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A mammoth theft

A federal agency wants its wooly mammoth tusk back.

The Bureau of Land Management in Alaska on Tuesday asked the public's help in recovering an approximately 10,000-year-old tusk stolen from the Campbell Creek Science Center, an interpretive centre in east Anchorage.

The woolly mammoth is Alaska's official state fossil. The tusk was on display when the centre was burglarized March 8. Anchorage police say a thief broke in through a window and took only the tusk, which weighs 100 pounds.

The curved tusk is dark- and light-brown, mottled and about 1.7 metres long. The tusk is 20 centimetres in diameter on the large end and 15 centimetres in diameter at the narrow end.

BLM spokeswoman Maureen Clark said the tusk was one of several found in the mid-1980s near the Colville River, which flows into the Arctic Ocean north of the Brooks Range.

"People were allowed to touch it," she said by email. "It was a popular item at the science centre."

Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, said mammoths generally died out at the end of the Pleistocene Era 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. A few survived on islands such as Wrangel Island off northeast Siberia until about 4,000 years ago, he said.

The legal sale of a mammoth tusk depends on whether it's found on private land. A property owner may sell tusks found on their land. Tusks cannot be sold if found on state or federal land.

Druckenmiller said he's not qualified to say how much a tusk could fetch and he's only interested in their scientific value.

"But I'm not naive. There's a market for them. The do sell and they're either used for display as is at home, or there's a thriving trade that carves mammoth ivory," he said.

The BLM is offering a $500 reward for the return of its tusk.



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Fox News faces backlash

Fox News Channel faces a growing backlash among Hollywood creators that intensified Tuesday following Laura Ingraham's description of "zero tolerance" detention facilities for children separated from their parents as "essentially summer camps."

"Modern Family" co-creator Steve Levitan raised the possibility of no longer working with the 20th Century Fox television studio after tweeting his disgust with Ingraham's remarks. The Fox News Channel prime-time host tried to walk back her remarks even before her show concluded Monday night, but the damage had already been done.

Seth MacFarlane, creator of Fox's "Family Guy," donated $2.5 million this week to National Public Radio and Southern California Public Radio's newsgathering efforts. On Sunday, MacFarlane tweeted that he was "embarrassed to work for this company" after pointing to a remark by Fox News' Tucker Carlson that viewers should assume the opposite of what major news stations reported.

Hollywood producer Judd Apatow challenged more Fox stars and executives to speak up and "make a huge difference in this national debate" about President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Paul Feig, a filmmaker who's done films for 20th Century Fox, posted Tuesday that he can't condone the support of Fox News "toward the immoral and abusive policies and actions taken by this current administration toward immigrant children."

Fox News declined comment on the issue Tuesday.

Hollywood types aren't exactly the favourite of Fox News Channel personalities or viewers, but the developments could have business implications. The ownership of the 20th Century Fox television and film studios, which are sister companies to Fox News, are currently up for grabs, the subject of a bidding war between Disney and Comcast.

Ingraham made her remark while defending the Trump administration's policy of separating children from parents of families caught illegally trying to cross the border into the United States.

"Since more illegal immigrants are rushing to the border, more kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily being housed in what are essentially summer camps" or facilities that look like boarding schools, she said in the opening monologue of Monday night's show.

Shortly before her hour-long program ended, Ingraham had apparently gotten word that there was a social media backlash to her "summer camps" remark. In a description of one of the facilities in Texas on Sunday, the Associated Press reported that hundreds of children were waiting in a series of cages created by metal fencing.

"Apparently there are a lot of people very upset because we referred to some of the detention facilities tonight as essentially like summer camps," she said. "The San Diego Union-Tribune today described the facilities as essentially like you would expect at a boarding school. So I will stick to there are some of them like boarding schools."

Ingraham, who has three adopted children, including one from Central America, suggested that people concerned about Trump's policy "take care of them the right way. Open your hearts and homes to them."

She wasn't immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

In a statement, Fox News said that Ingraham's "very personal, on-the-ground commitment" to children in need speaks for itself, as does her belief "in a commonsense, legal immigration system, which will continue to be a focus of her show."

Fox News won't "tolerate or give in to attempts to silence diverse viewpoints by agenda-driven intimidation efforts," the statement said.



'Tender age' shelters

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three "tender age" shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

Since the White House announced its zero tolerance policy in early May, more than 2,300 children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in a new influx of young children requiring government care. The government has faced withering critiques over images of some of the children in cages inside U.S. Border Patrol processing stations.

Decades after the nation's child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents.

"The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it," said Kay Bellor, vice-president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care and other child welfare services to migrant children. "Toddlers are being detained."

Bellor said shelters follow strict procedures surrounding who can gain access to the children in order to protect their safety, but that means information about their welfare can be limited.

