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CNN-Politics

White House rips Fauci after criticism of Atlas and Trump’s pandemic response

By Kelly Mena, CNN

The White House on Saturday unleashed on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, following his comments to the Washington Post that criticized the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, including Dr. Scott Atlas, who the President has relied on for advice on handling the coronavirus.

“It’s unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci, a senior member of the President’s Coronavirus Taskforce and someone who has praised President (Donald) Trump’s actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN on Saturday evening.

Deere took issue with Fauci’s comments where the doctor seemingly praises Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. Fauci told the Post that the Democratic nominee’s campaign “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective.” While Trump, Fauci said, is “looking at it from a different perspective.” He said that perspective was “the economy and reopening the country,” according to the Post.

“As a member of the Task Force, Dr. Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he’s not done that, instead choosing to criticize the President in the media and make his political leanings known by praising the President’s opponent — exactly what the American people have come to expect from The Swamp,” Deere said.

Fauci, a leading member of the government’s coronavirus response, said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors, according to the Post. He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted rising deaths in the coming weeks.

“Dr. Fauci knows that the risks today are dramatically lower than they were only a few months ago with mortality rates falling over 80%. The Trump Administration, through the work of the Task Force, continues to surge testing, PPE, personnel, and capacity to protect the vulnerable, help schools reopen, and respond to conditions on the ground,” Deere said.

In Friday’s interview with the Post, Fauci also criticized Atlas, a neuroradiologist and Trump’s hand-picked coronavirus adviser, for his lack of expertise.

“I have real problems with that guy,” Fauci said. “He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Atlas responded to Fauci on Twitter, tweeting on Saturday night: “#Insecurity #EmbarrassingHimself #Exposed #CantThrowABall #NoTimeForPolitics.”

Atlas on Saturday made dubious claims in a 27-minute interview to RT, the propaganda network that had played a major role in the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election and later was forced to formally register with the Justice Department as an agent of the Russian government.

“New interview. Lockdowns, facts, frauds … if you can’t handle truth, use a mask to cover your eyes and ears,” Atlas, who has misrepresented the effectiveness of masks and discouraged testing of asymptomatic people, tweeted along with the interview.

On Sunday, Atlas apologized for doing that interview, tweeting, “I recently did an interview with RT and was unaware they are a registered foreign agent. I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologize to the national security community who is working hard to defend us.”

Atlas did not have clearance from the White House for the interview — which RT said was done on White House property — and senior aides raised concerns internally after Atlas appeared on the network, a senior White House official told CNN.

Fauci, in his remarks to the Post, gave a grim warning of a Covid-19 surge as the country heads into fall and winter.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci said. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Deere pushed back on this warning Saturday, saying, “Dr. Fauci may have just admitted that he is afraid the cure will be worse than the disease and that unlike the President he has no confidence in the American people to make the best choice for themselves armed with CDC best practices.”

Fauci’s comments came the same day that the US reported 99,321 new Covid-19 cases — the highest single day number of cases recorded for any country. As of Saturday evening, the country’s death toll from the pandemic has topped 230,000.

Meanwhile, 29 states set new records this month for the most new daily cases since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci’s assessment of the country’s handling of the pandemic also comes as Trump has continued to insist on holding huge rallies — including four in Pennsylvania on Saturday alone — which only draws attention to the fact that he is dangerously flouting the safety guidelines of his own experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, daring Americans to hold him accountable for it on Election Day.

This isn’t the first time Fauci has disagreed with the Trump administration for their handling of the pandemic. Earlier this month, the President trashed Fauci as a “disaster” and made baseless coronavirus claims in a campaign call.

Referring to Fauci and other health officials as “idiots,” Trump declared the country ready to move on from the health disaster, even as medical experts warn the worst may be yet to come.

Baselessly claiming that if Fauci was in charge more than half a million people would be dead in the United States, Trump portrayed the recommendations offered by his own administration to mitigate the spread of the disease as a burdensome annoyance.

“People are tired of Covid. I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had, and we have Covid,” Trump said, phoning into a call with campaign staff from his namesake hotel in Las Vegas, where he spent two nights amid a western campaign swing. “People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”

White House communications director Alyssa Farah said Sunday that the President still has faith in Fauci. In a separate Fox News interview, Farah also said she spoke with Fauci Sunday morning and that at times the administration reminds him that he sits on the White House coronavirus task force and should voice his concerns.

