Fox News 2024-04-13 16:03:59


Alarming rise in migrant boat landings brings ‘chaos’ to seaside communities

Conditions at Marine Street Beach were as beautiful as they get — crystal clear water, sunny blue skies. Perfect, except for the motorboat speeding toward Jack Enright.

Enright, a San Diego native and videographer who was out that morning taking pictures of the waves, swam out of the way and started recording as the small white boat carrying around eight people “flew up” onto the shore. Enright said he couldn’t remember if the driver even killed the engine.

“It was just chaos, honestly,” he told Fox News. “And everyone just jumped and started running.”

The group sprinted up a staircase to the street and disappeared into La Jolla. Enright had never seen it firsthand before, but knew he’d just witnessed a human smuggling operation, a near daily occurrence in the waters off California.

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People have long sneaked into the U.S. by way of the Pacific Ocean, but over the last three years, California has seen an “exponential increase in maritime smuggling,” according to Brandon Tucker, director of Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations in San Diego.

In fiscal year 2020, federal, state and local law enforcement recorded 308 maritime smuggling events in the California area of responsibility, according to CBP. Last fiscal year, they recorded 736, a nearly 140% increase.

Air and Marine Operations uses planes equipped with radar and cameras to patrol above, looking for smugglers. Airborne agents are usually the first to find pangas, small fishing boats frequently used to smuggle migrants or drugs to the U.S., Tucker said. Then his team, as well as their Border Patrol and Coast Guard partners, can coordinate intercepting the boat at sea or on land.

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Tucker doesn’t fly as often as he used to, now that he’s director. But his team needed a pilot on March 27 and, within minutes of taking to the sky, radar detected a suspicious vessel. It was a panga, with what looked like more than a dozen migrants on board. 

Border Patrol agents reached the beach just before the boat did. They apprehended at least 10 migrants, plus the driver of a suspected getaway car, Tucker said.

“Normally, that gets us some pretty good intel on the smuggling organization,” he said, adding that the drivers — often U.S. citizens — frequently take migrants to stash houses before they move into the nation’s interior.

Sometimes, CBP or the Coast Guard are able to stop them. Nearly 8,000 people have been apprehended while trying to enter the U.S. illegally through the Pacific Ocean, its coastlines or its inlets since 2020, data provided by CBP show.

Other times, they find empty boats on the shore. The migrant group on March 27 came ashore in Del Mar, at the exact same beach where, just one month before, Tucker had stumbled upon an abandoned panga while walking his puppy on his morning off.

“The safety aspects of maritime smuggling … keeps me up at night,” he said, thinking of the open-hulled pangas floating 15-20 miles off the coast in six-foot seas. “One wave over the bow and that vessel could go down.”

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“It can turn almost immediately from an interdiction into a search and rescue. So our guys have to be ready for anything,” he added.

Migrant drowning deaths off the coast of San Diego County spiked from 2020 through 2023, according to a University of California, San Diego study. There were 33 migrant drowning deaths reported in the four-year period, compared to just one in the previous four years. Researchers hypothesized the rise could be linked to the increase in border fence height from 17 feet to 30 feet, prompting more people to try to cross via water.

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“Smugglers have convinced migrants that the maritime environment is an easier route. It’s more of a sure thing,” Tucker said, adding that people with knee, hip or other mobility issues might prefer a boat. “And in fact, it’s not. … Ocean smuggling is so dangerous.”

Dangerous for migrants, and for air and maritime agents, he said. Because while the planes’ infrared cameras are strong, they can only show people sitting in the open. They can’t give agents any idea what’s inside a more enclosed boat, like a cuddy cabin or sport fishing boat, Tucker said.

When agents pull up next to the vessel, they could be helping a hypothermia patient or they could “be pulling guns on a drug smuggler,” he said. “When you’re in close quarters like that, it can be very dynamic and very dangerous.”

