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Much at stake in dino fight

FILE - In this Nov.14, 2013, file photo, one of two "dueling dinosaurs" fossils is displayed in New York. In an ongoing court case over the ownership of the fossils, the Montana Supreme Court heard arguments in Helena, Mont., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, over whether fossils are part of a property's surface estate or mineral estate in the case of split ownership. (AP Photo/Seth Weinig, File)

HELENA, Mont. — The discovery of two fossilized dinosaur skeletons intertwined in what looks like a final death match could make a Montana ranching couple rich beyond their dreams. Or they may have to share the wealth. It all comes down to how the state Supreme Court answers a seemingly simple question: Are fossils minerals? The Montana justices heard arguments Thursday but did not rule right away. The outcome is key to a dispute over ownership of the “dueling dinosaurs,” worth more than $5 million, and distribution of millions of dollars in proceeds from the sale of other fossils unearthed from clay and sandstone in a fossil-rich area of central Montana. While someone can own what’s on top of a piece of land, others can own material like oil, gas and coal that’s found below the surface. In property sales, an owner can keep some or all of those below-surface mineral rights. Mary Ann and Lige Murray own the surface rights and one-third of the mineral rights on the ranch near the tiny town of Jordan, while brothers Jerry and Robert Severson own two-thirds of the mineral rights after a 2005 property sale. Amateur paleontologist Clayton Phipps discovered a 22-foot-long carnivorous theropod and a 28-foot-long plant-eating ceratopsian believed to have died 66 million years ago. Imprints of the dinosaurs’ skin were found in the sediment. When the Murrays went to sell the “dueling dinosaurs” for what they hoped would be at least $6 million, potential buyers wanted assurances they owned the fossils. The Murrays sought a court ruling. Both sides have seen rulings in their favor as the case has made its way through four courts since 2013.

Kanye shows at Innovator Awards

NEW YORK — A few fun facts about Kanye West: He’s running for president in 2024, he recited color psychology to wife Kim Kardashian West as she sat in a morning bath Thursday, and he was fired at 16 for shoplifting at the Gap where he worked. West, with Kim in tow, let loose with those pearls and more during a surprise 35-minute appearance before a crowd of about 500 at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival. Accompanied on stage by Steven Smith, lead designer of West’s shoe brand Yeezy, West dug into the nuts and bolts of the fashion industry. He said he plans to make his manufacturing entirely eco-friendly, moving it all to South and North America in the next two years, including at his 4,000-acre ranch in Cody, Wyoming. The rapper also joined his wife, Rihanna and other celebrities in calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to free death row inmate Rodney Reed, based on new evidence that includes the affidavit of a fellow inmate implicating another man. Reed is scheduled for execution Nov. 20 in the abduction, rape and strangling of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in 1996. When it comes to big ideas, West called Yeezy the “Apple of apparel,” and he revisited his call for African Americans to not flock to the Democratic Party as a voting bloc and to reject the notion that they’re an en masse consumer demographic.

Attackers showed warning signs

WASHINGTON — Most students who committed deadly school attacks over the past decade were badly bullied, had a history of disciplinary trouble and their behavior concerned others but was never reported, according to a U.S. Secret Service study released Thursday. In at least four cases, attackers wanted to emulate other school shootings, including those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The research was launched following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The study by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center is the most comprehensive review of school attacks since the Columbine shootings in 1999. The report looked in-depth at 41 school attacks from 2008 through 2017, and researchers had unprecedented access to a trove of sensitive data from law enforcement including police reports, investigative files and nonpublic records. The information gleaned through the research will help train school officials and law enforcement on how to better identify students who may be planning an attack and how to stop them before they strike. “These are not sudden, impulsive acts where a student suddenly gets disgruntled,” Lina Alathari, the center’s head, said in an Associated Press interview. “The majority of these incidents are preventable.”

3 of 9 slain Americans buried

LA MORA, Mexico — As Mexican soldiers stood guard, a mother and two sons were laid to rest in hand-hewn pine coffins in a single grave dug out of the rocky soil Thursday at the first funeral for the victims of a drug cartel ambush that left nine American women and children dead. Clad in shirt sleeves, suits or modest dresses, about 500 mourners embraced in grief under white tents erected in La Mora, a hamlet of about 300 people who consider themselves Mormon but are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some wept, and some sang hymns. Members of the extended community — many of whom, like the victims, are dual U.S-Mexican citizens — had built the coffins themselves and used shovels to dig the shared grave in La Mora’s small cemetery. Farmers and teenage boys carried the coffins. Mourners filed past to view the bodies and pay their final respects to Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2. They were laid to rest together, just as they died together Monday when attackers fired a hail of bullets at their SUV on a dirt road leading to another settlement, Colonia LeBaron. Six children and three women in all were killed in the attack on the convoy of three SUVs.

Lobsterman rescues deer

HARRINGTON, Maine — A Maine lobsterman hauled in an unusual catch 5 miles off the coast — a live deer. Ren Dorr says he was setting traps when he saw a young deer Monday morning. He says the deer had given up swimming and was being carried farther offshore. He and his crew hauled the 100-pound buck aboard. Having a wild animal in a confined space could be trouble. But Dorr told the Bangor Daily News that the deer was so tuckered out that he “laid right down like a dog.” He says it took a half-hour to return to Harrington, where the deer was set free.

Bloomberg opens door to 2020

WASHINGTON — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, warning that the current field of candidates is ill equipped to defeat President Donald Trump. Bloomberg, who initially ruled out a 2020 run, has not made a final decision on whether to jump into the race. If he were to launch a campaign, it could dramatically reshape the Democratic contest less than three months before primary voting begins. The 77-year-old has spent the past few weeks talking with prominent Democrats about the state of the 2020 field, expressing concerns about the steadiness of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign and the rise of liberal Sen. Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, according to people with knowledge of those discussions. In recent days, he took steps to keep his options open, including moving to get on the primary ballot in Alabama ahead of the state’s Friday filing deadline. In a statement on Thursday, Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said the former mayor believes Trump “represents an unprecedented threat to our nation” and must be defeated. “But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Wolfson said.