By law, child migrants travelling alone must be sent to facilities run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within three days of being detained. The agency then is responsible for placing the children in shelters or foster homes until they are united with a relative or sponsor in the community as they await immigration court hearings.

But U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement last month that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has led to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and sent a new group of hundreds of young children into the government's care.

The United Nations, some Democratic and Republican lawmakers and religious groups have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.

Not so, said Steven Wagner, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services.

"We have specialized facilities that are devoted to providing care to children with special needs and tender age children as we define as under 13 would fall into that category," he said. "They're not government facilities per se, and they have very well-trained clinicians, and those facilities meet state licensing standards for child welfare agencies, and they're staffed by people who know how to deal with the needs — particularly of the younger children."

Until now, however, it's been unknown where they are.

"In general we do not identify the locations of permanent unaccompanied alien children program facilities," said agency spokesman Kenneth Wolfe.

The three centres — in Combes, Raymondville and Brownsville — have been rapidly repurposed to serve needs of children including some under 5. A fourth, planned for Houston, would house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Turner said he met with officials from Austin-based Southwest Key Programs, the contractor that operates some of the child shelters, to ask them to reconsider their plans. A spokeswoman for Southwest Key didn't immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

"And so there comes a point in time we draw a line and for me, the line is with these children," said Turner during a news conference Tuesday.

On a practical level, the zero tolerance policy has overwhelmed the federal agency charged with caring for the new influx of children who tend to be much younger than teens who typically have been travelling to the U.S. alone. Indeed some recent detainees are infants, taken from their mothers.

Doctors and lawyers who have visited the shelters said the facilities were fine, clean and safe, but the kids — who have no idea where their parents are — were hysterical, crying and acting out.



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App catches cellphone thief

Authorities say a Florida man has been charged with stealing 27 cellphones during a Delaware music festival after an iPhone app led police to him.

The News Journal of Wilmington reported Monday that 34-year-old William Rodriguez, of Miami, has been charged with multiple counts of theft. The Dover Police Department had received reports of cellphones being snatched from hands, pockets and purses over the weekend at the Firefly Music Festival.

A department release says one victim at the festival was able to track her phone using the "Find My iPhone" app. The app led state and Dover police to Rodriguez, who had all 27 cellphones with him at the time.

The newspaper doesn't say if Rodriguez has a lawyer.



68.5 million refugees

On a day when newly released data showcased in tangible numbers the stark realities of the growing global refugee crisis, the United States — long considered a haven for the oppressed — doubled down on anti-migrant rhetoric while Canada struck a decidedly cautious tone.

The annual Global Trends report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was released Tuesday, showing the worldwide total number of displaced people reached a record 68.5 million last year, due to global wars, violence and persecution.

In 2017 alone, more than 16 million people were newly displaced.

The statistics also show Canada became the ninth-largest recipient of asylum seekers, more than doubling the number of claims in a single year at 47,800.

And for the first time in five years, the United States became the largest recipient of new asylum applications with more than 330,000 claims lodged in 2017 — a 27 per cent jump from the year before.

But U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear Tuesday that asylum seekers who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are not welcome in America.

In a speech Tuesday, Trump accused many of these migrants of being child and human smugglers who try to "game the system," invoking references to the notorious international criminal gang MS-13 attacking children with knives, not guns, "because it's much more painful."

"And we're allowing these people into our country? Not with me. We're taking them out by the thousands," Trump said.

The Trump administration has come under fire for its so-called zero-tolerance policy, in which asylum seekers who cross illegally into the U.S. are charged with federal crimes and separated from their children. The children are being detained in guarded, fenced enclosures, prompting widespread condemnation and protest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been called upon to lend his voice to the chorus of condemnation, but so far Trudeau has demurred.

On Monday he would only say he would not "play politics" on the issue, and he did not attend question period in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale largely repeated comments made Monday, in which they said they found the images of children being torn from the arms of their parents and kept in cage-like detention areas "troubling."

Transport Minister Marc Garneau went a step further, saying the situation involving child migrants in the U.S. is "simply unacceptable."



Kids' cries spark outrage

An audio recording that appears to capture the heartbreaking voices of small Spanish-speaking children crying out for their parents at a U.S. immigration facility took centre stage in the growing uproar over the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.

"Papa! Papa!" one child is heard weeping in the audio file that was first reported Monday by the non-profit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press.

Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury said she received the tape from a whistleblower and told ProPublica it was recorded in the last week. She did not provide details about where exactly it was recorded.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the audio but said children taken into custody by the government are being treated humanely. She said the government has high standards for detention centres and the children are well cared for and stressed that Congress needs to plug loopholes in the law so families can stay together.

The audio surfaced as politicians and advocates flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border to visit U.S. immigration detention centres and turn up the pressure on the Trump administration. The president was to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the crisis with House Republicans.