“He’s somebody who’s highly respected but at times we remind him, you sit on this task force. If you have concerns about our response effort, then please by all means raise them, but a lot of us are working around the clock, the President being the number one person to defeat this virus,” she said.

During the Post interview, Fauci noted he needed to be careful with his answers or he might be blocked from doing further appearances.

Fauci and others have said they are worried about regions of the country that may not be prepared to deal with another surge of infections because they of limits on intensive care beds and nurses who can treat increasing amounts of patients, according to the Post.

“It’s much more about some of the states like Utah, Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, where … they never had a pretty good reserve of intensive care beds and things like that. I hope they’ll be okay, but it’s still a risk that, as you get more surging, they’re going to run out of capacity,” Fauci said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, Marshall Cohen, Nicky Robertson, Jason Hoffman, Maeve Reston, Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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CNN-Politics

‘Shoot your shot’: Obama nails three-pointer while campaigning with Biden in Michigan

By Dan Merica, CNN

Barack Obama called game.

The former President showed he can still get buckets, swishing a corner three-pointer at a Flint, Michigan, gym on Saturday while on the campaign trail for Joe Biden, his former vice president.

“That’s what I do,” Obama yells after nailing the three, before lowering his “VOTE” mask and yelling again, “That’s what I do!”

The video was tweeted by Olivia Raisner, the Biden campaign’s traveling digital director.

Obama also plugged his basketball skills, tweeting the video of the casual three-pointer from his own account with the words “Shoot your shot.”

In the video, aides in the gym seem stunned that Obama nailed the three, with one yelling, “Walk off!”

“Whoa,” a masked Biden says as the duo leaves the gym.

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It wasn’t long before NBA star LeBron James took notice Saturday night, tweeting, “Now you just showing out now my friend!! That’s what you do huh?? Ok ok I see. All cash!”

Obama, who played JV and varsity basketball at Hawaii’s Punahou School, regularly played basketball during his rise to political prominence, including as a United States senator, where he hit a three in front of troops in Kuwait.

Obama continued to play basketball during his time in the White House, including a game in 2010 where the President caught an “errant elbow” that forced him to get stitches. Obama has recently joked that his basketball game was getting worse as he got older.

Raisner’s post of the video of Obama’s shot in Michigan has garnered over 7.4 million views as of 10 p.m. Saturday night.

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CNN-National & Wolrd

Police used pepper spray to break up a North Carolina march to a polling place

By Artemis Moshtaghian and Dakin Andone, CNN

Law enforcement officers used pepper spray on Saturday to break up a march to a polling place in Graham, North Carolina, a decision that has drawn criticism from the state’s governor and civil rights groups.

According to the Graham Police Department, law enforcement pepper sprayed the ground to disperse the crowd in at least two instances — first, after marchers did not move out of the road following a moment of silence, and again after an officer was “assaulted” and the event deemed “unsafe and unlawful.”

But the event’s organizers and other attendees have said they did nothing to warrant the response, and that they wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights and march to the polls.

“I and our organization, marchers, demonstrators and potential voters left here sunken, sad, traumatized, obstructed and distracted from our intention to lead people all the way to the polls,” said the march organizer, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, in a news conference Sunday.

“Let me tell you something: We were beaten, but we will not be broken,” he added.

The “I Am Change” march was branded as a “march to the polls” in honor of Black people whose deaths have fueled protests over racial injustice, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, among others, according to a flyer for the event.

Attorney Ben Crump, who represents the families of numerous victims of police brutality, was scheduled to speak along with Brooke Williams, George Floyd’s niece, the flyer shows.

Video published by the Raleigh News & Observer appears to show demonstrators and law enforcement scuffling over sound equipment outside the Alamance County Courthouse. Alamance County sheriff’s deputies wearing gray uniforms soon deploy pepper spray, and at least one deputy is seen spraying a man in the face. Others spray toward demonstrators’ feet.

At least eight people were arrested during the rally on various charges, Graham police said. In a news conference Sunday, Graham Police Lt. Daniel Sisk said five of those arrested were not residents of Alamance County and one of them was a member of the media.

