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Protesters gather outside governor's mansion in Puerto Rico demanding resignation

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Jose Jimenez/Getty Images(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — Protesters in Puerto Rico have gathered outside the governor’s mansion demanding he resign after last week’s corruption arrests and a group chat scandal that led to the resignation of top government officials.

Governor Ricardo Rossello is sticking firm as his administration is embroiled in a scandal that has forced cabinet level officials and close associates out of their roles.

On Saturday, the non-profit journalism group Center of Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of conversations that detail efforts to manipulate public narratives, operations to discredit negative press coverage and criticism of opposition leaders.

The conversations, made through the Telegram app, also contain sexist, homophobic and misogynistic comments from the members of the group, according to the report.

These messages have not been independently authenticated by ABC News.

The very public display of these communications, obtained by the journalism group by an anonymous source, has caused a collapse in the credibility of a government that has struggled to hold onto one. Rossello announced on Saturday that two of the island’s top officials had resigned.

It also follows the federal indictment and arrests on Wednesday of six people, including two former high-ranking government officials, who were charged with conspiracy and other fraud-related charges in connection with millions of dollars in federal Medicaid and education funds.

Rossello has vowed to keep working.

“I was elected by the people and I will continue the mission that was granted to me, now more than ever,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

Sunday has been marked by protests and riot police standing off in the streets of old San Juan outside the gates of La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, with some protesters sleeping outside the doors on Saturday night.

On Sunday evening, Rossello released another statement saying he spent the day in meetings government officials and will spend the week working on “transparency initiatives to combat corruption.”

Rossello was the public face of the island during the 2017 landfall of Hurricane Maria that claimed thousands of lives and put on full display the island’s weak infrastructure and crippling debt crisis. He was criticized by many on the island for not pressing the federal government harder in the weeks and months after the storm. Rossello is running for reelection.

Senator Rick Scott, who stood with Rossello in the months following Hurricane Maria, tweeted Sunday night: “Puerto Rican families deserve better. I’ve made ten trips to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. I’ve been there for the island and I remain committed to the families of Puerto Rico. But all credibility has been lost. It is clear that the families of Puerto Rico need leadership committed to creating better opportunities on the island.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dozens rescued in Louisiana after Barry causes thousands of power outages across the state

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ABC News(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Residents of Louisiana felt the full brunt of Tropical Storm Barry’s rainfall overnight as they woke to find localized flooding and tens of thousands without power across the state.

First responders rescued 93 people from 11 parishes as a result of the storm, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. Thirteen of those people and two pets were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

There were no reports of weather-related fatalities, Edwards said.

Rain was expected throughout Sunday, especially in Louisiana, even as nearly 7 inches of rain had fallen in Montrose, Alabama, and just over 6 inches fell in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, through the first day of the storm.

Edwards advised Louisiana residents to continue to remain vigilant as several inches of rain were still expected through Sunday night, especially in southern Louisiana, which could lead to flash flooding, as well as tornado watches in nine parishes until 7 p.m. local time.

The hurricane protection systems in southern Louisiana functioned well, even though the storm surge that was originally anticipated did not occur. However, Edwards said he was “grateful” that the “worst-case scenario” in rain and flooding did not occur.

President Trump tweeted his support to the residents of Louisiana and the surrounding areas Sunday morning.

“A big risk of major flooding in large parts of Louisiana and all across the Gulf Coast,” he wrote. “Please be very careful!”

There were over 152,000 customers without power in the state as of 5 a.m. on Sunday. That’s an increase of about 30,000 customers from Saturday afternoon.

Barry made landfall as a very weak Category 1 hurricane on Saturday afternoon near Intercostal City, Louisiana. The last hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana was Nate in 2017.

The levees have held in most prominent cities, but a levee was overtopped in Terrebonne Parish, on the coast southeast of New Orleans, where the Coast Guard rescued 12 people and two dogs by helicopter.

