A New Jersey man crashed his car and responding police found guns inside the vehicle before discovering a cache of weapons, drugs and racist literature at his home, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Joseph Rubino, 57, of Lafayette Township, was charged with possession with intent to distribute meth, firearm possession while trafficking drugs, and illegally having a gun as a convicted felon, federal prosecutors in Newark said.
Rubino crashed his car on July 24 and while police were extracting him for medical treatment, they saw various firearms and ammunition inside the car, according to a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
That discovery led police to get a search warrant for Rubino’s car and home, where investigators found a dozen high-powered handguns, rifles and pump-action shotguns, high-capacity magazines, silencers and a grenade launcher, according to the complaint.
Drugs were also found in the home, including 70 grams of methamphetamine, seven kilograms of marijuana and 200 marijuana vape cartridges, official said.
Investigators also found “bumper stickers with ‘SS Bolts,’ which are common white supremacist and neo-Nazi symbols sometimes used by outlaw motorcycle gang members,” the complaint said, adding that racist material purporting to be “an instruction manual for owning a slave” was also found.
Rubino has a 1999 conviction for writing bad checks, federal authorities said.
Messages left at Rubino’s listed home number and to his wife seeking comment were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Wildlife officials are investigating why panthers and bobcats in three Florida counties are walking abnormally and having extreme difficulty controlling their back legs.
The cats appear to have no trouble using their front legs, but their hind legs crisscross and sometimes completely give out under their weight as they walk, causing them to stumble then struggle to continue walking, trail footage from counties of the west coast of southern Florida show.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said Monday that the agency has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat, while video footage captured in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties show eight panthers and one bobcat demonstrating varying degrees of the leg condition.
Another panther photographed in neighboring Charlotte County could also be suffering from the condition, according to the FWC. The affected panthers in the video are mostly kittens, while the bobcat is an adult.
Wildlife officials are also reviewing video footage from other areas, but the problem seems to be localized.
“While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue,” said Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
McRae said experts have ruled out “numerous diseases and possible causes,” leaving the cause a mystery. “We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition,” he said.
The FWC is now testing the cats for toxins, including rat poison, along with possible infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies.
The agency asked local residents to share personal surveillance footage that shows the animals having trouble with their legs.
Florida panthers, which are native to the state, are an endangered species, with approximately 120 to 230 adult panthers in the population.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering a new policy that would allow state and local jurisdictions to deny entry to refugees who have been approved for resettlement in the United States, according to a draft of an executive order obtained by NBC News.
According to the draft, “the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate” in the program that allows refugees to resettle.
The plans are currently out for review by lawyers and counterparts at various government agencies, a senior DHS official said.
If a state or local jurisdiction does not agree to take in refugees, the federal government will have to find another location, according to the draft. An exception to this rule would be made in the case of resettling spouses or children of refugees already settled.
Refugee rights organizations have long advocated for refugees to be relocated in areas where there are already refugees of the same country living to create a sense of community for those fleeing violence and persecution.
Peter Boogaard, who worked on immigration issues in the Obama White House, said the executive order would hinder religious organizations, like the Catholic Church, from resettling immigrants in states around the country and “would also have a dramatic impact on the ability of future administrations to return refugee admissions to the normal historic levels.”
The executive order is under consideration at a time when the Trump administration is debating how and whether to decrease refugee admissions beginning Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2016, the limit was 85,000 refugees; in fiscal year 2019, the number has been capped at 30,000.
HONG KONG — A protest at a Hong Kong subway station suddenly escalated into a chaotic free-for-all on Wednesday night, with masked demonstrators bracing for a confrontation with police.
Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters had gathered for a sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR station, marking the one-month anniversary of a violent July 21 incident when peaceful demonstrators, wearing black, were attacked by mobs, dressed in white and linked to local organized crime.
The protesters on Wednesday night observed a moment of silence at the station, in the New Territories of northwest Hong Kong.
Then with no warning, some began overturning trash cans and carts, using them to build makeshift barricades in anticipation of a confrontation with police.
