Breaking News World News

Chinese spacecraft sets off on Moon sample quest

Jonathan Amos, BBC News

Breanna Grigsby for (CNT) City New and Talk


China has launched a mission to try to retrieve rock samples from the Moon.

Its robotic Chang’e-5 spacecraft departed the Wenchang launch complex on a Long March 5 rocket early on Tuesday morning local time, and if successful should return to Earth in mid-December.

It’s more than 40 years since the Americans and the Soviets brought home lunar rock and “soil” for analysis.

China aims to be only the third country to achieve this feat, which will be an extremely complex endeavour.

It’s a multi-step process t

hat involves an orbiter, a lander-ascender and finally a return component that uses a capsule to survive a fast and hot entry into Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the mission.

But confidence should be high after a series of well-executed lunar missions that started just over a decade ago with a couple satellites.

These were followed up by lander-rover combinations – with the most recent, Chang’e-4, making a soft touch down on the Moon’s farside, something no spacefaring nation had previously accomplished.

Chang’e-5 is going to target a nearside location called Mons Rümker, a high volcanic complex in a region known as Oceanus Procellarum.

The rocks in this location are thought to be very young compared with those sampled by the US Apollo astronauts and the Soviet Luna robots – something like perhaps 1.3 billion years old versus the 3-4-billion-year-old rocks picked up on those earlier missions.

This will give scientists another data point for the method they use to age events in the inner Solar System.

Essentially, researchers count craters – the older the surface, the more craters it has; the younger the surface, the fewer it has.

“The Moon is the chronometer of the Solar System, as far as we’re concerned,” explained Dr Neil Bowles at Oxford University.

“The samples returned by the Apollo and Luna missions came from known locations and were dated radiometrically very accurately, and we’ve been able to tie that information to the cratering rate and extrapolate ages to other surfaces in the Solar System.”

The new Chang’e-5 samples should also improve our understanding of the Moon’s volcanic history, said Dr Katie Joy from the University of Manchester.

“The mission is being sent to an area where we know there were volcanoes erupting in the past. We want to know precisely when that was,” she told BBC News.

“This will tells us about the Moon’s magmatic and thermal history through time, and from that we can start to answer questions more widely about when volcanism and magmatism was occurring on all of the inner Solar System planets, and why the Moon could have run out of energy to produce volcanoes earlier than some of those other bodies.”

When Chang’e-5 arrives at the Moon it will go into orbit. A lander will then detach and make a powered descent.

Once down, instruments will characterise the surroundings before scooping up some surface material.

The lander has the capacity also to drill into the soil, or regolith.

An ascent vehicle will carry the samples back up to rendezvous with the orbiter.

It’s at this stage that a complicated transfer must be undertaken, packaging the rock and soil into a capsule for despatch back to Earth. A shepherding craft will direct the capsule to enter the atmosphere over Inner Mongolia.

Every phase is difficult, but the architecture will be very familiar – it’s very similar to how human missions to the Moon were conducted in the 1960/70s.

China is building towards that goal.

“You can certainly see the analogy between what’s being done on the Chang’e-5 mission – in terms of the different elements and their interaction with each other – and what would be required for a human mission,” said Dr James Carpenter, exploration science coordinator for human and robotic exploration at the European Space Agency.

“We’re seeing right now an extraordinary expansion in lunar activity. We’ve got the US-led Artemis programme (to return astronauts to the Moon) and the partnerships around that; the Chinese with their very ambitious exploration programme; but also many more new actors as well.”


Breaking News World News

Brazil’s Amazon: Deforestation ‘surges to 12-year high’

BBC News

Breanna Grigsby for (CNT) City New and Talk


Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil has surged to its highest level since 2008, the country’s space agency (Inpe) reports.

A total of that 11,088 sq km (2.7m acres) of rainforest were destroyed from August 2019 to July 2020.

The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming.

Scientists say the Amazon has suffered losses at an accelerated rate since Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019.

The Brazilian president has encouraged agriculture and mining activities in the world’s largest rainforest.

The Amazon is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

The latest data from Inpe shows that deforestation increased by 9.5% compared to the previous 12 months.

