The Latest: Syrian military declares victory in capital

The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

4 p.m.

Syria’s military says it has retaken the last neighborhoods in southern Damascus held by the Islamic State group and is declaring the capital and its surroundings “completely safe” and free of any militant presence.

In an army statement broadcast on Syrian TV Monday, Gen. Ali Mayhoub says the army captured the former IS strongholds in the Palestinian Yarmouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad after a monthlong campaign.

The gains by President Bashar Assad’s troops bring greater Damascus — including its far-flung suburbs — fully under government control for the first time since the war began in 2011.

Mayhoub says “Damascus and its surroundings are completely secure.”

The fighting in southern Damascus has left scores of dead on both sides and caused massive destruction in the Yarmouk camp, which was a built-up residential area, and its surroundings.


10:30 a.m.

Syrian state TV says that government forces are to resume their offensive against the Islamic State group in the south of the capital, after evacuating a group of civilians from the area.

The TV quotes an unnamed military official as saying that a truce was in place to evacuate women, children and elderly people on Sunday night from Damascus’ southern neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad.

The official says the cease-fire ends at noon on Monday, after which government forces will resume their operations in the Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said some IS fighters were permitted to leave Yarmouk and the adjacent al-Tadamon neighborhood. Syria’s state media denied a deal was reached to evacuate fighters.

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Recapping the weekend in Colorado prep championships – The Denver Post


It was a busy weekend in Colorado high school sports as the championships for state lacrosse, swimming, and track and field were decided across the state.

Regis Jesuit claimed its fourth Colorado 5A state lacrosse title in the last eight years, beating Kent Denver, 10-4, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. In the Class 4A game, Cheyenne Mountain shocked top-seeded Alexander Dawson, 8-6, for the championship.

In boys state swimming, Regis Jesuit won the 5A team title — its 22nd in school history and first since 2014. Windsor won the 4A title, the first in school history. Here’s the full list of individual champions.

Storylines were abound at the state track meet. Fountain-Fort Carson took home the boys’ 5A team title. Denver East’s Arria Minor was handed her first-ever 400-meter loss in Colorado by Grandview’s Lily Williams. Speaking of East, the 4×200-meter relay squad set a new state record with Minor cheering in the stands. Rock Canyon senior Emily Sloan cemented her status as one of the state’s greatest prep hurdlers ever.

Tap here to see the full list of state track champions.

Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post

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What’s on tap?

TV/RADIO: Here’s what sports are airing today


MLB: Giants 9, Rockies 5
Full story | Box score

NBA: Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Full story | Box score

NHL: Golden Knights 2, Jets 1
Full story | Box score


Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray, ...

Marcio Jose Sanchez, The Associated Press

Jon Gray and Ian Desmond.

Colorado Rockies are missing chances to take command in NL West

Colorado is clearly missing some essential ingredients that could transform it from a team hovering around .500 into a team that just might be ready to take charge of the division. Read more…

Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph ...

David Zalubowski, The Associated Press

Vance Joseph.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph discusses 4 hot topics heading into OTAs

Last year was anything but clean for the Broncos. It was a mess that included an eight-game losing streak (their longest in 50 years), quarterback tumult (changing the starter five times) and a minus-17 turnover ratio (second-worst in the league). Read more…

Arria Minor of Denver East cruises to victory during girls 200m dash final of the Colorado State Track Championships at Jeffco Stadium on May 19, 2018.

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Arria Minor.

Kiszla: What does it take to beat Arria Minor in the 400 meters? A major miracle. Lily Williams did it.

OK, to tell the truth, nobody saw this coming. But stories too good to be true are why we watch sports. There’s no script, and if you suspend disbelief for even a minute, the impossible can happen. Read more…

Quick Hits

+ Colfax Half ends with surprise proposal for woman who thought fiancé was 1,500 miles away and more 2018 race snapshots.

+ 2018 Colorado high school state track meet: Individual, team champions in all classes.

+ Inside the Rockies’ coding system they believe eliminates the risk of stolen dugout signs.

+ Fountain-Fort Carson rules again, winning 5A boys team state track title.

+ Denver Pioneers lacrosse falls to Albany in NCAA quarterfinals match.

+ Saunders: Evolution of Rockies’ Chad Bettis is a multilayered story.

+ Rockies believe first NL West title is attainable — if slumping offense heats up.

+ Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive.

By The Numbers


The batting average for Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond, who signed a five-year, $70 million contract last year. Read more…

Parting Shot

Kami Rita, 48, poses for ...