Drumwright rejected the claim that authorities only arrested eight people. “They started arresting people before our rally began,” he said.

Authorities will investigate and determine whether the use of force was appropriate according to the department’s policy, Sisk said. A detailed timeline of events will also be released later this week.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said it made arrests at the demonstration, citing “violations of the permit” Drumwright obtained to hold the rally.

“Mr. Drumwright chose not to abide by the agreed upon rules,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Saturday. “As a result, after violations of the permit, along with disorderly conduct by participants leading to arrests, the protest was deemed an unlawful assembly and participants were asked to leave.”

Drumwright was among those arrested, according to his administrative assistant Tanisha Richards.

March to polling place included stop at courthouse

The rally was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET starting from Wayman’s Chapel AME church, with an expected stop at the Confederate Monument at Court Square, before ending at a polling place on Elm Street, according to the flyer for the event.

Attendees told CNN they stopped for a minutes-long moment of silence as a nod to the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.

Lt. Sisk said Sunday officers allowed the march to pause for about 8 minutes and 40 seconds, but after 9 minutes marchers were told to clear the road.

“Once it was clear that they had no intention to clear the road,” police deployed the pepper spray at the ground, and the crowd then moved to the proper designated area, Sisk said.

Later, a Graham officer was assaulted, Sisk said, and the rally was deemed unsafe and unlawful and law enforcement officers dispersed the crowd.

According to the Graham police statement from Saturday, the crowd was again ordered to disperse and was warned several times that pepper spray would be deployed if it failed to do so. After five minutes, several people remained and officers again pepper sprayed the ground, authorities said.

“At no time during this event did any member of the Graham Police Department directly spray any participant in the march with chemical irritants,” police said Saturday.

On Sunday, Sisk called the irritant a “pepper fogger” similar to OC spray, commonly referred to as pepper spray. But the irritant used by authorities Saturday is deployed in a vapor form, Sisk said, as opposed to a stream.

Sisk reiterated Sunday that no Graham officers sprayed anyone directly in the face. He pointed out that officers did not wear gas masks or other protective gear, so “they suffered the same effects” of the pepper spray.

Richards said she was still working to catch her breath Saturday after the incident.

“There were people who didn’t get to the poll because they were tear-gassed,” she said.

Sisk disputed that the march was “scheduled to go to the polls,” saying the event was meant to stop at the courthouse where a rally would be held. Afterward, participants could go to the polling place via sidewalks, Sisk said, but officials had not planned on closing the road for attendees to march to the polling place.

“We need the public to understand that we made every effort to coordinate with the planner of this event to ensure that it was successful,” Sisk said, alleging it was organizers’ intent to block the road, but authorities aimed to ensure safety of both demonstrators and others in downtown Graham.

NC Democratic leader says actions are ‘voter suppression’

Scott Huffman, a North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate who attended the march, said in a video shared on Twitter that demonstrators were exercising their First Amendment rights and that the organizers had obtained proper permits. But the “peaceful protests” became violent “because law enforcement tried to take the sound equipment,” he tweeted.

Rain Bennett, another attendee, told CNN that demonstrators stopped at Court Square for an eight-minute moment of silence for George Floyd following the march, and that “police presence was there and they had no problem with that.”

But then Bennett saw what he described as a “commotion” and people began screaming. He saw a woman who was hurt and then smelled pepper spray.

“Everybody is coughing and kind of running away,” he said, adding that it was “really confusing because it’d been fine.”

Some officers were allowing the protesters to march, but others weren’t, Richards said, which she attributes to a breakdown in communication between departments.

The incident was criticized by a number of officials and civil rights groups, including the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, whose executive director likened it to “voter intimidation.”

“We need to find a way to close the book on voter suppression and police violence if we are to start a new chapter in our story that recognizes the importance of protecting everyone’s right to vote,” said ACLU of North Carolina executive director Chantal Stevens.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper shared the Raleigh News & Observer’s article about the march on Twitter and called the incident “unacceptable.”

“Peaceful demonstrators should be able to have their voices heard and voter intimidation in any form cannot be tolerated,” the governor said.

State Attorney General Josh Stein said in a series of tweets Sunday that he’d “received reports that some people who intended to vote in Graham yesterday were obstructed and not able to do so.”