It also marked a major increase from the 7,536 sq km announced by Inpe in 2018 – the year before Mr Bolsonaro took office.

The new figures are preliminary, with the official statistics set to be released early next year.

Brazil had set a goal of slowing the pace of deforestation to 3,900 sq km annually by 2020.

In addition to encouraging development in the rainforest, President Bolsonaro has also cut funding to federal agencies that have the power to fine and arrest farmers and loggers breaking environmental law.

Mr Bolsonaro has previously clashed with Inpe over its deforestation data. Last year, he accused the agency of smearing Brazil’s reputation.

In a statement, Brazilian non-governmental organisation Climate Observatory said the figures “reflect the result of a successful initiative to annihilate the capacity of the Brazilian State and the inspection bodies to take care of our forests and fight crime in the Amazon”.

But some officials said the fact that the rate of increase was lower than that recorded last year was a sign of progress.

“While we are not here to celebrate this, it does signify that the efforts we are making are beginning to bear fruit,” Vice-President Hamilton Mourão said, according to Reuters news agency.


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Former Atlanta Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory: Things to know

By Brian O’Shea, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga


Gregory was named one of 13 new cardinals by Pope Francis

Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals in October, including former Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who is the current archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Gregory will become the first Black U.S. prelate to earn the coveted red hat. A ceremony is planned on Saturday, Nov. 28 in Rome.

He previously was a leader of the Catholics in Atlanta and North Georgia beginning in 2005, moving from the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. Last year, Francis selected Gregory to lead the prestigious diocese in the U.S. capital.

Here are some things to know about Gregory.

Wilton Daniel Gregory is 72 (born Dec. 7, 1947). He is from Chicago and was ordained a Catholic priest there in 1973, according to the Atlanta Catholic website,

The Atlanta Archdiocese

The Atlanta archdiocese covers 69 North Georgia counties, including Athens and all of metro Atlanta. It covers an area with an estimated 1.2 million Catholics in 103 parishes and missions, according to the church.

Past Leader of U.S. Bishops

Gregory was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001-2004. During his term, in June 2002, the bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which lays out a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, according to the USCCB website. It also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.

The charter has been revised since its original publication, most recently in 2018.

Catholic church sex abuse cases

Gregory has written and spoken about the church’s response to sex abuse allegations. In August 2018, he wrote an open letter to Atlanta Catholics following a Pennsylvania grand jury report that outlined decades of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by church authorities.

All Catholics, he wrote, “including so many good and generous priests, are rightly angered, confused, and embarrassed by this testimony that the leadership of the church failed to care for our people with compassion and honesty.”

— AJC reporter Shelia M. Poole and AJC archives contributed to this article.


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Lawsuit: LDS Church officials, teacher knew of abuse but kept silent

Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic

Nick Avila for (CNT) City News Talk #phoenix-az

A lawsuit filed Monday charges that two Mormon bishops and a teacher failed to report a Bisbee father’s repeated sexual and physical abuse of three of his children, despite a state law that makes reporting such offenses mandatory.

It argues that the “clergy-penitent privilege” in the law, which keeps confessions confidential, does not apply to such cases. The teacher, a former border-patrol agent as well as the children’s Sunday school teacher, had a clear duty under the law in both of her roles to report the abuses to police, the suit alleges.

“Each of the Defendants had personal observations of the abuse, and also knew of the abuse outside of any confidential communication,” the complaint, filed in Cochise County Superior Court, alleges. The father’s abusive practices were discussed by church officials in routine meetings, and led to his excommunication in 2015 after church officials learned of his abuse of his daughter, then age 5.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three of the six children of Paul and Leizza Adams, details Paul Adams’ repeated sexual abuse of his daughters over a seven-year period, including the rape of his infant daughter. Paul Adams was indicted on 11 counts of child sexual abuse in 2017 and was awaiting trial when he hanged himself in his prison cell later that year.

Leizza Adams, the mother, was convicted for child abuse in 2018 and was released from Perryville state prison in early October, state records show.

The children have since been adopted by various families and have different last names than their parents.