“Every storm is different and sometimes we want to think we know what to expect from today’s storm based on what we’ve experienced in the past,” Edwards said. “And we continually learn that lesson, but every storm is different.”

The storm is now moving over land, but it is not over. Life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding are still expected from Louisiana up through the lower Mississippi Valley through Monday.

Rain bands will continue to intensify and expand on the eastern and southern Side of Barry on Sunday. Rainfall rates in these bands could exceed 3 inches per hour.

Storm surge will remain a localized issue along the Louisiana coast until the storm weakens a little more, and the winds shift back offshore.

The most concerning aspect of this storm is the continued guidance showing not much movement over the next 48 hours.

On Monday morning, heavy rain will continue to push into parts of Arkansas as Barry — or what remains of it — barely moves northward. However, more tropical rain will push into parts of southern Louisiana from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge with rainfall rates still exceeding 3 inches per hour in spots.

Over a foot of rain is still expected in parts of the region, especially southern Louisiana, and some areas could quickly pick up 3 to 6 inches of rain in just a few hours during the day Sunday and on Monday morning.

Early predictions for river crests are being lowered, but they will remain a concern heading into the work week.

“Because of a change in the rain forecast, the crest predictions for many of the rivers have actually gone down,” Edwards said. “However I should point out, that even the revised crest heights qualify as major flooding and present serious threats to life and to property. I implore you to remain alert and aware.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ICE raids across major US cities fall short of expectations but fear remains

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Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump’s vow to launch a nationwide deportation sweep fell short of expectations on Sunday, with only a small number of operations that appeared to fall closer in line with routine enforcement.

While the effort seems to have been downgraded — or perhaps just delayed — immigrant communities across the U.S. were still on red alert.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, or CHIRLA, in Los Angeles told ABC News’ Clayton Sandell that most of the calls the organization has received are people inquiring about their legal rights and that most reports of ICE vans in the city turned out to be unfounded.

The fear though among many undocumented immigrants is that the Trump administration has merely delayed the raids, which could happen Monday when people return to work.

“If the president wanted to hold communities hostage, he’s done a very good job,” Cabrera said.

Greg Chen, head of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said community organizations were expecting the threat of raids to last through Friday.

“This is by no means over yet,” he said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday declined to disclose any arrest numbers and referred reporters to a prior statement that declined to offer details “due to law-enforcement sensitivities.”

Federal immigration officers were initially scheduled to sweep across 10 cities on Sunday, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Atlanta, to arrest about 2,000 undocumented immigrants with final removal orders, the Trump administration announced.

Elected officials and advocates took to social media to assure residents of the resources available to them.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted to those who may be affected to remember that they have rights.

 

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti posted a video Saturday stating that the city was not coordinating with ICE’s efforts.

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that he stands “with every Houstonion regardless of immigration status.”

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock tweeted to residents to “remain aware” and know their rights.

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Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said in a statement that “immigrants who call Baltimore home should not live in fear of family separation and deportation.”

 

 

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city stands “shoulder to shoulder with every Chicagoan, regardless of their legal status.”

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Pete Buttigieg, presidential hopeful and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, tweeted that the raids were designed to “tear families apart” and further Trump’s “extreme agenda.”

 

 

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told ABC News Live on Saturday that state officials were monitoring the proposed raids “very carefully” and that they would “vigorously defend the rights of anyone” in the state.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the Trump administration announced the raids to “make news” and scare the public.

 

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“If you wanted to go after security risks, and there are people who are security risks, why would you alert them and say you’re doing this on a Sunday and do it two weekends in a row?” Klobuchar asked ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on “This Week” on Sunday. “Why? Because you want to make news, right?”

 Sen. Amy Klobuchar says warnings about ICE raids are “about scaring everyone” and “changing the news” and not about security as claimed.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms appeared on CNN over the weekend, asking people in fear of deportation to stay in or travel in groups.