“This is extremely concerning, and we need to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin issued a statement condemning the actions of law enforcement, calling them “completely unwarranted police hostility and voter suppression.”

Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said the incident did not interrupt voting.

But Jane Peppler, a volunteer at the polling station on Elm Street, said that doesn’t mean people weren’t discouraged by what happened.

“We thought there would be tons of people coming in after this event,” Peppler told CNN. “We had extra people come on hand because the idea of this was that this gathering would end at the polls, but they broke it up over there at the courthouse before they ever got here.”

CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland contributed to this report.

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CNN-Politics

Biden campaign cancels Texas event after Trump supporters surround bus on interstate

By Eric Bradner, Sarah Mucha and Kristen Holmes, CNN

President Donald Trump on Saturday night appeared to embrace the actions of supporters in Texas who surrounded a Joe Biden campaign bus in what a Biden campaign official described as an attempt to slow down the bus and run it off the road.

Trump tweeted a video of the caravan surrounding the Biden bus with the caption, “I LOVE TEXAS!”

Biden spokesman Bill Russo responded to Trump’s tweet by pointing to reports that Trump’s campaign was not prepared to shuttle attendees who had been bused to a rally at a Pennsylvania airport back afterward, leading to a chaotic situation with Trump’s supporters walking across roads to cars parked miles away.

“For the second time in a week your campaign has left your supporters stranded in the cold with no transportation at one of your superspreader rallies,” Russo said on Twitter. “Maybe you should spend more time worried about those buses than ours.”

The episode was an ugly closing note to the 2020 presidential campaign, which in Texas has seen record-breaking early vote totals that already exceed the number of total votes cast there in the 2016 election.

The Biden campaign bus was traveling Friday from San Antonio to Austin as part of a push to urge Biden supporters to cast their ballots on the state’s last day of early voting.

According to a source familiar with the incident, the vehicles were a “Trump Train group.” These groups are known in parts of the state and organize events that involve their cars with flags and Trump paraphernalia and drive around to show support for President Donald Trump. The group began yelling profanities and obscenities and then blockaded the entire Biden entourage.

At one point they slowed the tour bus to roughly 20 mph on Interstate 35, the campaign official said. The vehicles slowed down to try to stop the bus in the middle of the highway. The source said there were nearly 100 vehicles around the campaign bus. Biden staffers were rattled by the event, the source said, though no one was hurt.

Build your own road to 270 electoral votes with CNN’s interactive map

Staffers on the bus called 911, which eventually led to local law enforcement assisting the bus to its destination.

Neither Biden nor his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, were on the bus. Multiple sources tell CNN that Wendy Davis, a former state senator who is challenging Republican Rep. Chip Roy for Texas’ 21st Congressional District, was on the bus. Davis’ campaign declined to comment.

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

The Biden campaign, out of what was described as an abundance of caution, ended up canceling an event scheduled for later that day in Austin, the aide said.

“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas today instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way,” Biden campaign Texas communications director Tariq Thowfeek told CNN.

“Our supporters will continue to organize their communities for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats up and down the ballot, and to the Texans who disrupted our events today: We’ll see you on November 3rd,” Thowfeek said.

CNN has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

This story has been updated to include the Biden campaign’s response to Trump’s tweet about the incident.

CNN’s Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera, Donald Judd and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.

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CNN-Politics

Biden goes all in on rebuilding ‘blue wall’ in campaign’s closing stretch

By Eric Bradner, CNN

Joe Biden is making his final stand on the “blue wall” that President Donald Trump toppled four years ago.

The Democratic presidential nominee is spending Sunday campaigning in Philadelphia. He’ll speak early in the afternoon at a “Souls to the Polls” event aimed at getting Black church attendees to vote, and then hold a drive-in rally in the evening.

It comes after he spent Saturday in Michigan campaigning with former President Barack Obama, and Friday in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa — visiting a region that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was accused of ignoring, only to watch several states once considered reliably Democratic slip away in Election Night stunners four year ago.

Biden’s decision to focus his final days of campaigning on northern battlegrounds showed that — while polls show him with narrow leads in other battleground states across the Sun Belt — his campaign believes winning back enough White, working-class voters to rebuild the “blue wall” of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin represents his clearest path to 270 electoral votes.

