D-Day Vets In Their 90s Parachute Into Normandy 75 Years Later, This Time To Cheers

U.S. World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, Calif., parachutes in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France, on Wednesday. Approximately 200 parachutists participated in the event, replicating a jump made by U.S. soldiers on June 6, 1944 — D-Day.

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The first time Tom Rice jumped out of a plane over the Normandy coast, German soldiers were firing into the sky and about to launch a deluge of bullets and gunfire into the sea. Seventy-five years later it was nothing but smooth sailing.

Rice, who is 97 years old and was a U.S. World War II paratrooper, was one of a group of about 200 parachutists commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which began on June 6, 1944. The invasion of Europe marked a turning point in the war for the Allied forces.

“It went perfect, perfect jump,” Rice said afterward, according to the Associated Press. “I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.”

WATCH: 97-year-old US paratrooper veteran Tom Rice, who served with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, recreates his D-Day jump in Normandy 75 years later. pic.twitter.com/qAth429XCA

— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 5, 2019

It is a stark contrast to his previous voyage through the sky, which he called “the worst jump I ever had.”

“I got my left armpit caught in the lower left-hand corner of the door so I swung out, came back and hit the side of the aircraft, swung out again and came back, and I just tried to straighten my arm out and I got free,”

Tom Rice said later it was a perfect jump: “I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.”

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When Rice and his contemporaries first descended on Normandy, France and much of Europe were in the clutches of the Nazi occupation. But on Wednesday, when he floated in a tandem jump from a C-47 transporter, he was met by cheering crowds.

And he wasn’t the only nonagenarian to make the leap.

Harry Read, 95, and John Hutton, 94, both British, also jumped into the misty sky over what was once enemy territory.

“I thought the jump was brilliant. The jump was wonderful in every way. I feel good. My health is good and my mind is still ticking away,” Read told reporters, according to The Guardian.

Meanwhile, Hutton wondered why he doesn’t “have more sense at 94.”

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U.S.-Mexican Tariff Talks Continue As White House Meeting Ends Without A Deal

Cargo trucks pass the secondary fence that divides the United States and Mexico in Otay Mesa, Calif., on May 31. Vice President Pence held a meeting with Mexican officials on Wednesday over threats to raise tariffs on that country.

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President Trump tweeted that talks with Mexican officials would continue Thursday, raising hopes they may be able to reach an agreement to averting potentially crippling tariffs on Mexican imports.

The possibility of a deal comes amid great pressure from the Mexican government and top Republican leaders who warned of potentially disastrous consequences.

Last week, Trump warned that he would impose a 5% tariff starting June 10 on all imported goods from Mexico that would “gradually increase” until the flow of undocumented immigrants across the border stopped.

With Trump overseas, Pence hosted the White House meeting Wednesday in his office with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and other top U.S. and Mexican officials to see if they could avert a potential economic crisis.

Top GOP lawmakers break with Trump

In a rare public divide, many top Republicans tried to convince Trump not to carry out this threat charging the tariffs are nothing but additional taxes that would hurt the U.S. economy and do little to resolve the influx of illegal immigrants.

“There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday.

But the Republican front is not so united, with key members like Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaking out on behalf of Trump and the tariffs.

Rubio tweeted Wednesday reports of Mexican officials failing to stop hundreds of Central Americans crossing the border with Guatemala.

“I don’t generally like tariffs either,” Rubio tweeted. “But what alternative do my GOP colleagues have to get #Mexico to secure its southern border, use the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to screen northbound rail cars & vehicles & act on intel we provide on human traffickers?”

“Full-blown emergency”

Giving the Trump administration greater ammunition to call for stronger action, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that more than 144,000 migrants were taken into custody after crossing the southern border in May, the third consecutive month that immigration authorities have encountered more than 100,000 migrants at the southern border.

“We are in a full-blown emergency,” said acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders.

Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said Wednesday morning on CNN that the tariffs “may not have to go into effect” if Mexico agreed to several steps to stop the flow of undocumented immigration.