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“The real enemy for me is that smuggler,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t matter to them if it’s a pound of cocaine, a pound of meth or a human — it’s just a commodity to them. It’s just money to them. And the callous nature of their operations put migrants’ lives at risk and put my agents’ lives at risk.”

Many landings happen on popular beaches near homes, so Tucker asked people to call police if they see a panga come ashore.

“Allow us to get out there and try to apprehend these people entering illegally,” he said. “But also start the cleanup effort for the panga and potential hazardous materials on board.”

Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.

Biden won’t withdraw judicial nominee despite GOP warnings and waning Dem support

The White House is not taking any cues from Republicans who have advised President Biden to withdraw a controversial judicial nomination.

Instead, it’s digging in its heels to lobby Democratic senators to support Adeel Mangi for the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. 

A White House official updated Fox News Digital on the status of Mangi’s nomination, which has been scrutinized over his ties to two groups, one accused of antisemitism and another that has supported “cop killers,” as Republican critics have alleged. 

Biden is not considering withdrawing the judicial nomination despite a call from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. 

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Mangi served on the board of advisers for the Rutgers University Center for Security, Race and Rights (CSRR) from 2019 to 2023. The center has been accused by Republicans of antisemitism due to its sponsored events and speakers. One such event was held on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and featured controversial speakers like Hatem Bazian, who in 2004 called for an “intifada,” according to video from an anti-war protest in San Francisco, and Sami Al-Arian.

In 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to “conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” according to the Justice Department

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Noura Erakat, who had previously been advertised as a panelist for a separate event alongside Hamas commander Ghazi Hamad, was also hosted at a CSRR event. 

The Alliance of Families for Justice (AFJ), whose founding board member, Kathy Boudin, pleaded guilty to the felony murder of two police officers in 1981 after they died following an armored truck robbery, features Mangi as a current advisory board member. The robbery was carried out by Boudin’s group, the Weather Underground Organization, which was recognized as a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI

Neither the CSRR nor AFJ provided comments to Fox News Digital. 

As pressure has been applied by Republican lawmakers and an ad campaign from Judicial Crisis Network targets vulnerable Senate Democrats, Biden’s nominee has begun to lose support from his party. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., have come out publicly against Mangi, citing his AFJ affiliation. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has also complicated the nomination by claiming he won’t support anyone who can’t garner at least one Republican supporter. 

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“The opposition to Adeel Mangi — in and outside the Senate — is growing by the day,” a spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Republicans told Fox News Digital in a statement. 

“It’s clear the math is not there for the White House,” the statement added, calling Biden’s decision not to withdraw Mangi’s nomination “puzzling indeed.”

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates pushed back in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“President Biden is proud to have chosen Adeel Mangi,” he said, calling Mangi “an extraordinarily qualified nominee” and noting he “would make history on the bench” as the first Muslim in such a position.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved Mr. Mangi’s nomination, and the rest of the Senate should side with what makes America the greatest nation on Earth and support him, not cave to vicious, undignified attempts to drag America into the past,” Bates added. 

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Shuwanza Goff, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Ali Nouri, White House Counsel Ed Siskel and White House senior counsel in charge of nominations Phil Brest, continue to press senators to support Mangi, who would be the first Muslim federal appellate court judge, a White House official revealed. 

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Through these officials, the White House is persisting and pushing back on the concerns over Mangi’s two group affiliations in question, telling senators they are false and a smear campaign. They are also reiterating to lawmakers that the nominee is qualified for the role. 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., will also keep up pressure on his colleagues to support Mangi and dismiss what he considers to be a smear campaign. 

“The treatment of this nominee before the Senate Judiciary Committee has reached a new low in many ways,” he said in a recent speech on the chamber floor, insinuating Mangi’s status as a Muslim is the reason for opposition to his confirmation.

If Biden does not withdraw Mangi’s nomination and it is not scheduled for a confirmation vote in 2024, the nomination will expire on its own. In this case, he would need to be nominated again in the next Congress. 

