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SAN DIEGO — Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter is complying with a request from the U.S. Marine Corps to remove their official military insignia from campaign materials, Hunter’s campaign said Thursday.

“Congressman Hunter’s campaign immediately complied and is taking all appropriate measures to ensure this matter is addressed appropriately and thoroughly,” spokesman Mike Harrison said, adding that “it is personally disappointing” to Hunter, a former Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he can no longer use the Marine Corps motto or image.

Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Fugler said the Marines’ eagle, globe and anchor logo is protected by federal law and can’t be used in relation with any political activities.

Hunter, a California Republican, is facing trial in federal court in September for allegedly using campaign funds to pay for expensive vacations, bar tabs, fine dining and routine household items like tuition and school lunches.

His wife, Margaret Hunter, recently struck a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting that she and her husband used the campaign credit card for personal items. The congressman has denied wrongdoing and has repaid more than $60,000 to the Federal Election Commission for charges he said were erroneously put on the campaign credit card.

In recent court filings, prosecutors also alleged he used campaign funds to finance extramarital affairs, which he denies.

He generated controversy in recent months while defending a Navy SEAL accused of killing a wounded enemy combatant in his custody in May 2017 after he and his fellow SEALS administered medical aid. While discussing that case, Hunter said that as an artillery officer, his unit “killed probably hundreds of civilians” during his 2004 tour in Fallujah, Iraq. In an interview with CNN, he clarified that he never intentionally targeted civilians, but said he was describing the reality of war, calling it a “byproduct of combat.”

An early supporter of President Donald Trump who serves in one of the most conservative districts in California, Hunter beat Ammar Campa-Najjar last fall in a campaign criticized for what many viewed as a brazenly anti-Muslim message. Campa-Najjar, a Christian who is the son of a Mexican-American mother and Palestinian father, said in a statement Thursday that Hunter’s campaign mailers “were so dishonorable and discrediting that they drew the attention of the United States Marine Corps, prompting the branch to issue a cease-and-desist order.”

“The Congressman’s lies don’t reflect the position of the United States Marine Corps anymore than his conduct reflects the character of our district. We deserve better,” said Campa-Najjar, who is looking to challenge Hunter again in 2020.

Hunter is also expected to face a robust crop of Republican challengers in 2020. Republican Larry Wilske, a retired Navy SEAL, officially announced his candidacy in March, along with Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, who mounted a challenge for Hunter’s seat in 2018.

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WASHINGTON — Active duty troops on the southern border with Mexico began carrying out “welfare checks” on detained migrants earlier this month to help out overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection agents, two US defense officials have told CNN.

The news comes as the Pentagon confirmed that it had approved a request Tuesday night from the Department of Homeland Security to authorize and fund an additional 1,000 National Guard troops to be deployed in support of CBP agents on border. Those National Guard forces will be under the command of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

“Active duty DOD military personnel are assisting Customs and Border Protection agents in CBP facilities by periodically monitoring migrant well-being, and reporting suspicious, violent, or medically related unresponsive behavior,” one of the officials told CNN.

If they observe such activity, US troops are then supposed to notify CBP personnel who would take over the handling of the situation from that point.

The new welfare role for troops marks a departure from their original mission on the border and is raising questions about the nature of the military’s role as the Trump administration faces criticism about the conditions of the facilities migrants are being housed in.

When US troops were first deployed to the border to support CBP agents, Pentagon officials stressed that military personnel would not be in ‘direct contact” with migrants.

Welfare checks primarily happening in Texas and Arizona

The welfare checks are primarily happening at CBP border patrol stations in Texas and Arizona. Because CBP is in need of the extra help, troops are conducting tasks that are bringing them into closer proximity with migrants and direct interactions are increasing.

An April request from CBP to the Defense Department for help dealing with the humanitarian crisis led to the welfare checks becoming an approved task for US troops.

That particular ask included a request for troops to assist with “monitoring the welfare of individuals in CBP custody,” according to a Pentagon statement at the time. Officials are now detailing what those welfare checks involve. There are about 350 troops that may at any time be involved in this effort.

US troops already help transport migrants and prepare and distribute meals at some locations. It’s not clear to what extent troops are receiving additional medical training to judge if migrants are unwell.

