Headlines » Nation http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 02:33:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 How One Visit to Cuba Changed This Cuban-American’s Views on the Trade Embargo http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/how-one-visit-to-cuba-changed-this-cuban-americans-views-on-the-trade-embargo/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/how-one-visit-to-cuba-changed-this-cuban-americans-views-on-the-trade-embargo/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:52:04 +0000 Angel Canales http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527068

While most kids were playing with toys, Carmen Cusido was listening in to her family’s discussions about policies between the U.S. and Cuba. Growing up Cuban in the U.S. — to Cuban exile parents — was an interesting experience.

“I remember a lot of my family members gathering around the family table talking about policies between the U.S. and Cuba and the lack of freedom of the press, lack of human rights and political prisoners,” said Cusido, 31, who lives in Union City, N.J.

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31 year-old Carmen Cusido changed her views on the 52-year-long Cuban embargo. Seen her holding a photo of her uncle, grandmother and mother in her home in Union City, N.J. Angel Canales/ABC News

Those conversations shaped Cusido’s views about U.S. policy towards Cuba.  She says she was a hardliner on U.S.-Cuba policy issues.

“I was the college student who had my door room walls peppered with Ronald Reagan quotes and anti-communism banners,” said the freelance writer.

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Carmen Cusido at the Cuban Parade in 2002 Union City, N.J. Courtesy of Carmen Cusido.

Both her parents fled Cuba over 50 years ago. Her father boarded a plane to New York and her mother left by boat to Spain in 1961. While Cusido respects and honors the pain and suffering her parents endured when they left the island, she still wanted to have a connection with Cuba.

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Carmen Cusido sitting with her mom Magaly Pacheco-Cusido and Armando Cusido in their home in Union City, N.J. Both of her parents fled the island in the 60's. Angel Canales/ABC News

It was a few years ago that Cusido started to think about visiting the island.

“As I was thinking more about the embargo against Cuba, I thought well maybe there will be an opportunity for me to come to visit my parents’ homeland,” she said.

A decade ago, Cusido recalls that she would have not dreamed of going to Cuba even if giving the opportunity.

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Carmen Cusido at the US Interests Section in Havana, Nov. 2013. Courtesy of Carmen Cusido.

Her future plans to visit Cuba didn’t sit well with her father.

“He said, ‘I don’t understand your need to visit Cuba. You’re an American. Your roots are here. Why would you want to go to a country that has no freedom?’”

Her mother’s reaction was more of caution.

“She said, ‘I’m praying that you don’t open your mouth too much and you don’t cause much turbulence on the island,’” Cusido recalled.

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Cathedral Square in Old Havana, Nov. 2013. Courtesy of Carmen Cusido.

Cusido wanted to see things for herself and draw her own conclusions about Cuba, but also connect with her roots. Her visit to the island in November 2013 left a great impression on her views in regards to the U.S. embargo.

“It was a very emotional experience for me. I got to meet a cousin for the first time in my life. She embraced me like true family. Being able to see people that you heard about throughout the years was personally gratifying,” she said.

She went to Cuba on a tour organized by Chamber of the Americas, a non-profit whose mission is to “facilitate commerce and understanding between the businesses and governments of the Western Hemisphere.”

Being surrounded my relatives and other Cubans questioned Cusido’s views on the embargo and the need to lift it.

“It’s different when you get to visit real people and talk about their needs and their struggles and how we can help and there are so many of us that still have family there that yearn to see them, that yearn for these restrictions to be part of the past,” she said.

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Cubans walking along Calle Obispo in Havana at 10 a.m. Cusido says, there are several people out of work. Courtesy Carmen Cusido

Throughout the years, her family had to come up with creative ways to send packages to their relatives in Cuba, she recalled.

While Cusido hasn’t changed her mind on how she feels about the Cuban government, she has about the 52-year-old year embargo on the island.

“I remember growing up we had to send plenty of medical supplies to folks on the island. Even when I went last year, vitamins were a hot commodity. Cuban citizens don’t have ready access to technology or even medicine in some cases,” she said.

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Food distribution board in Havana, Nov. 2013. Courtesy of Carmen Cusido.

While Cusido says that she is aware that Cuba is still oppressed and there are gross human rights abuses, she says that there have also been several economic reforms that have taken place on the island since 2008.

“The best way to pave the way for the Cuban people to have a representative democracy and free markets is to lift the embargo,” she said.

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Grocery booklet for every Cuban household. Every family in Cuba needs to present this in order to retrieve their monthly allowance by the government. November 2013. Courtesy Carmen Cusido.