The nomination has not yet been scheduled for a vote by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has noted his own support for Mangi but hasn’t given any indication whether he plans to schedule a vote. 

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean, a former spokesman to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former chief of staff of the Senate Republican Conference, said it was “unlikely” Mangi’s nomination survives a Senate confirmation. 

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“The White House has not put up an aggressive defense of Mangi, which is really sending my message that he should withdraw [on] his own,” said Bonjean, who also ran communications for the Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. “Unless the Biden administration changes its strategy, the Mangi nomination is dead in the water.”

Mangi did not provide comment to Fox News Digital.

Girl snags multiple state and world records with massive catches: ‘We were on a roll’

An adventure-loving tween from Miami landed two state records and three world records (with one pending) while fishing off the Florida Keys earlier this year — reeling in sizable cobia, a snapper and a grouper that any fisherman would be proud to catch. 

This weekend, Julia Bernstein, age 12, will accept the Fleming Species Award, the highest junior honor, from the International Women’s Fishing Association for catching and releasing 37 different species of fish in 2023.   

“Once she is hooked up to a fish, she is very determined and has incredible willpower,” Dale Bittner, fishing guide and boat captain of the 27-foot conch boat, “Bait Stealer,” told Fox News Digital. 

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“She is very coachable and doesn’t show a lot of emotion high or low. Julia is very quiet and respectful,” Bittner said.

That’s just how the tween snagged the Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) state records for cobia and mangrove snapper as well as the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) junior length records for red grouper, red snapper and cobia on Jan. 5. 

The cobia is still pending certification, but is expected to be approved.

“We went out with a plan,” the young woman told Fox News Digital.

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“When fishing for records, it’s important to have a strategy for the day. We were lucky we were able to get the red snapper on the first drop.” 

It was a sunny day with light winds, said Bittner, who has been fishing with the girl and her family since she was just 10. She targeted the red snapper in 240 feet of water. 

“We were on a roll,” young Julia Bernstein said. 

After photographing and measuring it, she released the snapper and moved onto her next conquest: cobia. 

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“We arrived at a perfect time as they were on the surface and visible above a shipwreck,” she said. 

“The action was fast, and between the barracudas and cobia, we hooked and released several fish before she landed the qualifying record for IGFA junior release,” said Bittner.

The young angler said she was not in a rush — and on a mission.

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“We stayed longer with the cobia because we knew we could catch both a world record and a state record, and they are one of my favorite species to catch,” young Bernstein said. 

By the end of the day, she nabbed her share of record-setting fish — and was appreciative of doing so.

“It’s an incredible sport. You can do it all over the world, and it’s something I can have fun with my whole life.”

— Julia Bernstein

“I would have called it a great day if we had caught even one or two records,” she said, “but to pick up four in one day was a very special experience.”

Catching a record fish, Julia Bernstein said, takes a lot of determination and the ability to power through obstacles. 

“We try to take advantage of every opportunity we have, but sometimes a shark will eat a fish that you are fighting or it will break off in a wreck,” she said. 

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“Things don’t always go to plan with fishing — lines break, fish don’t cooperate, weather plays a part from the first drop. But we never give up.” 

She comes by that attitude naturally — as her mom, Dr. Heidi Mason, is a lifelong fisherwoman and has four IGFA records herself.

“It was something that I loved and treasured as a kid and found it very formative,” Mason, a Miami-based physician, told Fox News Digital. 

“It was a lot of fun as a young lady going out and beating the boys. I had a blast with it.”

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Mason said she’s enjoyed watching her daughter learn and grow out on the water.

“She is very focused and very determined,” Mason said. 

“She’s very teachable. When she sets her mind to something, she says, ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ Maybe the first time she hooks up with a fish, it might not necessarily be the biggest, or she might make a mistake and lose it,” Mason said. 

“But she will take feedback and [say], ‘OK, this is what I need to do differently.’ She’ll keep working at it.”

