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Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

Three major philanthropic organizations said Thursday they are pulling their events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, with one already in discussions to move its 2018 fundraiser to another A-list oceanfront setting.

>> Read more trending news 

Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and American Cancer Society announced they were leaving the president’s Palm Beach estate.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Latest news, photos, videos on President Donald Trump

Late Thursday, the American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief programs, told The Palm Beach Post it is canceling a planned fund-raising gala at Mar-a-Lago, set for Sunday, Feb. 25.

“After considerable deliberation, AFMDA — an apolitical and humanitarian aid organization — will not hold its 2018 Palm Beach Celebration of Life Gala at Mar-a-Lago,” the brief statement said. Magen David Adom is Israel’s ambulance, blood services and disaster-relief organization.

Last season’s gala, held Feb. 26, featured more than 600 attendees who paid $650 per ticket.

Also Thursday, a prominent business leader in Palm Beach urged other charitable organizations sticking with Mar-a-Lago to reconsider their commitment to the president’s club. Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, told those groups and their deep-pocket donors to “have a conscience” and seek another venue for their events.

The decisions by the American Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic and the AFMDA were three of the latest examples of pushback to Trump in the days since the president’s off-the-cuff, combative and controversial news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he renewed his statements that “both sides” were at fault in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by marches by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last weekend.

“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the American Cancer Society said in announcing it would move two 2018 events, a dinner for sponsors and its 60th anniversary gala, from the president’s Palm Beach estate. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”

That announcement followed a decision by Cleveland Clinic, a leading research hospital in the United States with a location in West Palm Beach, to move its eventpossibly to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.

» Palm Beach chamber head tells charities ‘have a conscience’ about Mar-a-Lago events

Nick Gold, the public relations director of the oceanfront Eau Palm Beach , said it is working with the hospital in hopes of hosting next year’s event.

“Their first call was to us,” Gold said. “We are talking to them. … We certainly want to work with The Cleveland Clinic.”

The American Cancer Society said it has not settled on a new location and is evaluating venue options. No further information was available about whether AFMDA would try to hold an event elsewhere in Palm Beach County during the season.

The Cleveland Clinic’s move follows previous assertions its event would go on at Trump’s Palm Beach estate as planned, despite protests and letters of concern from some who demanded the venue be changed.

The hospital has hosted the fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the past eight years, according to The Associated Press, raising anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million a year.

» RELATED: Complaints aside, charities plan to stick with Mar-a-Lago

A representative for the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach said the nonprofit has no plans to move its fundraising event — The Palm Beach Wine Auction — which is scheduled to be held at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 1. Tickets to the auction are $1,000 a person.

The Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves also still plans to have one of its major fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. The “Wine, Women and Shoes” event is scheduled for March 10, said Robin Friedman, Big Dog Ranch’s director of development.

» RELATED: Dana Farber, three other charities won’t return to Mar-a-Lago in 2018

“Most of our supporters know that we do what we do for our dogs, and that just happens to be the best venue,” Friedman said of Mar-a-Lago. “In fact, it’s one of the only venues where we can do an event of our size in the daytime.”

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is co-chairing the Big Dog Ranch Mar-a-Lago event with Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The animal-rescue group is expecting 600 attendees — up from 450 last year. The group raised $1.1 million at its Mar-a-Lago event last year, and Friedman said “we are definitely expecting more” for 2018.

» RELATED: Why the American Humane Association won’t return to Mar-a-Lago

Nonetheless, Palm Beach County event venues have made clear they would be receptive to discussing opportunities with charities considering a move.

The Eau, located on a 7-acre site with ocean views and lush tropical gardens in Manalapan, underwent a major transformation in 2013 — dropping the Ritz-Carlton name and rebranding itself as a beachfront getaway for out-of-town guests and locals looking for a beachfront retreat. The property consistently ranks among the best resorts in the state. This spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed at the resort during his two-day summit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Gold said the resort can accommodate as many as 500 guests for a seated dinner. In addition to the Cleveland Clinic, the Eau has received inquiries from other charities looking to move events away from Mar-a-Lago, Gold said.

“We do see a lot of charities that are checking spaces to see what can be done,” Gold said.

