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How one family highlights the complex issue of immigration

When Sandra Perez hears President Donald Trump’s tough talk about deporting illegal immigrants, she thinks of the morning six years ago when immigration officers raided her West Palm Beach, Florida, home and seized her father.

Hearing a commotion, Perez walked in her family’s living room and saw her younger brother bleeding from a cut near his eye. An officer had bashed him with a rifle butt so forcefully that the boy, a freshman in high school, briefly lost consciousness. 

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Officers were there to seize Perez’s father, Hector Perez Mazariegos. An amiable Guatemalan with no history of violence or property crimes, Perez had lived in the United States illegally for two decades. He later died while attempting to illegally re-enter the country to visit his five children, who are U.S. citizens, and his wife, who is a legal permanent resident.

The Perez family’s plight illustrates the complexity of the immigration debate. It highlights the haphazard and dangerous nature of border crossings, which only have grown more treacherous as violent traffickers have seized control of the southern frontier. And it questions what is gained in separating families when undocumented but non-violent migrants are sent home.

Read the full story from The Palm Beach Post.

Deputies: Florida Walmart employee stabbed, killed at work by ex-coworker

An employee working at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Florida was fatally stabbed Wednesday morning by a 23-year-old former coworker, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

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The stabbing was reported shortly before 9 a.m. at the store on Lee Road east of Interstate 4, Orange County Deputy Rose Silva said.

The wounded man, a 25-year-old whose name was not released, was taken to Florida Hospital Orlando, where he died, Silva said.

Investigators said the man’s attacker, who wasn't publicly identified, fled the scene and remained at large Wednesday morning.

Update: Ex Wal-Mart employee fatally stabs current employee. @OrangeCoSheriff deputies searching for suspect. @WFTV pic.twitter.com/yMjDDowd2b— Roy Ramos (@RRamosWFTV) March 1, 2017

No other details were given.

Check WFTV.com for the latest on this developing story.

Deputy hits cow on highway during search for cow on highway

A sheriff's deputy who was searching for a cow that was spotted on a Minnesota roadway on Monday night unexpectedly found the animal when he hit it with his patrol car.

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Kanabec County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Steven Schulz, 30, was searching Minnesota Highway 23, just outside Mora, just after 10 p.m. when the cow dashed out from a ditch and into the road, according to an incident report from Minnesota State Patrol.

The airbags deployed in Schulz's squad car, the Pioneer Press reported, and he was taken to First Light Hospital in Mora with injuries that didn't appear to be life-threatening.

The cow, however, was killed. The Pioneer Press reported it had come from a nearby farm.

Kanabec County Sheriff Brian Smith told the newspaper that the squad car appeared to have been totaled by the collision. He added that it was not unusual for deputies to field similar calls in the rural county.

"I'd have to say this is the first time I've ever had them hit the animal they're looking for," he told the Pioneer Press. "But then again, that's exactly why we go look for them. I've been to too many serious accidents and even fatalities caused by livestock on the road."

Mora, a city with a population around 3,600, is about 70 miles north of Minneapolis.

Girl tells teacher about weed her dad grows in the backyard

Kids say the darndest things.

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Dax Holt, a former producer at TMZ, recorded a conversation he had with his daughter, Skylar, about an awkward exchange he had with her teacher.

“When I got to your school, your teacher said, ‘I heard you have a lot of weed at your house,'” Holt told Skylar. “Are we growing weed at our house?”

“Yeah,” said Skylar.

“A lot of it?” asks Holt, to which Skylar responds, “Yeah, just a little bit, but it’s going to grow a lot.”

“Do you want to show people what you’re talking about?” Holt asks.

Skylar then leads him to the backyard to point out the “weed.”

Watch the video below:

My child's teacher: "so Skylar tells me you guys have a ton of weed at home."Me: "umm"Teacher: "she said you're growing it"Me:Posted by Dax Holt on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Which Outback, Bonefish, Carrabba’s restaurants are closing?

Last month, Bloomin Brands, the company that owns Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Flemings Steakhouse restaurants, announced it would be closing 40 “underperforming” restaurants around the country.

The 40 restaurants are set to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017, according to reports. The company has not yet released a list of the restaurants slated for closing.

Here is a partial list of the restaurants that have closed, or those set to close. The list was compiled from stories posted by various media outlets.