Character-building opportunities through fishing, Mason said, are plentiful. 

“With fishing, we honestly don’t get all that many days to go out,” Mason said. 

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“When we do, the days are our 12-hour days. We’re out on the water, and it’s very physically demanding,” she added. 

“She [her daughter] has to work hard and fight for it the entire time. She’s not whining or complaining. She’s always putting in her full effort.”

With all the work, there’s still time to take in nature’s beauty.

“There are the most magical, incredible sights to be seen,” Mason said. 

“These magical moments where you stop and look at the amazing, beautiful world and the ocean around you — it really makes you appreciate everything that we have,” she said. She also said she hopes people “realize the importance of conservation.” 

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All of Julia Bernstein’s world-record catches have been released, per IGFA rules.

“It’s amazing to catch and release a fish and watch it swim away, knowing it’s going to keep growing, and hopefully someone else will get to have the same fun I had when I caught it.”

— Julia Bernstein

“It’s teaching the kids, from a very young age, the importance of this amazing resource,” Mason said. “We have these incredible sites and animals, but we have to take care of them.” 

Julia Bernstein is on board with the conservation concept.

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“It’s amazing to catch and release a fish and watch it swim away, knowing it’s going to keep growing,” she said, adding that she hopes “someone else will get to have the same fun I had when I caught it.”

A straight-A student, Bernstein is also an accomplished sailor. 

Recently, she was chosen to be on the U.S. team for a regatta in the Netherlands. 

Team USA won the regatta last week, and Bernstein was fifth in her fleet.  

The girl and her mom said they hope their fish stories inspire other girls and women to try the sport.

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“I would love for more girls and women to be out there doing it,” Mason said. 

“It’s amazing to catch and release a fish and watch it swim away, knowing it’s going to keep growing.”

— Julia Bernstein

“It’s an amazing family activity. Some people think of fishing as a solitary sport, where you sit at the end of the dock. But if you’re doing it at this level, it’s very much a team sport.”

Fishing also levels the playing field, young Bernstein said.

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“I think it’s cool that boys and girls compete against one another for junior records,” she said. 

“A lot of times it comes down to finesse and strategy, particularly if you fish with lighter line. It’s not just brute strength, so it’s something that we can compete in as equals.”

Bernstein said that whether she’s fishing offshore out of Key West, in the Everglades or in the Florida flats, she’s in it for the long haul.

“It’s an incredible sport,” she said. 

“You can do it all over the world, and it’s something I can have fun with my whole life.”

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

Bill Maher warns liberals about being the ideological ‘gas pedal’ in politics

“Real Time” host Bill Maher closed his show Friday night by declaring Canada a “cautionary tale” for the US, warning the left that pushing “woke” policies could help elect former President Trump. At one point, Maher warned liberals, “They say in politics, liberals are the gas pedal and conservatives are the brakes. And I’m generally with the gas pedal, but not if we’re driving off a cliff.” 

“If you want to save our country, we should follow the advice good liberals have given for decades and learn from other countries, especially those beacons of progressivism like Canada, England and Scandinavia,” the host said as he began the monologue. “And I agree we should, as long as we’re honest about the lessons we’re learning and as long as we’re up to date on the current data.”

Maher compared Canada to the US, showing how the neighbors to the north have a higher unemployment rate and more cities with worse air pollution. 

“Canada was the Statue of Liberty with a low-maintenance haircut and cross-country skis, a giant idealized blue state with single-payer health care, gun control and abortion on polite demand. Canada was where every woke White college kid wearing pajama pants outdoors who had it up to here with America’s racist patriarchy dreamt of living someday. I mean, besides Gaza,” Maher quipped. 

“There’s only one problem with thinking everything’s better in Canada: It’s not. Not anymore, anyway. Last year, Canada added 1.3 million people, which is a lot in one year- the equivalent of the US adding 11 million migrants in one year. And now, they’re experiencing a housing crisis even worse than ours… The median price of a home here is $346,000. In Canada converted to US dollars, it’s 487. If Barbie moved to Winnipeg, she wouldn’t be able to afford her dream house and Ken would be working at Tim Hortons.”

