Ex-San Diego mayor’s exploratory team to challenge Newsom raises over $1 million, ' hungry for an alternative'


Since announcing an exploratory committee earlier this month to challenge California Gov. Gavin Newsom, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has raised more than $1 million, a figure Faulconer’s campaign manager believes is a sign that Californians are hungry for new leadership.  

Faulconer, who was San Diego’s Republican mayor between 2014 and 2020, launched the committee as a petition to recall Newsom over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic was gaining steam. As of Jan. 31, organizers of the recall effort say they have gathered more than 1.2 million signatures out of the required 1.5 million. Their deadline is March 17.

Faulconer’s campaign manager Stephen Puetz told Fox News on Sunday that if any Republican has a chance of ousting a Democratic governor in California, it’s Faulconer.  

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer participates in the San Diego Pride Parade at Balboa Park on July 14, 2018 in San Diego, California. 

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer participates in the San Diego Pride Parade at Balboa Park on July 14, 2018 in San Diego, California. 
(Getty Images)

“Throughout his time as mayor, (Faulconer) was known as the only big city Republican mayor in the country. And he was known as someone who could get things done,” Faulconer said. “He was the only mayor of a large city in California to reduce homelessness two years in a row. He made a pledge to pave over 500 miles of streets. He ended up paving over half the streets in the entire city in six-plus years. And did it all without raising taxes.”

Since launching the exploratory committee, Faulconer’s team has reached out to a wide spectrum of potential supporters in California, Puetz said, running the gamut from grassroots organizers, political decision-makers, state lawmakers, regional leaders like District Attorney’s and county supervisors, as well as major donors and “everyday Californians.”

“Whether it be Republican donors or party activists or Democrats or just kind of sick of the one-party rule, it’s people are hungry for an alternative,” Faulconer said. “People are hungry for a check and balance in Sacramento.”

Faulconer, a moderate Republican city councilman was elected mayor of San Diego in early 2014 in a special election brought about by the resignation of Democrat Bob Filner over sexual harassment allegations.  

San Diego held the distinction of being the nation’s largest city with a Republican mayor, and Faulconer was the only Republican to lead a major city in California, where Democrats hold a firm grip on statewide offices.

Despite running against a Latino Democrat and despite being outspent by labor unions by some $5 million in his reelection, Faulconer won with 42% of the Latino vote, and 30% of Democrats supporting him.

CALIFORNIA GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM FACING THREATS TO FAMILY, BUSINESSES, PROMPTING INVESTIGATION: REPORTS

Faulconer’s ability to do that, Puetz said, “provides hope for people paying attention, who say, ‘well, of course, we’d like to make a change. Of course, we want someone who can defeat Gavin Newsom.’”

“But there’s also the realism element of it, that it has to be someone with a proven ability to win and then get things done. And quite frankly, he’s the only person in California right now that’s done that,” Puetz said. “There is no other person who has won a tough race … with demographics similar to the state of California, as Kevin Faulconer has. And so that’s part of the reason why he’s gotten so much support in the last few weeks.”

The recall effort against Newsom – the sixth such effort since he took office in Jan. 2019 – was initially dismissed as a crackpot effort by fringe activists. But the effort steadily garnered mainstream support amid growing discontent over the governor’s handling of the pandemic. Critics – Republicans and even some Democrats – have accused Newsom’s administration of failing to make transparent the data which they have supposedly relied upon when ordering businesses and schools closed.  

The recall campaign saw a surge in support last November after Newsom was photographed dining at the high-end French Laundry restaurant while appearing to violate some of his administration’s own coronavirus guidelines.  

But Puetz believes years of failed Democratic leadership in California is also playing a pivotal role in the success of the recall effort. 

“Is it just Gavin Newsom? No, it’s not just Gavin Newsom. It’s the entire system, the entire failed system in Sacramento,” Puetz said. “We’re one of the highest taxed states in the country. And when we don’t even need to raise taxes, they still raise taxes … while giving away somewhere between $10 and $30 billion to criminals in unemployment fraud.”

Last week, California’s state auditor found that the state agency that oversees unemployment benefits paid out at least $10.4 billion in fraudulent claims due to “significant missteps and inaction.” The audit also found that the agency paid at least $810 million to prison inmates – more than double the amount previously thought. Newsom’s administration has pointed the finger at the federal government and refused to share details about how often Newsom was briefed on the problems.