“It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Biden said Saturday night in Detroit.

CNN polls released Saturday showed Biden with a 52% to 44% lead in Wisconsin, one of the nation’s leading hot spots in the coronavirus pandemic as cases spike there, and a 53% to 41% advantage in Michigan.

Build your own road to 270 electoral votes with CNN’s interactive map

Now, Biden is fully shifting his focus to what polls have shown might be the most competitive of those states, and the tipping point that pushes one candidate to victory: Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

Beyond the state’s competitiveness, it also represents for the campaigns the best chance to shift votes late. Other swing states — particularly in the Sun Belt — cast huge shares of their ballots early and by mail. In Pennsylvania, the majority of votes are expected to be cast on Election Day itself.

Trump barnstormed Pennsylvania on Saturday, holding rallies in Newtown, Reading, Butler and Montoursville.

“We win Pennsylvania, we win it all — you know that, right?” Trump said Saturday night in Butler.

He complained about states counting mail-in ballots after Election Day, and falsely claimed that the United States is “rounding the turn” against the coronavirus pandemic.

He praised his administration’s response to the pandemic, claiming a vaccine would “end the pandemic once and for all,” and that the country is “now just weeks away from the mass distributing of a safe vaccine.” Throughout the summer, he often predicted a vaccine would be available by Election Day.

A day earlier, Trump had made the baseless claim that American doctors are profiting from coronavirus deaths. Obama and Biden lambasted Trump’s handling of the pandemic on the campaign trail Saturday.

“He’s jealous of Covid’s media coverage and now he’s accusing doctors of profiting off this pandemic — think about that,” Obama said. “He cannot fathom, he does not understand the notion that somebody would risk their life to save others without trying to make a buck.”

Trump has also made a big bet on fracking for natural gas, which is a major economic driver in Western Pennsylvania but is opposed by many concerned with climate change. He is alleging that Biden would ban fracking; Biden had previously indicated he was open to it, but has more recently said he would not ban fracking. On Saturday, Trump issued a memo instructing his administration to “assess the potential consequences of fracking bans.”

“Biden’s plan to Abolish American Energy is an economic DEATH SENTENCE for Pennsylvania. A vote for Biden is a vote to BAN FRACKING & send PA into a nightmare of poverty & depression. Gas prices would explode & family incomes would plummet—I will always defend & promote PA energy!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

Biden’s other paths

Rebuilding that “blue wall” isn’t Biden’s only path to 270 electoral votes. His campaign has also targeted a number of Sun Belt states that are must-wins for Trump: Florida and North Carolina are crucial battlegrounds, and Biden’s campaign is bullish on Georgia — where a diversifying electorate and a suburban swing in Democrats’ favor has reshaped the political landscape of what was once a reliably Republican state.

Biden’s campaign has also focused on Arizona, a state that — like Georgia and North Carolina — is also key to determining which party controls the Senate. And amid an unprecedented surge in early votes in Texas that has already resulted in more votes being cast there than in the 2016 election, Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, spent Friday campaigning there.

Those states, though, aren’t must-wins: Biden’s big bet has always been that he could rebuild the blue wall. And if he falls short everywhere else, those blue wall states could still leave him a path to victory — as long as he holds onto two additional Democratic-leaning states where Trump has campaigned, Minnesota and Nevada.

He has deep connections to the region: Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and for decades has lived just southwest of Philadelphia. The Obama administration’s 2009 bailout of the automotive industry was vital to the economies of Michigan and other Rust Belt states.

Biden’s ability to recapture Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin after Trump’s wins in those states in 2016 has always been at the core of his candidacy.

Those states, as well as Minnesota, a Democratic state that Trump has also targeted, have drifted in Republicans’ favor in recent elections as the GOP’s margins of victory have grown among rural and White voters. But Biden represents his party’s best chance to stop that trend. The coalition of voters he has sought to assemble to build a path to victory relies more on strong performances with White voters, independents and older voters than Obama and Clinton have in previous elections. He also stands to benefit from the suburban shift toward Democrats during Trump’s presidency.

