Girls mailed Creepy Packages, Forces Downscaled, Protests on May Day and More!


This is the transcript for the news segment on The Morning Brew for May 1, 2018. The show airs Monday-Friday at 10:30 AM EST.

You can catch the edited stream on YouTube here (If not available, it’s probably still uploading/rendering):


You can see the whole show on Twitch!

Someone is mailing creepy packages to girls at their elementary schools. The FBI is on alert.

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Dozens of Young Girls Mailed Disturbing Packages at School. The question is creeping out parents in several states and vexing investigators across the South: Who is “Atur Bhuck of Santa Fe, NM”? And why has he been sending care packages to dozens of elementary school-age girls? More than 50 students living in the Southeast  — those are the ones that authorities know of, anyway — have received unsolicited packages containing food and a letter signed “Atur Bhuck,” according to a Facebook post by the Covington County (Alabama) District Attorney’s Office. The office started its warning with the words “PREDATOR ALERT.” In the letter, Bhuck says he is 14, mentally disabled and, in the past, a target of bullying. He wanted the girls who received the packages to write him back via email at atur.bhuck@gmail.com or atur.bhuck@aol.com. But the investigation has revealed a more dangerous aspect to the package sender, the district attorney’s office said. Investigators traced the IP address of the Gmail account, which appears to originate in Houston. Someone had used the email address to order and ship the packages. And the same person’s IP address has appeared on websites talking about girls’ underwear. Bhuck told others online that he had pen pals in Phenix City, Ala., investigators said, and wanted to know what kind of music to listen to with them. Authorities haven’t released more information about Bhuck — including who owns the Houston IP address or the Gmail address they traced — and have not released the name of a suspect or announced any arrests.

Authorities encouraged any parent whose child has been targeted to call 334-222-2513.

The incident appears to be a case of what experts call technology-facilitated grooming, where predators use the Internet to find young victims, learn as much as they can about them and make them more susceptible to exploitation. According to Farley International, which consults in crimes against children, predators often target preteens or young teens, who are capable of using the Internet and corresponding on it but still vulnerable to predation.

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Blazing building collapses in Sao Paulo, 1 dead, 3 missing

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A 26-floor building engulfed in flames collapsed in the center of Brazil’s largest city early on Tuesday and firemen said at least one person was killed as he was being rescued. Television images showed the horrifying moment when a fireman tried to reach the man clinging to the building as it went down more than one hour after the fire started. Firemen continued to fight the fire that spread to an adjacent building that had been evacuated and was not in danger of collapsing. The cause of the fire on the sixth-floor was still unknown and there could be more victims. Three people are still unaccounted for, he said. The abandoned former office building had been occupied irregularly seven years ago and some 150 people lived in the lower 10 floors.

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U.S. shuts down ground forces office in Iraq, as combat against Islamic State ends

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The headquarters coordinating the activities of American ground forces in Iraq closed down on Monday, marking the end of major combat operations against the Islamic State, said U.S. officials. Deactivating the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command in Baghdad also signifies “the changing composition and responsibilities of the Coalition” to defeat Islamic State, according to the United States Central Command statement. About 5,000 American ground forces were stationed in Iraq at the height of the war against the Islamic State that culminated with the reclaiming of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the self-declared capital of the militants in the country. The ground troops were there to advise, equip and assist Iraq’s military during the grueling three year fight to claw back the one-third of Iraqi territory that the Islamic State had claimed. They were not involved in active combat but were often seen near field command centers around Mosul, operating surveillance drones or coordinating battlefield logistics with Iraqi commanders. Since Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the Islamic State completely defeated last December, American forces have been gradually drawing down while shifting their tasks to the training of Iraqi forces in intelligence gathering and policing, as the militants returned to their more traditional tactics of insurgent attacks. It is not clear how many American forces remain in the country. Their presence has been a wedge issue in Iraq’s national elections scheduled for May. Abadi has said he wants the troops to stay to facilitate the rehabilitation of Iraq’s security forces while his opponents in the influential Shiite militias — some of which are aligned with Iran — have demanded the Americans leave immediately. Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, the former commander of the land forces, said in Monday’s statement that the authority over the troops will be handed over to the Combined Joint Task Force — the headquarters that coordinates all anti-Islamic State operations, including airstrikes. While significantly reduced in frequency and pace, American jets continue to hit Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. A spokesman for Iraq’s military, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul, hinted at the Iraqi government desire to see American forces stay.