Many of the demonstrators carried umbrellas, which have become both a symbolic and practical tool of protesters — who use them to block tear gas or attacks from club-wielding police.
Hong Kong has been roiled by weeks of protests by demonstrators demanding greater democracy in the semi-autonomous city that had been under British rule until it was handed over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.
Janis Mackey Frayer reported from Hong Kong and David K. Li from New York
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it intends to hold migrant families in detention for the duration of their immigration proceedings, with no limit on the time they can be detained.
The new rule, announced by acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, may be in defiance of a 2015 federal court ruling known as the Flores agreement that limited the time families could be detained to 20 days.
Although the rule is expected to be published in the federal register on Friday with the effective date of 60 days, the administration expects court challenges that could prolong or even stop the rule from going in place altogether, the officials said.
The move could affect thousands of migrant families.
The Flores agreement said all facilities holding children for longer than 20 days must be licensed by states. But no state had licensed a family center for immigrant families.
The work-around the administration is proposing is to declare that ICE detention centers for families are compliant with the agreement because they are licensed by ICE, not a state.
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Two DHS officials said ICE has stricter licensing requirements than many states. For example, the family residential centers will be subject to routine third party audits, the results of which will be made public, the officials said.
Currently, detained immigrants take about two months on average to have their immigration cases adjudicated, but the officials said there is no limit on how long a family can be detained under the new rule.
The Trump administration has tried to work around the 2015 Flores decision by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Dolly Gee for years.
In 2018, the administration used Flores as justification for the “zero tolerance” policy, whereby children were separated while their parents were detained.
Of immigrants detained during their immigration proceedings, 97 percent who received final orders of deportation were actually removed from the country. While 82 percent of those who were not detained were never deported, DHS officials said.
About 66 percent of families released from detention do not show up in court, they added.
Because of limited detention space in ICE detention facilities, one DHS official said he expects the new rule to apply to only about 5 to 10 percent of families crossing the border.
Families may still be released on bond, if a judge determines they are not at risk for not showing up in court or a risk to the public.
HONG KONG — The family of a man who works for the British consulate in Hong Kong say they “feel helpless” as the Chinese government confirmed it has detained him.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that the worker, who has been identified as Simon Cheng Man-Kit, was detained in the border city of Shenzhen.
Shuang told a press briefing that Cheng will be held for 15 days by Shenzhen police but didn’t specify what law he is suspected of violating. He added that Cheng is not a British citizen but both a citizen of Hong Kong and China, making the issue “entirely China’s internal affair.”
“We have made representations so that the British side will stop inciting more problems and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Shuang said.
Cheng’s family said on Wednesday that they had received no information about why he had been detained or how long he would be held.
“We feel very helpless, and are worried sick about Simon,” his family said in a statement on Facebook.
Pro-democracy protesters held a “Save Simon Cheng” event outside the British Consulate on Wednesday afternoon, local time, to highlight his case.
His supporters also posted a petition online calling on the U.K. government to “mobilise all efforts to save Simon.”
Max Chung, who organized the petition, told NBC News that detention of his friend who was working for the British government is “disgraceful.” He said Cheng is smart enough to handle any special requirements imposed on his travel to China.
“I have no idea why they would want to detain him,” he said. “Why he was captured [is what] we really want to know.”
The U.K. Foreign Office said on Tuesday that its employee was detained while attempting to return to Hong Kong from Shenzhen. Cheng works for the Scottish Development International unit with the consulate.
“We are aware of this incident and we are concerned for Mr Cheng’s welfare,” the Scottish government said in a statement Tuesday, adding that officials were in contact with authorities in both China and Hong Kong.
Cheng had been visiting China since Aug. 8 for a business trip, his family said. He had last sent messages to his girlfriend the same day, just before passing through customs to return to the territory.
Cheng’s detention comes amid public tensions between the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong and mainland China.