A CBP spokesman confirmed that the military is carrying out wellness checks and preparing food.

Troops may also be called upon to monitor overall conditions including ensuring air conditioning is working properly, according to one official.

Separately for several months military medical personnel have been stationed in the border area to treat troops who may become ill but are also on standby for migrant medical emergencies.

The troops involved in the border mission are carrying cards with basic Spanish language expressions to help them communicate with the migrants.

National Guard deployment

Of the 1,000 additional National Guard troops being deployed the majority of the additional personnel that are being sent will be involved in assisting CBP as it operates the “adult migrant holding facilities.”

The Department of Homeland Security will provide “mission specific training” for the Texas National Guard personnel, according to a statement by Pentagon spokesman Maj. Chris Mitchell.

Approximately 750 of the National Guard personnel will “provide supplemental holding support to CBP at CBP’s temporary adult migrant holding facilities in Donna, Texas and Tornillo, Texas,” Mitchell said, adding that they “will assist DHS law enforcement personnel with operational, logistical, and administrative support.”

“Migrants will be supervised by DHS law enforcement personnel,” he added.

The remaining 250 Texas National Guard members will provide support at CBP-designated ports of entry and airports in Texas “to enhance border security and improve the flow of commercial traffic.”

The Defense Department also announced that an additional 1,100 active duty military personnel will be deployed to the border in order to help make-up a shortfall in available National Guard personnel.

“Active Duty force deployments will increase in the next several weeks by approximately 1,100 personnel in support of CBP’s Operation Guardian Support mission with aerial surveillance, operational, logistical, and administrative support,” Mitchell said.

“The Active Duty force will be providing back-fill” to CBP “due to a shortfall in volunteer National Guard personnel,” he added.

Several governors, including the governors of multiple border states, had previously announced that they would not allow their respective National Guard forces to participate in the CBP border mission, potentially explaining the absence of available personnel.

Both new deployments were approved by acting Secretary of Defense Richard Spencer, who stepped into his role on Monday after his predecessor Mark Esper stepped down to allow himself to be formally nominated for the role.

There are currently 1,900 National Guard members supporting border security as part of an operation named “Guardian Support,” which was launched at the start of the Trump administration.

This is in addition to some 2,300 active-duty troops assigned to border missions.

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ENCINITAS, Calif. — A lawsuit alleges that four women were sexually assaulted by therapists at four separate Massage Envy locations, including Encinitas, the plaintiffs’ attorneys announced Thursday.

The suit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, accuses Massage Envy of negligently hiring and supervising five therapists accused by the plaintiffs, and ignoring the “known risk of assault they posed to customers” by allowing them to remain employed or transferring them to another franchise location.

The plaintiffs also allege that Massage Envy has a policy of concealing sexual assault reports, does not require that sexual assaults be reported to law enforcement or state massage therapy boards, and did nothing more than internally investigate each reported incident.

Massage Envy declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company adheres to established safety and best practice policies regarding sexual assault.

“We cannot comment on pending litigation, but we believe we have established best-in-class practices to address the types of issues alleged in this lawsuit, with the help of the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council — made up of leading experts — and our work with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S,” the statement reads. “These and other concrete actions underscore our commitment to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of our nearly 1,200 franchise locations, and we will never stop working to have industry-leading safety policies.”

The lawsuit alleges the sexual assaults occurred at Massage Envy locations in Encinitas, as well as Corona in Riverside County, Daly City, near San Francisco, and Cotati, a community in Sonoma County.

In the Encinitas case, a therapist allegedly ejaculated onto the victim as she lay undressed on a massage table, according to the complaint. The suit alleges that the customer contacted the manager, who apologized to her and offered her a free massage.

“Employees who went to management were told not to complain, which sent a message to those speaking up that such conduct was acceptable,” plaintiffs’ attorney Elizabeth Graham alleged. “In at least one instance, male therapists shamed women clients, claiming they obviously wanted sex by seeking a massage, even though massage treatments are standard at virtually every spa and nail salon in the country. The misconduct itself is disturbing enough at franchise locations, but compounded by the parent company’s lack of reporting and rooting out of the abusers — not unlike the wider sex abuse scandals we’ve seen at the U.S. Gymnastics Association or even the Catholic Church.