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“It’s not reflective of the majesty and beauty of our state and its people,” Puetz said. “The state government does not reflect who the people of California are, the innovation, the care, the smarts, the entrepreneurship. Gavin Newsom and the one-party rule state legislature are holding Californians back. I think people are going to see through that and they already are.”

Fox News’ Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Jokic has 47 points, Nuggets end Jazz winning streak at 11


Nikola Jokic matched his career high with 47 points and the fast-starting Denver Nuggets beat Utah 128-117 on Sunday to end the Jazz’s winning streak at 11.

Jokic was 17 for 26 from the field, hit all four of his 3-point attempts, made 9 of 10 free throws and had 12 rebounds and five assists. He scored 33 points in the first half.

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Will Barton added 18 points, and Jamal Murray had 16 to help the Nuggets win for the sixth time in seven games.

Utah lost for the first time since Jan. 6 at New York. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points, and Donovan Mitchell had 13 in 31 minutes after missing two games while in concussion protocol.

Denver hit all eight of its 3-point attempts and shot 80% in the first quarter. The Nuggets kept it going in the second, going 13 of 24 from the field and finishing 15 of 17 from long range in the first half to take a 79-54 halftime lead.

The lead was 86-58 with 8:11 left in the third quarter when Utah made a big run. The Jazz hit eight 3-pointers and outscored Denver by 18 to get to 99-91.

JaMychal Green had all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter when the Nuggets got the lead back to 20. Jokic matched his career high with a layup with 2:05 left.

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TIP-INS

Jazz: Derrick Favors had seven points and six rebounds in his return. He missed the previous two games because of soreness in his lower back. … Utah outscored every opponent but one by double digits during the 11-game winning streak. The only close game was a 109-105 victory over Denver on Jan. 17. … The winning streak was the team’s longest since a 12-gamer Feb. 11-Mar. 10, 2009. The franchise record is 15 in 1996.

Nuggets: G Gary Harris (left adductor strain) didn’t play after the first quarter. He didn’t attempt a shot in 8:45 of court time. … Set season highs with the 43-point first quarter and 79-point half.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host Detroit on Tuesday night.

Nuggets: Host Detroit on Monday night.



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Top epidemiologist urges single doses of COVID-19 vaccine


A top infectious disease expert said Sunday the US needs to rush giving out the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before an anticipated “Category 5” hurricane-like surge in cases.

Michael Osterholm, who was an advisor to President Joe Biden’s transition team, said that even one dose could lessen the blow of a likely outbreak of infections driven by new, contagious strains of the virus.

“We still want to get two doses in everyone, but I think right now, in advance of this surge, we need to get as many one-doses in as many people over 65 as we possibly can, to reduce serious illness and death that is going to occur over the weeks ahead,” Osterholm told NBC anchor Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”

One dose of Moderna’s vaccine has proven to be 80 percent effective, while just one shot of Pfizer’s has an efficacy rate of 52 percent, the drugmakers said.

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“So we do know that if we get a number of first doses in people, particularly 65 years of age and older, we can really do a lot to reduce the number of serious illnesses and deaths in this next big surge which is coming,” said the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Osterholm said that the country needs to “call an audible” with its vaccination program since he anticipates it will become inundated with new cases “in the next six to 14 weeks,” due to contagious, new variants from the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

“We are going to see something that we have not seen yet in this country,” he said. “England, for example, is hospitalizing twice as many people as we ever had hospitalized at our highest number.”

Osterholm compared the anticipated surge to a Category 5 hurricane.

“You and I are sitting on this beach where it’s 70 degrees, perfectly blue skies, gentle breeze,” Osterholm said. “But I see that hurricane five, category five or higher, 450 miles offshore. And, you know, telling people to evacuate on that nice blue sky day is going to be hard.”

The potential outbreak may mean implementing tough lockdown measures again, Osterholm said.

“We’re really good in this country at pumping the brakes after we wrap the car around the tree,” Osterholm said.

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

“You know, what we have to do now is also anticipate this and understand that we’re going to have change quickly. As fast as we’re opening restaurants, we’re likely going to be closing them in the near term.”



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Report: Messi’s contract worth up to 555 million euros


Lionel Messi’s most recent contract with Barcelona is worth up to 555 million euros ($673 million) over four seasons, the El Mundo newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Spanish daily said it had access to the document Messi signed with the Catalan club in 2017, which included fixed incomes and variables that could reach nearly 138 million euros ($167 million) each season. The newspaper said it is the most expensive contract ever agreed with an athlete in any sport.