The suit names the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as well as the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church.

Church officials on Monday said they need to examine the filing before commenting.

Other defendants are John Herrod, who served as bishop of the Bisbee Ward from 2009 to 2012, and his successor, Robert Kim Mauzy. It also names the medical practice that Herrod ran. Herrod was the Adams family’s doctor.

Also named is Shaunice Warr, a former agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where she worked along with Paul Adams. She also was a member of the church and was appointed by the church’s Relief Society to be a visiting teacher to the family, the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks findings of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the defendants. It also seeks a finding of medical malpractice against Herrod, given his role as the family’s physician. The filing asks the court for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The case revolves around Paul Adams’ abuse of his children and the people who knew of the abuse and did little to stop it.

When Paul Adams sought counseling for his pornography addiction from his Mormon bishop, Herrod at first brought in Paul Adams’ wife, hoping her knowledge of the sexual and physical abuse would put an end to it. 

That didn’t work, according to the lawsuit. Herrod then asked church leadership for permission to report the abuse, but was instead directed to the church’s helpline.

He was advised to continue counseling and was told he did not need to report the abuse due to the “clergy-penitent privilege” in the law.

Herrod’s successor, Mauzy, also called the helpline about Paul Adams and received the same advice.  Helpline calls regarding sexual abuse are referred to the Salt Lake City law firm of Kirton McConkie.

“In other words, the Church implements the Helpline not for the protection and spiritual counseling of sexual abuse victims, as professed in Church doctrine and literature, but for Kirton McConkie attorneys to snuff out complaints and protect the Church from potentially costly lawsuits,” the lawsuit states.

Without a report to police or child-welfare authorities, the abuse remains hidden. According to the lawsuit, this case came to light after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security followed up on a tip from Interpol about pornographic videos on the internet that were linked to Paul Adams. 

An investigation into Leizza Adams’ actions by federal officials uncovered that the clergymen knew of the abuse but were counseled to not report it. The Cochise County Attorney’s Office confirmed in the spring that there is a criminal investigation into the matter by an “outside agency” but has provided no update on the probe.

Warr knew of problems in the Adams household through her role as a visiting teacher, as well as through her friendship with Leizza Adams.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence of Paul’s abusive and psychotic behavior toward his children and wife, Warr failed to report Paul’s abuse of Plaintiffs to any government authorities on the instructions of Church leadership,” the claim alleges.

Attorneys representing the children acknowledge the clergy privilege, but argue the bishops and Warr knew of the abuse outside of any confessional-type setting. For example, Paul Adams’ excommunication was directly related to his abusive behaviors.

The bishops, attorney Lynne Cadigan said, had a choice: “Follow what the leaders tell them and not report, or protect the children and report.”

John Manly, another attorney for the children, said the case reminds him of the Catholic Church in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“It’s like the Mafia hiring a pastor and using the pastor to hide their crimes,” he said.

“What they’re really doing is hiding serial criminal conduct under the guise of religion.” 

Beyond the repeated sexual abuse of his two daughters, Paul Adams also sexually abused his son, the lawsuit states. He beat him, forced him to watch pornography and witness the abuse of his sisters. This resulted in night terrors and hygiene issues while he was in foster care. 

The daughters, the lawsuit claims, have permanent emotional and physical damage from the years of molestation.

Because their father posted pornographic images of them on the dark web, the girls’ adoptive parents have been notified by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that they risk being stalked. Authorities have warned them to stay away from social media for fear that they will be identified and further traumatized.

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As car thefts surge, Atlanta police urge driver vigilance

By Christian Boone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga


Atlanta has experienced a dramatic increase of auto thefts over the last month, and police say inattentive drivers shoulder some of the blame.

In a 28-day period ending Nov. 14, 337 cars were stolen in the city. That’s up 83 percent from the same period last year, according to stats calculated by the Atlanta Police Department.

The biggest increases are in more affluent parts of town, along the Peachtree corridor from Buckhead to downtown, said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor.

Since Sunday night, eight cars have been stolen in Zone 2, which includes Buckhead.

“All of those cars were taken either running or with keys inside of them,” O’Connor said.

