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Senate approves $1.3 trillion spending bill

The Senate approved a $1.3 trillion spending measure early Friday morning, The New York Times reported.

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The Senate voted 65-32 in favor of the measure, which will keep the federal government open through September;

On Thursday, the House passed the bill by a 256-167 margin.

The measure, which was 2,232 pages in length, was passed less than 24 hours after it had been introduced, the Times reported.

The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his approval.

The legislation will increase funding for the military and more domestic spending, CNN reported.

The spending package also includes money to fight the opioid epidemic and fund more than $21 billion in infrastructure projects, CNN reported.

The bill does not address the fate of young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and have been shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Times reported.

Tennessee woman allegedly opens fire on woman in church parking lot

A Tennessee woman is in custody after she allegedly fired shots at another woman who was dropping off her child.

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Freddrica Blair is charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon, Memphis police said.

Police said Blair shot twice into the air at the Abundant Grace Fellowship church parking lot, while her other toddler was in the backseat of her nearby car.

The whole scene played out less than 100 yards away from high-ranking Memphis Police Department officers and a television crew, who were at the Whitehaven church for a juvenile justice workshop.

Officers said they overheard an argument taking place on the southeast side of the church parking lot. The argument quickly escalated to a shooting, police said.

After the verbal altercation, Blair allegedly got out with a gun, started screaming and fired two shots into the air in the direction of the woman, her child’s father, and her other child.

“We were here for a community event and we heard a gunshot, got out of the car, and turned around to see what it was. (I) heard another gunshot, then saw a lady with a gun in her hand,” Lt. Col. Jeff Tow said. “I immediately went over there, pulled her out of the car, got the gun.”

One of Blair's children was with the other woman at the nearby car wash, alongside the child’s father. Apparently, a drop-off was supposed to happen, police said.

The mother with the gun had a girl in the backseat of her car.

Police reports said another woman was trying to apologize for previous encounters with the child.

The victim refused to prosecute and filled out a refusal form. 

“You could tell that she knew she had made a mistake," Tow said.

Police said Blair placed the handgun behind the driver's seat of the vehicle when officers approached the car.

After securing the gun and the child, Tow gave Blair a stern lecture.

“She got a fatherly discussion for me as well,” he said.

The two children were picked up by a relative. It is unclear if the Department of Child Services will get involved.

Feds: Postal worker on disability got $94,000, was in 35 motorcycle races

A former Ohio U.S. Postal Service worker is alleged to have participated in 35 motorcycle races during an 18-month period in which he was disabled or on light duty, according to federal court documents.

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Jerry French was indicted last week in Dayton’s U.S. District Court on counts of making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements to medical personnel and the postal service which led to Office of Workers’ Compensation Benefits of $93,971.42.

French is at least the eighth area postal worker to face allegations of federal crimes in the past few years.

Former West Carrollton postal worker Laticha Schroyer had pleaded guilty in a case where she was seen vacationing while injured, but she recently asked to withdraw her plea by bill of information.

No defense attorney is listed for French in federal court documents, and no dates have been scheduled in the case.

An indictment filed March 15 detailed how French allegedly injured his knee while falling on ice when he was delivering mail on Feb. 2, 2011.

French filled out a claim for disability pay and was off from work for a year until returning to one hour of limited duty per day, the indictment said.

The Department of Labor accepted French’s injury as a sprained knee in April 2011, according to court documents.

The indictment said French allegedly told two doctors that he could not perform most work duties, that his pain level was 8 out of 10 and that he was in pain 24/7.

A doctor amended his report to say an MRI indicated a meniscus tear and the Department of Labor approved an arthroscopic surgery, the indictment said.

The indictment said that in October 2011, another doctor performed the surgery and later submitted a report showing there was no meniscus tear and that the knee was normal.

On Dec. 1, 2011, French completed a medical history form at Kettering Medical Center in which he stated he had extreme difficulty doing tasks such as usual work, housework, hobbies, recreational and sporting activities, the indictment said.