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He continued, “And because of mortgage debt, Canada has the highest debt to GDP ratio of any G7 nation… Their vaunted health care system… ranks dead last among high income countries, and access to primary health care, and the ability to see a doctor in a day or two. And it’s not for lack of spending. Of the 30 countries with universal coverage, Canada spends over 13% of its economy on it, which is a lot of money for free health care. Look, I’m not saying Canada still isn’t a great country, it is, but those aren’t paradise numbers.”

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The HBO host then addressed Canada directly.

“Honestly Canada, I’m not saying any of this because I enjoy it. I don’t because I’ve always enjoyed you. But I need to cite you as a cautionary tale to help my country. And the moral of that tale is yes, you can move too far left,” Maher told the country. “And when you do, you wind up pushing the people in the middle to the right. At its worst candidate is what American voters think happens when there’s no one putting a check on extreme wokeness.”

Maher pointed to the bizarre saga of Kayla Lemieux, the Canadian shop teacher who became an international sensation for wearing massive prosthetic Z-cup breasts to class. At the time, the school defended Lemieux, saying it was committed to a “safe and inclusive environment… [for] gender expression.”

“Safe for who? What about the children?” Maher reacted. 

“And this is why people vote for Trump,” he later told his audience. “They say in politics, liberals are the gas pedal and conservatives are the brakes. And I’m generally with the gas pedal, but not if we’re driving off a cliff. On the trans issue, America is no ands, ifs or buts about it, absolutely alone in the world now, an outlier country.”

The host continued, “Last month, England’s national health service announced that there’s not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of puberty blockers for third-graders and that they’re going to stop fumbling around with children’s privates… So, too, with all the other good place countries in direct opposition to America’s choice to affirm children’s wishes on switching gender no matter the age or psychiatric history. The far left, which always like to use ‘Well, Europe does it.’ Yeah. No, that doesn’t work on this one anymore.”

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Pivoting to immigration, he cited Sweden opening its borders to “over a million and a half immigrants since 2010” which led to “20%” of its citizens being foreign born, a “tanking” education system, and Europe’s “highest rate of gangland killings.”

“One result is that the far-right parties are in the government now there for the first time. To which liberals say blaming immigrants for the rising crime rate is racist. Yeah, but is it true? Of course it’s true. It’s not a coincidence the quality of life went down after the Somali gangs started a drug turf war using hand grenades. Calling it racist doesn’t solve the problem. It hands future elections to someone who will solve the problem and who I promise you’re not going to like,” Maher concluded while showing an image of Trump.

Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this report. 

Governor vetoes bill banning transgender treatment for minors, abortion restrictions

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned transgender treatment for minors in the state, as well as two bills imposing abortion restrictions. 

Substitute Bill for Senate Bill 233 sought to outlaw transgender treatment for minors and allow for causes of action against healthcare providers who provided such treatment. The bill would also have restricted the use of state funds for transgender treatment. 

“This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children,” Kelly, a Democrat, said in a statement released. “I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value.”

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Kelly said the legislation “tramples parental rights,” saying she does not want to stand “between a parent and a child who needed medical care of any kind.” 

“And yet, that is exactly what this legislation does,” Kelly said in the statement. 

Kelly also vetoed two separate bills that would have imposed additional abortion restrictions throughout the state. HB 2749 would have required the reporting of abortions performed in the state “at a medical care facility or by a healthcare provider,” according to the bill text. The reasons behind the procedure would be required in the reporting as well. 

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“House Bill 2749 is invasive and unnecessary. There is no valid medical reason to force a woman to disclose to the legislature if they have been a victim of abuse, rape, or incest prior to obtaining an abortion,” Kelly said in the statement released. “There is also no valid reason to force a woman to disclose to the legislature why she is seeking an abortion.”