Five cars have been appropriated from Midtown since Sunday evening, he said. Four were virtually gift-wrapped, with key fobs left inside, he said.

“We’re seeing this pattern over and over,” O’Connor said. “I believe roughly 70 percent of vehicles stolen this year have been stolen with the key fob inside.”

That negligence is not lost on the perpetrators, who are now targeting more expensive cars. Among the vehicles stolen in the last week: a Range Rover and a Porsche Panamera, O’Connor said.

Driveways and gas stations are typically the setting for such thefts, he said.

“You make it so simple for a car to be stolen,” the deputy chief said. “Anybody can just lift the door handle, push the start button and drive off.”

O’Connor said investigators have “a number of suspects” wanted in multiple cases.

Despite the recent surge, auto thefts are up just 1 percent for the year.

Overall, crime in Atlanta is down 17 percent in 2020. But violent crime continues to rise.

The city recorded its 130th murder Tuesday, a deadly shooting in northwest Atlanta. It’s the highest total since 2003, when there were 148 killings, and a 42 percent increase from this time in 2019.

The 28-day period through Nov. 14 also saw a 74 percent rise in aggravated assaults, according to the police department.


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Why Macy’s Pink Pig is taking 2020 off during coronavirus pandemic

By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga


With her rosy cheeks and to-die-for long lashes, Priscilla looks fabulous for a giant pink pig.

As Macy’s Pink Pig, she’s been a holiday tradition here in Atlanta for more than 50 years. But Priscilla is taking 2020 off.

“Due to the high touch nature of the rides, Macy’s will not be hosting the Pink Pig this year,” a notice on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta website reads. “We look forward to continuing this fun holiday tradition in 2021! We are grateful to Macy’s for their continued support of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Happy Holidays!”

The ride began in 1953 as a monorail along the ceiling of Rich’s department store. Years later, the monorails (another one had been added) were relocated to the downtown store’s roof. The ride later did a brief stint at Egleston Hospital.

In 2003, Priscilla found a new home at Lenox Square, on the upper-level parking deck near Macy’s.

The Pink Pig train ride carries kids and their parents through a life-size storybook that includes the original Pink Pig and other holiday friends.

A portion of the proceeds from each ride benefits the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Since 2003, Priscilla has earned more than $800,000 for Children’s Healthcare.

The coronavirus pandemic will keep the Pink Pig in storage this holiday season, but plans are for her to return Tuesday, Nov. 02, 2021, and run until Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2022.

If you need an activity to replace this annual event, check out our Atlanta Winter Guide for places to go, gifts to give and food to make.


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‘A community of hope’: Phoenix Children’s Chorus is back, with hula hoops and masks

Katelyn Keenehan | Arizona Republic

Nick Avila for (CNT) City News Talk #phoenix-az

More than 300 kids and teens in Phoenix Children’s Chorus are singing again after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the sound of music has never brought them so much hope.

For the kids that have started singing in Phoenix Children’s Chorus again, it brings them a much desired sense of community in an otherwise isolating year.

“It’s the one place where I can feel calm and like, take away the stresses of my day. I can just sing and do something that I love with the people that I love again,” said Reagan Howe, who is a member of Encore, the chorus’s touring high school choir.

Phoenix Children’s Chorus is one of more than 100 Arizona nonprofits supported by The Arizona Republic and’s annual holiday giving campaign, Season for Sharing.

With schools remote, students find community elsewhere

Jan and Aaron Howe have three kids that sing with the choir: Charly, 10, Lorelai, 13, and Reagan, 15. All three are doing remote school and attending in-person rehearsals for the chorus.

“The Howes chose to be in person at PCC — that’s their one thing, because that mattered most to their kids,” said Troy Meeker, the artistic director for Phoenix Children’s Chorus.

Reagan is in 10th grade at North Phoenix Preparatory Academy. The Howes decided on remote school due to Reagan’s epilepsy diagnosis, which puts her in the high risk group for COVID-19.

“We have been dealing with that all her life,” Aaron said. “But, going on a year of being home and having remote school, it was really important for us to give our kids an outlet.”