French said, according to the document, that he had “moderate difficulty” doing activities including putting on socks, doling light activities, getting in and out of vehicles and sitting for one hour.

The indictment said in March 2012, a doctor reported French’s pain representations were out of proportion to the pathology.

In July 2012, French told a third doctor that he could no longer ride motorcycles because of his knee injury, according to the indictment.

The document said in September 2013, a Department of Labor form he submitted limited him to zero hours for lifting weight, walking, climbing, kneeling, bending, stooping and operating machinery.

In October 2013, French was interviewed by special agents from the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, the document said.

During that interview, French said he was physically unable to work, go up and down stairs, kneel, ride or race his motorcycles, pass a National Hot Rod Association physical, fill his nitrous oxide tank, drive a manual car or put pressure on his left leg.

The indictment said that from May 13, 2011, to Oct. 23, 2013, agents of the Inspector General observed French “participating in approximately thirty-five motorcycle races and one car race at various racetracks in Ohio and Indiana.”

The document also said agents saw French loading trailers, carrying equipment and moving metal tanks.

The indictment doesn’t explain why it was filed several years after the events and federal prosecutors didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Bomb at FedEx facility targeted Austin Med Spa employee, worker’s mom says

A bomb found at a FedEx facility in Southeast Austin on Tuesday morning was addressed to an employee at Austin Med Spa, according to spa workers and the employee’s mother. 

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Anita Ward, a nurse at Austin Med Spa, said FBI agents and Austin police told her Tuesday morning that her daughter, who also works at the spa in downtown Austin, was to be the recipient of the unexploded bomb at a FedEx sorting facility at 4117 McKinney Falls Parkway near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. 

Ward, who did not want to give her daughter’s name, said her daughter does not know Mark Conditt, who police say terrorized Austin with a series of bomb attacks that left two people dead and five injured.

Anita Ward said Conditt also did not look familiar to anyone who works at the spa.

>> Related: Austin bombings: Click here for complete coverage

“We’ve been trying to just keep it in the down low just for the FBI and police,” Ward said. “All of us here are just very thankful for the FBI and police and the work they’ve been doing.”

“I got to see a little bit of the inside of (the investigative process) and they were very quick at checking and stopping this package, and so we completely 100 percent credit this to them for stopping this from being delivered to our office,” she said.

>> Related: Austin bomber on recording: ‘I wish I were sorry but I am not’ 

Ward’s daughter attends Austin Community College, but did not attend the school from 2010 to 2012, when Conditt was pursuing a business administration degree but did not graduate.

They’re still investigating, we’re still providing them information,” Ward said. “We pretty much know as much as (authorities) can release to us. We still have a lot of unanswered questions.”

For now, Ward said she and her daughter are scared but thankful for the work of the FBI and Austin police. “We’ve both been very actively concerned and involved with this, her being targeted.”

Police said the unexploded package at the FedEx facility in Southeast Austin was one of two sent from a Sunset Valley FedEx Office store. Authorities determined it was a bomb and detonated in a controlled manner, they said.

>> Related: Austin bomb victim's father thanks authorities in letter, questions son's death

The first three victims, all in East Austin, were two black men who were killed in the attacks and a Hispanic woman. Two white men were injured on Sunday when they accidentally triggered a trip wire attached to a bomb in Southwest Austin. Ward and her daughter are white.

Teen crashes through driver’s education office during road test

A teenager in Buffalo, Minnesota, may not be road-ready, yet, after crashing into the building of the driver’s license exam office.

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The 17-year-old was taking her road test Wednesday afternoon when “she inadvertently put the vehicle in drive instead of reverse,” police said in a Facebook post.

“This led to the vehicle lurching forward when she accelerated, causing the vehicle to move forward and over the curb, striking the building,” the post said.

A photo of the scene shows the vehicle partly inside the office with bricks and shattered glass littering the sidewalk.

