacts our community,” his mother Lori Mayfield told KDVR.

When it was Ames’ turn, he asked: “An issue that I’m concerned about is common sense gun control. I was shocked that you co-sponsored a bill to allow domestic violence offender to continue to own a gun. ... Why on Earth would you want somebody who beats their wife to have access to a gun?”

Mayfield said the den leaders thought the question was disrespectful.

“Given that the Las Vegas shooting happened, I felt that it should be a reasonable thing to ask,” Ames said. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”

Former Congresswoman and gun control advocate Gabrielle Giffords agrees. She tweeted on Thursday, “This is exactly the kind of courage we need in Congress. Ames, call me in 14 years. I’ll campaign for you.”

“It brought tears to my eyes,” the boy’s mother said.

Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, called Ames and Lori Mayfield on Thursday night to have a private conversation about the situation. Ames said Kelly told him to keep asking tough questions.

“I’m kind of glad to have someone on my side that truly understands it,” Ames said.

While he is no longer welcome at his former Scout den, his mother said another area den has invited Ames to join. He will transition to a Boy Scout in February.


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