The ACLU and other immigration advocacy groups advised residents to assert their rights.

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On Sunday, ICE urged jurisdictions in California and other sanctuary locations to cooperate to “keep foreign criminals off of our streets,” tweeting that “communities are safer when law enforcement agencies work together.”

 

 

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Officials later announced that Houston and New Orleans would not see immigration enforcement actions due to Hurricane Barry, which made landfall on Saturday.

In San Diego, 20 people were were arrested in raids on Saturday, but those arrests were part of a five-day enforcement operation, and apparently not specifically tied to the raids mentioned by Trump.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Manhattan blackout shines light on rift between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The power may be back on in New York City, but a five-hour Saturday night blackout continued to cast light on a rift between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio was campaigning in Waterloo, Iowa, when a massive power outage struck, plunging 73,000 Con Edison customers and tens of thousands of the mayor’s constituents and tourists in a wide swath of Manhattan into darkness.

“Look, mayors are important. And situations like this come up, you know. And you have to be on-site. I believe that,” Cuomo said in an interview on CNN during the crisis.

De Blasio responded Sunday, saying he did his job. Even from more than 1,000 miles away, the mayor said he was able to “take charge” of the crisis.

A 13,000-volt distribution feeder circuit on the west side of Manhattan malfunctioned at 6:47 p.m. Saturday, cutting electricity to 60 blocks stretching from the Greenwich Village neighborhood to the Upper West Side on the 42nd anniversary of a 1977 near-citywide blackout that led to widespread looting and vandalism.

Saturday’s blackout crippled the subway system, knocked out traffic lights on Manhattan’s west side and caused the cancellations of numerous concerts and events, including several Broadway plays and a performance by Jennifer Lopez at Madison Square Garden. Lopez tweeted Sunday that her canceled show has been rescheduled for Monday night, tweeting, “Gonna take more than a city-wide blackout to shut us down.”

More than 400 occupied elevators got stuck during the outage, according to New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro. No injuries were reported from the massive power outage.

De Blasio flew home Sunday morning from the campaign trail after making a four-hour drive from Iowa to Chicago. He immediately went to inspect the ConEd equipment that caused a domino effect and cut power to six of the utility’s sectors or neighborhoods.

The mayor said at a news conference Sunday afternoon in Manhattan that one thing he knows is that “this was not a cyber attack and this was not an act of physical terrorism.”

He said the cause of the circuit malfunction remains under investigation.

ConEd President Timothy Crawley said it is still unclear why the circuit feeder malfunctioned. The power grid was not overloaded, he added, nor was it a question of the equipment’s age.

While “we sincerely regret the disruption,” he said, “we think the grid is sound.”

It was the first widespread power outage in New York City since 2006, when a blackout started in the borough of Queens and lasted for 90 minutes. The last citywide blackout occurred in 2003 and was part of a major power outage that affected the entire Northeast corridor.

De Blasio was asked several times if he had any regrets about being out of the city during the emergency.

“I want people to understand that with this job and any public CEO today, you have to take charge wherever you are and I did that,” de Blasio said.

He said once he learned the power outage and its root cause was not going to be solved immediately, he made arrangements to return to New York.

De Blasio held a news conference in Iowa Saturday night, saying he has been in constant communication with emergency officials in the city. He decided to stay in the Midwest instead of immediately traveling to midtown, leaving himself open to criticism from Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

“It was knowing that it was going to take quite a while to get back, so I was going to have to provide guidance wherever I was, which is what any leader has to do…,” the mayor said Sunday.

Earlier Sunday, de Blasio defended himself on national TV.

“When you’re a mayor or a governor you’re going to travel for a variety of reasons. The important thing is to have the hand on the wheel, make sure things are moving effectively and communicate to people. Even from where I was, I was able to do that right away with the people of New York City,” de Blasio said on CNN’s “State of the Union” while he was still in Chicago waiting to fly home.