Hong Kongers have been taking to the streets since June in a peaceful retaliation to a controversial extradition bill that would allow suspected criminals to be handed over to China. Protests have featured increasing levels of violence in recent weeks, including clashes with police, as demonstrators call for greater democratic freedoms and the resignation of the territory’s chief executive Carrie Lam.
Hong Kong is a former British colony and although it became a special administrative region of China in 1997, the territory’s 7 million residents can freely surf the internet and participate in public protests, unlike those living in the mainland.
But there is widespread fear those rights and freedoms are being eroded under Beijing’s rule.
On Tuesday, Lam announced she was launching an investigation into complaints of police tactics and violence during the protests while reiterating that the controversial extradition bill “is dead.”
“There is no plan, there is no plan to revive this bill, especially in light of the public concerns,” she said at a press conference.
It is unclear whether these measures will be enough to appease protesters.
A sit-in was planned at a train station Wednesday evening local time, marking a month since pro-democracy demonstrators were targeted at the site by masked assailants.
Americans are risking their health. A lack of nutrition education, exercise and healthy food options has left a brunt of the population vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
These risks are particularly high for women of color.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 percent of black women and 49 percent of Latinas are considered obese, compared to 38 percent of white women. Black women are 60 percent more likely than white women to have a heart attack and one-third of Mexican-American women have cardiovascular disease.
Nutritionist and dietician Maya Feller is on a mission to bring those numbers down. Founder of Maya Feller Nutrition, she specializes in risk reduction and management of diet-related chronic illnesses. Her first cookbook, which comes out in October, is called “The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life.”
“Most Americans are regularly and consistently eating fast and processed foods at such a clip that has negative, negative health outcomes,” said Feller told NBC News health editor Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom. “So it’s really about scaling back. It’s about looking for items that are lower in sodium … It’s about changing the proportion.”
Economics are stacked against women of color, and there is no substitution for systematic change. However, there are small steps women can take to help improve their health, and the health of their families.
1. Educate yourself on nutrition.
Nutrition is not an intuitive science, and it’s not taught in schools. By and large, people in America have no idea what they’re putting into their bodies and what the effect may be.
“Especially when we look in these communities of color, that is not part of what’s being taught,” said Feller. “They don’t know their numbers. They don’t know about their blood pressure. They don’t know about their lipids. They don’t have an idea of the fact that the link between what they’re putting into their bodies actually has a clinical outcome with regard to those numbers.”
To compound the issue, many people in the U.S. don’t visit a regular doctor who knows their history, habits, and risks.
“People are using emergency rooms as their primary care. Therefore, there’s not this through-line of having a doctor that’s following you and also educating you.”
Until these larger societal issues are addressed, women can read nutrition labels and educate themselves on important facts. Nutrition is incredibly complicated, according to Feller, but there are quick hacks to winning the nutrition label game.
“I tell my patients, ‘If you’re looking at fat and you’re looking at salt, anything that’s close to 5 percent is low. Anything that’s close to 20 percent is high.’” said Feller. “So if you’re using a packaged good, you’re always going to want to look for 5 percent, or 10 percent. That’s moderate and low, especially in those areas of fat and sodium.”
Feller also recommended a high ratio of leafy greens, as opposed starchy vegetables like yams and potatoes.
“This is where I say, ‘Look at what’s on the plate, and look at the ratio. Half the plate as non-starchy vegetable, a quarter is lean protein, and a quarter is starch.’ That’s really a great kind of visual mechanism.”
Avoid trans-fats, said Feller. And if you’re eating saturated fat, keep it moderate and plant-based, like avocados and olive oil.
2. Substitute, don’t dismiss
Feller said many women of color are choosy about what they eat, sometimes to their detriment.
“I often hear ‘I’m not going to eat it if it doesn’t taste good.’ They’re foods that we’re accustomed to eating,” said Feller. “Historically, people would make meats and vegetables, and they would be well, well-seasoned. Recently, I would say because of the change in how agriculture and business are linked, we see those foods being made with added sugars, fats and salts.”