They included enforcing its own immigration laws, securing its southern border with Guatemala and committing to taking “all the asylum seekers.”

On Wednesday, a group of seven former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico representing both Republican and Democratic administrations called on Trump to abandon the threats and “de-link trade and immigration.”

Carlos Pascual, who served as a U.S. ambassador to Mexico during the Obama administration and one of the authors, warned higher tariffs won’t solve the immigration problem and would ultimately lead to higher costs for American consumers as well as lost jobs because of the damage done to U.S.-Mexico supply chains.

“The United States and Mexico have to work together in order to resolve a problem that fundamentally addresses the interest of both countries,” Pascual said. “It can’t be resolved unilaterally.”

Mexico’s case

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke optimistically this week that tariffs could be avoided, as did Ebrard, who told reporters Tuesday he saw an 80% chance that Trump would not impose the penalties.

Some former Mexican officials have been critical of the government’s conciliatory approach.

Only now is the Mexican government warning of potential countertariffs that could hurt U.S. interests.

Antonio Ocaranza, a top aide in the administration of former president Ernesto Zedillo, said Mexico should be employing more resources to mobilize allies in the United States to speak out on both sides interests.

“The way we’re dealing with the United States is playing into the hands of Trump because Trump is not facing major political costs on his decisions against Mexico,” Ocaranza said. “If Mexico can’t take its case to the U.S, talking to lawmakers, academics talking to academics. Business people talking to their counterparts, government officials doing the same, then you’re losing ground.”

Trump, during a press conference in London, said that it was “more likely that the tariffs go on” and called Republicans “foolish” if they fought him.

But Trump had also left the door open for a resolution, noting Wednesday’s talks.

“We’re going to see if we can do something,” he said.

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Administration Cuts Education And Legal Services For Unaccompanied Minors

The Southwest Key-Casa Padre Facility, formerly a Walmart store, in Brownsville, Texas. It is one of more than 150 federally contracted shelters for unaccompanied minors that will lose educational and legal programs as a result of the mandate by Health and Human Services.

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The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational activities including soccer, and legal aid for unaccompanied migrant children who are staying in federally contracted migrant shelters.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is charged with caring for minors who arrive at the southern border without a parent or legal guardian, says the large influx of migrants in recent months is straining its already threadbare budget. ORR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

In an emailed statement, Health and Human Services spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said ORR is instructing its shelters to scale back on activities “that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety,” as it is required to do under the Antideficiency Act.

One shelter-provider employee told the Associated Press the facility was notified on May 30 “that they wouldn’t be reimbursing costs of providing education and other activities,” throwing shelter officials into a panic over how they will cover the expenses, which they pay upfront.

The White House told Congress last month that the migrant shelter program could run out of money in June. The administration has requested nearly $3 billion to shore up the program in a supplemental budget request, but Congress has yet to approve the money.

The additional funding, according to Stauffer, would go toward increasing “shelter capacity in order to meet the needs of the minors in our custody while ORR works to find sponsors, usually family members, for the children.”

Advocates for migrant children say the decision to cut services is unwise and possibly illegal. Children apprehended illegally entering the country must be remain under the government’s care in shelters until they are reunited with their parents or a sponsor while awaiting immigration court hearings.

Rochelle Garza, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas, told NPR all of the facilities that house unaccompanied minors are required to comply with federal law in order to obtain federal contracts. “But they also have to comply with state law because all these facilities need to be licensed within the state in which they’re located.” And among those requirements are educational and recreational provisions.

Garza works in Brownsville, Texas, near Casa Padre, the former Walmart that has been converted into a shelter for approximately 1,500 boys ages 10 to 17. She described an average day for children housed in a regular security shelters as comparable to a full day of school that includes English, math, science and reading classes. The children get periods of outdoor activity, and often play basketball and soccer. There are even sporadic outings to a nearby church, park or zoo.

She said without those programs, housed children are “going to be sitting in prison-like conditions.” She noted many of the minors are vulnerable children who have escaped violence from Central America.

