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Animal cruelty case against US senator’s son dropped in Arizona dog deaths

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Animal cruelty charges against the son and daughter-in-law of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake and two others will be dismissed after new information came to light about the deaths of 21 dogs at a suburban Phoenix kennel in June, prosecutors said on Monday.

Authorities said the dogs died from overheating and suffocation caused by sweltering conditions in a cramped room of the pet boarding facility while the owners were away in Florida, leaving the animals in the care of Austin and Logan Flake.

However, new evidence brought to prosecutors’ attention by defense lawyers after the case was presented to a grand jury showed the kennel’s air-conditioning unit had stopped working because of a dirty air-filter.

The indictment returned in October blamed the dogs’ deaths on neglect by the defendants.

“The theory of the case … did not take into account the possibility that there were issues with an air-conditioning unit,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement.

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The original indictment charged kennel owners Jesse Todd Hughes and Maleisia Hughes each with 22 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and one count of fraud.

The Arizona Republican’s son, Austin Flake, and his wife, Logan, were each charged with 21 felony and seven misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

The single fraud count will remain against the kennel owners, prosecutors said. A county attorney spokesman said the case would remain under investigation and that new charges could be filed at a later date.

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But Dennis Wilenchik, a lawyer for the Flakes, said the case should never have been brought in the first place.

“There was never any probable cause for these charges, and nothing will ever change that,” he said.

The sheriff’s office has said the kennel’s owner told investigators that overheated conditions were caused by a power outage from one or more of the dogs chewing through an electric cord. But that explanation could not be substantiated, sheriff’s officials said.

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An attorney for the dogs’ owners said his clients were stunned that the case was being dismissed.

“The dogs were their family members. This is just a kick in the gut for everyone,” said John Schill, who represents the pet owners in a civil lawsuit against the Flakes and Hugheses.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Paul Tait)


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Black Georgia lawmaker accuses white man of demanding she ‘go back where she came from’ in supermarket diatribe

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On Friday evening, Erica Thomas, and African-American Democratic lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, was shopping at a Publix supermarket in Mableton when a white customer came up to her and shouted at her, telling her to "go back where you came from" — words echoing President Donald Trump's recent racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.

Thomas' crime? She had too many items for the express checkout line.

Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!

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Trump offers to guarantee bail for rapper A$AP Rocky

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US President Donald Trump offered Saturday to guarantee the bail of rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden on suspicion of assault following a street brawl.

Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who he said gave assurances that the singer would be treated fairly.

"Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative," Trump wrote.

There is no system of bail in Sweden.

Trump said he and Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next 48 hours.

Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest on July 3 following the fight on June 30.

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The best Civil War movie ever made finally gets its due

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On Sunday and on July 24, Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are presenting big-screen showings in theaters nationwide of “Glory,” in honor of the 30-year anniversary of its release. The greatest movie ever made about the American Civil War, “Glory” was the first and, with the exception of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the only film that eschewed romanticism to reveal what the war was really about.

The story is told through the eyes of one of the first regiments of African American soldiers. Almost from the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., the issue of black soldiers in the Union army was hotly debated. On Jan. 1, 1863, as the country faced the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, rapidly accelerating the process of putting black men into federal blue.

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