Feller suggested making the same dishes, but avoiding additives and making healthy substitutions.
“A lot of my Latino patients … really love to have the combination of rice and beans. One of the swaps that we did was instead of the white rice, we switched to brown rice and instead of canned beans, we switched to dried beans … Instead of frying the meat we sauteed it or stewed it. Rather than browning it in sugar, we started with a tomato paste, still sweet, garlic, onion, pepper, and then instead of frying the plantains, we either boiled them or bake them in the oven. So you’re getting the same dish, but you’re making a switch.”
3. Be active in creative ways.
Feller said women of color are sometimes working two or three jobs and don’t have time for exercise. Their lack of activity also compounds their stress levels, and there’s a link between stress, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, she said.
“There are not enough spaces for people to engage in intentional, safe, physical activity,” said Feller.
However, 30 minutes of physical activity are recommended each day, which might not be realistic for everyone. Feller mentioned some creative suggestions.
“If you’re living in an urban center, you can do things like getting off the subway or the bus one stop earlier so you walk, taking the steps rather than the escalator…If you’re living in a rural area, I say, ‘Start with 10 minutes of walking. Go at a slow or moderate pace.’ Another thing that also counts is cleaning your own home, right?…I would say washing your dishes might not be an aerobic activity…However, vacuuming your home for 30 minutes in a way and kind of dancing and moving could be aerobic and fun.”
4. Practice sleep hygiene
Sleep is a crucial part of health and stress management, said Feller, and it’s often overlooked. Poor sleep habits can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, according to the CDC.
“You know, there’s this idea that sleep is not important. It’s incredibly important. It’s a time for rejuvenation and rest,” said Feller. “If someone is sleeping four hours a night, usually with my patients I say, ‘Okay, is there a way that we can increase it to six?’ I’m not going to ask for the full eight at the top…So maybe during the week, I’ll say, “Okay, aim for six.’ And on the weekend, I’ll say, ‘Aim for seven. [Take] small steps.’”
5. Model good nutrition for the family.
Women of color sometimes live in neighborhoods that lack healthy grocery stores, according to Feller. This means their children are primarily exposed to establishments like dollar stores that sell highly processed foods. This, along with a lack of nutritional education, leaves children especially vulnerable to negative influences. A good diet, however, can be modeled by a family member.
“Usually there is the primary caregiver. It could be a mom, a grandmother, even a father, aunt, uncle. Once they decide to kind of make that change about what’s going to be on the plates of the people in the family, we see it trickle down. If we can educate the elders and the people that are serving the food, then the children and folks underneath are more likely to engage in positive eating behaviors.”
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Former World Series champions Octavio Dotel and Luis Castillo were named Tuesday as part of “one of the most important drug trafficking structures in the Caribbean region,” according to the Dominican Republic’s attorney general.
Castillo and Dotel, both originally from the Dominican Republic, were implicated along with 16 others in an operation to shut down a drug ring run by César Emilio Peralta, according to a press release from Attorney General of the Dominican Republic Jean Alain Rodríguez.
Members of the ring allegedly used the Dominican Republic as a bridge for the transit and illicit entry of drugs to the United States from South America. Peralta, also known as César El Abusador, allegedly created a mafia-like organization.
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“To enter and launder the illicit money obtained from drug trafficking, César El Abusador also created a complicated corporate framework to disguise the origin of his fortune, also using numerous individuals belonging to his family and social circle to hide his assets, including 2 sports figures of the Dominican Republic that we will present to you,” the press release stated.
Tuesday’s operation included more than 700 people from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Dominican Republic’s National Drug Control Directorat.
Authorities arrested a handful of allegedly high-ranking members of the ring, Baltazar Mesa, José Jesús Tapia Pérez, and Sergio Gómez Díaz. The attorney general’s office said that these men are facing possible extradition to the United States.
Dotel was also arrested in the Dominican Republican, but the attorney general’s office did not specify what charges he might face.
