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    Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming three patients were infected by unknown means. The patients — an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school — hadn’t recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person, authorities said. Earlier U.S. cases include three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak; 14 people who returned from China, or their spouses; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were flown to U.S. military bases in California and Texas for quarantining. Convinced that the number of cases will grow but determined to keep them from exploding, health agencies were ramping up efforts to identify patients. The California Department of Public Health said Friday that the state will receive enough kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to test up to 1,200 people a day for the COVID-19 virus — a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom complained to federal health officials that the state had already exhausted its initial 200 test kits. Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area reported two cases where the source of infection wasn’t known. The older woman was hospitalized for a respiratory illness, and rapid local testing confirmed in one day that she had the virus, health officials said. “This case represents some degree of community spread, some degree of circulation,” said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County and director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. “But we don’t know to what extent,” Cody said. “It could be a little, it could be a lot.” “We need to begin taking important additional measures to at least slow it down as much as possible,” she said. Cody said the newly confirmed case in Santa Clara County is not linked to two previous cases in that county, nor to others in the state. The Santa Clara County resident was treated at a local hospital and is not known to have traveled to Solano County, where another woman was identified Wednesday as having contracted the virus from an unknown source. Dozens of people had close contact with the Solano County woman. They were urged to quarantine themselves at home, while a few who showed symptoms of illness were in isolation, officials said. At UC Davis Medical Center at least 124 registered nurses and other health care workers were sent home for “self-quarantine' after the Solano County woman with the virus was admitted, National Nurses United, a nationwide union representing RNs, said Friday. The case “highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s hospitals to this virus,' the union said. Earlier Friday, Oregon confirmed its first coronavirus case, a person who works at an elementary school in the Portland area, which will be temporarily closed. The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers. Washington state health officials announced two new coronavirus cases Friday night, including a high school student who attends Jackson High School in Everett, said Dr. Chris Spitters of the Snohomish County Health District. The other case in Washington was a woman in in King County in her 50s who had recently traveled to South Korea, authorities said. Both patients weren’t seriously ill. The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China. But health officials aren't taking any chances. Some communities, including San Francisco, already have declared local emergencies in case they need to obtain government funding. In Southern California's Orange County, the city of Costa Mesa went to court to prevent state and federal health officials from transferring dozens of people exposed to the virus aboard a cruise ship in Japan to a state-owned facility in the city. The passengers, including some who tested positive for the virus and underwent hospital care, had been staying at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. On Friday, state officials said the federal decided it no longer had a crucial need to move those people to the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa. That's because of the imminent end of the isolation period for those passengers and the relatively small number of persons who ended up testing positive, officials said. The new coronavirus cases of unknown origin marks an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures like quarantines, though state health officials said that was inevitable and that the risk of widespread transmission remains low. California public health officials on Friday said more than 9,380 people are self-monitoring after arriving on commercial flights from China through Los Angeles and San Francisco. That's up from the 8,400 that Newsom cited on Thursday, though officials said the number increases daily as more flights arrive. Officials are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health. The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads. As infectious disease experts fanned out in the Solano County city of Vacaville, some residents in the city between San Francisco and Sacramento stocked up on supplies amid fears things could get worse despite official reassurances, while others took the news in stride. The woman in the community who has coronavirus first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, before her condition worsened and she was transferred to the medical center in Sacramento. Sacramento County’s top health official told The Sacramento Bee on Friday that he expects several medical workers to test positive themselves in the next few days. Numerous workers at both hospitals have been tested, but the tests were sent to labs approved by the CDC and generally take three to four days to complete. Peter Beilenson, Sacramento County's health services director, said he expects even those who