Fox News 2024-02-21 04:33:31


Parents warn nation after child removed from home for improper pronoun usage

A Catholic couple in Indiana is asking the Supreme Court to hold the state accountable for keeping their child out of their home after they declined to use his chosen name and pronouns. 

In M.C. and J.C. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, Mary and Jeremy Cox are appealing to the Supreme Court after they were investigated by Indiana officials for refusing to refer to their son using pronouns and a name inconsistent with his biological sex. 

Becket is pursuing the case on behalf of the Coxes, arguing state courts allowed Indiana to keep the child from living in his parents’ home due to their disagreement with the child’s gender identity because of their religious beliefs. Notably, upon completing the investigation, the state determined the allegations of abuse against Mary and Jeremy were unsubstantiated, but still argued that the disagreement over gender identity was distressing to their child. 

Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, told Fox News Digital that no parent should ever have to endure what Mary and Jeremy have been forced to go through. 

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“Keeping a child away from loving parents because of their religious beliefs—even when the state admits there was no abuse or neglect—is wrong and it’s against the law,” she said. “The Court should take this case and make clear that other states can’t take children away because of ideological disagreements.”

In 2019, Mary and Jeremy’s son told them that he identified as a girl, but in line with their Catholic religious beliefs that God created human beings with an immutable sex, male or female, they did not believe in referring to him using pronouns and a name inconsistent with his biology. 

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In addition, the Coxes believed their son was struggling with underlying mental health conditions, including an eating disorder, so they sought therapeutic care for both.

But, in 2021, Indiana officials began investigating the Coxes after a report found they were not referring to their child by his preferred gender identity, removing the teen from their custody and placing him in a “gender-affirming” home. Despite the unsubstantiated claims of abuse, they claimed the Coxes made the child’s eating disorder worse even though it worsened after he was removed and placed in a transition-affirming home.

The Indiana Department of Child Services declined a Fox News Digital request for comment, saying, “DCS does not comment on ongoing litigation.” 

“This is what every parent is afraid of,” Mary and Jeremy Cox said in a press release. “We love our son and wanted to care for him, but the state of Indiana robbed us of that opportunity by taking him from our home and banning us from speaking to him about gender.”

“We are hopeful that the Justices will take our case and protect other parents from having to endure the nightmare we did,” they added. 

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When the case was first heard in trial court, Indiana officials argued the child “should be in a home where she is [ac]cepted for who she is” and restricted the Coxes’ visitation time to a few hours once a week, which barred them from speaking to him about their religious views on human sexuality and gender identity. Even though the court determined the Coxes were fit parents, it upheld the removal of their child which was later upheld by the appeals court. 

“If this can happen in Indiana, it can happen anywhere,” Windhamn said. “Tearing a child away from loving parents because of their religious beliefs, which are shared by millions of Americans, is an outrage to the law, parental rights, and basic human decency. If the Supreme Court doesn’t take this case, how many times will this happen to other families?” 

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New wrinkle in case of FBI informant accused of lying about the Bidens

A former FBI informant charged with lying about a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme between a Ukrainian energy company and the Bidens had contacts with Russian intelligence officials, prosecutors said Tuesday. 

In court filings, prosecutors said Alexander Smirnov admitted during an interview before his arrest last week that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about the president’s son, Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov’s contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive, and said Smirnov had planned to meet with one official during an upcoming overseas trip.

They said Smirnov has had numerous contacts with a person he described as the “son of a former high-ranking government official” and “someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service.” They said there is a serious risk that Smirnov could flee overseas to avoid facing trial.

Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge to keep Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. 

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Smirnov, who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, is charged with falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016. 

Smirnov had only routine business dealings with the company starting in 2017 and made the bribery allegations after he “expressed bias” against Joe Biden while he was a presidential candidate, prosecutors said. Special Counsel David Weiss said Smirnov’s lies were aimed at affecting the 2024 presidential election. 

Smirnov is charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where he lived for 16 years before relocating to Las Vegas two years ago.

Smirnov was due in court later Tuesday in Las Vegas. He has been in custody at a facility in rural Pahrump, about an hour drive west of Las Vegas, since his arrest last week at the airport while returning from overseas.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts allowed Smirnov to be released from custody on electronic GPS monitoring while he awaits trial. He must stay in Clark County, Nevada, and is prohibited from applying for a new passport.

Before his arrest, Smirnov had been scheduled to leave the U.S. for a months-long, multi-country trip that – by his own admission – involved meetings with officials of foreign intelligence agencies and governments, prosecutors said. 