Contrary to initial reports that Castillo was arrested in the Tuesday operation, his lawyer issued a statement clarifying that the former MLB player was in the United States with his family. It is unclear whether authorities will pursue charges against Castillo in the case.
Castillo enjoyed a 15-year MLB career, playing for the then-Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Minnesota Twins. His 2003 Marlins team won the World Series.
But he might be best known for one play — when he dropped a pop-up in a Mets-Yankees game in 2009. His error, in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, cost the Mets a win and gave the Yankees a most improbable victory.
Dotel’s 15-year MLB career included stints with 12 different teams, though he and Castillo were never teammates. His best years were a four-and-a-half-season stint with the Houston Astros from 2000 to 2004.
Dotel appeared in two World Series, in 2012 for the Detroit Tigers and 2011 for the St. Louis Cardinals, when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in Game 7 for the winning Cards.
CORRECTION (Aug. 20, 2019, 5:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article switched the pictures of two former MLB players who were arrested. Octavio Dotel is on the left, and Luis Castillo is on the right, not the other way around.
CORRECTION (Aug. 20, 2019, 7:32 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the legal action involving Luis Castillo. Castillo was named by the attorney general of the Dominican Republic as being linked to the drug network, but was not arrested.
David K. Li contributed.
A man who was arrested in Seattle allegedly called for the “extermination” of all Latinos in Facebook messages where he threatened to also harm and kill a woman in Florida, according to court records.
Eric Lin, 35, had an initial court hearing on Monday in Seattle federal court over a charge of interstate transmission of threatening communications connected to messages he allegedly sent a woman in Miami, according to court documents.
The FBI wrote in a criminal complaint against Lin that in late July the FBI received information from the Miami Police Department that a woman had received threatening messages from two Facebook accounts since May.
The woman provided printed messages totaling over 150 pages to authorities, which included racist and misogynistic statements as well as violent threats to injure or kill her, her family and all Latinos, according to the complaint.
The person who sent the messages also called for the “extermination” of all Latinos and other unspecified racial and ethnic groups, according to the complaint. He also expressed support for Adolph Hitler as well as President Donald Trump, according to the filing.
According to the FBI, the woman said she knew Lin as someone who frequented the restaurant where she worked and that the remarks in the messages mirrored comments he had made in the restaurant discussing mass shootings and idolizing Hitler.
The FBI also wrote that Lin was in Facebook communications with another account offering to pay that person to go to Miami and find the woman’s coworker and injure him or to kidnap the woman.
The FBI went on to say that it traced back the information from the Facebook accounts threatening the woman to Lin.
Lin was arrested in Seattle on Friday on the federal charges, which were filed in Florida.
An attorney appointed to represent Lin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The announcement of the man’s arrest comes weeks after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people in an attack authorities have said was intended to target Latinos.
President Donald Trump is calling off an upcoming trip to Denmark after its prime minister rebuffed his interest in buying Greenland, a Danish territory, the White House announced on Tuesday.
“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump tweeted. “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
Trump was invited on an official state visit by the Queen of Denmark. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere confirmed that the entire trip was cancelled.
Trump mused about acquiring Greenland from Denmark on Sunday, telling reporters that “it’s something we talked about.”
“Denmark essentially owns it, we’re very good allies with Denmark,” he said. “Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit.”
But, he added, “first we have to find out whether or not they have any interest.”
Frederiksen said they did not.
“Greenland is not for sale,” she told Greenlandish media on Sunday. “Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland. I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously.”
Technically a part of North America, Greenland is between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and between Canada and Europe. It’s an autonomous Danish territory with a population of more than 50,000 and has natural resources such as coal and uranium.
Kim Kielsen, Greenland’s premier, said in a statement that the island “is not for sale and cannot be sold, but Greenland is open for trade and cooperation with other countries — including the United States.”
Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the visit came as a surprise, since the White House initially described the trip as unrelated to Trump’s Greenland aspirations. He told reporters on Sunday, that, “we’re going to Poland and then we may be going to Denmark — not for this reason at all. But we’re looking at it.”
Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner contributed.