» RELATED: U.S.-China summit a boon for Palm Beach hotels

Dave Anderson, the general manager of the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, said the venue is also hearing from groups who may be interested in moving events previously held at Mar-a-Lago. The convention center can host groups of roughly 1,000 people.

“We have a beautiful ballroom,” Anderson said. “We have a fantastic chef. … It is a great venue for social events. The only thing I can’t provide is an ocean at my doorstep.”

One leader in Palm Beach’s business community urged the charitable groups to consider a change of venue.

The Palm Beach Chamber’s Baker minced no words Thursday about whether charities should abandon Mar-a-Lago this season.

“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said. “Many say it’s the dollars (raised at the events) that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”

She added: “Personally, I do not feel that supporting him, directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”

Baker’s comments are the strongest yet from Palm Beach County’s business community in the wake of Trump’s conflicting and, to many, polarizing statements made in the aftermath of the weekend violence.

Last Friday night, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the northwestern Virginia town that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

In response, Trump first blamed Saturday’s violence “on many sides,” but zeroed in on specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis two days later after a backlash to his initial statement.

However, Trump doubled down on his first set of comments during Tuesday’s volatile news conference — and then tweeted support for Confederate monuments on Thursday.

No one from the Palm Beach County business community had spoken out publicly — until Baker.

» RELATED: Inside Mar-a-Lago for a charity ball with Trump and Jeff Sessions

Baker also expressed no patience for charities that will try to keep a low profile during this turbulent period.

“I hope that people will not maintain their neutrality,” she said. “This is the best time ever for people to show their backbone.”

Baker encouraged all charities to re-examine their core purpose for guidance about how to react to Trump’s comments.

In particular, she called out charities that advocate for social justice, the disabled, the poor and the sick.

“Look at your mission statement,” Baker said. “Are you living up to it?”

The Cleveland Clinic’s departure from Mar-a-Lago was no surprise after CEO Toby Cosgrove distanced himself from Trump following Tuesday’s comments. Cosgrove was one of a number of CEOs who stepped down from two White House business councils.

Trump later said he was disbanding that council and another after a rash of defections by other business industry leaders, including the CEOs of 3M, Campbell Soup Co. and United Technologies.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” the president tweeted. “Thank you all!”

But the pressure for the Cleveland Clinic to move its event from Mar-a-Lago started this past spring, with petitions and backlash against the Ohio-based hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as each planned lavish galas on the Palm Beach resort’s grounds during the first months of Trump’s presidency.

Driver of car that plowed into crowd protesting white nationalists identified

After violence caused authorities to stop a white nationalist rally before it began Saturday, a driver plowed his car into a crowd of protesters.

The driver has been identified as James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, according to CNN. He was arrested and charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death, according to police.

Department of Justice officials opened a civil rights investigation Saturday into the deadly car attack, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the Richmond field office of the FBI said. 

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

A 32-year-old woman who was crossing the street was killed and 19 people were injured, the Associated Press confirmed with hospital officials. Altogether 35 people were treated for injuries.

The incident took place approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters caused authorities to declare the "Unite the Right" rally an unlawful assembly, The Associated Press reported. 

>> Read more trending news

The white nationalists were protesting the city of Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The group carried torches at a rally Friday night.

Several hundred protesters were marching when the car appeared to deliberately drive into a group of them, The Associated Press reported. Virginia State Police said injuries ranged from life-threatening to minor.

The Associated Press reported that the driver has been arrested.

This is a developing story, return for updates.

Actress, beauty queen found dead in Texas home

Former beauty queen and TV actress Margaret Ann Garza, 31, was found dead Tuesday at her Texas home.  

Police were called at 6:31 a.m. to a home near Austin, Texas, about a woman who was not breathing, according to Angelique Myers, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.  

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters and medics were already at the scene when police arrived. Her death is under investigation and an autopsy is pending, Myers said.

Garza was crowned Miss Texas Belleza Latina in 2007 and Miss Belleza Latina International in 2008, according to an online obituary.  

She recently appeared in the AMC television series “The Son,” as well as in the movie “Mercury Plains” with Scott Eastwood, the obituary said. She is also in the movie “Pizza Joint,” which will premiere this month, according to her obituary.

Police: Oklahoma teen likely killed in horseback riding accident

An Oklahoma teen is dead after he left his home on a horse and didn't return, investigators said.