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#RedForEd Arizona teachers strike continues

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Just in time for May Day, a red sea of Arizona’s public school teachers and their supporters marched on the state Capitol in Phoenix Monday, voicing their dissatisfaction over pay and educational funding. The first teacher walkout in the state’s history began on Thursday, and Monday night, organizers announced the walkout would enter a fourth day. “We will be back at the Capitol tomorrow to continue to fight for our students and state,” said Noah Karvelis, a teacher and #RedforEd movement and Arizona Educators United organizer and spokesman. The Arizona Educator’s Association tweeted that 50,000 educators participated in the rally on Monday. Arizona Educators United wants a 20% raise for teachers by next school year and yearly raises after that until Arizona’s teacher salaries reach the national average. The group also wants Arizona to restore education funding to 2008 levels, while Gov. Doug Ducey has offered to restore $371 million in cuts over five years. Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan, which he calls “20×2020” raises teacher pay by 20% over two years. “They could have passed a budget that funds our schools by now. They could have worked over the weekend to get it done. But they didn’t.” Karvelis said in a letter sent to supporters Monday that was cosigned by Joseph H. Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association. On the floor of the state House, Minority Leader, Rep. Rebecca Rios called Ducey’s budget a “shell game.”She went on to say,”The reality is, you cannot make up a billion [dollar] deficit by using the same amount of income that we have.” Many school districts throughout the state were closed Monday due to the walkout and have announced they will remain closed Tuesday — including the two largest school districts in the state, Mesa Public Schools and the Tucson Unified School District. Another large school district, Sunnyside Unified School District announced it will remain closed at least through Friday. “We don’t want to be out of school another day,” Karvelis and Thomas said in their letter. “We would rather be back in our classrooms, teaching our students, and finishing the year strong.” That is funny because if they really “cared” wouldn’t they wait till Summer break to work on this issue? These teacher’s unions say they care about our kids education. However it looks more like, “We care about using your kids as a means to get ourselves more money.”

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Workers, activists mark May Day with defiant rallies (No picture available.)

Immigrants say President Donald Trump’s administration has become almost everything they feared, but while they rally across the United States on May Day, their focus is less on huge turnout Tuesday than on the first Tuesday in November.

Marches and other demonstrations for labor and immigrant rights were planned from Florida to New York to California on International Workers’ Day and come amid similar actions worldwide. Immigrant rights groups have joined in May Day activities for more than a decade, initially to push back against harsh legislative proposals and later to clamor for reform and legal status for immigrants in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children or overstayed their visas. Now, they want to drive turnout in the midterm elections. Advocates hope voters target lawmakers who have pushed for measures that hurt immigrants and replace them with immigrant-friendly policymakers, said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles. Protesters still are taking aim at policy changes under Trump, including a country-specific travel ban, the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, high-profile detention and deportation efforts, and proposals to cut back the overall numbers of people allowed to immigrate permanently. AND OF COURSE  immigrant rights groups will join LGBTQ, African-American and women’s organizations this summer to push for the election of new leaders, Salas said, adding that they hope to see more support from Americans who aren’t immigrants.

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Portland Man Accused of $50,000 Stolen Lego Racket

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According to authorities, the Fred Meyer’s Organized Retail Theft Unit began investigating 40-year-old Raji Afife Azar in early 2018, suspecting him of leading a fencing operation. Police said that investigators posed as thieves offering Azar stolen goods at far below the retail price. Authorities said Azar requested to purchase $13,000 of stolen goods from the undercover investigators. He was arrested on April 26 after authorities say he purchased supposedly ‘stolen’ items from undercover officers. When they searched his southeast Portland home, police said they found “a large quantity of stolen Lego.” The Lego and other toys that had been taken from Fred Meyer stores alone was worth $50,000, according to police. That estimate did not include recovered merchandise that originated from other retail outlets, police said. Authorities believe Azar would solicit stolen items through websites like Craigslist and OfferUp, purchasing them from thieves for low prices, before selling them on Craigslist, eBay and OfferUp for a profit. Those stealing the items to sell to Azar were often drug addicts. Azar has been charged with ten counts of first degree theft, one count of aggravated first degree theft, one count of laundering a monetary instrument and 15 counts of computer crime felony. Online jail information showed that Azar had been booked into Multnomah County Jail and later released on his own recognizance.

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Stories are edited by Merlin Wolfhound and the show is produced and directed by Maddy

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