After her visit, Cusido thinks lifting the embargo is good for both the Cubans on the island and Cuban Americans.

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A shot of Havana, Nov. 2013. Courtesy of Carmen Cusido.

“We have family that we have been yearning to see for so long.” Her greatest hope is that by lifting the embargo, Cubans will soon see democracy,” she said. “I’m hopeful that this is a positive step towards that goal.”

 Carmen Cusido is a freelance writer based in Union City, N.J., and a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. 

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Man Rescued From Deserted Island After Raft Drifts for 5 Days http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/man-rescued-from-deserted-island-after-raft-drifts-for-5-days/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/man-rescued-from-deserted-island-after-raft-drifts-for-5-days/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 01:00:42 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527029 A man who was stranded for six days — five days on the water and then one on an uninhabited island in the Bahamas — has been rescued by the Coast Guard.

Larry Sutterfield, 39, was found on the island in an area between Florida and Cuba on Monday.

Man survived 12 days stranded at sea by eating raw fish.

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Stranded woman tells how she survived in Gulf for 13 hours.

The Coast Guard said today that during a routine maritime patrol, officers had noticed smoke coming from the uninhabited island. They then saw Sutterfield, naked and waving his arms.

“They dropped food and water and a VHF radio to him to find out what kind of stress [he was] in,” said US Coast Guard Petty Officer Jean Paul Rios.

According to the Coast Guard, Sutterfield was going on a camping trip from the Florida Keys when the motor on his inflatable raft conked out and left him drifting at sea.

The Coast Guard said he’d told them he’d been on the island called Cay Sal Bank for a little more than 24 hours. Rios said Sutterfield had drifted about 75 to 80 miles.

Sutterfield was taken to a Florida hospital, where he was reportedly said to be suffering from a bad sunburn but in “fair condition.”

ABC News’ Matt Gutman contributed to this story.

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Boy’s ‘Chocolate Bar’ Book Nets $1M for Rare Liver Disorder Research http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/boys-chocolate-bar-book-nets-1m-for-rare-liver-disorder-research/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/boys-chocolate-bar-book-nets-1m-for-rare-liver-disorder-research/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 23:57:39 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527012  Boys Chocolate Bar Book Nets $1M for Rare Liver Disorder Research

ABC News

Thanks to friends from across the globe — in all 50 states and more than 60 countries — Dylan Siegel and his best friend Jonah Pournazarian have reached a megamilestone.

Dylan’s book, “Chocolate Bar,” written to raise funds for research into a rare liver disorder called glycogen storage disease type 1B, netted $1 million in book sales this week.

Boy author raises $750k for sick friend.

Boy raises more than $30,000 for sick friend.

Boy author raises $400k for sick friend.

In fall 2012, Dylan, now 8, wrote and started selling the books for $20 each.

For more information on “Chocolate Bar,” click here.

He wanted to help Jonah, now 9, who is one of 500 children in the world with the disease, which does not have a cure.

Every cent from the book has gone to the University of Florida lab where Dr. David Weinstein leads the research team studying and treating patients.

Weinstein said that when he finds a cure, he wants Dylan right there next to him.

The money has financed the hiring of a new geneticist, studies resulting in new gene-therapy treatments, and kept the facility open and on track to a cure within several years.

Dylan has vowed not to stop raising money until there is a cure.

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LA Neighborhood Blames Waze App for Morning Traffic Jams http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/la-neighborhood-blames-waze-app-for-morning-traffic-jam/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/la-neighborhood-blames-waze-app-for-morning-traffic-jam/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:19:45 +0000 Dina Abou Salem http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526996

LOS ANGELES–Thanks to its pervasive use by drivers seeking a clear patch of road, the Waze traffic social app is being blamed for causing congestion in a once-quiet LA neighborhood.

Paula Hamilton, 80, who has lived at her home in Sherman Oaks for 35 years, told ABC News that morning traffic on her street took a turn for the worse two to three months ago.

“The traffic has never been this bad. It’s bumper-to-bumper traffic now in the morning. Cars move at 10 miles an hour.”  Hamilton says the congestion is so bad she won’t leave home from 6:45 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Mila Reeder, who lives five doors down the road from Hamilton, agrees that in the 30 years she has lived in her Sherman Oaks home, traffic has never been this heavy.

“There are no sidewalks on the narrow curvy streets near my home and with the number of cars driving by in the morning people are always about to be hit. It’s really dangerous,” Reeder told ABC News.

 

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Early morning rush hour traffic winds its way along a narrow street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Dec. 9, 2014. Richard Vogel/AP Photo

While complaints are being leveled at Waze for diverting freeway traffic to residential neighborhoods, Bruce Gillman, public information officer for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, tells ABC News that it’s unfair to place all the blame on Waze.