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld had argued for Smirnov’s release while he awaits trial “so he can effectively fight the power of the government.”

Smirnov’s claims have been central to the Republican effort in Congress to investigate the president and his family, and helped spark what is now a House impeachment inquiry into Biden. Democrats called for an end to the probe after the indictment came down last week, while Republicans distanced the inquiry from Smirnov’s claims and said they would continue to “follow the facts.”

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Hunter Biden is expected to give a deposition next week.

The Burisma allegations became a flashpoint in Congress as Republicans pursuing investigations of President Biden and his family demanded the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the allegations. They acknowledged they couldn’t confirm if the allegations were true.

Fox News’ David Spunt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

California’s budget deficit is much worse than Newsom projected

California’s budget crisis is projected to expand more than previously thought and could hit a record deficit of $73 billion, according to a new report from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

The LAO laid out the grim forecast in a Tuesday report that cautions that a $24 billion “erosion in revenues” corresponds to a $15 billion increase in the state’s budget problem. Due to this, the budget deficit, which last month was estimated to hit $58 billion, could now go as high as $73 billion.

“The actual increase in the state’s budget problem will depend on a number of factors, including formula-driven spending changes, most notably Proposition 98 spending requirements for schools and community colleges,” the report said.

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H.D. Palmer, the deputy director of the California Department of Finance and Newom’s spokesperson on budget matters, responded to the new LAO report by telling Fox News Digital that their budget shortfall differs from the $38 million they estimate.

“From now through April, more than $51 billion in income and corporate tax receipts are forecast to come in,” Palmer said. “No one can say today with certainty how those numbers may change the budget estimate of a $38 billion shortfall.”

“A responsible step would be for the Legislature to act now on the early action budget measures needed for $8 billion in solutions to help close this gap,” he added.

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The projected bad news comes as Newsom has worked to increase his profile nationwide. It also occurred as California experienced a mass exodus.

California saw its first-ever population decline in 2020 when the state imposed rigid lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. From January 2020 to July 2022, the state lost well over half a million people, with the number of residents leaving surpassing those moving in by almost 700,000.

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Census data has shown that Texas is the most popular destination for residents fleeing the state, followed by Arizona, Florida, and Washington. 

Fox News Digital’s Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.

Columnist scammed out of $50K mocked by critics: Think ‘we are all as dumb as they are’

The now viral story of a financial advice columnist falling for a $50,000 Amazon scam has garnered bewilderment and ridicule from social media users over the last week; especially as other outlets came to her defense

Charlotte Cowles, a financial columnist for New York Magazine’s The Cut, shared her horror story of being conned out of $50,000 in an elaborate Amazon scheme last week.

“When I’ve told people this story, most of them say the same thing: You don’t seem like the type of person this would happen to. What they mean is that I’m not senile, or hysterical, or a rube. But these stereotypes are actually false,” she wrote.

Notable details of the story included speaking to a man she believed to be a CIA agent who convinced her to withdraw as much cash as she could and give it to an undercover agent the following day.

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While stories of financial fraud are common, people had a hard time being sympathetic to Cowles’ story, particularly when her story was titled, “The Day I Put $50,000 in a Shoebox and Handed It to a Stranger.” 

Tech and culture reporter for NBC News, Kat Tenbarge, defended Cowles, saying everyone is capable of falling for a similar scam: “Everyone who reads this thinks they would never fall for a scam like this, but the truth is you would. You just have no idea how you will react when your emotions are toyed with to this level. Everyone is capable of being abused, manipulated, and scammed.”

Washington Free Beacon reporter Joe Gabriel Simonson responded to Tenbarge’s post, “Under this logic there are conceivably thousands of people handing over their savings every day. Why am i even bothering with these people.”

“I have to be honest I don’t think I would take $50,000 out of the bank, put it in a shoebox, and hand it through the window of a car to an ‘undercover CIA agent’ I’d never met,” Bloom Institute of Technology CEO Austen Allred wrote.

The Washington Post shared an article about Cowles’ story on X, warning followers about making fun of the financial columnist when their loved ones could fall for a “less dramatic scam.” “Today, you might be making fun of the financial-advice writer who went viral for putting $50,000 in cash in a box and handing it to a stranger. Tomorrow, you or someone you love could be falling for a less dramatic scam,” The Post tweeted.

“This was on Saturday. Let me check…Nope! Still haven’t put all my money in a shoebox and tossed it into a waiting car because the CIA told me to,” Substack writer Jim Treacher responded. 

“Less dramatic scams are exponentially easier to fall for,” conservative commentator Noam Blum said.

The Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller joked, “Well no. I will simply tell them not to answer phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize.”

“Journalists really seem to believe that everyone in the world has the same bizarre blind spots as they do, maybe more than any profession,” Washington Free Beacon reporter Drew Holden wrote.

Conservative radio host Erick Erickson summarized, “The media elite are pretty insistent that we are all as dumb as they are. Really, the last eight years have been absolutely discrediting for the media and intellectual elite and its no wonder people now believe a lot of stupid stuff.”

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On Monday, Cowles went on CNN to defend her story despite admitting that her radar “went off” throughout the scam.

“It is deeply embarrassing,” Cowles told CNN. “I wanted to tell this story because there really is no stereotypical scam victim. And I know this from my own personal experience, obviously, but also the hundreds of emails that I’ve received from other people since the story came out. Other financial professionals, they’re doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re government employees, there are people of all walks of life who this happens to and this is also backed up by data and research that’s done on scam victims. There really is no one type of person who’s vulnerable.” 

“The Five” hosts also weighed in on the story Monday by criticizing the columnist. 

Co-host Dana Perrino said Cowles “has no street smarts” despite her experience as a financial columnist. Greg Gutfeld joked that her story had “more red flags here than a Chinese parade.

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Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Unruly passenger restrained after attempting to open emergency door during flight

An American Airlines flight was forced to return to New Mexico after a passenger attempted to open the emergency door mid-flight on Tuesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and American Airlines confirmed with Fox News Digital, that AA flight 1219, which was headed to Chicago International Airport, was forced to return to Albuquerque International Sunport.

A passenger on the plane, Don, who is the globetrotting host of Barstool Sports’ “Donnie Does,” said that the in-flight disturbance happened approximately 30 minutes after the Boeing 737’s departure.

“At the moment there was just too much going on to be panicking, but it was very scary,” Don told Fox News Digital.

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The media personality said that he was drifting off to sleep when he was suddenly awakened by an out-of-control passenger.

Don said that he “jumped out of his seat” and joined the other four passengers who were working to subdue the passenger who was attempting to open the emergency door.

“So I jumped out of my seat, ran over, and we probably had about like four or five guys who were trying to rip off this guy who was clinging to and pulling at the [emergency door] handle,” he said.

Don said that he felt “pretty sluggish” because during his layover he had Chinese food with a tequila soda.

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“Tequila sodas don’t pair well with Panda Express,” he said. “So I was pretty sluggish. I thought I was feeling pretty sluggish at the time, but once I saw what was going on, that got me right up.”

The four or five passengers and Don worked to subdue the man, who was clinging to the emergency door.

“Once we got him off of the door, we moved him to the aisle, and we all held down his legs and arms,” Don said.

Eventually, an American Airlines flight attendant came over and duct taped his legs and used flex cuffs to restrain him.

Video from Don showed the group of men restraining the passenger as the flight attendant duct taped his legs together.

They placed him at the back of the plane, where there was an empty row, Don said.

Don told Fox News Digital that before the unruly passenger attempted to open up the emergency door, other passengers heard him say that he “had to get off this plane.”

“Once we got him off the door, he was not fighting back too aggressively. And then we took the plane back to Albuquerque.”

Following the incident, the plane diverted back to Albuquerque International Sunport, where the unruly passenger was immediately arrested by local law enforcement.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the Albuquerque Division of the FBI said that they are investigating the incident.

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“The Albuquerque Division of the FBI is aware of the incident, and we are currently investigating.”

The Albuquerque Police Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

America ballerina arrested in Russia, faces life in prison for donating $51 to Ukraine

A 33-year-old amateur ballerina with dual U.S.-Russian citizenship has been detained in Russia and is facing life in prison for allegedly donating $51 to Ukraine’s war effort

Russia’s main domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, reported the woman’s arrest on charges of treason. The FSB said the woman is a resident of Los Angeles, California and accused her of collecting money for the Ukrainian military. 

“Since February 2022, she has proactively collected funds in the interests of one of the Ukrainian organizations, which were subsequently used to purchase tactical medicine, equipment, weapons and ammunition by the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” the FSB said. “In addition, in the United States, this citizen repeatedly took part in public actions in support of the Kyiv regime.” 

The independent news outlet Mediazona identified the woman as Ksenia Karelina and said that she had received U.S. citizenship after marrying an American. The outlet reported that Karelina allegedly transferred around $51 to “Razom for Ukraine,” a nonprofit Ukrainian group. 

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White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the White House and the State Department were aware of reports of the arrest  and added that “we are trying to get more information and to secure some consular access to that individual.”