Niranjan Shrestha, Associated Press file

Kami Rita.

Record Mt. Everest climber returns, already planning next trip

A Sherpa climbing guide who scaled Mount Everest for a record 22nd time last week returned from the mountain on Sunday and said he’s already planning his next trip. Read more…

Get in Touch

If you see something that’s cause for question or have a comment, thought or suggestion, email me at or tweet me @danielboniface.

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‘Time Will Tell’: HD Kumaraswamy’s Cryptic Response on the Strength of Cong-JD(S) Alliance

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HD Kumaraswamy is most likely to take office at 1.30pm on Wednesday, as prescribed by his family astrologers.
HD Kumaraswamy greeting BSP chief Mayawati in Delhi on May 21, 2018.
New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister-elect HD Kumaraswamy landed in Delhi on Monday and will soon meet Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi to complete modalities of cabinet and ministerial berth sharing.

“No seat sharing arrangements finalised as yet. They will get clearer after talks,” said Kumaraswamy upon arrival in the national capital.

HD Kumaraswamy met BSP chief Mayawati ahead of the meeting with Congress leaders.

The Congress — which has the lion’s share of MLAs in the post-poll alliance with JD(S) — will be lobbying for a significant number of ministries citing reasons that it has sacrificed the top job for Kumaraswamy, JD(S) too is not keen on going for a hard bargain to grab more than 15 berths with 37 MLAs.
The nitty-gritty of the alliance is being finalised with reports suggesting Congress may seek two deputy chief ministers and some plum portfolios for its leaders.

On being asked by News18 as to how strong is the anti-BJP alliance with the Congress, Kumaraswamy said: “Time will tell.”

Leader of Congress in LS Malikarjun Kharge has indicated that Kumarawamy might take oath alone on Wednesday and the council of ministers would be expanded after the alliance proves majority on the floor of the House within 24 hours after taking over the reins of power.

State Congress President G Parmeshwar is said to be one of front-runners for the deputy CM’s post.

Kumaraswamy’s oath-taking on Wednesday is also being seen as a show of strength of the opposition parties with invitations being extended to many regional satraps and top Congress leaders.

HD Kumaraswamy is most likely to take office at 1.30pm on Wednesday, as prescribed by his family astrologers.

Kumaraswamy said he has invited Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu, KCR, Mamata Banerjee, Farooq Abdullah, Sitaram Yechury, Pinarai Vijayan and Tejaswi Yadav for the oath taking ceremony

BS Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as the Karnataka CM on Thursday, stepped down on Saturday without facing the floor test in the state assembly as the BJP fell short of numbers.

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Hawaii volcano fills sky with acid plumes and glass shards as lava hits sea | US news

White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from the Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago.

Authorities warned the public to stay away from the toxic steam cloud, which is formed by a chemical reaction when lava touches seawater.

Further upslope, lava continued to gush out of large cracks in the ground that formed in residential neighborhoods in a rural part of the Big Island. The molten rock formed rivers that bisected forests and farms as it meandered toward the coast.

The rate of sulfur dioxide gas shooting from the ground fissures tripled, leading Hawaii county to repeat warnings about air quality. At the volcano’s summit, two explosive eruptions unleashed clouds of ash. Winds carried much of the ash towards Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Waiohinu in the south-west of the island.

Officials said one small eruption produced an ash plume that reached about 7,000ft. The County of Hawaii issued a civil defense message early on Monday, warning those in affected areas to stay indoors with windows closed and to drive with caution.

Joseph Kekedi, an orchid grower who lives and works about three miles from where lava dropped into the sea, said at one point the lava was about a mile upslope from his property in the coastal community of Kapoho. He said residents could not do much but stay informed and be ready to get out of the way.

Lava pours from Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift zone.

Lava pours from Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift zone. Photograph: USGS/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

“Here’s nature reminding us again who’s boss,” Kekedi said.

Scientists said the steam clouds at the spots where lava entered the ocean were laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles that can irritate the skin and eyes and cause breathing problems.

The lava haze, or “laze”, spread as far as 15 miles west of where the lava met the ocean on the Big Island’s southern coast. It was just offshore and running parallel to the coast, said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

Scientists said the acid in the plume was about as corrosive as diluted battery acid. The glass was in the form of fine glass shards. Getting hit by it might feel like being sprinkled with glitter. “If you’re feeling stinging on your skin, go inside,” Stovall said. Authorities warned that the plume could shift direction if the winds changed.