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Messi would have to pay about half of that in taxes in Spain.

The report said the 33-year-old player has already secured more than 510 million euros ($619 million) of the total.

Barcelona denied responsibility for leaking the document and said it would take legal action against the newspaper.

“The club regrets its publication given that it is a private document governed by the principle of confidentiality between the parties,” it said in a statement. “FC Barcelona categorically denies any responsibility for the publication of this document, and will take appropriate legal action against the newspaper El Mundo, for any damage that may be caused as a result of this publication.”

The club expressed its “absolute support for Lionel Messi, especially in the face of any attempt to discredit his image, and to damage his relationship with the entity where he has worked to become the best player in the world and in football history.”

Messi, who did not immediately make any public comments about the report, later Sunday scored a goal in the team’s 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league. The result moved the Catalan club into second place for the first time this season, though its gap to leader Atlético Madrid was 10 points.

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The leak comes as Barcelona tries to manage a huge debt created mostly because of the coronavirus pandemic. The club has been led by a caretaker board since president Josep Bartomeu resigned in October while facing a no-confidence motion. New presidential elections are scheduled for March 7.

The newspaper also detailed how Messi rewarded the club over the years, having helped it win more than 30 titles.

Messi has been with Barcelona for nearly two decades but asked to leave at the end of last season after saying he wasn’t happy with the direction the club was taking. His request was denied but he will be able to leave for free when this season ends.



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MLB proposes delaying start to April 28, cut to 154 games


Major League Baseball has proposed a one-month delay in starting spring training due to the coronavirus pandemic and pushing back opening day to April 28, two people familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.

Under the plan presented to the players’ union on Friday, the regular season would be cut from 162 games to 154.

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Also, the playoffs would be expanded from 10 teams to 14, the designated hitter would extend to the National League for the second straight season and MLB would keep the experimental rules for seven-inning doubleheaders and beginning extra innings with a runner on second base.

All players would report for spring training on March 22, back from the current calendar that calls a voluntary reporting date of Feb. 17 for pitchers, catchers and injured players, and Feb. 22 for others.

Opening day would be pushed back 27 days from its currently scheduled April 1 and the regular season would end Oct. 10 instead of Oct. 3. The postseason would extend into November.

The people familiar with the plan spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday because no announcements were made. The sides have not discussed the proposal with each other since MLB made it.

A day before the plan was presented, Commissioner Rob Manfred said he would like to know by his regular Monday call with owners if the union had interest in delaying the start of spring training.

The reasoning behind the delay would be to gain time for more vaccinations and better assess the health situation.

Seven teams in each team would make the playoffs, and only the division winner with the best record would receive a bye in the best-of-three first round. There would be a selection show in which the seeded teams would be able to, in order of percentage, select their first-round opponent. The three advancing teams in each league and the one with a bye would advance to the best-of-five Division Series, starting the traditional rounds of the postseason.

While the plan says players would receive 100% of pay if all 154 scheduled games are played, Manfred would have an expanded right to stop spring training, the regular season or the postseason under certain conditions. Those would be if government restrictions prevent five or more teams from playing home games even without fans, if government rules restrict travel in the United States, if Manfred determines after consultation with medical experts and the union there is an unreasonable safety risk to players or staff or if the number of regular major leaguers unavailable because of COVID-19 undermines completive integrity.

Each team would start with 18 scheduled days off, and each team would be allowed to be scheduled up to 12 split doubleheaders.

Players usually are reluctant to agree to split doubleheaders because of the lengthy day at the ballpark each entails

The regular season would be compressed to 154 games in 166 days from 162 games in 186 days.

The World Series would be scheduled to end in the Nov. 10 range, with the exact time depending on discussions with broadcast partners.

As part of the plan, owners would guarantee a postseason players’ pool of 60% of the gate of the first two first-round games plus $80 million for the remainder of the postseason, matching the 2019 pool.

Players previously rejected a proposal teams made Jan. 5 for expanded playoffs in exchange for extending the DH to the National League.

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Last season was cut from 162 games per team to 60, and the postseason was expanded to 16 teams and ended Oct. 27 when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in World Series Game 6. Players received 60/162nds of their salaries.