“There is more than one traffic app out there and they all have similar functions,” said Gillman.

These apps give real-time traffic data to motorists by tracking the speed of those using the apps, then suggesting alternate routes, sometimes through residential areas.

Gillman, who said he uses traffic apps, noted that neighborhood roads are not off limits. “Using these apps is a normal reaction. We try to navigate around traffic.”

Julie Mossler, senior director of communications at Waze, tells ABC News that the allegations that Waze is causing neighborhood traffic in Los Angeles started around Thanksgiving this year.

“Waze draws the most attention because we have 50 million users worldwide. However, to say we’re causing bumper to bumper traffic is not accurate. This isn’t how the algorithm of Waze takes care of itself.”

Mossler explained in a note to residents how the app works.

“Waze finds open stretches of road and spreads cars across the grid of public streets, helping not only to alleviate congestion but promote a safer drive, as bumper-to-bumper traffic often means a greater risk of accidents and unsafe driving behavior. We have millions of drivers in Los Angeles who work together to warn each other about objects in the road, construction and more. In turn, avoiding these obstacles prevents further issues.”

“Also, I want to stress that we alternate which routes are used, based on real-time conditions, to avoid generating congestion of our own on a different set of roads–it simply wouldn’t be effective to route a large amount of Wazers down your street,” said Mossler in her note.

Mossler said in her letter that “Los Angeles is a powder keg of cars, construction and population that will only continue to get worse. With or without Waze, drivers will be looking for alternatives to major thoroughfares.”

Mossler tells ABC News that Waze operates on a massive scale by helping to spread cars out. “By doing that it certainly makes it easier for emergency vehicles to get through and improved your commute to the airport, for example.”

Sherman Oaks residents have raised their complaints to their council member, Tom LaBonge.

“My field deputy met with them so we can find a solution to their problem. The collector streets in Los Angeles recommended by apps like Waze as alternate routes are not equipped to handle this amount of heavy traffic. Some of them are narrow, some are not properly divided, and some are unmarked for example,” LaBonge told ABC News.

LaBonge is working on a motion for the City Council addressing the safety of these apps.

 

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Four Children Rescued After Dramatic Standoff on San Diego Freeway http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/four-children-rescued-after-dramatic-swat-standoff-on-san-diego-freeway/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/four-children-rescued-after-dramatic-swat-standoff-on-san-diego-freeway/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 20:54:16 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526982 Four children are safe and their father is in custody following a dramatic standoff today on a freeway ramp in San Diego.

According to the Montebello Police Department, police responded to a locator device in a vehicle belonging to Daniel Diego Perez, who was considered a person of interest after he, his wife and his four children were reported missing on December 9.

An unidentified woman was found deceased in the trunk of the family’s vehicle on Wednesday.

Video shows Perez parking a second vehicle on the transition ramp on Route 52 in San Diego. Shortly after, two children are able to escape from the car.

Perez then exited with the other two children and moved toward the edge of the ramp. When he lifted a leg over the edge of the ramp, officers quickly rushed him and successfully detained him.

Captain Luis Lopez, of the Montebello Police Department, said while the investigation is ongoing, there is a history of domestic violence in the family. He says extended family were in touch with the department and voiced concern over the safety of the children.

“Now that the children are out of harm’s way, I’m sure they’re going to very excited.” he said.

Lopez said officers will now try to identify the body found in the other vehicle. He said as of right now, Perez is not considered a suspect in that homicide.

 

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How a Small Town Cop Is Dealing With Rape Allegations at UVA http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/how-a-small-town-cop-is-dealing-with-the-shocking-crime-at-uva/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/how-a-small-town-cop-is-dealing-with-the-shocking-crime-at-uva/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 02:34:52 +0000 Katherine Faulders http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526885 Was it a heinous, violent gang rape at one of America’s elite colleges? Or is it a colossal fraud? Or something in between?

Getting to the bottom of the case at the University of Virginia is the responsibility of the Charlottesville Police Department, a small town police force in the eye of the storm. The man in charge is Chief Tim Longo, who knows what is at stake and says he will not be rushed at this moment of crisis.

The university was thrust into the national spotlight once again when Rolling Stone magazine published an unnerving account of a young woman identified as “Jackie,” who alleges she was brutally gang raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in September 2012.

In response, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan requested the police department open an investigation into these allegations, in addition to suspending all fraternity and sorority activities until the end of the year.