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The coast guard said it was enforcing a safety zone extending 984ft around the ocean entry point. Lt Cmdr John Bannon said in a statement that “getting too close to the lava can result in serious injury or death”.

Governor David Ige told reporters in Hilo that the state was monitoring the volcano and keeping people safe.

“Like typical eruptions and lava flows, it’s really allowing Madam Pele to run its course,” he said, referring to the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire. Ige said he was thankful that the current flows were not risking homes and hoped it would stay that way.

Plumes of ash billow from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano – video

On Saturday, the eruption caused its first major injury. David Mace, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) who was helping Hawaii county respond to the disaster, said a man was struck in the leg by a flying piece of lava. He did not have further details, including what condition the man was in.

Kilauea has burned 40 structures, including two dozen homes, since it began erupting in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on 3 May. Some 2,000 people have evacuated their homes, including 300 who were staying in shelters.

In recent days, the lava began to move more quickly and emerge from the ground in greater volume. Scientists said that was because the lava that first erupted was magma left over from a 1955 eruption that had been stored in the ground for six decades. The molten rock that began emerging over the past few days was from magma that has recently moved down the volcano’s eastern flank from one or two craters that sit further upslope – the Pu’u ‘O’o crater and the summit crater.

The new lava is hotter, moves faster and has spread over a wider area. Scientists say they do not know how long the eruption will last. The volcano has opened more than 20 vents, including four that have merged into one large crack. This vent has been gushing lava high into the sky and sending a river of molten rock toward the ocean at about 300 yards per hour.

Hawaii tourism officials have stressed that most of the Big Island remains unaffected by the eruption and is open for business.

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Famous royal wedding guests: Who was there

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CNN’s Paula Newton reports.”,”imageUrl”:”//”,”title”:”When Meghan met Guy it was love at first sight”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/05/11/meghan-markle-pet-beagle-guy-newton-pkg.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/11/meghan-markle-pet-beagle-guy-newton-pkg.cnn”,”videoId”:”world/2018/05/11/meghan-markle-pet-beagle-guy-newton-pkg.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/11/meghan-markle-pet-beagle-guy-newton-pkg.cnn/video/playlists/royal-wedding-prince-harry-meghan-markle/”},{“descriptionPlainText”:”CNN’s Anna Stewart speaks to the brewers behind England’s own “royal brew” in honor of the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.”,”imageUrl”:”//”,”title”:”Excitement ‘brewing’ over royal wedding”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/05/14/royal-wedding-brew-countdown-stewart-pkg.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/14/royal-wedding-brew-countdown-stewart-pkg.cnn”,”videoId”:”world/2018/05/14/royal-wedding-brew-countdown-stewart-pkg.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/14/royal-wedding-brew-countdown-stewart-pkg.cnn/video/playlists/royal-wedding-prince-harry-meghan-markle/”},{“descriptionPlainText”:”CNN’s Paula Newton takes a look at what Meghan Markle’s lifestyle was like in Toronto.”,”imageUrl”:”//”,”title”:”Meghan Markle’s ‘girl next door’ lifestyle”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/world/2018/05/16/meghan-markle-life-in-toronto-newton-pkg.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/16/meghan-markle-life-in-toronto-newton-pkg.cnn”,”videoId”:”world/2018/05/16/meghan-markle-life-in-toronto-newton-pkg.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/world/2018/05/16/meghan-markle-life-in-toronto-newton-pkg.cnn/video/playlists/royal-wedding-prince-harry-meghan-markle/”}],currentVideoCollectionId = ”,isLivePlayer = false,mediaMetadataCallbacks,moveToNextTimeout,mutePlayerEnabled = false,nextVideoId = ”,nextVideoUrl = ”,turnOnFlashMessaging = false,videoPinner,videoEndSlateImpl;if (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === false) {autoStartVideo = true;if (autoStartVideo === true) {if (turnOnFlashMessaging === true) {autoStartVideo = false;containerEl = jQuery(document.getElementById(configObj.markupId));CNN.VideoPlayer.showFlashSlate(containerEl);} else {CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = true;}}}configObj.autostart = autoStartVideo;CNN.VideoPlayer.setPlayerProperties(configObj.markupId, autoStartVideo, isLivePlayer, isVideoReplayClicked, mutePlayerEnabled);CNN.VideoPlayer.setFirstVideoInCollection(currentVideoCollection, configObj.markupId);var embedLinkHandler = {},videoPinner,embedCodeCopy;function onVideoCarouselItemClicked(evt) {‘use strict’;var videoId,articleElem,videoPlayer,thumbImageElem,thumbImageLargeSource,overrides = {autostart: false,muteOverlayClicked: true,videoCollection: this.videoCollection},shouldStartVideo = false,playerInstance;try {articleElem = jQuery(evt.currentTarget).find(‘article’);thumbImageElem = jQuery(articleElem).find(‘.media__image’);videoId =;if (CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(configObj.markupId) === ‘fave’) {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(configObj.markupId);if (CNN.Utils.existsObject(playerInstance) &&typeof playerInstance.getVideoData === ‘function’ &&playerInstance.getVideoData().id !== videoId) {jQuery(articleElem).closest(‘.cn-carousel-medium-strip’).parent().find(‘script[name=”metaScript”]’).remove();, overrides);}} else {videoPlayer = CNNVIDEOAPI.CNNVideoManager.getInstance().getPlayerByContainer(configObj.markupId);if (videoPlayer && videoPlayer.videoInstance) {if (!videoPlayer.videoInstance.cvp) {if (typeof thumbImageElem !== ‘undefined’ && thumbImageElem !== null) {thumbImageLargeSource = && ? 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Hail possible during afternoon thunderstorms in Denver metro area – The Denver Post