And the backlash over the policy widened. The Mormon church said it is "deeply troubled" by the separation of families at the border and urged national leaders to find compassionate solutions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, reversed a decision to send a National Guard helicopter from his state to the Mexican border to assist in a deployment, citing the administration's "cruel and inhumane" policy.

At the border, an estimated 80 people pleaded guilty Monday to immigration charges, including some who asked the judge questions such as "What's going to happen to my daughter?" and "What will happen to my son?"

Attorneys at the hearings said the immigrants had brought two dozen boys and girls with them to the U.S., and the judge replied that he did not know what would happen to their children.

Several groups of lawmakers toured a nearby facility in Brownsville, Texas, that houses hundreds of immigrant children.

Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said the location was a former hospital converted into living quarters for children, with rooms divided by age group. There was even a small room for infants, complete with two high chairs, where two baby boys wore matching rugby style shirts with orange and white stripes.

Another group of lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. One cage held 20 youngsters.

More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility, which is divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children.



Quake prompts wall checks

Japan's government has ordered an emergency inspection of cinder-block walls at schools nationwide, a day after an earthquake in Osaka killed five people, two of whom were crushed by falling walls.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake that struck Osaka during Monday's morning rush hour injured more than 370 people in the region, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The quake also damaged many buildings and disrupted traffic.

Authorities confirmed a fifth victim Tuesday — a 66-year-old man found dead, covered with books and other objects at a home in Takatsuki.

The death of 9-year-old Rina Miyake just outside her school in Takatsuki city has sparked concerns about cinder-block walls and prompted authorities to call for safety checks. An 80-year-old man, who was on his way to volunteer in a neighbourhood watch while schoolchildren walked to school, also was killed by a collapsing wall.

Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters Tuesday he was ordering all public elementary and junior high schools to "urgently" inspect their walls. Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Keiichi Ishii said he planned to raise awareness of the potential risks of cinder-block walls among private property owners as well.

Concrete walls made of stacked cinder-blocks are a known risk in earthquakes but the danger has been largely ignored even though the current building codes call for walls built before 1981 to be upgraded. Japan introduced stricter quake-resistant standards in 1981 after cinderblock walls caused 11 of the 16 deaths in Sendai city and its vicinity in a 1978 quake in northern Japan, according to municipal records. That quake killed 28 altogether.

Japanese schools have largely upgraded the safety of classrooms and other buildings to meet current anti-quake standards, but many of the old cinder-block walls have been left untouched. Past local government surveys in school neighbourhoods have found most walls lack additional safety reinforcement.

Some quake-prone cities in central and eastern Japan, including Tokyo, Aichi and Shizuoka, have started offering subsidies for dismantling or reinforcing cinder-block walls as a way to motivate private owners.

Officials in Takatsuki city have acknowledged that the wall at the municipal-run school that broke and killed the girl exceeded the legal height limit of 2.2 metres. On Tuesday, police investigated the site and city officials on suspicion of professional negligence.

Authorities have warned residents of possible strong aftershocks.



Ferry sinks, dozens missing

Rescuers searching Tuesday for dozens of people missing after a ferry sank on Indonesia's Lake Toba found bags, jackets, an ID card and other items in the waters but no new survivors, casting a tragic pall over holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month.

Police said in a statement that 18 people were rescued and one body was recovered, unchanged from figures released by disaster and police officials after the ferry sank on Monday evening. It released the names of 94 people confirmed as missing but said the figure was expected to rise as information from relatives is compiled.

Cellphone video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency showed the crew of another ferry attempting to rescue people struggling in the waters shortly after the sinking but being hampered by bad weather and rough waters. Distraught relatives gathered at major ferry docks on the lake, hoping for news of missing family members.

Budiawan, the head of the search and rescue agency in the nearby city of Medan, said the overcrowded boat was filled with an estimated 150 people and 55 motorbikes. Officials are relying on reports from the families of victims and survivors to estimate the number of victims. Budiawan, who uses one name, said the vessel did not have a passenger manifest.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the boat sank at about 5:30 p.m. Monday as it sailed from the mainland to an island.

A survivor identified by Indonesian television as Juwita Sumbayak said the vessel was rocked by high waves and was hit a by a wooden boat before suddenly sinking.

"I was desperate. I was scared to death. I'm afraid my family is dead," she said, weeping.

The 1,145-square-kilometre Lake Toba, formed out of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra.

Tens of millions of Indonesians return to their hometowns and take holidays at the end of Ramadan.

The police statement said that on Tuesday morning the search had found several bags, including one containing a cellphone and ID, jackets and other items of clothing as well as traces of oil and a blue bucket and jerry cans suspected to be from the sunken ferry KM Sinar Bangun.



Food trail for Bourdain

New Jersey is considering honouring celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain with a food trail.