Carrabba's in Montgomery  


Outback Steakhouse in Chandler


Fleming’s in Beverly Hills


Bonefish Grill in Newington 

Bonefish Grill in South Windsor

Carrabba's  in Manchester 


Carrabba’s in Jacksonville

Carrabba’s in South Miami


Carrabba's in Naperville 


Bonefish Grill in Westwood

Carrabba's in Tyngsboro

Outback Steakhouse in Framingham

Outback Steakhouse in Westborough 


Carrabba’s in Kentwood

Carrabba's in Grand Rapids

Outback Steakhouse in Rochester Hills


Bonefish Grill in St. Louis Park


Outback Steakhouse in Hazelwood

New Jersey 

Bonefish Grill in Middletown

Carrabba's in Egg Harbor Township

Carrabba's in Evesham

Carrabba's in Middletown

Outback Steakhouse in Lawrenceville

New York

Bonefish Grill in Colonie

North Carolina

Carrabba's in Charlotte 

Outback Steakhouse in Morehead City

South Carolina 

Carrabba's in Columbia 

Outback Steakhouse in Hilton Head 


Outback Steakhouse in Houston (2 locations)

Bonefish Grill in Webster 

Bonefish Grill in Katy 

How well do you know Dr. Seuss?

Theodore Geisel was a lifelong cartoonist.

In honor of Geisel's birthday, March 2, is the National Education Association's Read Across America Day, when children across the country take part in reading events.

Best known as Dr. Seuss and for his line of children’s books, Geisel inked thoughtful artwork from high school through college, while working in advertising in New York before World War II and as a political cartoonist for two years during the war.

Horton might hear a Who; The grouchy guy eventually eats green eggs and ham and star-bellied Sneetches are just as good as those with none, but how well do you know Dr. Seuss?

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Geisel's first book “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” was rejected by 27 publishers before it was printed by Vanguard Press. He eventually wrote and illustrated 44 children’s books.

Over the course of his career, Geisel spent 15 years creating advertising campaigns for Standard Oil.

He was editor of The Jack-O-Lantern, a humor magazine at Dartmouth College. When he was thrown off staff after getting caught throwing a party that served alcohol (during Prohibition) he developed the nom de plume “Seuss” and continued contributing to the magazine.

In addition to cartooning in various mediums, Geisel was an accomplished sculptor.

Geisel's definitive work, “The Cat in the Hat,” was created with the directive from publisher Houghton Mifflin to use 225 “new reader” vocabulary words.

 Among his accolades, Geisel was honored with a Pulitzer Prize, two Oscars, two Emmys and a Peabody award.

Hate-crime victim to defendants: 'Why you crying now?'

When Kayla Norton broke down in court on Monday, Melissa Alford felt a twinge of sympathy.

Norton, the mother of three children younger than 9, was facing so much prison time that her children would be different people when their mother got out. That was not lost on Alford, who works as a children's mental health advocate.

But then Alford thought of the reasons Norton was in court: the convoy of pickup trucks with Confederate flags, the vile racist epithets, the loaded shotgun leveled on her friends and family, the threats to blow children's heads off. Norton had chosen to ride along on that convoy's racist tear across two counties. Alford's sympathy evaporated.

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"When that gun was loaded, did you think about your children then?" Alford said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. "So, why you crying now?"

Kayla Rae Norton and her partner, Jose Ismael Torres, both wept copiously as Douglas County Judge William McClain passed sentence. The two were found guilty in February of street-gang terrorism for their roles in the pickup truck convoy, and on Monday McClain threw the book at them. He called their actions a hate crime and sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve, and Norton to 13 years, six to serve.

Torres, 26, and Norton, 25, have three children between them. The two had been part of a group of 15 people calling itself "Respect the Flag." On July 24, on 2015, they began a rampage through neighboring Paulding County. With Confederate battle flags attached to their trucks, they threatened African-American motorists and shoppers at a local Walmart and convenience store.

>> Related: Couple sentenced to prison for hate crime involving Confederate flags, shotgun

They caused so much mayhem, McClain said, 911 call centers were flooded with calls. The next day they kept up their campaign and happened upon Alford's party for her 27-year-old son and her 8-year-old grandson. The yard was full of friends and family when Torres and their crew began hurling racial slurs at the party goers and threatening them.

Alford, 46, and other victims sat in the jury box on Monday through much of the sentencing hearing. Douglas County Assistant District Attorney David Emadi recounted the moment when Torres leveled a gun at birthday party guests in her front yard.

"'We're going to kill some (racial epithet)s today,'" Emadi said, quoting witnesses present during the standoff. "We'll blow the head off the little bastards. We'll kill all the little (racial epithet)s."

After frantic 911 calls, Douglasville police arrived and forced Torres, Norton and their group to leave. The memory of that day loomed large for Alford as she watched Torres weep as he realized he was going to be sentenced to a long prison term. She said she could see he was scared on Monday, but she also remembered his rage on that summer day nearly two years ago.

"If that trigger would have gone off there would have been dead bodies all over that yard," Alford said Tuesday evening in an interview with the AJC.

The display of the battle flag hadn't disturbed Alford all that much. She said she grew up seeing it all over the Alabama town where she was raised. She was even used to hearing the type of slurs hurled at her and her guests.

"I wasn't mad about them flying those flags," Alford said. "It was when they pulled them guns and said 'I'm gonna shoot the little bastards.'"