Temperatures in Denver will be heating up Monday under mostly sunny skies before a few thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. Small hail is possible.

The high temperature Monday will be around 79 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. There’s a 20 percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. The low temperature will be about 51 degrees.

“Scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms are expected over the mountains. Some of these may move onto the near by plains. These storms are expected to produce brief moderate to heavy rain and possibly small hail,” the NWS says.

Tuesday will be a repeat of Monday, with temperatures rising a few degrees higher into the low 80s. There’s a 20 percent chance of rain.

The chance for rain diminishes on Wednesday afternoon to only 10 percent. The high temperature will be around 82 degrees.

Temperatures increase to the mid 80s towards the end of the week.

Afternoon rain showers are possible on Friday and Saturday. It will be mostly sunny on Sunday.

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Rudy Giuliani Says Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation May End by September

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign, an extraordinary order that came hours before his legal team said that the special counsel indicated its investigation into the president could be concluded by September.

Trump tweeted: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department — it asked its watchdog later Sunday to expand an existing probe of FBI actions — reached a new intensity with the demand, and came amid a White House strategy to combat the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. And the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said that Mueller recently shared a timetable that suggested that its probe could end by Sept. 1 if Trump were to sit for an interview in July, which is the legal team’s new working plan.

“We said to them, ‘If we’re going to be interviewed in July, how much time until the report gets issued?’” Giuliani told The Associated Press on Sunday, referring to the report Mueller is expected to issue to Congress at the conclusion of his investigation. “They said September, which is good for everyone, because no one wants this to drag into the midterms.”

Giuliani said he did not want a repeat of what happened in 2016, when FBI Director James Comey announced in the campaign’s final days that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, a decision Democrats believe cost Clinton the race. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, also said that Mueller’s team indicated that the entire probe could end by September, not just its investigation into potential obstruction of justice.

“This would be the culmination of the investigation into the president,” Giuliani said.

The special counsel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

It is not certain if Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller, though the president has publicly said he would. Giuliani said a decision on that would not be made until after Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, which is slated for June 12. The former mayor said Sunday the two sides “were getting closer” to agreeing on the parameters on a potential interview but would not put the odds of it happening at better than 50/50.

Giuliani’s apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mueller amid interview negotiations came just hours after Trump’s demand for a new inquiry, which moved beyond his usual blustery accusations of institutional wrongdoing and into the realm of applying presidential pressure on the Justice Department, a move few of his predecessors have made.

Trump made the order amid days of public venting about the special counsel investigation, which he has deemed a “witch hunt” that has yielded no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. In response, the Justice Department moved Sunday to defuse a growing confrontation with the White House by asking its inspector general to expand an existing investigation into the Russia probe by examining whether there was any improper politically motivated surveillance

It was not immediately clear if that move would satisfy Trump, or if any further demands could lead to a confrontation with FBI Director Christopher Wray or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller investigation. Rosenstein released a statement Sunday that read, “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

The Justice Department probe had begun in March at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and congressional Republicans. Sessions and the lawmakers had urged Horowitz to review whether FBI and Justice Department officials abused their surveillance powers by using information compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and paid for by Democrats as part of the basis to justify monitoring Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to Trump.