Family members said 13-year-old Cash Lawrence, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, rode off to round up a herd of horses on the family's property on Tuesday. When the horse returned without Lawrence, family members and authorities started to search for him.

Deputies said a family friend found the boy's body late Tuesday night, according to Fox23 News.

>> Read more trending news

A medical examiner is working to confirm a cause of death; investigators believe it was an accident.

Family members say they believe the boy's horse was provoked by other horses, and likely threw him from the saddle and dragged him.

Lawrence and his brother were set to compete in a youth rodeo Wednesday. Family members said he wanted to become a bull rider.

Family members said Lawrence competed in track and field, and even made a pole vault out of supplies he found on the family's small ranch. They said Lawrence loved the outdoors and was looking forward to joining the seventh-grade basketball team in Kellyville.

His funeral will be held Monday.

Jimmy Buffett fan attacked concert staff, security, authorities say

A 23-year-old Space Coast woman’s 125-mile trip to Palm Beach County to watch a Jimmy Buffett concert was cut short Tuesday night after she allegedly attacked employees and security staff at the Perfect Vodka Amphitheater, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities say Shannon Springhorn of Melbourne was attending the show at the concert venue just east of the village when she caused a disturbance. She faces charges that include battery on a law-enforcement officer, simple battery, resisting with violence and trespassing after receiving a warning.

Springhorn remained at the Palm Beach County Jail early Thursday after Judge Dina Keever-Agrama set her bail at $13,000 during a hearing at the jail Wednesday.

A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputy and security staff responded shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday after Springhorn allegedly assaulted an employee at the concert venue, which is within the grounds of the South Florida Fair, according to an arrest report made public Wednesday.

As she was taken into custody, Springhorn tried to kick a sheriff’s deputy and fell, according to a sheriff’s arrest report. She also hit a deputy in the groin with her knee, the Sheriff’s Office said

The arrest report indicates that Springhorn appeared intoxicated and on some type of drug. According to the report, she became unconscious as a deputy forced her to the ground. She was treated by Palm Beach County Fire Rescue workers and taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

Deputies learned that Springhorn had been issued a trespass warning at the concert venue earlier in the evening, the report said.

Video: Dinosaur named after 'Ghostbusters' creature found in Montana

Scientists just discovered a 75 million-year-old dinosaur that bears a spooky resemblance to a creature from the 1984 film "Ghostbusters." The new discovery found in Montana was named "Zuul" after the...

What is the ‘mother of all bombs,' and what does it do?

The U.S. on Thursday dropped the most powerful conventional bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar, Afghanistan. 

The bomb, known in military ranks as “MOAB,” or the “mother of all bombs,” was used Thursday for the first time in combat, though it was developed in the early 2000s.

U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ordered the bomb dropped, according to reports. The target was believed to be ISIS tunnels and personnel in the Achin district of Nangarhar.

"This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," he added, using the U.S. military's acronym for the IS affiliate.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the MOAB.

What is its name?

The bomb’s technical name is GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb. It became known in military circles as the “mother of all bombs” because of its size and power.

Who makes the bomb?

It was designed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and is manufactured by McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma.

How big is it?

The MOAB is 30 feet long and has a 40.5-inch diameter. The bomb weighs 21,715 pounds. The warhead weighs 18,739 pounds.

How is it dropped?

It is delivered by a C-130 Hercules military transport plane. It’s basically pushed out of the back of the massive plane. It is attached to a parachute.

What kind of blast does it produce?

The “blast yield” of MOAB equals 11 tons. It has a blast radius of 1 mile, meaning that it demolishes everything within 1 square mile.

When was it developed?

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast was developed in 2003. The bomb was developed in only nine weeks to be available for use in the Iraqi War. 

It has been tested only twice, both times at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.

How many are in existence?

According to the Air Force, 15 units were made at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. One of those was moved to the Persian Gulf in 2003.

When have they been used in combat?

The first and only time that one has been used in combat was on Thursday in Afghanistan. 

Does it penetrate the ground to blow up tunnels?

No. It is an “air-blast” bomb, meaning that the bomb explodes in the air and the blast from the weapon does the damage.

Is the U.S. the only country with the MOAB?

Yes. There have been reports that Russia developed a “father of all bombs” after news of the MOAB broke. It is said to be four times more powerful than the MOAB.