“We’ll continue to remain focused until we get to the truth and the underlying facts regardless of what’s going on around us. We’ve got to stay really focused on getting to the truth and that could take a long period of time,” Longo told ABC News today.

Despite recent reporting that raises questions about whether the attack described in the magazine ever occurred, the chief said his detectives will continue their effort to get to the bottom of the allegations. They need to find out whether a crime was committed and, if it was, by whom, and he said he cannot allow conflicting news reports to dictate what investigators do. He also said the probe will take some time to complete and he is not yet in a position to say whether a crime actually occurred.

The fraternity where the rape allegedly occurred has released a statement on Friday denying the article’s allegations.

“We have no knowledge of these alleged acts being committed at our house or by our members,” the Virginia branch of Phi Kappa Psi said.

Longo, 51, previously a bureau chief with the Baltimore Police Department, has served as police chief for the City of Charlottesville for 14 years. He oversees a force of 119.

Longo acknowledged that in the wake of the killing earlier this semester of U.Va. student Hannah Graham and now these most recent allegations, his cases have become exhausting and tragic for the department and the community. At the same time, though, Longo said his department’s work has given credibility to the organization and to the men and women who work in the department.

“The moms and dads from all over the nation and from all over this world have entrusted their children — the safety of their children — with not only this police department but with this community,” Longo said. “So when things like the tragedy of Hannah, and the allegations that have been set forth these past several weeks, folks don’t always like to hear me say it but we take those things personal because we recognize we have a stewardship and responsibility over those matters.”

U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan has outlined a series of sweeping changes that include an increased police presence, a command center composed of university police and Charlottesville police, and a group of unarmed security personnel called “ambassadors” who will be prominently deployed near the library and the business area known as “The Corner” to assist students and provide escorts as needed.

“What this opportunity has presented for the Chief of Police there [at U.Va.] and for me in my community is to look at ways to begin to focus on that joint patrol area by not just increasing the resources of sworn law enforcement, but perhaps utilizing some of the strategies that other universities have in the country,” Longo said.

 

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Utah Highway Patrol Troopers Shuttle 87-Year-Old Mom to Visit Ailing Son http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/utah-highway-patrol-troopers-shuttle-87-year-old-mom-to-visit-ailing-son/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/utah-highway-patrol-troopers-shuttle-87-year-old-mom-to-visit-ailing-son/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 20:44:19 +0000 Dina Abou Salem http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526891

When State Trooper Jeff Jones pulled over Helen Smith, 87, for a traffic violation in Millard County in central Utah last Friday night, he did not know he would face a judgment call.

“Smith was driving on I-15 from Panaca in Nevada,” Jones told ABC News. Jones issued a her a warning before sending her on her way.

A dashcam video from Jones’ patrol car captured Smith’s vehicle as she was about to drive off.

“As she went to leave, she put the car in reverse and backed into Jones’ patrol car. The lady said that she had very bad eyesight, and could hardly see. Jones told the lady that she was not safe to be driving,” Sgt. Timothy Royce, public information officer for the Utah Highway Patrol, told ABC News.

Smith told the trooper that she was on her way to meet with her ill son in Salt Lake City, but after contacting her family, Jones discovered the hospital was actually Ogden Regional Medical Center, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake, Jones said.

Smith was 370 miles away from her son. Jones said that out of the eight counties she traveled through in Utah, a series of Utah Highway Patrol troopers shuttled her through five of them.

Jones said he made arrangements to have the vehicle driven to a safe location, and then shuttled her to Juab County, where Trooper Jared Jensen drove her up to Utah County to Trooper Chris Bishop. Bishop then drove her to Salt Lake County, where he dropped her off to Trooper Andrew Pollard.

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Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Jeff Jones (Courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol)

Trooper Pollard drove her the rest of the way to the hospital where she was reunited with her son, Royce said.

“Jones was not directed by a supervisor to do this. He recognized an urgent need and provided a solution. He saw this as a service that needed rendered and acted. It was the right thing to do,” Royce told ABC News.

“I just decided she needed help and we do help shuttle people once in a while so why not her?” Jones said.

Smith could not be reached by ABC News for comment.

 

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Utah Highway Patrol troopers escort Helen Smith, 87, to the patrol car after they determined that she was not in a condition to drive. (Courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol)

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Kidnapped Girl Reunites With Family as Authorities Seek Alleged Abductor http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/kidnapped-girl-reunites-with-family-as-authorities-seek-alleged-abductor/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/kidnapped-girl-reunites-with-family-as-authorities-seek-alleged-abductor/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 23:00:34 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526866

A young Minneapolis girl is back with her family today as authorities continue to comb surveillance video for any potential clues that might lead them to the man who allegedly kidnapped her this weekend in broad daylight.