Horowitz said his office will look at those claims as well as communications between Steele and DOJ and FBI officials.

Trump did not elaborate on the promised “demand,” which he included in one of a series of tweets he sent throughout the day Sunday. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal.” He said only the release or review of documents the House Intelligence Committee is seeking from the Justice Department “can give conclusive answers.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s claim of an embedded spy “nonsense.”

“His ‘demand’ DOJ investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems,” Schiff said on Twitter. “Never mind that DOJ has warned that lives and alliances are at risk. He doesn’t care.”

Trump’s extraordinary demand of the Justice Department alarmed many observers, who felt it not only violated presidential protocol but could have a chilling effect on federal law enforcement or its use of informants. Giuliani defended the president’s actions.

“As the president’s lawyer, I can’t be concerned on what effect it may have,” he said. “To me, there’s not much of a difference between an informant’s ongoing collection of information in a surreptitious way or a spy.

“If this guy was an FBI implant into the campaign,” Giuliani said, “that’s as offensive as Watergate.”

Giuliani said the information discovered by the source, who was first reported by The New York to have met several times with Trump campaign officials who had suspicious contacts linked to Russia, should eventually be made public and released to Congress, even if his identity is kept confidential.

The GOP-led House Intelligence Committee closed its Russian meddling probe last month, saying it found no evidence of collusion or coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia, which Mueller is looking into. Schiff and other committee Democrats were furious and argued that Republicans had not subpoenaed many witnessed they considered essential to the committee’s work.

Sunday was not the first time that Trump accused his predecessor of politically motivated activity against him.

Without substantiation, Trump tweeted in March 2017 that former President Barack Obama had conducted surveillance the previous October at Trump Tower, the New York skyscraper where Trump ran his campaign and transition and maintains a residence. Comey later testified to Congress that internal reviews found no information to support the president’s tweets. Trump later fired Comey over the bureau’s Russia investigation.

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Principal apologizes for ‘insensitive’ prom tickets language

Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.),

3:51 PM

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — The principal of a New Jersey high school is apologizing for what he calls “insensitive” language on tickets for the upcoming senior prom.

The Courier Post reports the Cherry Hill High School East senior prom tickets urged students to “party like it’s 1776” during the event at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.

Principal Dennis Perry said in a letter to the community posted on his Twitter account on Friday that some people were offended, and it was “insensitive and irresponsible” not to recognize that “not all communities can celebrate what life was like in 1776.”

He says he especially wants to apologize to black students “who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording.”

Perry says prom attendees will receive commemorative tickets without the language.


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Malta court rejects bid to stop FBI testimony in journalist murder case

VALLETTA (Reuters) – A Maltese court on Monday dismissed an attempt by one of the suspects in the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to stop an FBI team testifying in pre-trial proceedings.

FILE PHOTO: People hold up pictures of assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during a vigil and demonstration marking seven months since her murder in a car bomb, at her makeshift memorial outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Galizia, an anti-corruption blogger, was killed by a car bomb last October. The bomb is believed to have been triggered by a signal from a mobile phone and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been helping Maltese authorities to solve the case.

Three people have been charged with carrying out the murder but police have not identified who ordered it. The three people deny the charges.

One of the three, Alfred Degiorgio, tried to have the FBI barred from giving evidence in the case on the grounds that it has worked with a court-appointed Maltese IT expert, Martin Bajada, who has a historic conviction for theft and fraud.

“Dr Bajada should never have been appointed in the first place and should never have been allowed to work alongside the FBI experts,” a lawyer for Degiorgio said, adding that his client’s rights would be prejudiced if the foreign experts were allowed to testify.

In her ruling, Judge Lorraine Schembri Orland described Degiorgio’s attempt to stop the FBI from giving evidence as “frivolous and vexatious”.

Maurizio Cordina, a lawyer representing Malta’s Attorney General, said the case was “a desperate maneuver by Mr Degiorgio to delay, if not block” the trial, adding that Bajada had simply gathered evidence and had not worked with the FBI.

The case against Degiorgio is built mostly around intercepts of mobile phone data compiled by the FBI and Bajada.

The FBI is due to give evidence in the case on Tuesday.