Additionally, Kelly vetoed HB 2436 that would have criminalized coercion to obtain an abortion. Kelly cited the “vague language in this bill” and its potential privacy intrusion concerns as reasons for ultimately vetoing the legislation. 

“This overly broad language risks criminalizing Kansans who are being confided in by their loved ones or simply sharing their expertise as a health care provider,” Kelly said in the statement. 

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In 2022, Kansas residents voted against an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have given lawmakers in the state the ability to regulate abortion. The vote came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade in a decision that further split the nation on abortion. 

Just this past week, Arizona made headlines regarding the issue after the state Supreme Court issued a ruling reverting the state back to a 160-year-old, pre-statehood law that outlaws abortions in nearly all circumstances and criminalizes abortions.

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The law, which was codified in 1913 after Arizona became a state, includes an exception in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

Fox News’ Jamie Joseph and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Hero cop fatally shoots knife-wielding man who killed 5, injured baby in busy mall

Six people are dead after a stabbing spree in Australia on Saturday afternoon, including the suspect who was shot to death by a police officer, authorities confirmed.

The incident took place at Westfield Bondi Junction, a six-level shopping center in Sydney.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb confirmed at a news conference that four women and one man were killed in the shopping center, and subsequently another woman died at a hospital. Eight others were hospitalized and are being treated for different injuries associated with the attack.

A nine-month-old infant was among those injured and has been in surgery, Webb said. 

“The crime scene remains ongoing, and it will remain ongoing for a number of days,” she added. 

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Webb said the suspect is a 40-year-old man who was known to police. 

“We know a little bit about this person but we are waiting to confirm his identification,” the commissioner said. She added that police do not believe he was “holding an ideation — in other words, that it’s not a terrorism incident.” 

“Let me assure you that we are confident that there is no ongoing risk and we are dealing with one person who is now deceased,” Webb said. 

Earlier, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke told reporters that six people, including the attacker, had died. He said the lone suspect was shot by an officer who was on her own.

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“She confronted the offender who had moved by this stage to level five [of the mall] as she continued to walk quickly behind him to catch up with him. He turned, faced her, raised a knife. She discharged a firearm and that person is now deceased,” Cooke said.

Eight other people were taken to the hospital for treatment. Australian media reported and police confirmed that one of the injured was an infant. 

“The baby got stabbed,” a witness told 9News. 

The witness and his brother said they helped to compress the baby and mother’s wounds before they were taken to an ambulance.

“The mom got stabbed, and the mom came over with the baby and threw it at me and [I] was holding the baby,” he said. 

The brother said he believed the baby would survive its injuries, but that the mother was in worse shape with a lot of blood coming out of her mouth. 

An eyewitness at the mall told Reuters she saw a baby with stab wounds being taken to an ambulance. 

Reese Colmenares was among 20 others who hid in a hardware store when people started running out of the mall, including the mother and her baby. 

“The mother was terrified, the mother was sad, just holding (and) comforting the baby,” she told Reuters.

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Two other witnesses said they heard shots fired.

“Even 20 minutes after people were rushed out of the mall, I saw SWAT teams of people sweeping the surrounding streets,” one witness said.

The other said they saw a woman lying on the ground and took shelter in a jewelry store.

Cooke said the suspect had been in the shopping center, and then left before he returned and began stabbing people in the center.

The motive, if any, and identity of the suspect are unknown at this time. Cooke said there was “nothing that we are aware of at the scene that would indicate any motive or any ideology.” 

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Asked if officials were ruling out terrorism, Cooke said, “we’re not ruling anything out.” 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has also not declared whether this was an act of terror, but did call it a “horrific act of violence.”

“I think the AFP commissioner has made it clear that speculation… would be unhelpful at this time. We should allow the investigators to go about their work… I’ve also had a discussion tonight with the director general of ASIO. The motive at this stage is unknown, and we will, of course, continue to update the Australian public as more information is known,” Albanese said.

