Fatal crash closes northbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike near Cutler Bay

A fatal crash has closed the northbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike in southwest Miami-Dade County.

The two-vehicle crash prompted the closure of the northbound lanes between Southwest 216th Street and Caribbean Boulevard near Cutler Bay.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers said at least one person is dead.

Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright is at the scene of the crash gathering more information. Refresh this page for the latest information.
 

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Raqqa: US-backed forces declare ‘total liberation’ of ISIS stronghold

US-backed militias on Friday declared the “total liberation” of the Syrian city of Raqqa, which for more than three years was the de facto capital of ISIS.Speaking at a ceremony held to celebrate the capture of Raqqa, Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman…

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A timeline of the White House after the Niger raid

How four US service members were killed in Niger — and President Donald Trump’s response to the attack — has left the federal government searching for answers.

The Defense Department has opened an investigation to explain how about 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters were able to ambush a 12-man Green Beret-led team and why the team lacked sufficient support to ward off the attack.

The swirling story culminated in a remarkable moment for the Trump administration on Thursday: Chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, stepped into the White House press briefing room to defend his boss’ handling of deaths in Niger.

Kelly described what happens to fallen soldiers and explained how the President came to tell a widow that her husband knew what he got into when he signed up to serve.

Kelly’s remarks were the crescendo in an ongoing saga over the deaths in Niger. But it was the dozen days of silence from the President that has led to questions about the White House’s attempts to handle the incident.

Trump first weighed in on the attack 12 days after the soldiers were ambushed, letting his spokespeople and the Defense Department take the lead.

The President, a very prolific Twitter user, never tweeted about the attack — the deadliest US military exchange of his presidency. In the meantime, Trump used his preferred social media platform to lambast fellow Republicans, the NFL and the media.

And on Saturday, October 7, when the body of Sgt. La David T. Johnson was returned to the United States, the President was golfing.

Here is a snapshot of what we know about the attack in Niger, the political fallout and Trump’s actions over the last two weeks, drawn from public schedules, CNN’s reporting at the time and interviews with a half-dozen administration officials:

October 4

The President visited Las Vegas where he toured a hospital, met with first responders and spoke with survivors of the deadly shooting that happened days earlier.

The news of the day was dominated by an NBC News report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron” at a Pentagon meeting earlier in the summer. Trump slammed NBC for the report: “Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control,” he tweeted.

5:51 p.m. Initial reports of several servicemen killed in Niger. 6:48 p.m. CNN’s Barbara Starr reports US forces operating with Niger forces came under hostile fire in southwest Niger, according to US Africa Command. 8:07 p.m. Trump, returning from Las Vegas on Air Force One, is briefed on the attack by chief of staff John Kelly.

October 5

The President spent most of the day behind closed doors. His only public event was memorable, though: During a photo op with military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, Trump said the photo represented “the calm before the storm.”

7:36 a.m. US Africa Command releases a statement confirming “three (3) U.S. service members and one partner nation member were killed while the US was providing advice and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations, approximately 200 kilometers north of Niamey, in southwest Niger. Additionally, two US service members were injured and evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.”

7:49 a.m. A US defense official tells CNN that “there are ongoing partnered operations in the area to locate those who conducted the attack on US and Nigerian forces.” 1:08 p.m. A US official tells CNN that the US forces in Niger were ambushed by up to 50 fighters likely affiliated with ISIS.

2:21 p.m. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders opens the White House press briefing with a statement on the soldiers in Niger, telling reporters that the White House’s “thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the freedoms we hold so dear.”

7:29 p.m. Trump, during a photo op with military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, says the photo represented “the calm before the storm.”

October 6

Trump was entirely off Twitter on Friday. He received his presidential daily briefing in the morning, headlined a Hispanic Heritage Month event and signed a proclamation for National Manufacturing Day.

11:49 a.m. The Pentagon identifies three soldiers who were killed in Niger: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black of Washington state, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson of Ohio, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright of Georgia. Notably, they did not identify Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Florida, who had been unaccounted for. 3:00 p.m. Multiple US officials tell CNN the body of a US service member who went missing following a deadly ambush Wednesday in southwest Niger has been recovered. The soldier was later identified as Johnson. The discovery of the missing US service member in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops came nearly 48 hours after he was first discovered to be missing in the wake of the attack. 3:05 p.m. Sanders responds to a question at the White House briefing about why there had been no response from Trump to the soldiers killed in Niger. “I made a statement on behalf of the administration yesterday in the opening. Obviously, anytime one of the members of our great military are injured, wounded or killed in action, that is certainly something that we take very seriously. Our thoughts and prayers are with those individuals. We’re continuing to review and look into this. And as we have more details, we’ll certainly let you guys know.”