Still, Biden’s campaign has shown that — while the former vice president’s focus is the “blue wall” — it is also competing hard in the Sun Belt. Harris campaigned in Texas on Friday and spent Saturday in Florida. She’ll be in Georgia and North Carolina on Sunday. Obama is being dispatched to Georgia and Florida on Monday, the final day of campaigning.

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CNN-National & Wolrd

A Florida fisherman caught a gator he’d been watching for three years. It weighed more than 1,000 pounds

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

For three years Corey Capps had been dreaming of catching the massive alligator in the river behind his home in Blountstown, Florida.

Now he can say he’s done it.

Capps told CNN he and his wife were taking a boat ride on the Apalachicola River when they spotted the gator laying up on the bank.

He called his friend Rodney Smith, who had state-issued gator tags that allowed them to legally go after the animal.

“Three different times in the last two months, I’ve been back there fishing and he’s stalked me. … So me and him, something was going to give between the two of us,” he said.

The next day, October 13, Smith and Capps went out on the river in a 12-foot jon boat to seek out the creature. Sure enough, he was in the same spot as the day before.

“We went out and harpooned him…and we didn’t realize—we knew he was big, but not as big as when we pulled him up that bank. Across the top of his head was 16 inches wide,” Capps said.

The gator was so big — over 13 feet, according to Capps — that it took them about three-and-a-half hours to move the animal 100 feet with the jon boat, Capps said.

After getting the gator to shore, they took him to a recycling center in town. Capps said the gator weighed 1,008 pounds, short of the Florida state record, but still massive.

“He’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” Capps said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the record for the heaviest gator caught in the state is a 1,043-pound male from Orange Lake in Alachua County. It was long, too: 13 feet, 10-1/2 inches. The longest gator caught was a 14-foot, 3-1/2 inch male from Lake Washington in Brevard County.

Capps plans to mount the front legs and the head. He sold the rest of the gator to a processing business in Tallahassee.

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CNN-Regional

Tennessee toddler bitten by Copperhead snake

By Alexandria Adams

Click here for updates on this story

    NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV ) — A West Tennessee mother is warning other parents to be careful where you place your children’s toys after her 20-month-old daughter got bitten by a venomous snake right outside their door.

“Emmy Joe, my baby, walked up to where her toys were and started screaming. My babysitter looked and said she saw a snake,” Foust said.

The little girl received a bite on her foot from a Copperhead snake.

Her parents rushed her to the emergency room.

“She was vomiting, just in a lot of pain. I was holding her, just consoling her, trying to get calm down,” Foust said.

Her husband later found the snake coiled up in his daughter’s toys.

“It being right on our back porch. Right when we stepped outside. It could’ve happened to anybody. We no longer keep any of their toys on the back porch. Nothing is on there,” Foust said

They wants other parents to know to even though the weather is changing, snakes are still around.

“I think people think right now since it’s cold outside they’re not out and they’re not moving but they are. I mean, this was a cold day when this happened,” Foust said.

There are more than thirty species of snakes in Tennessee and most are beneficial to the environment. However, there are four venomous snakes to watch out for: Timber Rattlesnake, Pygmy Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth, and Copperhead.

According to the TWRA, it is illegal to kill or capture any snake.

If you do see a snake and want to learn what type it is, take a picture of it and email the TWRA at ask.Twra@tn.Gov.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

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CNN-Regional

Omaha, NE parents of slain teen seek answers

By Leigh Waldman

Click here for updates on this story

    OMAHA, NE (WOWT) — An Omaha couple is seeking answers after their daughter was shot and killed, while police continue the search for the suspect.

“I don’t know how I’ll get through without my baby. My baby,” said Rudy Herrera.

“Her going braindead and her being gone — her angel still here but she is no longer with us,” said Rose Herrera.

Just one day after getting the news they were dreading, Rudy and Rose are holding each other for strength.

“They told us they found my daughter at 33rd. She was shot in the back of the head,” Rose said.

According to the Omaha Police Department report, officers responded to an accident at 33rd and Weber Streets on Thursday at 8 p.m.

That’s where they found 19-year-old Nomi Herrera with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

“We want justice for our daughter. This is a senseless act. No teenager should have to worry about driving in this city. It’s not right,” Rudy said.

Nomi’s mother Rose lost her own mom to a murder a few years ago and her father to COVID-19 in July.