A 60-year-old woman, identified as the license examiner, was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

>> Related: Brawl breaks out at IHOP after manager confronts unruly party

The teen driver was not injured and she wasn’t charged in the accident, but it’s a safe beat she didn’t pass her driver’s test.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch 16 times larger than estimates: 87,000 tons of plastic and growing

The giant mass of floating plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, now measures almost 620,000 square miles and is as much as 16 times larger than previous estimates, according to a new study.

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The huge mass of soupy trash between California and Hawaii in what’s known as the Pacific gyre contains 87,000 tons of plastic, researchers reported in the study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, and scientists said with the massive global plastic pollution continuing, it’s still growing.

Data between 1970 and 2015 shows the plastic levels in the garbage patch are increasing at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.

The biggest chunk of garbage in the patch, 46 percent of it, is fishing nets, according to the research. Other types of commercial fishing gear, including eel traps, ropes and oyster spacers account for a majority of the rest of the trash. 

Oceanographer and lead researcher with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation Laurent Lebreton told National Geographic scientists wanted to study the bigger pieces of trash in the patch.

“I knew there would be a lot of fishing gear, but 46 percent was unexpectedly high,” Lebreton said. “Initially, we thought fishing gear would be more in the 20 percent range. That is the accepted number [for marine debris] globally - 20 percent from fishing sources and 80 percent from land.”

The fishing nets that litter the world’s oceans entangle whales, turtles and seals, and the plastic in the seas kills or injures 100,000 marine animals every year, National Geographic reported.

Researchers said there are still many unknowns about the garbage patch, including the level of plastic pollution in deeper waters and on the sea floor, and that more study is needed,

The findings are part of a three-year mapping effort involving Ocean Cleanup, an international team of scientists, six universities and an aerial sensor company. 


National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster out; former U.S. ambassador John Bolton in

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is resigning from the Trump administration and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from President Donald Trump.

>> Read more trending newsWho is H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security advisor

Things You Never Knew About Dairy Queen

Things You Never Knew About Dairy Queen

Austin bomber on recording: ‘I wish I were sorry but I am not’

The man who killed two people and wounded five others with a series of bomb attacks in the Austin area left an audio recording for police that includes a haunting revelation about himself.

>> Read more trending news 

“I wish I were sorry but I am not,” Mark Conditt said in the cell phone recording, according to sources familiar with his statements. He described himself as a “psychopath” and said he feels as though he has been disturbed since childhood.

Conditt also promised that he would go inside a crowded McDonald’s to blow himself up if he thought authorities were closing in on him, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the contents of the audio. The sources declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak about the recording, which police are using as evidence in the case.

>> Related: Austin bomb victim's father thanks authorities in letter, questions son's death

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley confirmed the existence of the audio in a news conference Wednesday, but provided limited details about its specifics. He called it a “confession.”

Police said Conditt, 23, detonated a bomb inside his car as officers closed in on him along Interstate 35 early Wednesday. He had a laptop computer with him that was destroyed in the blast, but officials said they think it may have contained other recordings.

>> Related: 55 hours of terror, and a final blast in Austin serial bombings

According to the sources, he began his 28-minute statement, which was recorded after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, saying “it’s me again” and blamed himself for helping investigators find him by going into a FedEx store on Brodie Lane in Sunset Valley to mail two explosive devices, one of which blew up at a transfer facility in Schertz.

That decision, Conditt realized, allowed him to be captured on video cameras inside the store and for outside cameras to snap photographs of his license plate, which authorities used to learn his identity.

>> Related: How was Mark Anthony Conditt caught? ‘Exotic’ batteries and cell-site analysis

Conditt also acknowledged that he recognized his actions left family members without loved ones, and caused permanent injuries to other victims, including an elderly woman, but said little else about them.

The sources also repeated what Manley said at the news conference: That Conditt gave no hint about how or why he chose the targets of the bomb attacks.

Photos: Notable deaths 2018

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