test positive to become only mildly ill. Confusion over how quickly the woman was tested for coronavirus concerned McKinsey Paz, who works at a private security firm in Vacaville. The company has already stockpiled 450 face masks and is scrambling for more “since they’re hard to come by.” The company's owner bought enough cleaning and disinfectant supplies to both scrub down the office and send home with employees. But they appeared to be at the extreme for preparations. Eugenia Kendall was wearing a face mask, but in fear of anything including the common cold. Her immune system is impaired because she is undergoing chemotherapy, and she has long been taking such precautions. “We’re not paranoid. We’re just trying to be practical,” said her husband of 31 years, Ivan Kendall. “We wipe the shopping carts if they have them, and when I get back in the car I wipe my hands — and just hope for the best.” ___ Associated Press writer Adam Beam contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • In a Koreatown restaurant known for its beef bone broth soup, the lunchtime crowd Friday was half its normal size. The reason was a virulent rumor about a customer with coronavirus. Han Bat Shul Lung Tang was one of five restaurants that lost business after being named in posts on a Korean messaging app that warned a Korean Air flight attendant with the virus had dined there during a layover in Los Angeles more than a week ago. “It's fake news,” owner John Kim said, and he had proof. His restaurant was closed at the time because of a water leak, a fact confirmed by the Department of Public Health. The rumor about the flight attendant was dispelled Friday morning by the Republic of Korea consulate in Los Angeles. In a statement posted in Korean on Facebook, the consulate general said the attendant who visited Los Angeles on Feb. 19-20 had gone to two businesses but neither was in Koreatown. Later in the day, public health officials said the flight attendant was not contagious while in the city. The rumor and the impact on the restaurants was a prime example of how fears of the virus combined with the speed and reach of social media can quickly cripple the healthiest of businesses and focus suspicion on ethnic communities. The virus, which began in China, has been spreading worldwide and has taken a big toll lately in South Korea. Lawmakers and advocates for immigrant communities have warned about xenophobia and discrimination aimed at Asian Americans. State Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, said Chinese businesses, in particular, were experiencing large economic losses as a result of racism and fear. A group representing Koreatown restaurants said business in general was down about 50% since the rumor spread on the Kakao Talk app on Monday. One message circulating on the app provided details of the flights the attendant worked on and listed the restaurants that said she purportedly visited with the message: “Please share with everyone to avoid these ktown spots,” using an abbreviation for Koreatown. “In the Korean-American community here, it went like wildfire,” Alex Won said Friday as he ate a bowl of beef brisket soup at Han Bat Shul Lung Tang. “It's sad.” Won said he got the message from friends and family members, but never really believed it because it wasn't reported in the news. He stopped at the restaurant at the start of the week and found it closed because of a water leak. He was happy to return for a late lunch Friday and was surprised to find he was the only diner. “I've never seen it this empty,” he said. “There's always people here.” Owners of other restaurants named in the post said business died almost instantly. At Honey Pig, a Korean barbecue restaurant with 25 tables, only six parties were seated during one bad day of business this week, owner Chin Kim said. Customers had been calling to inquire if the rumors were true, and some asked more outlandish questions, Kim said. One woman who had dined at the restaurant recently called to ask if it was safe to attend her daughter's upcoming wedding, Kim said. Owners were frustrated they couldn't get more information from public health officials. Korean news media reported Thursday that South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a female flight attendant who tested positive for the virus had traveled to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it was aware of reports about the flight attendant but had no confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until late Friday. That's when it said she did not develop symptoms of the illness known as COVID-19 until after leaving LA, so she posed no risk while in the city. With a rumor they couldn't confirm or deny, some restaurants took no chances. Video circulated on social media of a worker in a hazmat-type suit spraying down the floors at Hangari Kalguksu, a noodle soup house. The sign outside Hanshin Pocha, a bar offering traditional Korean snack fare, boasts “never been closed since 1998.' Nevertheless, the establishment shuttered Tuesday to sanitize the restaurant. Bottles of hand sanitizer were lined up on a counter next to bottled water. “It’s a bad rumor, but people like bad rumors,” said Jay Choi, manager of Hanshin Pocha. Choi and others talked about the need to find and punish the person who started the rumor. He said he was looking into hiring a lawyer to take legal action. On the streets of Koreatown, some pedestrians wore surgical masks. But they were not the norm. Zhang Bin, a college student from China, and his roommate have worn the masks for protection since the virus broke out. “I think even if the stewardess didn't come to the restaurants, we still need to protect from the virus,” he said. “The speed and the spread of the disease is so fast.” ___ David Yim in Los Angeles and Jae Hong in Tokyo contributed to this report.