The children at the party heard and saw much of the altercation.

On Monday, Alford said, Kayla Norton's tears may have come from remorse. But Alford wasn't so sure.

"I think the tears were mainly because they got caught," Alford said.

Most of the flag group members were sentenced to misdemeanors or put into diversion programs. Two others, Thomas Charles Summers and Lacey Paul Henderson II, had pleaded guilty to terroristic threat and battery charges prior to Monday. Summers is serving four years in prison and Henderson is serving two.

Alford said Torres and Norton should have pleaded guilty. She's aware that some people have said the sentences were too harsh for the couple, especially since no one was physically injured. She doesn't buy that argument.

"They got what they got," she said. "… You didn't take a plea because you thought you were gonna get off. You gamble, you win or you lose."

What they are saying about Donald Trump's speech to Congress

President Donald Trump gave his first address to Congress Tuesday in a speech that called on Republicans and Democrats to put the needs of the country before politics.

The speech, which lasted a little bit more than an hour, received high marks from many quarters for Trump’s delivery and his “presidential” manner.

Here’s what media outlets are saying about the speech.

The backstory on the speech


“President Donald Trump sat in the White House Map Room Tuesday with a coterie of advisers, a black Sharpie, stacks of paper and a teleprompter. Beside him much of the day — the 40th day of his presidency — were Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller. Other aides frequently circled in, from Gary Cohn to Reince Priebus to Kellyanne Conway to Jared Kushner to Sean Spicer to Hope Hicks, suggesting language and offering advice.”

Immigration, health care and the budget

NBC News

“It was Donald Trump at his most presidential.

In his first address to Congress, President Trump defended controversial policies pushed by his administration and optimistically outlined a bold agenda highlighted by immigration reform, an expansive infrastructure program and reform of the nation's health care system.

While Trump advocated many of the hot-button issues he championed during the 2016 presidential campaign, he also struck a more conciliatory tone than the bombastic new president has done since entering the White House.”

Trump gives GOP leaders rallying cry 

The Associated Press

“President Donald Trump gave Republican congressional leaders a rallying cry and even a roadmap as they try to push through a sweeping and divisive agenda on health care, taxes and more. In his first address to a joint session of Congress, Trump said largely what GOP leaders were hoping to hear Tuesday night, staying on-message and talking in optimistic tones, even weighing in at one point to settle a brewing dispute over how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday morning that Trump showed Congress and the nation his "broad shoulders, big heart, reaching out, focusing on the future." Pence spoke on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." House Speaker Paul Ryan declared the speech a "home run," pointing to Trump's embrace for the first time of tax credits - a central element in the Republican plan to replace former President Barack Obama's health care law.”

‘New chapter of American greatness’

Washington Post

“President Donald Trump sought to repackage his hardline campaign promises with a moderate sheen Tuesday night, declaring what he termed "a new chapter of American greatness" of economic renewal and military might in his first joint address to Congress. Seeking to steady his presidency after a tumultuous first 40 days, Trump had an air of seriousness and revealed flashes of compassion as he broadly outlined a sweeping agenda to rebuild a country he described as ravaged by crime and drugs, deteriorating infrastructure, and failing bureaucracies. Trump's 60-minute speech touched on his plans to overhaul the nation's health-care system and tax code, but it was short on specifics and heavy on lofty prose. Struggling to steer a bitterly divided nation with his job-approval ratings at historic lows, Trump effectively pleaded with the American people to give him a chance and to imagine what could be achieved during his presidency.”

Shifting his tone


“President Donald Trump reached for poetry and conjured a vision of common national purpose Tuesday during his first address to Congress, shifting his tone from the dark, searing approach of his previous big speeches to the nation.

Trump adopted a statesmanlike cadence, hitting notes of inspiration. For once, this most unorthodox of politicians struck a conventional presidential posture as he sought to stabilize his administration after a tumultuous five weeks in office.”

Setting aside disputes with Democrats


“President Donald Trump told Congress on Tuesday he was open to immigration reform, shifting from his harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration in a speech that offered a more restrained tone than his election campaign and first month in the White House.

Trump, in a prime-time address to a country that remains divided over his leadership, set aside disputes with Democrats and the news media to deliver his most presidential performance to date, seeking to regain the confidence of Americans rattled by his leadership thus far.”

SeaWorld releases orphaned manatee in Florida

An orphaned manatee has been returned to Florida waters more than three years after she was rescued.

SeaWorld Orlando's Rescue Team returned the manatee known as Blanche to the waters off Port St. John, Florida on Tuesday. Blanche was the sixth rehabilitated manatee SeaWorld has returned to the wild this year.

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Blanche was believed to be only two weeks old when she was found in 2014 in the Indian River. She weighed only 48 pounds. She required round-the-clock care and got regular bottle feedings.

She weighed 775 pounds when she was released.

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