“It’s unconscionable that such brazen client abuse would take place in just one Massage Envy franchise — let alone multiple locations across California,” Graham said. “This is a by-product of a toxic work culture, where abuse persisted and was tolerated even after the problem was well recognized within the company, and yet customer complaints went smothered and unreported.”

The lawsuit was announced the same day that Orange County prosecutors filed criminal charges against a massage therapist charged with sexually assaulting two women during massage treatments at a Massage Envy location in Mission Viejo. Russell Bernardino, who is also a licensed home health care provider, was additionally charged with raping a 77-year-old woman while serving as her caregiver at her home in an Orange County retirement community.

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SAN DIEGO – Comic Con San Diego kicked off its 50th anniversary Thursday with a panel from the cast of Terminator Dark Fate. Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about when he got the call to do the first Terminator 1 back in 1984.

“From that moment on, everything has changed in my life,” he said.

Schwarzenegger said he’s had fans reach out to wonder if he was going to be in the newest Terminator.

“It’s absolutely incorrect to say I don’t need to,” he replied on stage. “Of course I need to come back. It’s like I’m addicted to Terminator. Terminator was the movie that launched my action career.”

The movie which features Linda Hamilton who plays the character Sarah Connor has Hamilton hunting down other terminators trying to kill them to keep another character alive.

But the big surprise of the day came as the panel was wrapping up. Conan O’Brien unexpectedly  took the stage to introduce Tom Cruise.

“I’m here to talk to you about a film,” O’Brien said. “A film that’s been anticipated and now will soon be here. A film that has great meaning for San Diego. A film we’ve been waiting for for a long long time. Ladies and gentleman, be prepared to say hello to the biggest movie star you’re going to meet in a long long time, Mr. Tom Cruise.”

“You are the first people in the world to see this,” said Cruise as he took the stage to a thunderous applause. He was referring to the trailer to ‘Top Gun 2.’

“Everything you see in this film is for real, the flying. We are working with the Navy, everything is real, and I really wanted to give you an experience of what it’s like to be in that aircraft.”

After playing the trailer, Cruise waved to audience and told them they’ve been a great crowd.

“We had no clue!” said a surprised Comic Con Fan, Doug Packwood, who was stunned to see Cruise on stage. “It was a lot of fun and a big surprised to our that was there. We were there cheering, had a blast.”

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he will nominate Gene Scalia, former Justice Antonin Scalia’s son, as secretary of labor.

“I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor. Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “He will be a great member of an Administration that has done more in the first 2 ½ years than perhaps any Administration in history!”

Politico was first to report that Trump was likely to nominate Scalia.

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LAS VEGAS – It’s all fun and games until you accidentally incite a giant mob to raid a top-secret military base.

The internet has been buzzing with excitement about a Facebook event entitled, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” with 1.6 million people having clicked “Going” and another 1.2 million have indicating they’re “Interested” on the event page.

Hitherto cloaked in mystery, the man behind the legend has stepped forward.

On June 27, Matty Roberts, who lives in California, created the Facebook page as a joke, not realizing that millions would rally behind his battle cry to “see them aliens” at the Air Force facility in Nevada.

Most, but not all, knew the desert congregation scheduled for September 20 was in jest, as the page included instructions such as “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.” (For the uninitiated, “naruto run” is a reference to a type of running in a popular anime show.)

The creator is afraid the FBI may knock on his door

“I waited for like three days and there were like 40 people and then it just completely took off out of nowhere,” he told CNN affiliate KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. “It was pretty wild.”

Roberts told KLAS he’d declined interviews as interest was skyrocketing because he thought if he revealed his identity he might have FBI agents showing up at his door.

“I was just like, the FBI’s going to show up at my house and it got a little spooky from there,” he said.

Roberts said he came up with the idea for the meme page after podcaster Joe Rogan interviewed Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. Lazar claims that he worked with an alien spacecraft while he was employed in one of Area 51’s underground facilities.

Before coming out to KLAS, Roberts communicated with NPR via Facebook messenger under the pseudonym Val.

