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Bill Maher says he is 'very sorry' for using a racial slur on his HBO show

HBO late-night host Bill Maher apologized for using a racial slur during his Friday show that led to a firestorm of criticism, including from the cable network.  In a brief statement Saturday, Maher said he should not have used the derogatory term “in the banter of a live moment.”  “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry,” he said.

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HBO late-night host Bill Maher apologized for using a racial slur during his Friday show that led to a firestorm of criticism, including from the cable network. In a brief statement Saturday, Maher said he should not have used the derogatory term “in the banter of a live moment.” “The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry,” he said.

HBO late-night host Bill Maher apologized for using a racial slur during an interview on his show, "Real Time," which led to a firestorm of criticism, including from the cable network.

"Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I'm up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn't have said on my live show," Maher said in a brief statement Saturday. "Last night was a particularly long night as a I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry."

Maher's apology came the day after he used the n-word during a conversation with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The comment immediately drew condemnation across the political spectrum.

Maher was talking Friday night to Sasse about the senator's book, "The Vanishing American Adult," which explores why today's young people are unable to survive in a competitive global economy. The conversation drifted to Halloween and how dressing up is no longer just a children's tradition. Sasse said adults don't do that quite as much in his state because it's frowned upon. In response, Maher said he should visit Nebraska more. …

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Missing swan sculpture stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk Sheriff’s deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

A woman called the Sheriff’s Office Friday morning and said her husband and her son spotted the statue Thursday when they were fishing in a nearby pond. They saw the swan, but didn’t know it was stolen.

On Friday morning, the woman saw the story about the stolen swan on TV and reported the swan sighting to the Sheriff’s Office.

The swan is the last missing piece in the case.

The Sheriff's Office released video surveillance Thursday that officers believe sheds light on the heist. It shows the naked man, whom deputies identified as Ronald Thompson, walking into the Lakeland Cold Storage at 4100 Frontage Road S during the early morning hours of May 19.

In one video, the man is seen carrying a bucket in front of his genitals as he approaches the storage facility. A second video snippet a short while later then shows a pickup driving away. …

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U.S. plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea on mind

n this May 21 file photo people watch a TV news program showing a file image of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With North Korea's nuclear missile threat in mind, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.

AP photo

n this May 21 file photo people watch a TV news program showing a file image of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With North Korea's nuclear missile threat in mind, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.

WASHINGTON — Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday.

The American interceptor has a spotty track record, succeeding in nine of 17 attempts since 1999. The most recent test, in June 2014, was a success, but that followed three straight failures. The system has evolved from the multibillion-dollar effort triggered by President Ronald Reagan's 1983 push for a "Star Wars" solution to ballistic missile threats during the Cold War - when the Soviet Union was the only major worry.

North Korea is now the focus of U.S. efforts because its leader, Kim Jong Un, has vowed to field a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching American territory. He has yet to test an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but Pentagon officials believe he is speeding in that direction.

Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this week that "left unchecked," Kim will eventually succeed. …

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Boehner: Trump's term 'disaster,' aside from foreign affairs

John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.

AP photo

John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.

WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner says that aside from international affairs and foreign policy, President Donald Trump's time in office has so far been a "complete disaster."

Speaking at an energy conference Thursday in Houston, Boehner praised Trump for his approach abroad and his aggressiveness in fighting Islamic State militants, according to the energy publication Rigzone.

"Everything else he's done (in office) has been a complete disaster," the Ohio Republican said, according to the publication. "He's still learning how to be president."

Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president. He also said Trump shouldn't be allowed to Tweet overnight.

David Schnittger, a spokesman for Boehner, confirmed the comments on Friday.

According to Rigzone, Boehner said that the Republican tax reform effort "is just a bunch of happy talk" and that the border adjustment tax - a major priority for Boehner's successor, Speaker Paul Ryan - is "deader than a doornail." He said he was more optimistic about tax reform earlier in the year, but "now my odds are 60/40." …

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Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection

Pepe Salgado

Polk County Public Schools

Pepe Salgado

MULBERRY — Crisis counselors were at Mulberry High School on Friday after three teenagers with connections to the Polk County school were in a Plant City crash Thursday that killed a brother and sister and critically injured their cousin, a senior who was scheduled to graduate that same evening.

The teens who died — brother and sister Pepe Salgado, 18, and Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15 —  were passengers in a 2002 Toyota Corolla driven by Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, also of Mulberry. Nava-Marcos was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was listed in critical condition.

"This is a very sad day for our school and community," Mulberry High principal Michael Young said Friday in a statement released through the Polk County school district. "We are mourning the loss of Frinzi and Pepe, and are praying for Edilberto as he remains in the hospital. Our hearts go out to their families."

