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Second guilty plea scheduled in Ashley Shafer’s death

A second person is preparing to enter a guilty plea in the death of an Oskaloosa woman last summer.  You’ll remember 24-year-old Ashley Shafer’s body was found in the South Skunk River last August.  Investigators  determined Shafer had been at the apartment of Nicolas and Holly Kelly, and Shafer had overdosed on meth.  Nicolas Kelly said he helped dump Shafer’s body in the river and last week, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of abuse of a corpse—he will be sentenced in September.  Holly Kelly is due back in court on February 10 to plead guilty to yet undisclosed charges.  Cody Vancenbrock, who was also at the Kelly’s apartment when Shafer died, will stand trial in April for involuntary manslaughter, delivery of a controlled substance and aiding and abetting abuse of a corpse.

Democrats argue ‘right matters’ in Trump impeachment trial

By LISA MASCARO, ERIC TUCKER and ZEKE MILLER

“That’s what Donald Trump wanted investigated or announced — this completely bogus Kremlin-pushed conspiracy theory,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the prosecution, during Thursday’s session.

At the close of the evening Schiff made an emotional plea to senators to consider what was at stake as Trump is accused of seeking Ukrainian probes of political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son while holding back congressionally approved military aid as leverage.

“Right matters,” he said, quoting Army officer Lt. Col. Alex Vindman who had testified in the House. “Otherwise we are lost.”

The president is being tried in the Senate after the House impeached him last month, accusing Trump of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for the investigations while withholding the aid from a U.S. ally at war with bordering Russia. The second article of impeachment accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

Republicans, growing tired of the long hours of proceedings, have defended Trump’s actions as appropriate and cast the process as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in the midst of his reelection campaign. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and acquittal is considered likely.

The Democrats’ challenge is clear as they try to convince not just fidgety senators but an American public divided over the Republican president in an election year.

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, Democrats argued on Thursday that Trump’s motives were apparent.

“No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told the senators. He said the nation’s founders would be shocked. “The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. It is dangerous.”

Democrats scoffed at Trump’s claim he had good reasons for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden or other political foes.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, herself a former judge, aid there is “no evidence, nothing, nada” to suggest that Biden did anything improper in dealings with Ukraine.

Trump, with Giuliani, pursued investigations of Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on a Ukrainian gas company’s board, and sought the probe of debunked theories of what nation was guilty of interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

It’s a story line many in the president’s camp are still pushing. Giuliani, in an appearance Friday on “Fox & Friends,” insisted he would present evidence on his new podcast of “collusion going on in Ukraine to fix the 2016 election in favor of Hillary” Clinton. Pressed by one of the TV hosts as to what that evidence was, Giuliani claimed he had “witnesses” willing to speak on the record next week.

Democrats seemed to be anticipating arguments expected from the president’s attorneys in the days ahead.

At one point, they showed video of a younger Lindsey Graham, then a South Carolina congressman and now a GOP senator allied with Trump, arguing during Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment that no crime was needed for impeaching a president. Trump’s defense team is now arguing that the impeachment articles against him are invalid because they do not allege he committed a specific crime.

The president’s defenders’ turn will come Saturday.

“We will be putting on a vigorous defense of both facts, rebutting what they said,” and the Constitution, said attorney Jay Sekulow.

During their presentations, Democrats have been summarizing much of the evidence and testimony already presenting during the televised impeachment hearings.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the Democrats were putting forward “admirable presentations.” But he said, “There’s just not much new here.”

During the dinner break, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said it seemed like “Groundhog Day in the Senate.”

The top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, acknowledged that many senators “really don’t want to be here.”

But Schumer said Schiff has been outlining a compelling case that many Republicans are hearing it for only the first time. He contended they can’t help but be “glued” to his testimony..

Senators were permitted Thursday to review supplemental testimony submitted by an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, who was among those who had concerns about Trump’s actions. Democrats said the testimony, which is classified, bolsters their impeachment case. A lawyer for Williams declined to comment.

Holding the room’s attention has been difficult for the Democrats, but senators seemed to pay closer mind to Schiff’s testimony that grew dramatic.

Most senators, even Republicans, sat at their desks throughout the afternoon session, as the rules stipulate, and not as many of them were yawning or standing to stretch as during the previous long nights.

To help senators pass the time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, passed out lunch favors of fidget spinners, stress balls and other toys.

The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election. Four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.

new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45% to 40%. But a sizable percentage, 14%, said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

One issue with wide agreement: Trump should allow top aides to appear as witnesses at the trial. About 7 in 10 respondents said so, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, according to the poll.

After both cases have been presented, senators will face the question of whether want to call witnesses to testify, an issue that seems all but settled. Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to get Trump aides, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify in back-to-back votes earlier this week. It’s likely to come up for a Senate vote next week.

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Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman, Matthew Daly and Padmananda Rama in Washington and Bill Barrow in Osage, Iowa, contributed to this report.

Winter Weather Advisory until noon

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the No Coast Network listening area until noon Friday.  Up to two to three inches of snow is expected in the morning to go with the amounts we’ve already had overnight, along with a light glaze of ice.  Roads are snow-covered, so give yourself plenty of time to get to work or school today.  Keep tuned to the No Coast Network for the latest weather updates.