No fans were allowed during the regular season last year, which because of the pandemic started July 23 rather than March 26. About 11,000 fans per game attended the NL Championship Series and World Series, both played at the neutral site in Arlington, Texas. In a deal for expanded 16-team playoffs in 2020, MLB guaranteed a postseason players’ pool of $50 million.



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Instagram influencer got COVID-19 vaccine in NYC, arguing she’s an ‘educator’


A 52-year-old SoulCycle instructor and Instagram influencer in New York City netted a coveted coronavirus vaccine on Staten Island, justifying the move by arguing that she is an “educator,” according to a report.

Stacey Griffith scored the jab Friday, even as the city faces a significant shortage of vaccines that has led to tens of thousands of appointments being postponed and the temporary closure of inoculation sites spanning the city.

“VACCINE DAY! Step one of the Moderna magic!! One hour drive to STATEN ISLAND worth every minute!” wrote Griffith in a since-deleted Friday Instagram post tagged at Port Richmond High School on the island’s North Shore, according to The Daily Beast. “It takes a village.”

CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

But shortly after Griffith shared the post with her more than 64,000 followers, she faced the wrath of commenters who said that they and their loved ones had yet to be able to get their hands on the vaccine — in some cases despite qualifying factors including serious underlying illnesses, the report said.

Reached by The Daily Beast, Griffith argued that her job qualified her as an “educator” — with school teachers currently eligible for the vaccine in New York, along with seniors 65 and older — and that her inoculation helped keep others safe.

“Having me vaccinated can stop the short spread within groups!” Griffith told the outlet.

“I function as a common point for many overlapping people. In my profession of health and wellness as a teacher, it’s my priority daily to keep my community and their respiratory systems operating at full capacity so they can beat this virus if they are infected by it. I can only teach to them if I am healthy myself.”

Griffith maintained that she “had the same opportunity everyone else has by going online and filling out a questionnaire,” and didn’t call in any “favors” or pay money to grease the wheels.

She also contended that she was helping to build confidence in the safety of the vaccine, and setting a positive example.

“All teachers are eligible to apply for the vaccine,” she told The Daily Beast via text message. “My post today was to show my confidence in the system, in our government, and I hope everyone can at least feel more at ease knowing I went through the process!”

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Upon learning of the controversy during a Sunday press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to see it Griffith’s way.

“Doesn’t sound like someone who should’ve gotten vaccinated to me,” said de Blasio.

“I don’t think someone who shows up and says, ‘Hey, I’m a SoulCycle instructor should have qualified unless there’s some other factor there,” said de Blasio with a laugh. “That should have been caught in the application process.”

Dr. Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health, added that anyone who shows up to a testing site and does not meet eligibility requirements should be turned away — and insisted that eligibility is being checked.

“Every person must attest to their eligibility on the application,” he said. “Once they’re actually at the site, they have to be able to prove their eligibility with some sort of documentation.”

Griffith told The Daily Beast that she deleted the Instagram post due to negative responses, but continued to defend her actions.

“I hate controversy,” she said. “It saddens me that people go so dark and mean, I’m really just trying to do the right thing and be safe.”



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Decorated NYPD sergeant dies from 9/11 illness


A decorated NYPD officer has lost his battle with a Sept. 11-related illness, the police department announced Sunday.

Sgt. William Brautigam, 47, had only been in the NYPD for two months when the terror attack occurred, Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a letter to cops.

“William was a member of the ‘9/11 class’ in our Academy — appointed to the NYPD on July 2nd of that year,” Shea wrote.

“William, like thousands of his classmates and colleagues throughout the department, answered the call. Now, nearly 20 years after that horrific time in our nation’s history, his strength continues to lead us — and we vow to never forget him or his immense sacrifice.”

Shea did not specify exactly what illness Brautigam died of.

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He made nearly 700 arrests and received more than two dozen department awards during his 20 year career, according to the NYPD.

After Sept. 11, William served in the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights before earning a detective shield in the Vice Enforcement Division.

He later worked in narcotics in Manhattan, before returning to the 33rd as a sergeant, where he served as field intelligence officer.

Over the past four years, he had served in the Criminal Enterprise Investigative Section while battling the illness that took his life.

“Our sympathies, prayers, and thanks are with all of William’s relatives and loved ones today, and every day forward,” Shea said.



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JJ Watt has decision 'coming' on future with Texans: report


Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has reportedly requested to be traded out of Houston, and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt appears to be right behind him.