The crash took place at 2:30 p.m., about five hours before Nava-Marcos was scheduled to graduate from Mulberry High School, the Florida Highway Patrol said. …

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GOP Montana win may be blip in Democrats' anti-Trump hopes

Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters after being declared the winner at a election night party for Montana's special House election against Democrat Rob Quist at the Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday in Bozeman, Montana.

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Republican Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters after being declared the winner at a election night party for Montana's special House election against Democrat Rob Quist at the Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday in Bozeman, Montana.

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A Montana Republican businessman won the state's U.S. House seat after being charged with assaulting a reporter on the eve of the election, a victory that may temper Democrats' hopes for a massive anti-Trump wave next year.

Greg Gianforte apologized late Thursday for attacking a reporter who had asked about the GOP health care bill.

"Last night, I made a mistake. I took an action I can't take back and I am not proud of what happened," he said.

Yet Gianforte's single-digit win paled to President Donald Trump's 20-point romp in Montana in November, a sign that Republicans will have to work hard to defend some of their most secure seats to maintain control of Congress.

The race ultimately turned on the weaknesses of both Gianforte and his opponent, folk singer and Democrat Rob Quist, making it tough to use as a barometer for the nation's political mood. …

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Militants attack Christians in Egypt, killing at least 28

CAIRO — Masked militants riding in three SUVs opened fire Friday on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children, south of the Egyptian capital, killing at least 28 people and wounding 22, the Interior Ministry said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group. The attack came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Islamic militants have for years been waging an insurgency mostly centered in the restive northern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, although a growing number of attacks have recently also taken place on the mainland.

The assault happened while the bus was traveling on a side road in the desert leading to the remote monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha, in Minya governorate, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) south of Cairo.

Security officials quoted witnesses as saying they saw between eight and 10 attackers, dressed in military uniforms and wearing masks. The victims were en route from the nearby province of Beni Suef to visit the monastery. …

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Ryan, other Republicans call on Gianforte to 'apologize' for 'mistake'

Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March.

[Associated Press]

Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March.

MISSOULA, Mont. - Leading Republicans criticized Greg Gianforte on Thursday, the morning after the Republican candidate in Montana's special congressional election was given a court date and citation for allegedly assaulting a reporter.

"From what I know of Greg Gianforte, this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes," Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in an emailed statement. "We need to let the facts surrounding this incident unfold. Today's special election is bigger than any one person; it's about the views of all Montanans. They deserve to have their voices heard in Washington."

At his weekly news conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., condemned Gianforte's alleged conduct and suggested that he should apologize - something he has not done in the hours since the incident and since Gallatin County police interviewed witnesses and announced charges.

"There is no time where a physical altercation should occur," Ryan said. "It should not have happened. Should the gentleman apologize? Yeah, I think he should apologize. I know he has his own version, and I'm sure he'll have more to say." …

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Buckhorn's joke about pointing machine guns at media draws fire

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a  Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year.

TAMPA — At a time when journalists are under fire both literally and figuratively, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s “joke” this week at a military conference about pointing twin 50 caliber machine guns at journalists and watching them “cry like little girls” rankled several reporters in the room.

Buckhorn’s remarks at the Special Operations Industry Conference quickly became fodder for the Facebook page of Military Reporters & Editors, which represents about 300 journalists.

“Personally, I was appalled,” wrote Susan Katz Keating, a freelance writer and organization board member who was in the conference room Tuesday for Buckhorn’s keynote address. Katz Keading had guns pointed at her while covering unrest in Northern Ireland in 1988.

Buckhorn said his critics are being overly sensitive. “I think that is a silly reaction,” he said of those upset by a story he has told “a dozen times.”

But some journalists in the room said they weren’t being thin-skinned. No skin is thick enough to stop a bullet or bomb blast, something Daily Beast national security reporter Kim Dozier knows all too well. …

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Post reports: Russia probe reaches current White House official

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews en route to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 19 in Washington.

Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press via TNS

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews en route to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 19 in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, the Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the Post, these people say the senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president. The Post said they would not further identify the official.

Separately, the New York Times reported Friday afternoon that President Donald Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing FBI Director James B. Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him. The Times’ report cited a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to the New York Times, which said the document, was read to its reporter by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.” …

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Mating season is just one of the factors why two alligators have been struck on Tampa Bay roads this week

In April, a gator snarled morning traffic as it stood in the southbound lanes of the Veterans Expressway and reportedly snapped at cars attempting to pass it.

[Florida Highway Patrol]

In April, a gator snarled morning traffic as it stood in the southbound lanes of the Veterans Expressway and reportedly snapped at cars attempting to pass it.

In one week, two alligators have been involved in separate nighttime crashes in the Tampa Bay area.

Such instances are rare — but the phenomenon leading to these collisions is not.

A convergence of factors — it’s mating season, and hot and dry weather — are all coming together to make alligators more active. Especially at night.