Reagan agreed with her parents’ decision and was happy to be given the option to sing in the chorus in person.

“At school I’m, like, an outcast. I don’t really have many friends,” Reagan said. “But, it’s easy to become friends with people at PCC because you have that love for music.”

Choirs fall silent across the nation

The Howe family, like many others, were nervous when COVID-19 numbers started skyrocketing in the U.S. They feared for the future of Phoenix Children’s Chorus when the organization had to cancel the spring concerts.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted choirs as a dangerous spreader of COVID-19. The prevention guidelines said the new coronavirus “might be highly transmissible in certain settings, including group singing events.”

This came after 53 members of a 61-person choir in Skagit County, Washington, contracted the virus after a 2.5 hour practice in early March and two died, leading the CDC to call it a “superspreader event.” At the time, the choir was not social distancing or wearing face masks. 

“Never in my life did I imagine there would be a time where I would be told that singing was not safe,” said Meeker. “It truly rocked the bedrock of my life.”

Around the same time, American Choral Directors Association​​​​​, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Chorus America, Barbershop Harmony Society, and Performing Arts Medical Association hosted a webinar about the dangers of singing in person. 

“Just like that, the choir world stopped,” Meeker said.

Last year, Chorus America found that more than 11 million children across the nation sing in a choral group. In 2020, those numbers fell — hard.

The Phoenix Children’s Chorus is the largest children’s choir in Arizona. It had over 400 kids in the program, in grades K-12, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the financial burden of the pandemic and the inability to gather in-person in large groups, enrollment for the chorus fell 25%.

“I will say, that’s pretty average from what I’m hearing across the nation and across our state. Programs that went fully virtual and are only doing Zoom related music saw even bigger number drops,” Meeker said.

Finding solutions to sing again

The transitional period was an emotional and challenging battle forthe organization, according to Meeker.

“‘Okay, so what do we do next?’ someone would ask in the meeting, and everyone would just sit in silence. It was frightening,” Meeker said.

Leaders at Phoenix Children’s Chorus knew the most important thing was the kids’ well-being, so theytransitioned to holding Zoom calls for students, without music, that focused on building community.

“It’s amazing, the strength that comes when you know you’re not alone,” Meeker said, “The kids had a community in music already, and then it became a community of hope.”

Theirgoal was to have some students return to in-person rehearsals in a safe way. So in August,they implemented social distancing enforced with hula hoops, mandatory mask-wearing, extra sanitation, and utilized the Health Champion app to check kids for symptoms.

(Photo: Meg Potter/The Republic)

Around 70% of students returned partially in-person; however, for those that preferred to participate from home, Meeker engineered a Zoom live stream that mixes audio from the conductor, the piano, and the choir to make the livestream a surround-sound experience from home.

Phoenix Children’s Chorus lowered their tuition by a third for families that are struggling financially due to the pandemic.

“We didn’t want finances to be the reason that a kid couldn’t sing,” Meeker said.

Before the pandemic, around 25% of students that participate in the choir were supported through scholarships or grants.

When the federal government issued stimulus checks to Americans in the spring, Meeker’s family decided to donate their check to a scholarship fund for students experiencing financial hardships during the pandemic. He encouraged other families, volunteers and staff members to do the same.

“We raised almost $10,000 internally, just from families who were willing to chip in something to provide a bank of money for struggling students to pay tuition,” Meeker said.

Now, about 300 kids are in the chorus, about 240 of them participating in-person at rehearsals spread out through the week and across seven choirs. While rehearsals are working well, the group is still figuring out concerts. 

For now, concerts have shifted from in-person attendance to on-the-couch viewing parties.

Phoenix Children’s Chorus is recording a holiday concert called “Hope and Light” that will be available for viewing on Dec. 18. The concert will cost $20 to view at

How to donate to Season for Sharing

With the help of our readers, we’ve raised — and given away — nearly $68 million to nonprofit organizations around the state over the past 26 years. Help us continue that support.

Here are four ways to donate to Season for Sharing:

Fill out the secure, online form at

Text “SHARING” to 91-999 and click on the link in the text message.