Jake the Chihuahua/Terrier Mix

Our Pet of the Week this week is Jake, a 4-5 year old Chihuahua/Terrier mi. He’s a friendly little pooch looking for his forever home.  Jake would make a great little companion!  Call Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter at (641) 673-3991 for more information about Jake or a wide variety of other loving and adoptable pets!

China locking down cities with 18 million to stop virus

By KEN MORITSUGU and YANAN WANG

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities Thursday moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.

The open-ended lockdowns are unmatched in size, embracing more people than New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago put together.

The train station and airport in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, were shut down, and ferry, subway and bus service was halted. Normally bustling streets, shopping malls, restaurants and other public spaces in the city of 11 million were eerily quiet. Police checked all incoming vehicles but did not close off the roads.

Authorities announced similar measures would take effect Friday in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou. In Huanggang, theaters, internet cafes and other entertainment centers were also ordered closed.

In the capital, Beijing, officials canceled “major events” indefinitely, including traditional temple fairs that are a staple of holiday celebrations, in order to “execute epidemic prevention and control.” The Forbidden City, the palace complex in Beijing that is now a museum, announced it will close indefinitely on Saturday.

Seventeen people have died in the outbreak, all of them in and around Wuhan. Close to 600 have been infected, the vast majority of them in Wuhan, and many countries have begun screening travelers from China for symptoms of the virus, which can cause fever, coughing, trouble breathing and pneumonia.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization decided against declaring the outbreak a global health emergency for now. Such a declaration can bring more money and other resources to fight a threat but can also trigger economically damaging restrictions on trade and travel in the affected countries, making the decision a politically fraught one.

The decision “should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we’re not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”

Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns will last. While sweeping measures are typical of China’s communist government, large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, even in deadly epidemics, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties. And the effectiveness of such measures is unclear.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO″s representative in China. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.

“Until there’s a better understanding of what the situation is, I think it’s not an unreasonable thing to do,” he said. “Anything that limits people’s travels during an outbreak would obviously work.”

But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. He added: “You have to make sure you communicate effectively about why this is being done. Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people.”

During the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone imposed a national three-day quarantine as health teams went door to door, searching for hidden cases. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages amid deserted streets. Burial teams collecting corpses and people transporting the sick to Ebola centers were the only ones allowed to move freely.

In China, the illnesses from the newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub in central China’s Hubei province. Other cases have been reported in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong reported their first cases Thursday.

Most of the illnesses outside China involve people who were from Wuhan or had recently traveled there.

Images from Wuhan showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, as residents stocked up for what could be weeks of isolation. That appeared to be an over-reaction, since no restrictions were placed on trucks carrying supplies into the city, although many Chinese have strong memories of shortages in the years before the country’s recent economic boom.

Local authorities in Wuhan demanded all residents wear masks in public places. Police, SWAT teams and paramilitary troops guarded Wuhan’s train station.

Liu Haihan left Wuhan last Friday after visiting her boyfriend there. She said everything was normal then, before human-to-human transmission of the virus was confirmed. But things had changed rapidly.

Her boyfriend “didn’t sleep much yesterday. He disinfected his house and stocked up on instant noodles,” Liu said. “He’s not really going out. If he does, he wears a mask.”

The sharp rise in illnesses comes as millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year, one of the world’s largest annual migrations of people. Chinese are expected to take an estimated 3 billion trips during the 40-day spike in travel.

Analysts predicted cases will continue to multiply, although the jump in numbers is also attributable in part to increased monitoring.

“Even if (cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of those infected is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity, so long as the mortality rate remains low.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which is thought to have originated from camels.

China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts. This time, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasized that as a priority.

Health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent additional person-to-person transmissions, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, which has since been closed for an investigation. Experts suspect that the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but that it may also be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.

WHO defines a global emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. Previous global emergencies have been declared for the emergence of the Zika virus in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio.

Countries typically resist the notion that they have a crisis within their borders and may argue strenuously for other control measures.

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Associated Press journalists Shanshan Wang in Shanghai, Maria Cheng in London and Krista Larson in Dakar contributed to this report.

2 stabbings in Oskaloosa early Thursday

In a story the No Coast Network told you earlier today, Oskaloosa Police had to deal with two stabbings early Thursday morning (1/23).

The first happened around 4:25am on the 1000 block of South 4th Street.  Police found a woman with stab wounds to the head and neck.  She was taken to Mahaska Health with critical injuries.

Then around 6:45am, there was another call from the 200 block of South Market about a fight.  A white male with black sweatpants was seen running from the area…and Police officers found another stabbing victim with serious neck injuries.  The victim, who has not been named, was taken to Mahaska Health with injuries.  After a search on foot with the help of K9 officers, the suspect was found in the 800 block of 10th Avenue East, at his residence.  He was arrested around 7:30am without incident.  44-year-old Robert William Powell of Oskaloosa is being held for attempted murder at the Mahaska County Jail.

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