 

Glenn Jacobs, WWE star 'Kane,' officially announces his bid for mayor

When Glenn Jacobs' treasurer filed the necessary paperwork for a potential political campaign last month, it became national news that the World Wrestling Entertainment star known as “Kane” might run for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

>> Read more trending news

On Tuesday, Jacobs made it official. Speaking to a crowd at Sweet P’s Barbecue and Soul House, the pro wrestler announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for mayor.

>> RELATED: Libertarian Republican Eric Brakey, “Maine’s 28-year-old political wunderkind” announces U.S. Senate run

“As Knox County mayor I promise to keep taxes low and make Knox County a place everyone can be proud of,” Jacobs promised. “I see my role as that of a facilitator among the different communities in our area. And also I think that Mayor (Tim) Burchett has done a very good job with transparency in government and I would continue along those lines.”

The 2018 election for Knox County mayor will be for an open seat to replace Burchett.

Jacobs focused on the themes of jobs, education and smaller government, repeating a version of Ronald Reagan’s conservative mantra that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Glenn Jacobs announcing his bid for mayor

The WWE star told Rare on Tuesday that his belief in free markets and individual liberty were part of what interested him in becoming involved in politics, and he saw his Republican brand as being similar to that of libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul, Reps. Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, and also his own congressman, Rep. Jimmy Duncan.

Jacobs has lived in Knox County for over two decades, roughly the same amount of time his “Kane” character has endured as one of the top stars in the pro wrestling industry.

“For the past 22 years I’ve had the pleasure of living here in East Tennessee,” Jacobs said Tuesday. “Because my career with the WWE has taken me all around the world on a weekly basis, me family and I could live pretty much anywhere in the U.S.”

“We live here because we want to,” Jacobs said to applause. “We live here because we love it here.”

Jacobs and his wife Crystal own an insurance agency in the Knoxville area.

>> RELATED: WWE superstar puts libertarian charity first in dancing appearance back home

At least two other challengers for mayor are expected to run, including County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who has already announced, and Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones.

Though Jacobs wrestled under other monikers prior for a number of years, his “Kane” character was introduced to WWE fans in 1997.

Disclosure: Glenn Jacobs is a Rare contributor.

Why exactly is Trump hosting China president at Mar-a-Lago?

White House spokesman Sean Spicer wouldn’t say why President Donald Trump was hosting China President Xi Jinping at his Palm Beach, Florida, compound Mar-a-lago during a news briefing Thursday afternoon.

When asked specifically why the administration had picked the property for the April 6-7 summit, Spicer demurred. He simply said the location was just one of a host of issues agreed to by Trump administration officials and their People’s Republic counterparts, without offering details.

>> Read more trending news

Spicer said the location, as well as the length of the visit and the timing, were just three issues of numerous items that were the subject of “several weeks” of discussion between the two governments.

RELATED: Trump, China and Twitter: 9 tweets that likely irked PRC leaders

“This is what we arrived at,” Spicer said, referring to the two-day summit.

Spicer said the agenda will include a range of topics mostly focused on trade and security.

RELATED: How Chinese media are spinning Trump-Xi Palm Beach superpower summit

“We have big problems to address on everything from the South China Sea to trade to North Korea,” Spicer added.

Spicer was not asked why the Chinese president Xi Jinping chose to stay at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan.

Children find Spirit Airlines pilot, wife dead in apparent overdose

Four children found their parents – including their airline pilot father – dead Thursday in their Centerville, Ohio, home in what investigators said appears to be the latest incident in a scourge of drug deaths plaguing Montgomery County and Ohio.

>> Read more trending news 

The husband, Brian Halye, was an active pilot for Spirit Airlines, flying for them nine years, and captaining a passenger jet as recently as last Friday.

He and his wife, Courtney Halye, were found in a bedroom of their home on East Von Dette Circle, a suburban cul-de-sac.

RELATED: Centerville pilot, wife deaths may be fentanyl-related

The deaths appear “drug related due to paraphernalia found at the scene,” Centerville Police Officer John Davis said. Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, said the incident resembles other opioid cases and “could be consistent with what we’re seeing with fentanyl products in our community.”