Go online at and look for the “DONATE HERE” post.

Clip the coupon on Page 4A of The Arizona Republic, fill it out and mail it to P.O. Box 29250, Phoenix AZ 85038-9250.

Where does the money go?

When you give to Season for Sharing, your donation goes toward helping nonprofits that support education, feed the hungry and help struggling families.

Every dollar of your donations and matching funds go to Arizona nonprofit organizations, because all overhead and fundraising costs are covered by The Republic.

Matching your donation

Through partnerships with our community partners the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and the Arizona Community Foundation, your charitable donations have even more of an impact.

Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust matches 50 cents on the dollar up to $100,000.

The Arizona Community Foundation provides the grant application portal and manages the collection of donations and distribution of grants.

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2 children shot in separate incidents at SW Atlanta apartment

By Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga


Within a span of less than seven hours, two children were shot at the same southwest Atlanta apartment complex in what investigators believe are unrelated incidents.

Both a 13-year-old girl shot Sunday night and a 14-year-old boy shot early Monday morning at the Mechanicsville Station apartments are expected to survive their injuries, according to Atlanta police. The complex is located on Fulton Street, blocks away from another row of apartments on Ira Street where a 12-year-old girl was injured in yet another shooting last week.

Police were first called to the Mechanicsville Station complex about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The 13-year-old girl was grazed in the head when a bullet entered her apartment, police spokesman Officer Steve Avery said. She was alert when she was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Investigators believe the shots were fired from a nearby intersection, and two rounds hit the girl’s apartment, Avery said.

Hours later, about 1 a.m. Monday, police returned to the complex to investigate the shooting involving the 14-year-old boy. He was found outside with a gunshot wound to his leg.

“(He) told officers he had been outside of the apartments when he was shot but would not give further information to police,” Avery said in a statement.

Police did not have any suspect information on either shooting Monday.

“It does not appear the two incidents were related,” Avery said.

Last Tuesday on Ira Street, a 12-year-old was shot in the leg when a gun was fired from a neighboring apartment, according to police. The child in that incident was also expected to recover.

The man living next door, 31-year-old D’Andre Brawner, was arrested on charges of reckless conduct, criminal damage to property, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and a parole violation.

Brawner, who was also arrested on a gun charge and parole violation in March, is being held without bond at the Fulton County Jail. Police did not say at the time of his arrest if he was shooting at someone or if his gun accidentally discharged, striking the child.

Investigations into the two latest shootings are ongoing.


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Chicago alderman who got contributions from pet store owner flips on anti-puppy mill law


Nick Avila for (CNT) City News Talk #chicago-il

A Chicago alderman who long championed the city’s anti-puppy mill ordinance has reversed his position and wants to lift a key restriction on pet shops, a move that comes after he received donations from a Lincoln Park store owner whose business sells primarily purebred and designer dogs.

Under a new ordinance proposed by Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward, pet shops no longer would be restricted to only selling rescue dogs as they have been for the past five years. Instead, they could offer puppies from federally licensed breeders without critical violations on their records in the past two years.

Lopez, who has embraced animal welfare initiatives during his tenure, stunned advocacy groups that he had worked with for years by changing his position. As recently as last year, he publicly expressed support for tightening the city’s anti-puppy mill ordinance.

“This really is reversing course and taking 10 giant steps back for animal protections,” said Marc Ayers, Illinois state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “He knows this. It’s hard to say why he’s being influenced so heavily.”

A longtime critic of the ordinance, store owner Lane Boron has contributed $2,000 since July 2018 to campaign funds that Lopez controls, according to state campaign finance reports. Boron owns Pocket Puppies in Lincoln Park. His most recent donation of $500 was in late January.

Less than seven months later, Lopez made an about-face when he publicly criticized another alderman’s proposal to close a loophole in the city ordinance that some advocates say has allowed a few pet stores to continue selling pricey puppies sourced from rescues with strong ties to out-of-state dealers.

Pocket Puppies, located in Lincoln Park, in 2018. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

Lopez introduced his own proposal earlier this month that would allow pet stores to sell commercially raised puppies. In a written response to Tribune questions about the contributions from a business outside his ward, he said the donations were unsolicited and did not influence him.