The Times of Malta reported that Bajada pleaded guilty in 1993 in a London court to charges of theft and fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

Reporting by Chris Scicluna; Editing by Gareth Jones

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A crisis intensifies: Addiction lands more women behind bars

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (AP) – On opposite sides of the county jail, a mother and her son chat about school, girls, birthday gifts – and their future together. They aren’t allowed to see each other face-to-face, so the inmate and the fifth-grader connect by video.

“Hi, Mommy,” 10-year-old Robby says to Krystle Sweat, clutching a phone in the visiting room as he looks at his mother on a screen, sitting in her cell.

Robby hasn’t hugged or even touched her since Christmas Day 2015, just before Sweat wound up back behind bars. He runs a hand through his hair, shifts his weight from one leg to another, and says that on the day his mom is released, he wants to show her how he can ride no-hands on his bike. Sweat laughs, but knows their reunion must wait.

For years now, she has cycled in and out of jail, arrested more than two dozen times for robbery, driving violations and other crimes – almost all related to her drug addiction that culminated in a $300-a-day pain pill habit. She’s tried to quit, but nothing has worked. Now she says she’s ready to make the break when she’s paroled again, possibly this summer.

“I’m almost 33,” she says. “I don’t want to continue living like this. I want to be someone my family can count on.”

This lone county jail in a remote corner of Appalachia offers an agonizing glimpse into how the tidal wave of opioids and methamphetamines has ravaged America. Here and in countless other places, addiction is driving skyrocketing rates of incarcerated women, tearing apart families while squeezing communities that lack money, treatment programs and permanent solutions to close the revolving door.

More than a decade ago, there were rarely more than 10 women in the Campbell County Jail. Now the population is routinely around 60.

Most who end up here have followed a similar path to Sweat: They’re arrested on a drug-related charge and confined to a cell 23 hours a day. Many of their bunkmates also are addicts. They receive no counseling. Then weeks, months or years later, they’re released into the same community where friends – and in some cases, family – are using drugs. Soon they are again, too.

And the cycle begins anew: Another arrest, another booking photo, another pink uniform and off to a cell to simmer in regret and despair.

Sarai Keelean has been jailed about eight times in six years. One Christmas, her mother joined her. Like Keelean, she is addicted, and had been arrested on a driving offense. Mother and daughter spent the holiday crying in each other’s arms.

Keelean is back in for violating probation for possessing meth; she’d been using the drug and also selling it to buy opioids. Locked up now for almost three years, she longs for freedom but is terrified, too. “You’re afraid that you’re going to mess up,” she says. “Nobody wants to come back here.”

Blanche Ball, who has used, cooked or sold meth for 15 of her 30 years, has been in jail several times, mostly for short periods until now. She thinks about her four children constantly and recently dreamed her 3-year-old son was a doll broken into pieces.

“I know I could have done something more with my life,” she says, but: “Once you’re like this for so long, you don’t know another way to be.”


In America’s ongoing battle against addiction, Campbell County faces formidable odds. In 2015, it had the third-highest amount of opioids prescribed per person of all U.S. counties. The numbers identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were more than five times the national average – or enough opioids to medicate every single resident here around-the-clock for 15 weeks.

Mayor E.L. Morton blames the pharmaceutical industry and doctors, and two lawsuits against opioid makers are pending on behalf of the county and its 40,000 residents. “If you were fighting the Mafia, you’d be aiming for the head of the organization,” he says. “Well, the top of this organization is fully legal, and we have the most respected profession that is doing it to us.”

Pills, though, aren’t the only problem. With 500 square miles of mountains, thick woods, winding back roads and deep hollows, this county on the Kentucky border has been a prime spot, too, for meth. While homegrown labs are on the wane, a powerful strain of the drug from Mexico has found its way here.

“Throw a rock, hit a house, and there’s drugs,” says Keelean, the 35-year-old inmate who says she didn’t have a major problem until she moved back about five years ago. “I just got sucked into a vortex of destruction and drug use.”

The county has been struggling for decades. Its once-thriving tobacco farms and coal industry disappeared long ago, taking with them a vital cash crop and jobs that supported a middle-class life. Some factories remain, but more than 1 in 5 residents are poor.

Nowadays, as much as 90 percent of the crime in a five-county district that includes Campbell is connected to drugs, the local prosecutor says. Women are often the culprits, and communities across the nation are seeing similar patterns.