Approximately 13,200 minors are currently being held in federally-contracted shelters as of June 2, an HHS spokesperson told NPR. The average length of care for child in the program is approximately 48 days.

On Wednesday, Customs and Border Protections announced the number of migrant children crossing the southern border without a parent or legal guardian reached a record high in May. More than 11,000 — twice the number who crossed six months ago — entered the country. CBP recorded another sharp increase across the board; more than 144,000 immigrants were taken into custody along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We are in full blown emergency and I cannot say this stronger, the system is broken,” Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders told reporters.

Among the contracts involved are those provided by legal services groups, which offer know-your-rights presentations to minors. Without them, Garza said, “We’re going to see a lot of kids being brought to court with absolutely no one on their side with no legal representation.”

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Tayari Jones’ ‘Exquisitely Intimate’ Novel Wins Women’s Prize For Fiction

Tayari Jones speaks onstage at the Women In The World Summit earlier this year in in New York City. On Wednesday, Jones’ novel An American Marriage won the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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Less than two months after Tayari Jones won the Aspen Words Literary Prize, the American author has claimed a new laurel: the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The judges selected her novel An American Marriage at a ceremony Tuesday night in London, singling it out for praise and a purse of nearly $40,000.

“This is an exquisitely intimate portrait of a marriage shattered by racial injustice. It is a story of love, loss and loyalty, the resilience of the human spirit painted on a big political canvas — that shines a light on today’s America,” Kate Williams, historian and chair of this year’s judging panel, said in a statement released with the announcement.

“We all loved this brilliant book.”

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that @Tayari Jones is the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction winner with An American Marriage.
Find out more about this incredible book here: https://t.co/uG52mjcCTL pic.twitter.com/GREG2TuQRB

— Women’s Prize (@WomensPrize) June 5, 2019

Jones’ novel, which tells the story of a black man wrongly convicted of rape and the disastrous toll the conviction takes on his relationship, beat out five other finalists on the prize’s shortlist — two of whom, Anna Burns and Pat Barker, are previous winners of what was formerly known as the Man Booker Prize.

“I wasn’t expecting to win. The shortlist was so strong and I was honored to be among them, but I had no idea whether I would win,” Jones said at the ceremony. “I didn’t write a speech!”

Still, the novel has been no stranger to breathless praise.

Before An American Marriage won the Aspen prize in April, earning the author $35,000, its confrontation with difficult social issues also won praise from former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, who added it to her popular book club.

If you’re not familiar with the Women’s Prize for Fiction, perhaps you know the prestigious award under another name. It had been known as the Baileys Prize — for its main sponsor at that time — and before that, it went by another moniker – perhaps its best-known: the Orange Prize.

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Ohio To Juarez And Back Again: Why Tariffs On Mexico Terrify The Auto Industry

An employee works at a wire harness and cable assembly manufacturing company that exports to the U.S. in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on April 27, 2017. The auto industry says threatened tariffs would increase the cost of imported vehicles and play havoc with supply chains.

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President Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, starting next week, if Mexico doesn’t take action to reduce the flood of Central American migrants across the southern border of the U.S.

The proposed tariffs — which would start at 5% on goods crossing the border and could ramp up to 25% over time — would play havoc with supply chains in the auto industry.

To understand why, consider a vehicle’s wire harness — the car’s nervous system, consisting of a complex network of wires that connect electronic components throughout the car body.

“It’s a huge, heavy bundle of wires and it’s gotten dramatically more complicated as cars become more electronic,” says Sue Helper, an economist at Case Western Reserve University. “If they’re done wrong, you can get electrical problems that you’ll never solve.”

All those wires are carefully laid out in the proper configuration (different for different car models) and bundled together before they’re installed in a vehicle. And for cars made in the U.S., that bundling almost always happens in Mexico — specifically, in Juárez. It’s time-intensive work, and labor is cheaper in Mexico.

But that’s just part of the picture.

The terminals on the ends of those wires might be built at an Aptiv factory in Warren, Ohio, shipped to Juárez for assembly into the wire harness, and then shipped back to the U.S. to be installed in a car.