  • The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China. LIVE UPDATES CONTINUE BELOW Officials in Washington state announce two new coronavirus cases. Update 11:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Washington state health officials announced two new coronavirus cases Friday night, a woman who had recently traveled to South Korea and a high school student with no known exposure to the disease whose school will be closed and sanitized. Neither people were seriously ill, authorities said. The high school student attends Jackson High School in Everett, Washington, said Dr. Chris Spitters of the Snohomish County Health District. The student had not traveled recently, and authorities were unsure how that person contracted the disease. The other case in Washington was a woman in in King County in her 50s who had recently traveled to South Korea, authorities said. She is also currently quarantined at home. Report: Presumptive 3rd Case confirmed in patient with no travel history linked to virus Update 9:30 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Oregon Governor Kate Brown has confirmed what is believed to be the first case of coronavirus in Oregon. The patient, who lives in Washington County, had no contact with anyone with the virus and has not traveled. “The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement. The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers. Initial testing done in Oregon came back positive. Officials are referring to the case as “presumptive” until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the results. Report: 2nd Case confirmed in patient with no travel history linked to virus Update 4:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: A 65-year-old resident of Santa Clara County is the second case of community transmission of coronavirus. The patient has no known travel history to areas hit by the outbreak. The second case, reported by The Washington Post, said that there was no known connection between the latest patient and anyone else diagnosed with the virus. Stocks sink again on Wall Street Update 4:20 p.m. EST Feb. 28: Stocks sank again after another wild day, extending a rout that left Wall Street with its worst week since October 2008. The market clawed back much of its intraday losses in the last 15 minutes of trading. Bond prices soared as investors sought safety, pushing yields to record lows. The stock swoon is being driven by fear that the coronavirus outbreak will derail the global economy. Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 357 points, or 1.4%, to 25,409. The S&P 500 lost 24 points, or 0.8%, to 2,954. The benchmark index has lost 13% since hitting a record high 10 days ago. The Nasdaq rose 1 point to 8,567. Number of positive cases climbs in Italy, US Update 1:40 p.m. EST Feb. 28:Italian Civil Protection Agency officials said there are 821 cases of coronavirus. Of that number, 412 of the people have shown no symptoms and are in isolation at their homes, CNN reported. The agency also announced 21 people have died. They were in their 70s and 80s with other illnesses, according to CNN. As for the United States, there are now 62 confirmed cases, the CDC said in a press briefing. Forty-four came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three are repatriated from China and the remaining 15 are US-specific cases, CNN reported. WHO: 20+ vaccines in development Update 11:21 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The World health organization has announced that there are more than 20 vaccines in development and treatments for coronavirus. They are in clinical trials and officials hope to see results in a few weeks, CNN reported. The WHO also said that they consider the spread and risk of COVID-19 is at a high level, but have yet to declare it a pandemic. Most cases are being contributed to known contact or clusters and that the virus does not seem to be spreading freely, according to CNN. But the bigger threat than the virus itself is the fear the outbreak is creating, The Washington Post reported. Mexico has first cases Update 10:20 a.m. EST Feb. 28: Mexico has two cases of COVID-19, the country’s assistant health secretary said, according to ABC News. One case, which is confirmed, is in Mexico City, the other suspected case is in Sinaloa. While the test results haven’t come back in the second yet, officials are treating the patient as if it was positive, ABC News reported. Both cases are reportedly not serious. Meanwhile, the illness is spreading in Singapore, as the country now says there are 98 cases, CNN reported. Stocks open lower to finish week Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 800 points shortly after the opening bell to start the final day of trading this week, CNBC reported. The Dow isn’t the only index to feel the effects of the coronavirus. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both open down. Events canceled, virus spreads to sub-Saharan Africa Update 6:30 a.m. EST Feb 28: South Korea’s number of infected has jumped. Now officials say an additional 571 people have tested positive for Coronavirus, CNN reported. A total of 2,337 cases have been diagnosed, the most outside of mainland China, CNN reported. Events are being canceled as the virus continues to have a hold on most of the world. One of the world’s biggest car shows, the Geneva Motor Show, has been canceled because of coronavirus. More than 600,000 people were supposed to attend the event starting on March 2, CNN reported. The Swiss government has banned any events that have more than 1,000 expected to attend. The ban is in effect until March 15. Tokyo Disneyland has closed because of the virus. The gates will remain closed for two weeks. Both of Tokyo’s Disney parks, Disneyland and DisneySea, are planned to reopen on March 15, but it could be closed longer, NBC News reported. Lithuania now has its first confirmed case. The woman, who has mild symptoms, is in isolation at a hospital and her three family members are being monitored, CNN reported. France has two new infections, bringing its total to 40. Sub-Saharan Africa has had its first case with a person in Nigeria has tested positive. The person, who is an Italian citizen, traveled from Milan to Lagos earlier this week. Nigeria is Africa’s largest populated country with more than 200 million. Officials are trying to determine who came in contact with the person and are taking measures to make sure it doesn’t spread, The New York Times reported. US Navy quarantine Update 12 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The US Navy has ordered the self-quarantine of all ships that have been to countries in the Pacific and to monitor for any symptoms, CNN reported. But as of the order, there were no signs that anyone on the ships has become infected. The ships are to remain at sea for 14 days. The quarantine comes after a planned exercise with South Korea was suspended because of the outbreak, CNN reported.