Albanese said the “nation offers our deepest condolences and sympathies to all those who are grieving for someone they have lost and we send our strength to those who have been injured.”

“The devastating scenes of Bondi Junction beyond words, or understanding, Australians will be shocked this evening,” Albanese said. “This was a horrific act of violence indiscriminately targeted at the innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday, doing their shopping.”

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The prime minister applauded first responders for their quick work Saturday afternoon.

“All of us are thinking of the dedicated doctors, nurses and health care workers who will be working through the night to save lives and to care for their fellow Australians.

“Today Bondi Junction was the scene of shocking violence, but it was also witnessed to the humanity and the heroism of our fellow Australians. Our police, our first responders, and of course everyday people who could never have imagined that they would face such a moment and some of the footage is quite extraordinary.”

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

As energy prices soar, Biden admin jacks up costs to drill on public lands

The Biden administration on Friday finalized a rule that will make it more expensive for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, despite soaring energy prices and inflation still trending upwards.

The Department of the Interior announced it has revised the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) oil and gas leasing regulations, which will raise royalty rates for the first time in 100 years and update the federal onshore oil and gas leasing framework. Under the new rule, the minimum royalty rate the government is paid will jump from 12.5% of revenue to 16.67%.

The move also increased the amount of the bonds that companies must secure before they start drilling tenfold – from a bond minimum of $10,000 set in 1960 to $150,000.

Several of the provisions in the rule were already codified by the Inflation Reduction Act, such as raising the rent the government charges to oil companies for using its land and increasing the government’s share of the profits from that oil.

JAMIE DIMON WARNS INFLATION, INTEREST RATES MAY REMAIN ELEVATED

The Department of the Interior said the rule will ensure a balanced approach to the development of the lands, provide a fair return to taxpayers and help steer oil and gas development away from important wildlife habitat and important cultural sites.

BLM will also preference land lease offers that are close to existing infrastructure or have a high potential for oil and gas production.   

“These are the most significant reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing program in decades, and they will cut wasteful speculation, increase returns for the public, and protect taxpayers from being saddled with the costs of environmental cleanups,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. 

“Alongside the historic investments we are making through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells, these reforms will help safeguard the health of our public lands and nearby communities for generations to come.” 

The move forms part of President Biden’s climate agenda as he seeks to move the U.S. away from its reliance on fossil fuels and shift toward a carbon-free future of renewable energy.

HOW IT STARTED… HOW IT’S GOING: ENERGY PRICES SOAR AS BIDEN PURSUES GREEN AGENDA

Nevertheless, the U.S. oil and gas industry has flourished under President Joe Biden.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, oil producers worldwide made record profits. The profits of the top five publicly traded oil companies – BO, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, and TotalEnergies – amounted to $410 billion during the first three years of the Biden administration, a 100% increase over the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Inflation, meanwhile, accelerated in March for the third straight month, keeping prices painfully high for millions of Americans and likely delaying any interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rent, rose 0.4% in March from the previous month. Prices climbed 3.5% from the same time last year, above the 3.2% figure recorded in February. 

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Former President Trump has argued that inflation is directly linked to energy prices and has vowed to ramp up production if he gets elected to office. 

“Remember this: Gasoline, fuel, oil, natural gas went up to a level that it was impossible,” Trump said at a campaign rally in January.

“That’s what caused inflation, and we’re going to bring it down because we’re going to go drill, baby, drill.”

Fox Business’ Megan Henney and Reuters contributed to this report. 

Joe Burrow lays into NFL for rule carrying 15-yard penalty: ‘We’re all grown adults’

The NFL has earned the “No Fun League” nickname for good reason.

Up until recently, team celebrations were hardly allowed, if at all.

The rules have been more lenient for players celebrating touchdowns.

However, “taunting” still draws a 15-yard penalty.