Jail time for slamming court door

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The slam of a courtroom door has led to time in the slammer for a Virginia woman. Sonnia Gaston went to a Virginia Beach courtroom on Wednesday to support her boyfriend in a probation violation case. When 20-year-old Tyrese Lavell McEachern was sentenced to 90 days in jail, the 18-year-old Gaston slammed one of the double wooden doors as she left the courtroom. Gaston returned to the courtroom to pick up a binder that had been left behind, and that’s when Circuit Judge Stephen Mahan called her to the defense table to explain her behavior. She responded that she was angry. For her outburst, Gaston was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Apologizes for Trump assignment

GALLITZIN, Pa. — School officials at Penn Cambria Middle School in Cambria County have apologized to parents after students received a homework assignment involving President Donald Trump. The assignment had asked students to pretend they were refugees “being forced” to leave their homes as Trump tried to “take control of the United States.” The students were tasked with having their parent time them for 10 minutes while they pack a bag under the guise that they will “never return” home. The objective was to present the items in the backpack and why they chose them. District Superintendent William Marshall says the teacher realized the “huge error” and has called each parent individually to apologize.

Critical of troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON — A senior American diplomat has written a highly critical assessment of the Trump administration’s abrupt withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria last month, a decision that paved the way for an attack on U.S.-allied forces in the area, officials said Thursday. In an internal memo, William Roebuck, the top American diplomat in northern Syria, takes the Trump administration to task for not doing more to prevent Turkey’s invasion or protect the Kurds, who fought alongside U.S. forces in the battle against the Islamic State group, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. One of the officials described the memo, which was obtained and first revealed by The New York Times, as “lengthy and harsh.” The officials were not authorized to discuss internal documents publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Roebuck’s memo highlights how Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops was deeply divisive, even within his own administration. The move was widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans as abandoning a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey invaded days after President Donald Trump ordered the small number of U.S. special forces in the area to leave.

Offered cash for endorsements

DES MOINES, Iowa — A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations. The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker who is serving as a top adviser on Steyer’s Iowa campaign, aren’t illegal — though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed. There’s no evidence that any Iowans accepted the offer or received contributions from Steyer’s campaign as compensation for their backing. But the proposals could revive criticism that the billionaire Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House. Several state lawmakers and political candidates said they were surprised Steyer’s campaign would think he could purchase their support. Tom Courtney, a former Democratic state senator from southeastern Iowa who’s running for reelection to his old seat, told The Associated Press that the financial offer “left a bad taste in my mouth.” Murphy said concerns about his outreach were the result of a “miscommunication.”

Judge fines Trump $2 million

NEW YORK — A judge Thursday ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests. New York state Judge Saliann Scarpulla imposed the penalty after the president admitted to a series of abuses outlined in a lawsuit brought against him last year by the New York attorney general’s office. Among other things, Trump acknowledged in a legal filing that he allowed his presidential campaign staff to coordinate with the Trump Foundation in holding a fundraiser for veterans during the run-up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses. The event was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” Scarpulla said. In a defiant statement issued Thursday evening, though, Trump suggested he was neither sorry nor in the wrong. “I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity (19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State,” he wrote.

Pointed gun at college students

SAN JACINTO, Calif. — A Navy veteran sought help from Veterans Affairs before he allegedly pointed a handgun, but did not fire it, at a cafeteria table full of students at a Southern California community college, his father said. Gregory Abejon, 26, was arrested at the airport Wednesday as he tried to flee the country after the incident at Mount San Jacinto College, a college southeast of Los Angeles where he had threatened to shoot fellow students. His father, also named Gregory Abejon, said he is “devastated right now” and declined to comment further. His son was discharged last November after a tour in Guantanamo Bay as a surgical technician. He said his son went to the on-campus VA assistance center Wednesday morning but was referred to an off-campus site. The father said he doesn’t know what happened between when his son went to the VA and when he entered the cafeteria. He also said while nothing excused his son’s alleged actions, it wasn’t in his character to hurt people and the incident may have been a cry for help.

Fell into tube formed by lava

HILO, Hawaii — A 71-year-old man who had been missing for several days was found dead in an underground tube formed by lava. Police say it appears Robert Hisashi Nishimoto accidentally fell into the tube through a soft area on his property in Hilo on the Big Island. Lava tubes are formed where lava once flowed and then hardened. Firefighters rappelled into the lava tube and found his body about 22 feet down.

Sweet tea came with weed inside

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — A man who went to McDonald’s for a sweet tea says he received a little extra herbal substance on the side. Parrish Brown went to a McDonald’s on Hilton Head Island and asked for a sweet tea with light ice and extra lemon. Brown now believes “extra lemon” was code for marijuana, since he found three bags of weed in his cup. He says he only realized it once he was “high as a kite.” Brown says he’d never had marijuana, so he didn’t recognize the taste. He says he paid regular price for the items.

The words Trump had to hear

WASHINGTON — There were three words President Donald Trump wanted to hear from the Ukraine president: Investigations, Biden, Clinton. That’s according to the transcript, released Thursday, of an impeachment inquiry interview with career State Department official George Kent. “Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelenskiy to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent testified. “Basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand.” Kent told investigators that that was his understanding of what Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to say in order to unlock U.S. military aid, as relayed to the official by others, including those in direct contact with the president. Numerous current and former Trump officials have testified that the president was conditioning U.S. aid on Ukraine publicly investigating Democrats including his potential 2020 political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son.

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