  • Oregon's first coronavirus case emerged on Friday, and the infected person worked at an elementary school in the Portland area, which will be temporarily closed, authorities said. “The case was not a person under monitoring or a person under investigation. The individual had neither a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case — the two most common sources of exposure,' the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement. The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers. Health authorities planned to spend the weekend scrambling to find everyone the unidentified person, who has been hospitalized, had been in contact with. Hours before the case emerged, the state ramped up efforts to combat an outbreak amid potential challenges, including closing schools, businesses and events, and sustained shortages of medical supplies. At a hastily called news conference, state health officials did not release details on the person, citing patient privacy. But they said the person had spent time at the elementary school, located in a Portland suburb. “State and local authorities are responding quickly to this case,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told the Portland news conference. Brown urged people not to panic. Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said a test sample sent to a lab in Oregon was positive, and that it was being sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for confirmation. At a hearing earlier Friday in the state Capitol, top health officials heard concerns from lawmakers, and raised some themselves. Cases of COVID-19 have emerged in California to the south and Washington state to the north. Allen said at the hearing that samples had to be sent to the CDC, which could be a problem if the number of samples mounts. But at the news conference, he said a recent development enabled the testing to take place in Oregon. Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, a Democrat from Portland and member of the committee, faulted Republicans, who this week began boycotting the Legislature over a climate change bill, for being absent. One of the bills that have stalled because of the walkout would have better protected immigrants awaiting resolution on their immigration status. 'I do really fear that people who are worried about that will not be coming and seek the help they need when they start feeling sick, and they won't show up and get monitored, get tested. And this can be really dangerous,” she said. Brown convened a response team “to ensure we are taking every precaution necessary” and is tasked with coordinating state and local agencies and health authorities. “The purpose of the Coronavirus Response Team is to ensure we are taking every precaution necessary,' Brown said. As of this week, 76 people in Oregon were being monitored. Another 178 have completed monitoring without developing symptoms, according to the OHA website. Another two people had developed symptoms of the virus, were monitored, and turned out not to have it. The CDC said two more Americans tested positive for the virus out of the group of quarantined passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, bringing the national total to 62. The governor's office said that as with earthquakes and other natural disasters, families should have enough food, water, prescription medications, pet food, sanitation supplies and anything else they would need to shelter in place for an extended period of time if it becomes necessary. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild disease. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal. It has infected 83,000 people globally and caused more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China. ___ This version corrects the number of Americans who have tested positive to 62. ___ AP reporter Gillian Flaccus contributed to this story from Portland. ___ Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky
  • A mother in Kentucky was reunited with her son 55 years after a babysitter took him in 1965. Anna-Mary Barnett told WLKY that she left her 5-year-old son, Jerry Barnett, with a babysitter she did not know well in 1965, and when she returned from work, the woman had taken him. The alleged kidnapper moved to Delaware and then abandoned Jerry. He would later end up in foster care, and was given a new last name with an estimated birth date. Years later, Jerry’s son, Damon Parker, took a DNA test that linked him to a relative in Kentucky. The connection was his newfound cousin, Will Barnett, who was then able to connect Jerry to his birth mother. Anna-Mary Barnett and Jerry were reunited Friday with tearful family members in attendance. Read more about that reunion here.