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By definition, a taunt is “a remark made in order to anger, wound, or provoke someone.”  In the NFL, it’s often used to celebrate a play but typically to brag to an opponent.

Rules state it should result in a flag, but Joe Burrow wants a change.

“Yeah, I’m pro-taunting,” Burrow said ealier this week. “We’re all grown adults that work really hard at what we do. And sometimes we’d like to show it. I’m not gonna get my feelings hurt if somebody sacks me and taunts me like you made a play. I get it. Like, good for you.”

The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback originally made his stance known during the playoffs, when he posted on X, “Let the guys taunt,” after Zay Flowers committed a crucial penalty in the AFC championship.

RASHEE RICE TURNS HIMSELF INTO POLICE AFTER ALLEGED ROLE IN HIT-AND-RUN

Flowers and Lamar Jackson connected on a 54-yard play toward the end of the third quarter. But, after he was tackled to end the 54-yard pass and catch, Flowers pushed L’Jarius Sneed to the ground and spun the football near his face. The referees called a penalty on Flowers for taunting. It was a pivotal 15-yard penalty that pushed the Ravens backward.

Flowers later kept the drive alive with a clutch first down. As the third quarter ended, Flowers was the target of the first play of the fourth quarter. He tried to get into the end zone, but Sneed punched the ball away just before Flowers crossed the goal line.

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The Chiefs recovered the fumble in the end zone. It was the Ravens’ second turnover of the game. The Chiefs won the game and, eventually, the Super Bowl.

There were 43 taunting penalties called in 2021, but 19 and 15 the last two seasons, respectively.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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Costco cashes in on latest craze, driving customers wild with hot commodity

Costco is cashing in on the rush to buy gold as rate cut uncertainty and other market pressures drive up the price of the hot commodity. 

One buyer who purchased a gold bar at the wholesaler weighed in on the craze.

“I’ve always been buying gold and silver. I’ve been buying it for probably 30 years now. And I saw a lot of reports that Costco was selling gold, and I haven’t seen anybody review it on YouTube,” buyer Blaine Silverman said on “The Big Money Show” Thursday.

COSTCO GOLD AND SILVER SALES ‘SEEM TO HAVE GROWN CONSIDERABLY’: WELLS FARGO

Since Costco launched gold in the fall, sales have risen dramatically, according to a research note from Wells Fargo earlier this week.

In the note, Wells Fargo equity analyst Edward Kelly wrote Costco’s sales of gold and silver “seem to have grown considerably” since then-CFO Richard Galanti announced in mid-December the retailer had “sold over $100 million of gold during the [first] quarter.” 

Silverman, who bought his first gold bar from the retailer, was one of many who bought at Costco after they launched sales in the fall. 

Costco reported it had made $100 million in gold sales after Galanti previously said the 1-ounce bars were going shockingly fast when uploaded on the retailer’s website. 

“I featured in my video, and it seemed to be an okay process, but it did take a long time to actually find it in stock, because those things sell out right away,” Silverman said. 

THE PERKS OFFERED TO COSTCO, BJ’S WHOLESALE AND SAM’S CLUB MEMBERS

More recently, the wholesaler delved into silver, putting tubes of 1-ounce Canada Maple Leaf Silver Coins up for sale online, FOX Business reported last month. 

The research note from Wells Fargo’s Kelly estimated sales of those precious metals “may now be running at $100-200m per month, which would add almost 1% to total comps, slightly more to US comps, and about 3% to gen. merch. sales.”

“I normally buy gold coins like this American gold buffalo. And I think the cheapest I’ve paid is about $1,100,” Silverman explained. “I was mainly into silver in the late 90s and early 2000s. So I got into gold more after around the mid-2000s.”

The veteran buyer said he buys precious metals both as a hedge against inflation and due to the devaluation of U.S. currency.

“I consider this savings. So to me [gold] is money. And then this cabbage here, [a dollar bill], is just debt notes that I use to cash in on money,” Silverman said.

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FOX Business’ Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.