According to NFL Network, the Texans’ decision on Watt is “coming” despite having one year remaining on his current contract. Watt will be 32 years old next season and he isn’t the dominant force he once was, but he could definitely step into a winning organization and have an immediate impact right away.

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During the 2020 NFL season, Watt expressed his frustrations publicly with former head coach Bill O’Brien, as well as the organization as a whole. After Houston’s final game of the season — which resulted in a loss to the Tennessee Titans — Watt apologized to Watson for wasting another year of his prime.

REPORT: DESHAUN WATSON TRADE MIGHT HAVE TO INCLUDE THIS FOR TEXANS TO PULL TRIGGER

“Good job, brother. I’m sorry,” Watt said to Watson. “I’m sorry. We wasted one of your years. I’m sorry. I mean, we should have 11 wins. We should.”

Another NFL Network report stated that Watt played his final game with the Texans, and people in the organization said that was the mood in the locker room following the season-ending loss.

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Watt played in 16 games this past season and came away with 52 total tackles, five sacks, seven passes defended, and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. For his career, Watt has 101 sacks, 25 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.



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Decorated NYPD sergeant dies from 9/11 illness


A decorated NYPD officer has lost his battle with a Sept. 11-related illness, the police department announced Sunday.

Sgt. William Brautigam, 47, had only been in the NYPD for two months when the terror attack occurred, Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a letter to cops.

“William was a member of the ‘9/11 class’ in our Academy — appointed to the NYPD on July 2nd of that year,” Shea wrote.

“William, like thousands of his classmates and colleagues throughout the department, answered the call. Now, nearly 20 years after that horrific time in our nation’s history, his strength continues to lead us — and we vow to never forget him or his immense sacrifice.”

Shea did not specify exactly what illness Brautigam died of.

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He made nearly 700 arrests and received more than two dozen department awards during his 20 year career, according to the NYPD.

After Sept. 11, William served in the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights before earning a detective shield in the Vice Enforcement Division.

He later worked in narcotics in Manhattan, before returning to the 33rd as a sergeant, where he served as field intelligence officer.

Over the past four years, he had served in the Criminal Enterprise Investigative Section while battling the illness that took his life.

“Our sympathies, prayers, and thanks are with all of William’s relatives and loved ones today, and every day forward,” Shea said.



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Bucs' Tom Brady to join elite club in sports history with Super Bowl LV win


After 21 seasons in the NFL, Tom Brady seems to breaks records with every pass, every yard and every win but a victory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV next week will be especially significant for the veteran quarterback.

Feb. 7 will mark Brady’s 10th Super Bowl appearance but a win would give him his seventh NFL title, breaking the record for most Super Bowls won by any single player. It would also put him ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots with the most wins by a team with six apiece.

SUPER BOWL LV TIME, DATE AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GAME

But if Brady were to lead the Bucs to their first Super Bowl win since 2003, he would join baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and 12-time NBA All-Star Oscar Robertson as sports icons that went on to win championships in their first year with a new team.

Robertson, like Brady, had spent his entire career with one team. 

In 1970, he was traded from the Cincinnati Royals to the Milwaukee Bucks after 10 seasons and six playoff appearances. The Bucks would win 66 regular-season games with Robertson before sweeping the Washington Bullets to earn the franchise’s only NBA title.

Similarly, Robinson made his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 where he played nine seasons before eventually being traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966. That same year Robinson won the Triple Crown by hitting .316 with 49 homers and 113 RBIs and won both the American League and World Series MVP honors in Baltimore’s 4-0 sweep of the Dodgers. 

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Robinson would earn his second title when the Orioles won the 1970 World Series over the Reds. 

Brady has a chance to join Robertson and Robinson in sports history with a win over the defending Super Bowl champions who are looking to make history themselves with back-to-back titles. 

There have only been seven organizations to ever win the Super Bowl two seasons in a row, with the Green Bay Packers starting the trend in 1967 with a win in Super Bowl I and again the following season. The Steelers are arguably the most impressive of the group, having won back-to-back titles in the 1975 and 1976 seasons and then again in 1979 and 1980 seasons.

The Miami Dolphins have also held the Lombardi Trophy for consecutive seasons in 1973 and 1974. 

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This list continues with the San Francisco 49ers (1989-1990), Dallas Cowboys (1993-1994), Denver Broncos (1998-1999) and the Patriots (2004-2005).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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