Smaller, stand-alone parts have their own wiring harnesses. For instance, a breakaway kit designed to stop a runaway trailer starts as a plastic box made by Hopkins Manufacturing Corp., in Emporia, Kan. Then it gets shipped to Juárez, where other components are combined and a wiring harness installed. Finally, the finished good comes back to the U.S. to go inside a trailer or to get sold to a consumer.

These goods start and finish in the U.S., but would be subject to tariffs under the new policy.

And it’s not clear just how hard those tariffs would hit.

Hopkins, the company manufacturing breakaway kits and other auto parts and accessories, currently only has to pay duties on the value that was added to the part while it was in Mexico. But CEO Brad Kraft says he’s concerned that the tariffs proposed by the White House could impose a tariff on the total value of the good — which can be 10 times higher than the added value — every time it crosses the border.

If that’s how the tariffs are imposed, then when Hopkins Manufacturing brings a breakaway kit back into the U.S., the company would effectively be paying a tariff on the plastic box that it manufactured in Kansas.

The auto supply chain didn’t always involve so many parts crossing borders so many times. But over the last few decades, the system has dispersed geographically. That included wire bundling jobs once done in the U.S. shifting to Mexico.

The supply chain could shift again in the future. But experts say these particular tariffs aren’t likely to bring any jobs back to the U.S. Instead, experts worry they could push assembly work from Mexico to other countries with low labor costs, which could actually lead to the loss of more American jobs.

“The wire that goes into those wire harnesses, the fabric that is coated around those wires, as well as all of the connectors are oftentimes made in the United States,” says Ann Wilson, the senior vice president of government affairs at the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association. “So if we make it more expensive to make wire harnesses in Mexico … and they move that offshore someplace else, we are going to lose those jobs in the United States.”

That might be a concern in the long term. For now, businesses aren’t ready to make drastic decisions like moving factories, given the profound uncertainty surrounding these tariffs.

In addition to the fluctuating amount — 5%, gradually rising to 25% — it’s not clear how long the tariffs might be in place; they’re pegged to progress on immigration, as defined by the administration’s “sole discretion and judgment.”

“What do we have to achieve in the immigration issue before suddenly the tariffs are now taken away?” asks Aaron Lowe, senior vice president for regulatory and government affairs for the Auto Care Association, which represents companies that provide aftermarket auto parts and services. “It’s very, very vague.”

Frontera Radiators and Parts, based in El Paso, Texas, right on the border, operates multiple manufacturing facilities in Mexico. It makes truck radiators that are no longer produced in the U.S. CEO Arnoldo Ventura is considering buying products from competitors in India or Dubai, if the tariffs do make it up to 25%. But planning is difficult.

“Instead of looking forward a year or two years of planning, we’re just planning on every week,” Ventura says.

And Kraft of Hopkins Manufacturing says in this atmosphere of uncertainty, he can’t just pick up and move his factory from Juárez.

“There’s very little that we can do,” he says.

There’s only one thing, really. Prepare to pay the tariff – and pass the higher costs along to consumers.

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Good Girl! These Dogs Are Helping Save Habitats By Finding Rare Turtles

A team of specially trained hunting dogs has been helping conservationists and researchers find rare turtles in Iowa.

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As human activities are increasingly threatening animal species, scientists say turtles are at a significant risk due to climate change. In Iowa, conservationists are taking an unconventional approach to finding and protecting turtles with an unlikely helper.

An Iowa man has trained his hunting dogs to find the reptiles for researchers. Counting the creatures will help conservationists manage the land better.

It’s a cool spring morning on a 40 acre nature preserved owned by Bur Oak Land Trust in eastern Iowa. John Rucker is scouring a shady hillside with his four Boykin spaniels, looking for turtles.

“Find turtle, find turtle,” Rucker calls to his dogs. Turning to a reporter, he says: “Did I tell you I’m the only person in the world that does this?”

In fact, there are a number of conservationists and their canine companions doing similar work (though Rucker may be one of the few who lives out of tents and vans while he’s working).