“It depends on the temperatures in the air and water, as to how active they are,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Gary Morse said. “As we move toward summer, they tend to become more active between dusk and dawn.”

On Thursday night, a motorcyclist was seriously injured after crashing into a 10-foot gator on State Road 674 in Lithia.

Two days earlier, a mother of four escaped serious injury when her sport-utility vehicle struck a 9-foot alligator crossing Interstate 75 in Sarasota.

And just last month, a gator snarled morning traffic as it stood in the southbound lanes of the Veterans Expressway and reportedly snapped at cars attempting to pass it.

After the Sarasota crash, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Gregory S. Bueno told the Palm Beach Post that crashes involving alligators are rare along that stretch of I-75 in southwest Florida. …

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Lutz man takes troopers on three-county car chase and is later arrested hiding in a barn

David Russell Frey, of Lutz, faces charges after he was accused of leading troopers on a three-county chase in a stolen car and fled following an arrest attempt.

[Florida Highway Patrol]

David Russell Frey, of Lutz, faces charges after he was accused of leading troopers on a three-county chase in a stolen car and fled following an arrest attempt.

A Lutz man is accused of taking Florida Highway Patrol troopers on a three-county chase in a stolen car on Thursday, then fleeing the scene once officers stopped the vehicle in Pasco County. 

Investigators were able to find the man, Russell Frey, 36, five hours later hiding in a barn.

On May 18, just after 11:30 a.m., troopers in Sumter County noticed a stolen blue Toyota traveling east on County Road 48. The troopers tried to pull him over at a nearby Walmart, but the vehicle fled and troopers began a pursuit on County Road 48, then south on U.S. 301.

Troopers say Frey went through Sumter, Hernando and then into Pasco County.

Troopers used PIT maneuvers — pursuit intervention techniques — to force the car to stop near State Road 50 and Strickland Trail. Then, troopers say, Frey started to run away.

He left his passenger, 29-year-old Tatiana Santillan, behind. She was detained and sent to the hospital with minor injuries. Charges against her are still pending. 

FHP worked with Hernando and Pasco County Sheriff’s office to create a perimeter in their search for Frey. They found him in the area of Dashbach Street and Kettering Road. …

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Texas police officer faces murder charge in 15-year-old Jordan Edwards' death

Hope Waters, left, her brother Jeremiah, center rear, and their mother Yulise, center right, light candles with Linda Abrasion Evans, right, during a candle light vigil Thursday for Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, Texas. The prosecutor's office investigating the death of a black teenager who was shot by a Dallas-area police officer had once filed a complaint over that officer's aggressive behavior, according to records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Tony Gutierrez | Associated Press

Hope Waters, left, her brother Jeremiah, center rear, and their mother Yulise, center right, light candles with Linda Abrasion Evans, right, during a candle light vigil Thursday for Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, Texas. The prosecutor's office investigating the death of a black teenager who was shot by a Dallas-area police officer had once filed a complaint over that officer's aggressive behavior, according to records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

DALLAS — A white Texas police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting of a black teenager for which the officer was fired, according to an arrest warrant issued Friday.

The warrant for Roy Oliver, a former officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, was issued by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office for the April 29 shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. In a statement it released announcing the warrant, the sheriff's office cited evidence that suggested Oliver "intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death."

Oliver fired a rifle at a car full of teenagers leaving a party, fatally shooting Edwards. The teen's death led to protests calling for Oliver to be fired and charged. On Tuesday, the same day that the officer was fired, news broke of the Justice Department's decision not to charge two white police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the shooting death of a black man in 2016. And a white officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, pleaded guilty that day to federal civil rights charges in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2015. …

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Update: 5-year-old Florida girl found; amber alert canceled

The information released by the Marion Sheriff's Office about Alexandria Green and her possible companions.

Marion Sheriff's Office

The information released by the Marion Sheriff's Office about Alexandria Green and her possible companions.

An amber alert has been issued for Alexandria Green, a 5-year-old girl last seen in Dunnellon.

Alexandria is a little under 4 feet tall and weighs about 70 pounds. She was last seen in the 10,000 block of SW 186th Avenue, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

She was wearing dark colored shorts possibly black or blue, an orange T-shirt with the wording “Mac and Cheese,” and flip flops.

The child may be with Alan Green, a white male, 55, 6 feet 3 inches tall, 220 pounds, balding brown hair, and blue eyes.

They may also be in the company of Mechealine Mazakis, a white female, 47 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Alan has a tattoo on his left bicep and on the left side of his chest.

They may be traveling in a 2014, blue Scion XB, Florida tag number AMLC10.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of this child please contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at 352-732-9111.

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TECO reports power outage in Citrus Park

About 2,830 residents are without power in the Citrus Park/Keystone area due to a transformer malfunction.

According to Tampa Electric's outage map, the outage is expected to be resolved by 7:15 a.m.

The affected area includes Sickles High School.

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