“I just thought it would be a funny idea for the meme page,” he wrote.

Roberts/Val also said that, although he doubted he’d have an actual army gathered to run into Area 51 this September, he’d been in touch “with some pretty great people” to plan a safer, yet still out-of-this-world desert event.

For its part, the Air Force told the Washington Post that Area 51 is an “open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.”

CNN has also reached out to Roberts to talk more about his online sensation and how he might wield his newfound following. We’ll let you know when we make first contact.

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AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev. – The world is ready to finally see the secrets hidden inside Area 51, and if one of those secrets happens to be living aliens, well, we have good news – they’ll be greeted with free cans of Bud Light.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, initially posted on Twitter, “We’d like to be the first brand to formally announce that we will not be sponsoring the Area 51 raid.”

However, the brand quickly backtracked off that alienating claim, saying, “Screw it. Free Bud Light to any alien that makes it out.”

The company even went as far as to make a label for its Area 51 Special Edition Bud Light.

Area 51 Special Edition. pic.twitter.com/8wGbSLqY6r

— Bud Light (@budlight) July 17, 2019

“Greetings Earthlings. This is the famous Area 51,” it says at the top of the can. “We know of no space beer by any other life form which is brewed and aged to be more refreshing. Our cryogenic aging produces a light bodied space lager with a fresh taste, a crisp, clean finish, and a smooth drinkability. Take us to your leader…for drinks.”

There’s just one catch: Anheuser-Busch is asking for 51,000 retweets to make it happen. The tweet still has a way to go.

Screw it. Free Bud Light to any alien that makes it out. https://t.co/AOWOYL3Oyp

— Bud Light (@budlight) July 17, 2019

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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – A man was arrested after he allegedly raped a 4-year-old inside an Oklahoma McDonald’s bathroom while the little girl was on a field trip with her day care Tuesday.

Joshua Kabatra (Midwest City Police Department)

Midwest City police said they responded to the restaurant near SE 15th and Air Depot to investigate  a call about a disturbance.

When officers arrived, they spoke with day care employees who said a 4-year-old girl had gone to the bathroom in the play area and they went to check on her after noticing the child had “been gone for a while.”

The day care employee said the door was locked, and, after knocking for a while, a man answered and came out with his arms raised, saying “I was just washing my hands.”

The 4-year-old was asked if she was touched by the man and she said “yes,” pointing to her genital area, police said.

The man, identified as 37-year-old Joshua Kabatra, said he was in the playground area when he started to feel sick and went to the bathroom, knocking on the door, according to police.

He said when he opened the door, a female was sitting on the toilet. He says he then threw up in the sink, washed his hands and left the bathroom.

After speaking with the 4-year-old, police arrested Kabatra on two complaints of Rape 1 and one complaint of lewd acts with a child in connection to the incident.

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DESCANSO, Calif. — A person was found dead Thursday in a wrecked truck in a ravine alongside a rural road in the eastern San Diego County highlands.

The discovery off the 7900 block of state Route 79 in Descanso was reported shortly after 3:30 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

It was unclear when the vehicle, described as a white utility truck, crashed off the back-country road just north of Interstate 8, CHP public-affairs Officer Jim Bettencourt said.

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Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2020) - Paramount Pictures - YouTube

SAN DIEGO — Actor Tom Cruise made a surprise appearance in Hall H at Comic-Con Thursday to unveil the trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick,” the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 hit movie.

Tom Cruise makes a surprise appearance to discuss “Top Gun: Maverick” during 2019 Comic-Con International at San Diego Convention Center on July 18, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Judging by the trailer, Cruise’s danger-seeking naval aviator has been busy since audiences last saw him. Though, his attitude also hasn’t changed much. He’s content with his life as captain — even if, as his superior points out, he should be an admiral by now — and living on the edge.

The new film seems to embrace the original’s fondness for shirtless beach outings, singing and motorcycle rides whist donning a bomber jacket and aviator glasses. It also welcomes new cast members like Jon Hamm and Miles Teller.

“Top Gun: Maverick,” directed by Joseph Kosinski (“Tron: Legacy”), soars into theaters on June 26, 2020.

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