The loss of the couple’s youngest of five is almost too much for them to bear.

Rose said police have surveillance video and they’re looking for a four-door silver or gray car – but at this point, there’s no one in custody.

“We just want help to locate who did this to my baby,” Rose said.

Until then – Rose and Rudy are going to lean on their family – and remember their baby, whose life was cut short.

The family has a Gofundme set up to help pay for medical costs and funeral expenses.

If anyone has any information on what happened – you’re asked to call Crime Stoppers at (402) 444-7867.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

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CNN-National & Wolrd

Gospel legend Bishop Rance Allen dies at age 71

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Gospel music star Bishop Rance Allen died Saturday morning. He was 71.

“While recovering from a medical procedure at Heartland ProMedica [in Sylvania, OH], Bishop Rance Allen passed away around 3 AM this morning,” said Allen’s wife of 49 years, Ellen Allen, and his manager, Toby Jackson, in a joint statement posted on Facebook.

The world-renowned gospel singer and minister, known for the gospel hit “Something About the Name Jesus,” formed The Rance Allen Group with his brothers Tom and Steve in 1969, according to the group’s website.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear this news this morning,” Bryant Scott, the president of Allen’s record label, Tyscot Records, said in the statement. “This is a great loss to us personally but also to the church community at large.”

After being ordained in 1978, Rance Allen served more than six years as an associate pastor of Holiness Temple Church of God In Christ (COGIC) in Monroe, Michigan. Allen also served as a pastor at the New Bethel Church of God in Christ in Toledo, Ohio.

“Bishop Allen’s unique vocal ministry was an indispensable sound within the Church of God in Christ and Christendom. His gift transcended the boundaries of musical genre as he remained a sought after personality called to perform on global venues,” Bishop Robert G. Rudolph Jr. of COGIC said in a statement.

“During this time of uncertainty, we request the continued prayers as well as acts of emotional and spiritual support for the family.”

CNN’s Claudia Dominguez contributed to this report.

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Federal judge sets hearing Monday on challenge to ballots from drive-thru voting in Texas’ largest county

By Kara Scannell and Ashley Killough, CNN

A federal judge set a hearing for Monday morning to hear a challenge to drive-thru voting in Harris County, Texas, the largest county in the state.

Judge Andrew Hanen, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, set a hearing for 10:30 a.m., local time on Monday.

A group of Republicans filed a petition Tuesday seeking the halt of drive-thru voting in Harris County, marking another attempt to dismantle drive-thru voting after the Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that it could proceed.

The same group of plaintiffs also filed a new petition with the Texas Supreme Court that is awaiting a decision.

Both petitions are seeking to block nearly 127,000 drive-thru ballots that were cast during early voting from being tabulated until the court issues an order. The votes are set to be counted starting the morning of Election Day.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins has staunchly defended drive-thru voting as a legal and safe option for voting during the pandemic. County lawyers filed a nearly 200-page response with the Texas Supreme Court this week. Supporters of drive-thru voting also point to how the Texas Supreme Court, which is comprised solely of Republicans, already ruled in favor of it last week.

Harris County is home to Houston and the largest county in the state with 2.4 million registered voters. It’s become a Democratic stronghold in recent elections.

The plaintiffs, which include Republican activist Steve Hotze and three Republican candidates for office, argue that drive-thru voting violates federal law.

Ten of Harris County’s 120 early voting sites are drive-thru locations. As of Friday, nearly 127,000 votes had been cast via drive-thru, marking nearly 9% of the total votes cast in the country’s third most populous county. While curbside voting in Harris County is limited to voters with a disability and located at all polling sites, the drive-thru voting locations are open to all voters.

The petition argues nine of the 10 locations are in heavily Democratic areas.

The latest challenge argues that drive-thru voting violates the US Constitution, which says state legislatures decide how elections are run. The plaintiffs also argue it violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, in that the county is adopting a manner of voting that has not been adopted by other Texas counties.

Republican State Rep. Steve Toth, who’s listed on the petition as a plaintiff, argued it’s the job of the state legislature — not local counties — to implement changes such as drive-thru voting. He also criticized the state Supreme Court’s decision last week. He represents South Montgomery County, just north of Harris County.