“We’ve been talking about this for how long now?” Betz said by phone. “Here I go again … year-to-date, accidental drug overdoses exceeded 160 already this year.”

Official causes of death for the couple have not been released, as a full medical exam will be performed today.

‘They were very cold’

The couple each had two children from previous marriages. In two 911 calls to Centerville police shortly before 8 a.m., the children ages 9 to 13 told dispatchers their parents are on the floor and “not waking up.”

“They were very cold,” said the oldest child, politely answering “yes, ma’am” to the dispatcher as his sisters cried in the background.

The children ran outside the home to relatives as police conducted an investigation. By 10:30, police and emergency response vehicles cleared the usually tranquil neighborhood.

The Halyes purchased their home in summer 2013. The neighborhood, Pellbrook Farm, is just southwest of the Ohio 725-Wilmington Pike intersection. The quiet suburban cul-de-sac features homes valued around $150,000 to $225,000.

Warren County Court records show Brian Halye was divorced in 2011 in a shared parenting case. Courtney Halye was convicted of a felony drug possession charge in 2009, but the case was expunged. Her previous husband Jacob Castor, the father of two of the children, died in 2007 at age 27.

Neighbors were stunned by Thursday’s news.

“There’s never much activity going on over there,” said a neighbor, who declined to be named. Added another neighbor, “That’s what surprises us, because he was an airline pilot, and he flew for Spirit.”

Pilot flew last week

Halye last flew for Spirit on Friday, according to the “ultra low fares” carrier. The pilot’s social media accounts indicate he was based at its Detroit operations center. The airline does not provide service to Dayton International Airport.

“Captain Halye served at the airline for just over nine years,” Paul Berry, the company’s spokesman, said in a statement expressing the company’s sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

The Dayton Daily News asked Spirit Airlines officials to provide more details about Halye’s last-flown routes and upcoming flights, as well as the dates and results of any drug screenings. Spirit declined to answer.

Federal regulations require employers to administer drug and alcohol testing in pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, reasonable cause and follow-up situations, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said.

MORE: Spirit Airlines pilot suspected in OD flew 6 days ago

Pilots must hold valid medical certificates in order to fly. The Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which Halye held, requires a first-class medical certificate, which must be updated every 12 months for a pilot under the age of 40. Halye was 36.

The FAA database lists Halye’s medical certificate date as September, 2011, which would mean the certificate expired more than four years ago. Asked to double check, Cory said Halye’s certificate was up-to-date, with it due to expire this fall.

“I’m not sure why the online database does not have that information,” Cory said in an email to the Dayton Daily News. “The system could be in the process of update.”

Dr. Richard Garrison is among the doctors who conducts such tests locally. Garrison said that exam is roughly similar to an annual physical, and also includes vision testing and EKG heart tests for pilots over a certain age. But he said those exams do not include substance-abuse testing.

Drug issues everywhere

Multiple-death overdoses at a single site happened at least four times in Montgomery County in 2016 — including to Jamie Haddix and Darrell Morgan, who were found dead on Christmas Eve. The place where they died, a four-unit apartment building on Wiltshire Boulevard in Kettering, isn’t ground zero in the region’s opioid crisis because there is no ground zero.

“You always hear, ‘It can’t happen in my neighborhood,’ ” said Michael Link, who lives around the corner from the Halyes in Centerville. “But it does.”

Centerville ranked comparatively low on Montgomery County’s 2016 overdose list, with only five residents dying from drug causes, according to preliminary coroner’s data. That’s much lower than comparably sized Trotwood (17), Miamisburg (14) and Riverside (13). But nearly every community in the county had a spot on that list, which included 355 deaths.

Two of the children attended Centerville’s Tower Heights Middle School and two attended another district. Centerville schools Superintendent Tom Henderson said the district “continues to support friends of the students who were part of this family. Centerville had guidance counselors “on call and on deck as needed.”

Henderson said so many students know each other not only from school, but from sports and other cross-community activities that a tragedy like this can have a wider impact that people might think.

“These two students have come up through our district, so we try to be cognizant of that and get out to the other buildings they’ve attended,” Henderson said. “We’ll be ready (Friday) when students come in, and we’ll be ready when the students (in that family) come back to attend school again.”

Staff Writers Chris Stewart, Malik Perkins, Katie Wedell and Hannah Poturalski contributed reporting.

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