Kirby refrained from further comment due to respect for privacy, but reiterated “our very strong warnings about the danger posed to U.S. citizens inside Russia.” 

“If you’re a U.S. citizen, including a dual national residing in or traveling in Russia, you ought to leave right now,” he said. 

U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller noted that when it comes to dual citizens of the United States and Russia, Moscow “does not recognize dual citizenship, it considers them to be Russian citizens first and foremost,” giving U.S. diplomats a difficult time getting consular assistance.

“What happened to Ksenia Karelina is very sad. It really hits home for me as someone who fled Soviet Russia more than 30 years ago and whose daughter is a ballerina,” said former DIA intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler. 

“But it’s hardly surprising. Putin’s regime has always used hostage diplomacy as a form of statecraft and now that the confrontation between Moscow and Washington is at its highest ever, the Kremlin is ratcheting up this tactic to the maximum. No American, especially of Russian or Slavic descent, should go to Russia,” Koffler said. 

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She added: “Moreover, no one should be holding dual US-Russian citizenship or both passports. For the Russian state — if you are born in Russia, you are always Russian, not American, by law. Similarly, when you are born in the U.S., you are automatically a U.S. citizen, with minor exceptions, unless you renounce your citizenship. Having dual US-Russian citizenship is asking for it, asking for trouble, nowadays.” 

Razom for Ukraine’s CEO Dora Chomiak said the organization was “appalled by the reports of Karelina’s arrest. 

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly shown that he holds no sovereign border, foreign nationality, or international treaty above his own narrow interest. His regime attacks civil society activists who stand up for freedom and democracy, Chomiak said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Razom calls on the U.S. government to continue to do everything in its power to demand that President Putin release all those unjustly detained by Russia and to hold Russia’s political and military leadership accountable for their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

The news of Karelina’s arrest comes as a Russian court ruled to keep Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in custody pending his trial on espionage charges that he denies.

The Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against Gershkovich’s detention filed by his lawyers, upholding an earlier ruling to keep him behind bars until the end of March.

That means Gershkovich, 32, will spend at least a year behind bars in Russia after his arrest in March 2023 while on a reporting trip to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.

Gershkovich and the Journal have denied the espionage allegations, and the U.S. government has declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities haven’t detailed any evidence to support the charges.

In December, the U.S. State Department said that Russia had rejected several proposals for freeing Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan who has been jailed in Russia since his December 2018 arrest on espionage-related charges that both he and the U.S. government dispute. Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

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Some analysts have noted that Moscow may be using jailed Americans as bargaining chips after U.S.-Russian tensions soared when Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At least two U.S. citizens arrested in Russia in recent years, including WNBA star Brittney Griner, have been exchanged for Russians jailed in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New study finds COVID vaccines linked to increases in heart, brain, blood disorders

The largest COVID vaccine study to date has identified some risks associated with the shot.

Researchers from the Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) in New Zealand analyzed 99 million people who received COVID vaccinations across eight countries.

They monitored for increases in 13 different medical conditions in the period after people received a COVID vaccine.

The study, which was published in the journal Vaccine last week, found that the vaccine was linked to a slight increase in neurological, blood and heart-related medical conditions, according to a press release from GVDN.

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People who received certain types of mRNA vaccines were found to have a higher risk of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle.

Some viral-vector vaccines were linked to a higher risk of blood clots in the brain, as well as an increased likelihood of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

Other potential risks included inflammation of part of the spinal cord after viral vector vaccines, and inflammation and swelling in the brain and spinal cord after viral vector and mRNA vaccines, the press release stated.

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“The size of the population in this study increased the possibility of identifying rare potential vaccine safety signals,” lead author Kristýna Faksová of the Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark, said in the release.

“Single sites or regions are unlikely to have a large enough population to detect very rare signals.”

Doctors react to the findings

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was not involved in the research but commented on the findings.

“The massive study and review of the data reveals some rare association of the MRNA vaccines and myocarditis, especially after the second shot, as well as an association between the Oxford Astra Zeneca adenovirus vector vaccines and Guillain Barre syndrome,” he told Fox News Digital.

“But these risks are rare,” he added, “and other studies show that the vaccine decreases the risk of myocarditis from COVID itself dramatically.”

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Siegel noted that all vaccines have side effects.

“It always comes down to a risk/benefit analysis of what you are more afraid of — the vaccine’s side effects or the virus itself, which can have long-term side effects in terms of brain fog, fatigue, cough and also heart issues,” he said.