The famed cook, writer and host of the CNN series "Parts Unknown" killed himself nearly two weeks ago in a luxury hotel in France. The 61-year-old was born in New York, but grew up in the New Jersey suburb of Leonia.

Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty on Monday introduced a resolution that would require the Travel and Tourism Division to establish the "Anthony Bourdain Food Trail." Bourdain visited 10 eateries in the state in a 2015 episode of CNN's "Parts Unknown.

One of the stops was Donkey's Place in Camden, which Bourdain said rivaled nearby Philadelphia for cheesesteaks.



Search for rapper's killer

Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver's seat of a luxury electric sportscar.

The 20-year-old rising star, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward Sheriff's Office said. He was shot earlier outside a Deerfield Beach motorcycle dealership.

XXXTentacion had been at RIVA Motorsports checking out inventory when he was approached by two armed suspects as he prepared to drive off in a black BMW i8 about 4 p.m., sheriff's public information officer Keyla Concepcion said.

At least one of them fired, and then both suspects fled the scene in a dark SUV, Concepcion said.

A sheriff's office statement described the shooting as an apparent robbery attempt. No immediate arrests were made.

On Twitter, his peers expressed shock and sadness.

Kanye West said: "rest in peace ... I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing." Producer Diplo posted a photo of the two together and said, "Thanks for inspiring me." Travis Barker tweeted: "I'm at a loss for words... speechless #RIPXXXTentacion Loved collaborating with you. You were a true artist ..."

And J. Cole said, in part: "RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans."

The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and a number of facial tattoos, was a rising star. He notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort "?'' and had a top 10 hit with "Sad!" but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend.

XXXTentacion racked up huge streaming numbers — on Spotify, his "Sad!" had more than 270 million streams and was on its Top 50 chart this week in the United States and globally. He also has several songs that have been declared platinum, including "Changes," ''Roll in Peace" with fellow rapper Kodak Black and "Look at Me!"

His brief career was mired in controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was jailed on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. Later, he faced more charges including witness tampering.

Regarding a June 2017 attack at a San Diego concert, the following messages were posted on XXXTentacion's Twitter account: "security and venue set me up, I got sucker punched and knocked out, it is what it is."

A subsequent tweet said," ''next time make sure you kill me so I can't talk (expletive)."

He was released from jail on house arrest late last year and was released from house arrest earlier this year to allow him to tour.



Unapologetic Trump digs in

An unapologetic President Donald Trump defended his administration's border-protection policies Monday in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Trump declared the U.S. "will not be a migrant camp" on his watch.

Images of children held in fenced cages fueled a growing chorus of condemnation from both political parties, four former first ladies and national evangelical leaders. The children are being held separately from parents who are being prosecuted under the administration's "zero-tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings.

Trump on Monday blamed Democrats for obstructing legislation to fix the situation. In fact, it was Trump's administration that broke with longstanding practice of processing migrant families in civil, rather than criminal, proceedings that allow families to be held together.

"I say it's very strongly the Democrats' fault," Trump said Monday as his administration rejected criticism that the policy has resulted in inhuman and immoral conditions.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, "We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do."

In an appearance before the National Sheriffs' Association in New Orleans, Nielsen said: "Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards."

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants, in part because regulations prohibit detaining children with their parents since the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

The policy change was meant to deter unlawful crossings — and Sessions issued a warning last month to those entering the U.S. illegally that their children "inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions."

The current holding areas have drawn widespread attention after journalists gained access to one site Sunday. At a McAllen, Texas, detention centre hundreds of immigrant children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

Audio of sobbing children calling out for their parents dominated the discussion Monday. "Papa! Papa!" one child is heard weeping in an audio file that was first reported by the non-profit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press.

Administration officials said they do not like the family separations either — calling it the result of legal loopholes — but insist migrants who arrive illegally simply won't be released or loosely kept track of.

"The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility," Trump declared. "Not on my watch."

Sessions, on Monday, echoed the administration's defence of the zero tolerance policy, and called on Congress to act.

"We do not want to separate parents from their children," he said. "If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won't face these terrible choices."



Snake + gas leads to blaze

An improvised method of getting rid of a snake in a garden by spraying it with gasoline kicked off a chain reaction that ended up with a house on fire in southern Finland.

Finnish public broadcaster YLE reported Tuesday that some of the flammable liquid spread by an ill-fated homeowner in Siuntio, west of Helsinki, landed on a nearby lawnmower that was warm enough to ignite a fire.

Flames spread quickly Monday in extremely dry conditions to the wooden house, reaching the exterior wall and attic.

The broadcaster said firefighters extinguished the blaze but damages may reach 15,000 euros ($17,000), although the home's interior was not affected.

YLE didn't identify the reptile, but venomous adders, smooth snakes and grass snakes are the most common types of snakes in Finland.



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