He said the money was “returned immediately.” But, when the Tribune asked for supporting documentation, the alderman did not respond further. A review of Illinois State Board of Elections records did not show an amended report to reflect that any of Boron’s three contributions over 18 months was returned.

Lopez denied that he is abandoning his earlier efforts to strengthen animal welfare standards. He said the city’s ordinance has led to a “decimation of the pet store industry,” forcing consumers to instead buy from “an underground market of bad breeders and internet dealers that I believe the new guidelines will end.”

Chicago was among the first major cities in the country to pass a law that permitted pet shops to sell dogs only if they were obtained from government pounds, humane societies or rescue shelters.

It passed nearly unanimously and went into effect a year later in March 2015 — one month before Lopez was elected — with the aim to prevent businesses from sourcing dogs from so-called puppy mills, large-scale breeding facilities often criticized for poor conditions and mistreatment of the mother dogs.

Another goal of the Chicago law was to reduce the number of euthanized shelter dogs. Indeed, city officials say the live release rate for dogs went from 65% in 2015 when the ordinance went into effect to nearly 91.5% in 2019.

The city ban affected about 13 stores in Chicago. Most closed, relocated or changed their mission.

But a 2018 Tribune investigation found the loophole allowed three local pet stores — including Pocket Puppies — to sell pricey dogs supplied by out-of-state rescues in Iowa and Missouri that were closely linked to longtime commercial dealers.

In an arrangement that was not an express violation of the ordinance but ran counter to the spirit of the ban, these rescues had provided city shops each year with hundreds of purebred and designer-mix puppies that came through kennels and properties owned by for-profit businesses or dealers, records show.

Days after the Tribune’s report, Lopez proposed changing the city law so that it allowed only dogs from a government facility or an organization “that has an agreement or other affiliation with Chicago Animal Care and Control” to be sold at local shops.

Two months later, Boron made his first donation — of$500 — to a Lopez campaign fund.

Lopez’s proposal, which was far more stringent than even the Humane Society wanted, failed to gain momentum.

The City Council largely ignored the issue until this spring, when Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced a settlement in which two so-called rescues in his state that the Tribune found had supplied dogs to two of the three Chicago pet stores agreed to cease operations and pay $60,000.

Miller found that the two nonprofits — Hobo K-9 Rescue of Britt, Iowa, and Rescue Pets Iowa Corp. of Ottumwa — transferred at least 3,600 dogs to entities in Illinois, California, Florida, Missouri and New Jersey from 2016 to 2019.

The Iowa attorney general alleged the owners of J.A.K.’S Puppies started Hobo K-9 Rescue in 2016 as a way to provide commercially bred designer puppies to businesses in California and Chicago, where laws require pet stores to sell only shelter animals.

Miller called the Iowa operations “integral actors of a national puppy laundering ring.” In response last year, Lopez applauded Iowa’s action and said he had put the local pet stores on notice.

“I flat-out told them at some point their industry was coming to an end in the city of Chicago,” Lopez told the Tribune in March 2019. “They know they are the last of their breed — pun intended.”

Pocket Puppies was not part of the Iowa litigation. But the 2018 Tribune investigation detailed how a Missouri canine dealer with a nonprofit rescue sent hundreds of puppies from April 2016 to June 2017 to either Pocket Puppies or a nonprofit with the pet shop’s address, according to public records.

And, last week, Nov. 26 Chicago Animal Care and Control issued administrative notice of 13 alleged ordinance violations to Pocket Puppies on suspicion the pet store sourced several 8-week-old English and French bulldogs from an Oklahoma breeder over a three-month period earlier this year, according to a city report.

The city investigation was sparked by a complaint from the Humane Society, the report said. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 4.

To address the ordinance’s loophole, North Side Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, proposed changes earlier this year so that stores only would be permitted to sell shelter dogs at a nominal fee. The price restrictions would make it harder for brokers and breeders to exploit the rescue animal requirements, he said.