“Denying or exaggerating a vaccine’s side effects is not good science — nor is underestimating the risks of the virus, especially in high-risk groups,” Siegel added.

“It comes down to a risk/benefit analysis of what you are more afraid of — the vaccine’s side effects or the virus itself.”

The key is for doctors and their patients to carefully weigh the risks and benefits, the doctor emphasized.

“This study does not really change anything; it just provides much further evidence of what we already know,” he said.

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Dr. Jacob Glanville, CEO of Centivax, a San Francisco biotechnology company, also reacted to the study’s findings. 

“This study is confirming in a much larger cohort what has been previously identified in the original studies during the pandemic — myocarditis and pericarditis as a rare side effect of mRNA vaccines and clots as a rare side effect of the viral vectored vaccines,” he told Fox News Digital.

“The odds of all of these adverse events are still much, much higher when infected with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), so getting vaccinated is still by far the safer choice.”

This study was part of a more widespread research initiative, the Global COVID Vaccine Safety (GCoVS) Project.

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The project is supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More than 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, per the CDC.

Fox News Digital reached out to Pfizer and Moderna, makers of mRNA COVID vaccines, for comment.

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SEE IT: Illegal immigrant leads police on high-speed chase in stolen DOT tow truck

A man accused of stealing a Maryland State Highway Administration tow truck and leading police on a wild, high-speed chase on Friday was in the United States illegally.

Cesar Flavio Lanuza, a Nicaraguan citizen, led authorities on a wild chase in which he allegedly hit other cars and police cruisers before stopping in Silver Spring, Fox DC reported. 

He was arrested and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged a detainer request on him with the Montgomery County detention center. 

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“Cesar Flavio Lanuza is an unlawfully present citizen and national of Nicaragua,” James Convington, spokesperson for ICE’S Enforcement Removal Operations in Baltimore, told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

Covington said Lanuza will be transferred to the detention center once he’s released from the hospital. 

Darius Reeves, the Baltimore field office director for the immigration agency, told Fox DC that Lanuza is “of interest to ICE.”

“Once the state is done with their business with him, we would love for him to be brought into our custody,” he told the news outlet. 

The detainer filed on Lanuza is part of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, which aims to arrest and remove individuals who ICE says undermine public safety and have broken federal immigration laws. ICE has criticized Montgomery County for refusing to honor immigration detainer requests in the past. 

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“They shouldn’t be in the country simply because they’re violating our immigration laws,” Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the news outlet. “But clearly, once someone has taken that additional step and poses a danger to society at large, then the local jurisdictions, in the interest of protecting the people in their own communities, should be more than willing to cooperate.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to the detention center. 

Cincinnati Reds’ star Elly De La Cruz breaks Hunter Greene’s car window with foul ball

Parking within striking distance of a baseball facility generally comes with the assumed risk that your property could suffer damage from a hard-hit ball. But, the odds were not in Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene’s favor on Tuesday when a foul ball landed on the window of his luxury car.

Greene’s Maybach was in the parking lot of the Reds spring training grounds as he threw pitches to young star player Elly De La Cruz during a live batting practice session. 

The switch hitting De La Cruz was hitting from the left side of the plate when he hit a foul ball into the parking lot. The ball landed on the rear driver’s side of Green’s high-priced SUV, leaving the window shattered.

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A Mercedes-Maybach GLS SUV usually comes with a starting price tage around $200,000. The price can increase based on the trim and options.

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Although it remains unclear who will ultimately pay for the window repair, Greene does have a considerably higher salary than De La Cruz. The 24-year-old pitcher is in the midst of a six-year, $53 million contract with the Reds. De La Cruz, meanwhile, earned an estimated $720,000 during his rookie campaign.

If De La Cruz is able to build on his impressive first season, he will likely land a lucrative long-term deal in the near future.

Greene appeared to take the unfortunate series of events in stride, as he posed for a picture with De La Cruz by the damaged vehicle.

De La Cruz appeared in 98 games in his rookie season and finished the year with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.

De La Cruz produced several highlight reel worthy moments last year as he helped breathe new life into the Reds. The top baseball prospect burst onto the scene in June and managed to exceed expectations.

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During his first series at the major league level, he crushed a 92 mph fastball from pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The baseball landed more than 450 feet away from home plate. During a July 2023 game against the San Francisco Giants, De Le Cruz launched a 99.8 mph throw to home plate as a base runner tried to score a run.

“I knew on that throw I was going to be able to throw it as quickly as possible,” De La Cruz said via a translator after the game. “I’m just ready every time to throw whatever is needed.”

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