  • The U.S. government announced Friday that it won’t try to send dozens of cruise ship passengers quarantined amid coronavirus fears to a city in Southern California that argued the move would pose a potentially life-threatening local risk. The government informed the California Department of Public Health that it had determined it doesn’t need to use the state-owned Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to isolate passengers from the Diamond Princess, the state agency said. Local officials had said they weren't included in the planning process and want to know what safeguards are in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus A federal judge had temporarily barred the swap and questioned why patients weren't being sent to facilities designed to handle contagious illnesses like Ebola. The Fairview center previously housed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control had originally estimated that as many as half the passengers would test positive. But the state said the actual number has been “substantially lower.” The judge's temporary restraining order blocking the transfers came during the time when state officials said the facility had been “critically needed.” “This is a victory for the citizens of Costa Mesa and Orange County,” Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. “But the government has not promised not to place future infected persons there, so the battle is not over. We will continue to ask the court to prohibit the government from using this completely inappropriate facility for housing people infected with a highly communicable and potentially fatal disease.” A court hearing was scheduled next Monday. More than 300 American passengers on the cruise ship in Japan had been evacuated and quarantined at U.S. military bases in Northern California and Texas. Some of the passengers had tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands of people, mostly in China. State officials said about 67 passengers sent to Travis Air Force Base in Solano County were California residents, and 15 of them tested positive for the virus. The question was what to do with these passengers, who weren’t able to return to the military base once they test positive although they no longer needed hospital care. The federal government said it no longer needs to use the Costa Mesa facility because there were only a small number who tested positive for COVID-19 and the 14-day isolation of the others is soon to end, according to the California Department of Public Health's statement.
  • The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at Nevins Farm in Methuen is caring for two horses that were rescued from a home in Ludlow, Massachusetts, on Feb 5. The horses had to be dug out of their stalls because the manure was piled too high for them to exit through the doors. After two hours of digging, they were freed by MSPCA Law Enforcement and Adoption Center workers. As a result of being trapped in the stalls, the horses developed sores on their backs. MSPCA-Angell’s Law Enforcement Department worked with the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office to charge Nancy L. Golec with four counts of felony animal cruelty. Golec is the former owner of the horses and she was arraigned in Palmer District Court on Monday. The horses, a 13-year-old Arabian named Shakira and an 11-year-old quarter horse/Arabian cross named Tia, were surrendered and immediately transported to Nevins Farm. Roger Lauze, the equine rescue training manager at Nevins Farm, said he hasn’t seen such neglect in nearly 40 years of working in horse rescue. “The hooves on these horses were so overgrown and disfigured that it will take years of farrier work for them to reshape—if that’s even possible,” he said. Both horses had overgrown teeth and their hind legs were caked in manure. Their overgrown hooves contributed to imbalances that have had a significant impact on their health. The Nevins Farm team is working to rehabilitate both horses in hopes that they can be placed up for adoption. Anyone interested in adopting Shakira or Tia can email barnstaff@mspca.org. Those who want to contribute to the horses’ medical bills can donate here.
  • A Hawaii councilman pleaded not guilty Friday to charges accusing him of leading a drug-trafficking organization, supplying guns, conspiring with a gang leader, requesting sexual favors as payment for drugs and assaulting a law enforcement officer in a case that highlights the hold methamphetamine has on some people in the state. Arthur Brun led a major drug-trafficking conspiracy involving 11 other defendants since at least June 2019, while serving as an elected member of the Kauai County Council, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price said. Brun, vice chair of the council's Public Safety and Human Services Committee, pleaded not guilty in U.S. court in Honolulu. Brun is a 'politician who led a drug trafficking organization in the very community he was elected to represent,” Price said. Prosecutors intend to ask the judge to order Brun held without bail at a detention hearing scheduled for next week. They say in court documents filed Friday that Brun obtained meth from a leader of the United Samoan Organization gang and had the drugs mailed to Hawaii from California. Another co-defendant is a convicted felon who Brun used for protection, prosecutors said. Brun “sometimes requested sexual favors as repayment for drugs he supplied,” prosecutors said in a motion asking for bail to be denied. They cited phone wiretaps and testimony by a defendant who is hoping for leniency at sentencing in a federal case. Crystal meth, known locally as “batu” or “ice,” gained a stronghold across the islands long before becoming popular on the U.S. mainland. Mailing or shipping drugs to Hawaii became more common with increased airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it got more difficult to smuggle drugs through air travel. Court documents say Brun arranged with a co-defendant to purchase a pound of meth to be mailed from California for $9,000. The appetite for the drug is so strong, it's street value in Hawaii can be more than double that amount. Brun abused drugs himself, prosecutors said. In October, Kauai police pulled Brun over in a traffic stop after he was seen receiving meth from the gang leader, prosecutors said. As a lieutenant's arm was inside the vehicle trying to take the keys out of the ignition, the car sped off, injuring the officer's arm. During a high-speed chase, Brun threw the pound of meth out of his window, prosecutors said. In the motion for no bail, prosecutors included transcripts of some of Brun's intercepted calls, where he speaks in Pidgin, Hawaii's creole language. In one conversation cited in the motion, he mentions injuring the officer. “Was his fault he got hurt, the (expletive) stuck his arm in the car, what he expect,” he told an unknown male. Brun was on pretrial release from that arrest when he crossed a center line while driving on Kauai on Feb. 7 and hit a pickup truck, injuring a six-year-old boy and a man, prosecutors said. He remained seated in a wheelchair during Friday's hearing because of injuries from that crash, said his court-appointed attorney, Rustam Barbee. Brun's criminal history includes a 2004 misdemeanor conviction for abuse of a family/household member and a 2004 felony conviction for second-degree theft, according to court documents.