The 7-year-old girl was playing with friends Saturday when the man allegedly approached them seeking help in finding his lost puppy.

The video — taken from a neighbor’s camera — captured her, wearing a white coat, walking off with him around 3 p.m., said John Elder of the Minneapolis Police Department.

How these parents saved their daughter from an alleged kidnapper.

Teenager with cellphone helps rescue kidnapped infant.

Abducted Philadelphia woman found alive, alleged kidnapper arrested.

Latrisha Beaty, a family friend, told KSTP.com that the little girl’s mom was distraught when she realized her daughter had been taken.

“She was walking back and forth. She couldn’t sit down. She just kept crying,” Beaty said.

Nearly two hours later, police found her walking near her home. Authorities said she was being questioned.

Char Rivette of the Chicago Child Advocacy Center said children tended to believe adults.

“He talked about a puppy and that’s about tricking the child into thinking he can trust the person,” Rivette said. “That’s a really strong tactic that a potential child abuser may use.”

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KTSP

Although authorities say that abductions by strangers are rare, they do happen.

In November, Stephanie Holladay Edson of Utah woke up to the sound of footsteps she knew could not belong to her 5-year-old daughter.

When Edson didn’t find her daughter in her bedroom, her husband ran outside. He said he saw a man holding their child.

The man allegedly handed the little girl to the Edsons and was later found by police.

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Crows Have Overrun An Entire City – And It’s Like A Scene From ‘Birds’ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/washington-town-overrun-with-crows-resorts-to-bird-bombs/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/12/washington-town-overrun-with-crows-resorts-to-bird-bombs/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:53:13 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=526832 gty hitchcock movie the birds jc 141205 16x9 608 Crows Have Overrun An Entire City   And Its Like A Scene From Birds

A group of schoolchildren flail about in terror in a publicity still for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film "The Birds," circa 1963.

Police in Sunnyside, Washington, are stepping up their battle against a swarm of crows aggravating citizens and disrupting city services.

Commander Scott Bailey of the Sunnyside Police Department said his cops have recently begun using pyrotechnics as a way to scare off the crows that have multiplied dramatically in the last five years.

Wild Pigs Overrun Homeowners in Central California

Officials Suspect Poisoning in Oregon-Cow Die-Off

Wild Turkeys Overrun Brookline, Mass.

“Basically, it’s a firework inside a pistol shell,” he told ABC News, noting that the shells, sometimes called “bird bombs,” offer a non-lethal option for the police to combat the booming population.

“We’re simply trying to scare them off. We’re dealing with up to 10,000 crows every day.” he said.

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Sunnyside, Wash. is pictured. (Credit: sunnyside-wa.gov)

The crows are causing numerous issues for townspeople, including health risks from feces, noise pollution, and even attacks during nesting season, Bailey said, adding that the birds pose a constant risk to the city’s electricity services because they sit in large numbers on power lines.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife notes on its website that crows are among the “most adaptable and intelligent birds.” They say harassment techniques are usually only effective for a short time.

But the pyrotechnics are part of a long-term strategy to move the crows into areas away from the city, Bailey said, noting his department is hoping to establish a “tree line” for birds to congregate away from the city within the next five years.

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A woman who survived after her car plunged into a Washington state canal said she has car-safety equipment at hand since the accident and that she recommended other drivers get some too.

“[But] don’t leave it in the trunk,” Colette Smith told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV.

Smith was on her way home from Yelm, Washington state, early Sunday morning when her car hit a patch of ice and fell into the Centralia Canal.

“I didn’t have a plan,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Smith called 911 at 2:30 a.m. Sunday from her partially submerged 2013 Chevy Cruze.

“I hit some black ice,” she tells the 911 dispatcher on the taped call. “I was going home from Yelm and then I went off the road. … I’m in a big puddle and my car’s filling up with water. I don’t even know where I am.”

What to do: Car sinking in water and only seconds to react.

911 call: Mother and son drive into sink hole.

What if you have 30 seconds to save your life?

The 30-year-old told the dispatcher she was OK but could not get the car door open. It was reportedly pinned shut against an embankment.

“The water’s up to my knees,” she says. “The car’s sinking.”

After attempting to break the window several times with her keys, Smith was rescued by two police officers who broke the back window and helped her crawl out before the car sank into 12 feet of water.

“I was so panicked I didn’t even feel the cold,” she said, according to KOMO-TV. “I was more freaked that there was water coming into my car.”

Smith was treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

“I guess I’m lucky,” she said. “Somebody up there is looking out for me.”

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