Later in the briefing: Sanders is asked when the President was made aware that there was a fourth solider missing in action in Niger. She said that the notification happened on October 5, but could have to “get clarification on the specific timing of when that took place.” Pressed, Sanders said that Kelly kept Trump “updated constantly on that situation as it evolved.”

5:43 p.m. The White House announced that Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on topics including the fight against terrorism in Africa.

October 7

Trump went to his golf course. Reporters inquired about what the President was doing, but were not told. Later that night, he spoke at an Republican National Committee fundraiser in North Carolina. Upon leaving the White House, Trump spoke with reporters, commenting on Harvey Weinstein and North Korea. Trump tweeted on Saturday about his call on health care with Chuck Schumer, suggested that Republicans should get “equal time” on TV and said “only one thing will work” to combat North Korea.

1:42 p.m. The Defense Department identifies the fourth service member who died after a deadly ambush in Niger. Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, died as a result of enemy fire, the Pentagon said. His body was recovered by US personnel Friday, they announced. US officials told CNN that his body was recovered in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerian troops and came nearly 48 hours after he was first discovered missing in the wake of the attack.

October 8

Trump slammed Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker on Twitter. Trump also visited Trump National golf course in Virginia. Vice President Mike Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game after players on the opposing San Francisco 49ers knelt during the National Anthem. Trump later tweeted that he asked Pence to leave if players knelt during the anthem.

October 9

Trump tweeted his congratulations to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for telling reporters that he would bench players that don’t stand for the anthem. He also went to his Virginia golf club on Columbus Day to golf with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

October 10

Trump met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The big meeting of the day was Trump’s lunch with Tillerson, bringing the President in the room with a man whose intelligence he questioned in an interview. Trump was active on Twitter, questioning tax breaks the NFL gets, slamming an ESPN host and pushed back at sketchy reports that Kelly was going to resign.

Trump was also briefed by Defense Secretary Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford on options for North Korea.

During the day: CNN reported the Green Beret-led team in Niger said that they had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their unarmored pick-up trucks when they began taking fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The new information comes from preliminary interviews that US military officials conducted with survivors of the firefight, information that was shared with CNN by a US defense official.

October 11

Trump welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mrs. Grégoire Trudeau of Canada. Trump said that they were going to discuss NAFTA and slammed another NBC report about him wanting to increase the US nuclear arsenal tenfold as “fake news.” At night, Trump spoke about taxes in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and sat down for an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

11:21 a.m. A US defense official tells CNN that the Pentagon plans to officially identify Wednesday the Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (aka Islamic State in the Greater Sahara) as the terror group responsible for the October 4 ambush. The group was identified based on intelligence gathered by the US military.

October 12

Trump issued an executive action on health care and tweeted that the federal government “cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

The White House also announced on Thursday evening that the Trump administration will stop paying Obamacare subsides that help lower income people pay for health care through the program.

October 13

Trump delivered a red meat speech to the Values Voter Summit on Friday. He tweeted on his decision on the Iran agreement, his relationship with Pakistan and Obamacare.

During the day: Despite repeated question from CNN, White House officials decline to explain why Trump has yet to make a statement on the deaths in Niger.

October 14

Trump golfed — again — with Sen. Lindsey Graham. He tweeted his support for Virginia Gov. candidate Ed Gillespie, touted his own health care executive order and slammed health insurance companies. Trump later had dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

October 15

Trump went golfing with Sen. Rand Paul at his Virginia golf course.

October 16

For the first time, Trump publicly commented on the Niger attack when asked about it by CNN’s Sara Murray during a Rose Garden press availability with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump also held a Cabinet meeting in the morning and traveled to Greer, South Carolina, for a fundraiser in the South Carolina governor’s race.

2:06 p.m. “I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It is the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed,” Trump says. He claimed that past presidents — including Barack Obama — hadn’t written or called the families of slain servicemen, though Obama spoke publicly during his term about his many interactions with the families of Americans killed in action. Later, Trump backtracked on the claim slightly, saying “I was told that he didn’t often.”

October 17

Trump met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece, and held a bilateral news conference with him. Trump also spoke about taxes during a Heritage Foundation event in Washington. On Twitter, Trump announced that Tom Marino was withdrawing his name as drug czar, blamed any increase in health care premiums on Democrats and touted his planned border wall.