Women in jail are the fastest-growing correctional population in America. Their numbers rose from 13,258 in 1980 to 102,300 in 2016, with the biggest jump in smaller counties, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Similarly, the female prison population skyrocketed from 5,600 in 1970 to more than 110,000 in 2016. Between 1980 and 2009, the arrest rate for drug possession or use tripled for women, while it doubled for men.

Opioid abuse has exacerbated the problem.

In Montgomery County, Ohio, more than 3,600 women have been jailed for addiction-related crimes in the last two years, twice the number since 2014. In Henrico County, Virginia, the female jail population has grown from about 60 daily in 2000 to nearly 300; a survey of inmates found more than 4 in 10 women had their kids removed from them while on drugs. The jail has responded with an opiate treatment program.

Rural America, in particular, lacks resources and readily accessible treatment to help curb the problem, says Jessica Hulsey Nickel, president of the Addiction Policy Forum, a patient advocacy group. If someone in recovery has to drive several hours to visit a specialist or receive regular doses of methadone, she says, “It’s going to make staying on that path nearly impossible.”

Mary-Linden Salter, director of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & Other Addiction Services, says her state doesn’t have enough psychiatrists, social workers, counselors and nurses in rural areas. Residential drug treatment, a key part of recovery, also is scarce in those communities – and Campbell County has none, she says, adding: “It’s unrealistic for people to travel 700 miles for treatment because that’s where there’s an open bed.”

Salter also notes there are twice as many residential programs in the state for men as there are for women. That’s partly because women have costlier, more complicated treatment; many have experienced trauma and abuse as children or adults. Generally, women also are slower to seek help because of societal pressures to maintain a family. Many are single mothers who fear losing their children.

“Women are the caregivers of their families,” Salter says. “They get blamed and shamed for not taking care of their children. But they get blamed and shamed for not being in recovery. It’s a horrible choice.”


A view from the glass-enclosed guard tower that peers into the women’s unit at the Campbell County Jail: Metal beds flank the walls. Giant bars seal the windows. In dormitory-like cells, the women watch TV, play endless games of cards or pace in silent frustration, counting the days until their release.

They sleep, shower and eat in the same room. On their one hour outside the cell, they can visit an exercise room, but it has no equipment so the women improvise, rolling toilet paper into balls they swat around, using their plastic sandals as makeshift tennis rackets.

Each woman has a story of bad choices, dreams of a “normal” life and nagging doubts about how long they can resist drugs on the outside.

Their voices are weary. They comfort each other, embracing when a parole bid is denied or when the unthinkable happens – an inmate’s son is killed and she sobs, grief-stricken and angry because she’s not permitted to attend his funeral.

Sarai Keelean says drugs made her feel “like supermom,” then numbed her during her divorce. Her ex-husband is raising their boys, whom she hasn’t seen in five years. If she could talk to her 11- and 13-year-old sons, she’d tell them: “I love you, and I’m sorry, so sorry.”

“I kick myself in the butt because I chose drugs over them … the most important, wonderful things in my life.”

Keelean’s younger sister is an addict, too – in treatment now. Her mother visits every Saturday, but she’s fighting her own addiction to suboxone, which was supposed to wean her off the opioids she started taking for arthritis.

Keelean says she’d like to be a productive citizen and thinks she might be a good drug counselor, but she recently woke at 3 a.m., panicked she won’t know how to navigate freedom. “I just feel socially awkward to go out there and be normal and do right.”

Many of these women say jail should help prepare them for life outside, maybe with a Narcotics Anonymous group, counseling or education programs such as those offered in state prisons. They’d also like to work and be exposed to people who don’t use drugs. (Some male inmates have jobs.)

Lt. Mallory Campbell, assistant jail administrator, is sympathetic. It took a year, she says, to start a high school equivalency diploma program, partly because a teacher had to be found who then had to be trained to work in the jail.

She’d like to offer college courses or vocational training, she says, because “if they don’t leave here with a skill, they’re going to go back to what they know.” But there isn’t money for programs or staff.

Medical costs for both male and female inmates also are an enormous burden, nearly doubling since 2015 to top $1 million last year, according to county officials. Hepatitis, infections or dental problems are not unusual.

And drugs remain a powerful lure. The women speak candidly about what they had to do to feed their habits – shoplift, rob, trade sex for drugs. While some welcome the fresh start, the cravings persist.

“I think about drugs all the time,” Blanche Ball admits frankly. “I call it relapsing. I relapse on a daily basis.”