  • An animal rescue group in Colorado is looking to find a forever home for a pair of its latest foster dogs, a bling pug and his seeing-eye Chihuahua. Augie, the pug, and Pepe, the Chihuahua, were brought to the Colorado Pug Rescue together after their owner could no longer care for them because of a terminal illness, KDVR reported. “It was kind of like a package deal. When Augie came, (Pepe) came with him,” Cyndi Trimber, a volunteer with the rescue, told KDVR. “They’ve been taken from the only home they knew, and they’re thrown into another home. They really had to depend on each other to get through it.” Augie has likely been blind for a long time. When he was brought to the rescue, he needed surgery to remove his eyes and 14 teeth. The rescue group is also asking for help to pay the $3,100 veterinary bill. Trimber is watching the two dogs for the time being. 'They sleep together, they eat together,” Trimber told KDVR. “It’s really sweet they depend on each other like that.”
  • Polygamy wouldn't be a felony crime in Utah for the first time in 85 years under a bill that passed the Legislature on Friday and appears to be supported by the governor. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for the proposal that supporters said will allow the 30,000 or so people living in the state’s polygamous communities to come out of the shadows and report abuses such as underage marriage by other polygamists without fear of prosecution. “It seems so surreal, you’re so used to it not being this way,” said Joe Darger, a Utah polygamist who has three wives. Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has indicated he will likely sign the proposal that makes polygamy between consenting adults an infraction, like a traffic offense, that carries no possible jail time. “This one has overwhelming support, though it's not without some controversy,” Herbert said during his monthly news conference at PBS Utah on Thursday. 'Eliminating it from being a felony to a lesser offense is probably warranted.' Some former members of polygamous groups have said that essentially decriminalizing the practice could embolden abusers. The Legislature “is jumping off a ledge without looking at the landing,” said Ryan Fisher, a spokesman for the anti-polygamy group Sound Choices Coalition. The bill got approval from the full Legislature after a final procedural vote in the Senate Friday. The belief that plural marriage brings exaltation in heaven is a legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The mainstream faith abandoned the practice in 1890 under pressure from the U.S. government and now strictly forbids it, but it has persisted. Those who practice it have one legal marriage and multiple “spiritual wives.” The TV show “Sister Wives' chronicles the lives of one man and his four wives. The Utah attorney general has publicly declined to prosecute otherwise law-abiding polygamists for years, but the “Sister Wives” family left the state shortly after going public, saying they were afraid of prosecution. They later lost an attempt to overturn the polygamy law in court. The Republican sponsoring the proposed change, Sen. Deidre Henderson, has argued that notorious polygamous leaders such as Warren Jeffs have “weaponized” state law to keep followers from interacting with the outside world or going to police. Henderson's proposal still includes harsher punishments for crimes linked to polygamy, such as coerced marriage and sexual abuse. Jeffs is now serving a life prison sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting girls he considered plural wives. Fears of the outside world were real for Alina Darger, one of Joe Darger’s wives. As a teenager, she was afraid to tell police about a stranger who exposed himself to her and a friend. “I was afraid if I did they’d come to the house and see my dad had two wives and take us away,” she said. Now the head of a nonprofit outreach group called Cherish Families, Alina Darger said the legal change will help her connect polygamous communities to services ranging from child welfare to student loans. “I deserve to be able to call on law enforcement,” she said. “I deserve the same rights as other people.”