9:56 a.m. Trump, in a radio interview, suggests reporters ask his chief of staff whether President Barack Obama called him after his son was killed in action. (Kelly’s son, Robert, died when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, was a lieutenant general at the time.) 12:05 p.m. The Defense Department announces they are conducting an initial review of the mission in Niger Afternoon: Johnson’s body is returned home to Miami, with the plane receiving a water cannon salute as it arrived near the gate. The soldier’s widow, Myeisha Johnson, emotionally drapes her body over the casket as one of her children stands next to her. 5:52 p.m. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirms Trump has called the families of the four soldiers killed in Niger. Around 10 p.m. Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson tells CNN affiliate WPLG that Trump told Johnson’s widow that the soldier “knew what he signed up for … but I guess it still hurt.” She said the call came shortly before Sgt. Johnson’s casket arrived. (Wilson was in the car, listening on speakerphone along with Johnson’s mother.) The White House declined to comment on Trump’s conversation.

October 18

7:25 a.m. Trump tweets that Wilson “totally fabricated” what he told Myeisha Johnson. 10:30 a.m. Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who raised Johnson and also listened to the call, tells CNN Wilson’s account of the call was “very accurate.” 2:57 p.m. Sanders, pressed on information about the attack and whether the President is satisfied with what is known about it, declines to get into the specifics of the raid. “I believe they are still looking into the details of that. But I don’t think the President can ever be satisfied when there is a loss of life from men and women in uniform.” 3:07 p.m. CNN reports that a US private aviation contractor conducted evacuations of US & Nigerian troops after they were ambushed on October 4 in Niger, according to US Africa Command spokesperson Robyn Mack. The reporting raised questions about whether the French and contractor crews were in communication and certain they picked up all the personnel from the battlefield, given that Sgt LaDavid Johnson was left behind. 3:12 p.m. Sanders defends the fact that it took nearly two weeks for Trump to comment on the attack, saying that is a “protocol” for when the President talks about a military operation. 3:32 p.m. Republican Sen. John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tells reporters that he is asking for information about the Niger attack but isn’t getting the answers he needs. Asked directly if the Trump administration is being up front about what happened, McCain said, “no.” 3:47 p.m. Politico reports that a staffer at the National Security Council drafted a statement of condolence for Trump that was never released. 5:56 p.m. A White House official tells CNN that the statement reported by Politico was crafted by the National Security Council, but when the White House press office received the information, staff decided it would be more powerful for Sanders to deliver this information from the podium in the briefing room

October 19

2:34 p.m. Defense Secretary James Mattis tells reporters on Thursday that the entire attack is under investigation. “We honor our troops, every one of them, every life is critical. The loss of our troops is under investigation. we in the Department of Defense like to know what we’re talking about when we talk. So we do not have all the accurate information yet. We will release it as rapidly as we get it.” Mattis also looked to defend other troops, given reports that one member of the team was separated from the group. “The US military does not leave our troops behind and I would just ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once.” 3:14 p.m. White House chief of staff John Kelly takes the podium during the White House daily briefing, outlining what steps are taken when a soldier falls in the field and acknowledging he coached Trump in how to speak to grieving family members.

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At Univ. of Florida, bell tower brings peace amid Richard Spencer talk

As white supremacist leader Richard Spencer prepared to take the stage at the University of Florida, a concert of bells rang through campus leaving a poignant message of unity.

Laura Ellis, a music professor at the university, went up 11 flights of stairs in the school’s carillon tower on Thursday to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the black national anthem.

“I think it was an appropriate time to play this song, to show our support for those who need it the most,” Ellis told CNN.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was first written as a poem in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson as part of a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the all-black Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Johnson, a civil rights activist, was also the school’s principal. Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond Johnson put the poem to music.

The song was later adopted by the NAACP as its official song in 1919. It became a staple during the civil rights movement and remains a musical tradition in social, political and religious events in the African-American community.

Ellis and her students play the carillon — an instrument that consists in a series of tuned bells that are connected to a keyboard — in the iconic university tower. Twice a day, they perform three songs as hundreds of students walk between classes.

On Thursday, the sound of bells echoed through campus, as police officers in riot gear, Spencer’s supporters and anti-Spencer protesters carrying signs against fascism, neo-Nazis and white supremacy flooded the school.

“I think the UF students really unified against hate and presented an image of love that overwhelmed any negativity. I think it was super important and fitting to play that song today, and it left me feeling comforted and unified,” said Elizabeth Parker, one Ellis’ students.

University and local officials had been concerned that Spencer’s appearance could prompt violence. Florida Governor Rick Scott had declared a state of emergency for Alachua County, where the university is located, to avoid bureaucratic delays if multiple law enforcement agencies were to be called to the university.

But Ellis said she felt very safe even when more than 2,500 demonstrators were walking through campus on Thursday.