Ball says she grew up around relatives and others who regularly used drugs and, as a teen, learned to cook meth in her backyard and basement. “I thought we were having fun,” she says. Ball recently shared a cell with another drug offender – her childhood babysitter.

By age 17, Ball realized she was on a disastrous course but couldn’t stop. Since then, she’s snorted, smoked, injected and ingested methadone, heroin, meth and various opioids. Like other inmates, her drug of choice is the painkiller Opana. A single pill can go for $120 on the street.

“My mother actually said to me once, ‘You’re never going to quit. You’re just hardwired for it.’ I thought, ‘You’re right.’”

Her two oldest children live with family, and she doesn’t want to see them until she’s certain she won’t disappear from their lives. Her two youngest, both born dependent on methadone, have been adopted. “That wound is so bad,” she says, “I try to block it out all the time.”

Ball is set to be released next year, and hopes she’ll have the willpower to remain sober: “I’m not poor-spoken or slow. I have faith in God, first and foremost,” she says. “I have faith in myself. It’s just me wanting to get to the point where I get fed up.”

Tennessee, which saw more than 1,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016 – a state record – is pouring more money into this problem. It’s allocating about $14.5 million toward the opioid epidemic; more than half will go for treatment. In addition, the state is currently using a federal grant of more than $13 million, also mostly for treatment.

It’s too early to know how much of that might funnel into Campbell County. For now, for those who do want to change, there are some places to seek help.

A drug court, which involves supervision for up to two years, has a 70 percent graduation rate. Participants often enter residential treatment, which also is available in a new program designed specifically for women. In both cases, treatment takes them to other counties or out of state.

The county also has a recovery house. The Harbor, a nondenominational church that runs the house, recently started sending volunteers to make weekly jail visits. When the women are freed, the church offers help with food, clothes and jobs. “We want to help them put the pieces of the puzzle back together,” Pastor James Coffey says.

Monica Poston, case manager of the drug court and a recovering heroin addict, says it’s generally best for those who complete treatment not to move back home, where temptations remain and opportunities are limited.

“We can’t get them through rehab, pat them on the back, help them get their GED and their driver’s license restored, watch them get a job and then ask them to live on minimum wage,” she says. “You’re setting them up to fail.”

Phyllis Clingner agrees that relocating often offers the best chance for success. A former educator and foster care volunteer, she helped create the new Women In Need Diversion program that takes those jailed on misdemeanor drug charges before sentencing and moves them into short- or long-term residential treatment. The program has served about a dozen women so far.

“We try to build resilience,” Clingner says. “Most of these women feel they’re … not worthy of a healthy lifestyle. We try to prove differently.”


Krystle Sweat’s drug problems have consumed almost half her life.

Her parents still struggle to understand how the girl who sang in the church choir, played guitar and piano, and dabbled in gymnastics and cheerleading ended up this way. Her troubles began when she started hanging out with the wrong crowd and dropped out of high school.

The Sweats have raised Krystle’s son since he was about 3. Over the years, they’ve paid her rent, bought her cars, and invited her and her boyfriend to share their home. Sweat wound up stealing tools, a computer and camera – anything she could pawn.

“While she was here, it was total hell,” says her father, Eddy. “When she went in jail I actually felt relieved. … I knew I wasn’t going to get that call at 1 o’clock in the morning saying that Krystle’s died of a drug overdose, because I knew that was coming.”

Sweat tried drug court once, but quit. “I wasn’t willing to completely submit myself to everything they had to say and everything that they wanted me to do,” she says.

This time, she insists, is different. When she’s paroled, she wants to enter a faith-based recovery program outside Campbell County. She’s pledged to stay off Facebook and give up her cellphone to avoid old connections.

Her parents have promised to help, but they’re wary. Old disappointments are still raw.

“Our hopes and dreams that we had for her … (have) gone from being a successful adult to just getting better,” her father says. “I just want to see her beat this addiction and be able to stay out of trouble.”

Her absence has taken its toll on Robby, says Krystle’s mother, Cathy. “Even at his happiest,” she says, “he’s not happy.”

On the day of his jailhouse visit, Robby and his mother blow each other kisses. “I love you bunches,” Sweat tells him. “Be good.” And then they wave goodbye.

“I’m so thankful that he still loves me,” she says, returning to her bunk where she keeps a photo of her son. “He’s disappointed in me. …. He doesn’t say that he is, but I know he is.”


AP Photographer David Goldman contributed to this report. Sharon Cohen, a Chicago-based national writer, can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @scohenAP.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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