When he’s not living off the grid in rural Montana, Rucker travels the country with his specially-trained hunting dogs, helping scientists and conservationists find turtles.

The dogs working with Rucker are Rooster, Jenny Wren, Jaybird, and Mink.

Rucker and his super dogs, as he calls them, make their way through the undergrowth, checking in brush piles and under old logs. When the dogs find a turtle, they’ll gently pick it up with their mouths and bring it back to Rucker.

“You will notice that as soon as they strike a scent trail their tails will start wagging furiously, and then their whole demeanor becomes extremely excitable,” Rucker explains.

Citizen conservationist Judy Felder is one of the volunteers out hunting today.

“It’s sort of like a religion for me,” Felder says. “Nature is important and somebody has to defend it, protect it, preserve it.”

Today the group is looking for ornate box turtles – they’re about four to five inches across with yellow markings.

“It’s just wonderful to hold one. They’re gorgeous, they’re absolutely gorgeous,” Felder said. “The feel of their shell is … I really hope we find one.”

Ornate Box turtles once roamed Iowa’s native prairies along with herds of wild bison. The turtles’ habitat was largely destroyed when European settlers plowed the state’s grassland.

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Ornate box turtles are a remnant species of the country’s vast prairies, where they co-evolved with wild bison. When European settlers turned the grasslands into farms, the turtles lost nearly all of their habitat. Now they’re considered threatened in Iowa.

“We try to manage our properties with the most vulnerable species in mind, and these turtles are the most vulnerable species,” says Jason Taylor, a property stewardship specialist with the Bur Oak Land Trust.

Taylor hopes to restore this site to what it looked like pre-settlement – a sunny, open grassland dotted with oak trees, and periodically burned by prairie fires. Knowing more about the turtle population will help him decide how to best manage the land to preserve their habitat.

“There are a number of things that we’re going to do simply because we have known presence of these turtles. As opposed to on other properties, we’d be able to mow, we’d be able to burn during growing season, we’d be able to do all these additional things,” Taylor said.

But first the team has to find the turtles. At a sunnier stretch of prairie a few miles away, Rucker once again lets the dogs off-leash and they run through the prairie grasses, looking for turtles.

“Find turtle, find me a turtle,” Rucker calls to the dogs.

It’s a beautiful, clear day and the dogs are on a roll.

After rooting through a thicket of trees in the middle of the prairie, one of the dogs emerges with a turtle grasped squarely in its mouth.

“Hey we got a turtle! That dog’s got one!” Rucker calls. “Good girl, Mink! Come on girlie.”

Volunteers scoop them up and check for ID markers. Cornell College Biology Professor Andy McCollum and his students Lizzy Ott and Lily Ullenius are here to track the turtles and hold on to some for further research. Over three days, the dogs find a total of 137 turtles.

While this may seem like a lot of effort for a relatively minor species, they’re all intertwined. Rucker says species provide habitat and food for each other, and slow the spread of pests and diseases.

It’s all too easy to upset that balance.

Rucker says seeing ecosystems regain biodiversity is breathtaking, and he waxes poetic about looking out over a prairie after a summer rainstorm.

“It’s like if you have a symphony orchestra and the richness and the beauty and the sound comes from many different types of instruments, the woodwinds, the strings, the percussion,” Rucker said. “The natural world is just like that. For every species that winks out, not only is it less beautiful, it’s all interdependent.”

Seeing ecosystems regain that biodiversity is breathtaking, Rucker says. He tells me about looking out on a stretch of prairie after a summer rainstorm.

“The smell of the tallgrass prairie was overpoweringly beautiful. To see the turtle dogs catching ornate box turtles within sight of a wild bison herds after a summer rain storm was …” Rucker trailed off. “It almost makes you want to just weep to think of all that we have lost and what it would’ve been like 200 years ago.”

What’s lost here in Iowa is the native prairie. With the help of Rucker and his turtle dogs, conservationists are trying to create a safe environment for this at-risk species.

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