But Cuomo said Saturday night that he can count “on my fingers” the number of trips he’s taken outside the state during his eight years as governor.

“I’m not going to second-guess anyone, either,” Cuomo said. “I do my job the way I think I should do my job and I leave it to others to do the same.”

While de Blasio was in Iowa, Cuomo hit the darkened streets of the city expressing outrage over the outage and demanding ConEd get to the bottom of it.

Cuomo and de Blasio’s not-so-cozy relationship dates back to when the mayor was first elected in 2013 and proposed a tax on wealthy individuals to pay for pre-kindergarten in all five boroughs. Cuomo publicly ripped the plan, arguing it would prompt wealthy people to flee the city.

In 2015, the relationship soured even more when during a blizzard the governor, who controls the agency that operates the city’s trains and buses, ordered the shutdown subway system without consulting the mayor.

The rift became so pronounced that Hillary Clinton joked about it during her failed run for president in 2016 in remarks during the Al Smith Dinner in New York, an annual white-tie fundraiser for Catholic charities that brings partisan rivals together.

“Your Eminence, you do deserve great credit for bringing together two people who have been at each other’s throats, mortal enemies, bitter foes,” Clinton said in her speech to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the New York Archdiocese. “I’ve got to ask: How did you get the Governor and Mayor here together tonight?”

Following Saturday’s blackout, both Cuomo and de Blasio agreed on two things: that first responders, city officials and New Yorkers, in general, did a great job preventing the outage from becoming dangerous and chaotic, and that an investigation needs to be launched to determine how to prevent a repeat in the future.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Founder of African American museum discovered dead in trunk of car

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iStock(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Homicide investigators are probing a “heinous act” after the body of a 75-year-old woman who co-founded an African American museum in Louisiana was discovered dead in the trunk of a car.

Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a Baton Rouge community activist who teamed up with police on an anti-drug and violence program, was found slain Friday afternoon when police were directed to a car parked in a residential neighborhood northeast of downtown Baton Rouge and discovered her body in the trunk, officials said.

“Our detectives are working diligently to bring the person or persons responsible for this heinous act to justice,” the Baton Rouge Police Department said in a statement.

Louisiana state Rep. C. Denise Marcelle called Roberts-Joseph an “amazing woman” who loved history.

“My heart is empty … as I learned last night that Ms. Sadie Roberts Joseph was found murdered!” Marcelle said in a statement posted on Facebook. “She never bothered anyone, just wanted to expand her African American Museum downtown, where she continually hosted the Juneteenth Celebration yearly. I loved working with her and am saddened by her death. … Whoever knows what happened to her, please contact the authorities and say something.”

Police did not say how Roberts-Joseph, known as “Ms. Sadie” in her community, died, nor did they explain what led them to look in the trunk of the car parked about 3 miles from her home.

An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death, police said.

Baton Rouge police officials called Roberts-Joseph a “tireless advocate of peace in the community.”

“Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community. She will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served,” police officials said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The victim’s sister, Beatrice Johnson, told The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge that Roberts-Johnson stopped by her house earlier on Friday. She said her sister lived near her in the Scotlandville neighborhood of Baton Rouge and would check in with her daily.

“Friday, she came by [because] she had mixed some cornbread, but her oven went out, and she brought it here to put in the oven,” Johnson told the newspaper. “The bread is still there. She never came back to get it.”

Roberts-Joseph helped found the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African-American History Museum in 2001. The museum, now known as the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum, is housed on the campus of New St. Luke Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

She also organized the city’s annual Juneteenth festival at the museum, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S., and partnered with Baton Rouge police to launch a Community Against Drugs and Violence program.

In a recent interview with ABC affiliate station WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, Roberts-Joseph said her work at the museum and the annual Juneteenth event was meant “to celebrate, to embrace” African American history and to “learn of our past and to be able to move forward in unity.”

Baton Rouge police are asking anyone with information on the case to contact homicide detectives immediately.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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