For the most part, demonstrations remained peaceful. A handful of people suffered minor injuries and only two people were arrested.

“I am very proud of what we saw today, there was a lot of unity. The city and campus security did an amazing job to keep everything organized, clean and peaceful,” Ellis said.

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South Korea does a sudden U-turn on nuclear power

South Korea is set to power up its nuclear industry again.

President Moon Jae-in signaled Friday he would accept the findings of a government panel that recommended restarting the country’s stalled nuclear power program.

That’s a big U-turn from Moon who in June vowed to pull the plug on new reactors and cancel extensions on older ones. The president had been eager to rebalance the country’s energy needs away from nuclear power and polluting fossil fuels to renewables and natural gas.

The use of nuclear power came into question around the world after the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Some big nations like Germany pledged to do away with it altogether.

Moon’s climbdown gave a big lift to some industrial and energy stocks in the country. The decision came after an official survey found that that nearly 60% of people polled were in favor of resuming construction of two halted reactors.

Winding down South Korea’s nuclear power generation was a campaign promise for Moon, who was elected in May after the impeachment of predecessor Park Geun-hye. Moon has previously said he wants to phase out use of nuclear power in the country entirely.

Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for the president, told CNNMoney that the presidency respects “the will” of the government panel. Work on the reactors, in the country’s southeast, was about 30% complete before it was halted in July.

Nuclear power is big business in South Korea. The country lacks natural resources and imports nearly all of its energy supply from elsewhere.

According to the World Nuclear Association, 24 nuclear power plants provide about a third of South Korea’s electricity needs.

The country is also a major exporter of nuclear technology to the world. State power company KEPCO has a long-standing $20 billion deal to supply reactors to the United Arab Emirates, while the government said in 2010 it wanted to generate nuclear technology exports worth $400 billion by 2030.

Kerry Anne Shanks, an energy analyst at consultant Wood Mackenzie, said that killing the nuclear power plant plans could have made such deals politically complicated.

“If the government of the country that’s developing the nuclear plant is anti-nuclear, it doesn’t help,” she said.

Ditching nuclear energy would probably have led to an unpopular rise in electricity prices as well, according to Shanks.

Stocks in big South Korean companies involved in nuclear power plant construction surged after the announcement from Moon’s office.

KEPCO’s Engineering & Construction subsidiary soared as much as 20%, and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction gained as much as 12%.

— Lauren Suk contributed to this report.

Follow this story

South Korea does a sudden U-turn on nuclear power

South Korea is set to power up its nuclear industry again.

President Moon Jae-in signaled Friday he would accept the findings of a government panel that recommended restarting the country’s stalled nuclear power program.

That’s a big U-turn from Moon who in June vowed to pull the plug on new reactors and cancel extensions on older ones. The president had been eager to rebalance the country’s energy needs away from nuclear power and polluting fossil fuels to renewables and natural gas.

The use of nuclear power came into question around the world after the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Some big nations like Germany pledged to do away with it altogether.

Moon’s climbdown gave a big lift to some industrial and energy stocks in the country. The decision came after an official survey found that that nearly 60% of people polled were in favor of resuming construction of two halted reactors.

Winding down South Korea’s nuclear power generation was a campaign promise for Moon, who was elected in May after the impeachment of predecessor Park Geun-hye. Moon has previously said he wants to phase out use of nuclear power in the country entirely.

Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for the president, told CNNMoney that the presidency respects “the will” of the government panel. Work on the reactors, in the country’s southeast, was about 30% complete before it was halted in July.

Nuclear power is big business in South Korea. The country lacks natural resources and imports nearly all of its energy supply from elsewhere.

According to the World Nuclear Association, 24 nuclear power plants provide about a third of South Korea’s electricity needs.

The country is also a major exporter of nuclear technology to the world. State power company KEPCO has a long-standing $20 billion deal to supply reactors to the United Arab Emirates, while the government said in 2010 it wanted to generate nuclear technology exports worth $400 billion by 2030.

Kerry Anne Shanks, an energy analyst at consultant Wood Mackenzie, said that killing the nuclear power plant plans could have made such deals politically complicated.

“If the government of the country that’s developing the nuclear plant is anti-nuclear, it doesn’t help,” she said.

Ditching nuclear energy would probably have led to an unpopular rise in electricity prices as well, according to Shanks.

Stocks in big South Korean companies involved in nuclear power plant construction surged after the announcement from Moon’s office.

KEPCO’s Engineering & Construction subsidiary soared as much as 20%, and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction gained as much as 12%.

— Lauren Suk contributed to this report.

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