The revamped language allows pet shop owners to show dogs from rescues and shelters but the store “shall not have any ownership or monetary interest in the animals displayed for adoption. The animals may only be transferred to an adopting individual for a nominal adoption fee.”

Approved rescue groups must not have any affiliation with a commercial business such as a breeder or dealer, under Hopkins’ plan.

Lopez was critical of the proposal in a City Council committee hearing in July. Boron and his wife, Stefanie, also spoke out against it at the public hearing.

Lane Boron acknowledged in July that Pocket Puppies uses a rescue “that sources from breeders.” The Borons told the panel they deal with reputable enterprises and the real problem lies with what they called a retail rescue industry that buys from substandard breeders.

The Borons say their store, which has 15 employees, would close if they could only sell “food and bones.” Though Pocket Puppies is not located in Lopez’s ward, Lane Boron told the Tribune he has donated to multiple elected officials over the years.

He said Lopez has returned his contributions.

“We support aldermen that, in our opinion, see synergies between businesses, regulation and consumer protections,” said Boron, who answered Tribune questions through email.

Regarding the recent city investigation, Boron said his business has never received a CACC violation in its 15-year history.

He and Lopez said Hopkins’ measure limits consumers’ choices and, because the demand for pricey pups won’t go away, will lead to unintended problems by enhancing less regulated sales by online or backyard breeders.

Advocates such as the Humane Society and Chicago-based The Puppy Mill Project say there’s no evidence of that. They support Hopkins’ plan. Hopkins said Lopez’s idea “seems to have the best interest of the commercial pet industry first and foremost. My ordinance has the best interest of the animals first and foremost. That’s the main difference.

“Ald. Lopez seems to have faith in the best intentions of the commercial breeding operations and that they will change their practices to be more humane. I don’t share that faith.”

Pocket Puppies has fought hard against the ordinance for years, going so far as joining two other businesses that sell puppies to battle it unsuccessfully in federal court. They have predicted it would financially devastate their businesses.

Lane Boron said the 2015 ordinance’s only impact has been to force several city pet stores out of business.

“The Hopkins ordinance continues the same failed and ineffective narrative since 2014,” Boron said.

Steve Dale, the popular WGN radio host and an animal behavior consultant, said the ordinance’s aim isn’t to close pet shops but to require them to adhere to standards that better protect animals.

“I don’t want to see anyone go out of business,” he said. “That was never the intent. But I would rather see them go out of business than see them sell dogs unethically and defraud the public.”

HT Local News

1 teen arrested, 1 at large in death of Gwinnett dad outside Walmart

By Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga


One teenager accused of hitting and killing a Gwinnett County father outside a Suwanee Walmart has been arrested, while the other suspect remains at large.

Jafar Hunter Jr., 15, surrendered to authorities Nov. 18, days after Suwanee police obtained warrants for his arrest in the Nov. 7 death of 42-year-old Christian Gutierrez. Hunter and 18-year-old Keytavius Arice Lowam were identified from surveillance photos, according to police.

Both live in the Decatur area and are known to sell bottled water in the area of Memorial and Columbia drives.

On the night he was killed, Gutierrez was Christmas shopping with his family at the Walmart on Lawrenceville Suwanee Road, Suwanee police spokesman Lt. Robert Thompson said. He was hit by a speeding U-Haul van in the parking lot and dragged about 100 yards onto Satellite Boulevard.

He was dead when emergency responders arrived shortly after 9 p.m.

According to Thompson, the teens were trying to get away in the U-Haul van after shoplifting electronics.

Shoppers told police they saw the duo fill two carts before walking past Walmart’s cash registers toward the door. When a loss prevention officer confronted them, police said they ditched the merchandise, ran into the parking lot and drove away.

The van was later located and processed for evidence, but police have not said where the vehicle was found or which teen was driving it on the night of Gutierrez’s death.

Hunter surrendered at the Gwinnett jail and is being held at a juvenile detention center on felony charges of murder and shoplifting. Authorities are still searching for Lowam, Thompson said Monday.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Gwinnett County sheriff’s fugitive tip line at 770-619-7838.

— Staff writer Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this article.