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GRAPHIC: Mexico farm town buries 3 of 9 Americans slain

By PETER ORSI Associated Press&nbsp|&nbsp

Posted: Thu 5:13 AM, Nov 07, 2019

Updated: Thu 6:13 PM, Nov 07, 2019

LA MORA, Mexico (AP) — 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.

Howard Miller, the man in the black shirt, and the three children with blurred faces survived the attack. The five others in the picture were killed. (Source: Family photos/CNN)

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.

In a raw, tearful service, relatives recounted valiant efforts to try to rescue their loved ones after the ambush, and how some of the children walked miles out of the mountains to the town, situated about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of the Arizona border.

There was no talk of revenge in the deeply religious community, only justice.

“God will take care of the wicked,” Jay Ray, Dawna’s father, said in a eulogy.

David Langford called his wife a hero for telling her children to duck as their vehicle came under fire.

“I find it hard to forgive,” he said. “I usually am a very forgiving guy, but this kind of atrocity has no place in a civilized community.”

“My children were brutally, brutally murdered,” he said, “and my beloved wife.”

Of the survivors, he said, son Cody had had a plate installed in his jaw, which was being wired shut for six weeks, and the rest were “actually doing really well.”

Dawna’s younger sister Amber Ray, 34, eulogized her as a devoted mother to her 13 children and homemaker who loved a good laugh and baked the best birthday cakes around.

“There isn’t anything in life that a cup of coffee couldn’t make better,” Amber said Dawna was fond of saying.

The three coffins, two of them child-size, were placed into the beds of pickup trucks, and family members rode with them to the grave, hundreds of mourners following on foot.

Later in the day, a memorial was held for Rhonita Miller and four of her children, all of whom also were murdered on the road between La Mora and Chihuahua state.

In a grassy backyard before hundreds of attendees, she was eulogized as an “innocent spirit, beautiful heart” and a woman whose laugh “could light up a room.”

Son Howard Jr. loved basketball and recently was delighted to make his first three-pointer; daughter Kristal was “the apple of her daddy’s eye;” twins Titus and Tiana, born March 13, were remembered as “two perfect angels in the first precious moments of their lives.”

Their bodies were to be taken later across the road where they died for burial in Colonia Le Baron. The two communities, whose residents are related, drew together in a show of grief.

Patrols of Mexican army troops passed by regularly on the hamlet’s only paved road.

Dozens of high-riding pickups and SUVS, many with U.S. license plates from as far away as North Dakota, arrived in La Mora for the funeral, traveling over the dirt road where the attack occurred.

Gunmen from the Juarez drug cartel had apparently set up the ambush as part of a turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, and the U.S. families drove into it.

Mexican officials said the attackers may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang.

But Julian LeBaron, whose brother Benjamin, an anti-crime activist, was killed by cartel gunmen in 2009, disputed that.

“They had to have known that it was women and children,” he said. He said the eight children who survived reported that one mother got out of her SUV and raised her hands and was gunned down anyway.

To many, the bloodshed seemed to demonstrate once more that the government has lost control over vast areas of Mexico to drug traffickers.

And it called into question President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” security strategy of trying to solve underlying social problems instead of battling drug cartels with military force.

It was also the latest shocking act of cartel violence to suggest that the old rules against killing foreigners, women or children are collapsing.

“Now this place is going to become a ghost town,” said Steven Langford, a former La Mora mayor whose sister Christina Langford was among the women killed. “A lot of people are going to leave.”


Associated Press Writer Maria Verza contributed to this report from Mexico City.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Smokes Rises From US Embassy in Baghdad as Protesters Storm …

Smokes Rises From US Embassy in Baghdad as Protesters Storm …

Protesters stormed the US embassy in Baghdad on December 31, setting fires, destroying security cameras, and attempting to smash windows, following US airstrikes on the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia.

This video shows the scene around the embassy, which is in the city’s Green Zone. Smoke can be seen rising from the compound.

Embassy guards fired stun grenades at people assembled outside, Reuters said.

US President Donald Trump accused Iran of “orchestrating” the attack on the embassy and called on Iraq to “to use its forces to protect the Embassy.” Credit: Banen.20 via Storyful

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Smokes Rises From US Embassy in Baghdad as Protesters Storm …

Sanders has heart procedure, cancels campaign events for now

By ZEKE MILLER and LAURAN NEERGAARD Associated Press&nbsp|&nbsp

Posted: Wed 10:05 AM, Oct 02, 2019

Updated: Wed 9:47 PM, Oct 02, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders’ campaign said Wednesday that the Democratic presidential candidate had a heart procedure for a blocked artery and was canceling events and appearances “until further notice.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses while speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. He has canceled events “until further notice” after a heart procedure for a blocked artery. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

The 78-year-old Vermont senator experienced chest discomfort during a campaign event Tuesday and sought medical evaluation. Two stents were “successfully inserted,” and Sanders “is conversing and in good spirits,” according to the campaign. He’s recovering at a Las Vegas hospital.

Sanders tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that he was “feeling good. I’m fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover.”

Then, sounding one of his favorite themes from the campaign trail, he added: “None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”

The Democratic field’s oldest candidate, Sanders sometimes jokingly refers to his age at town halls and other events, especially when interacting with younger participants. He is one of three candidates over age 70 in the Democratic primary, which has spurred debate over whether the party should rally behind a new generation of political leaders. Sanders’ health issue is certain to revive that discussion in the weeks before the next presidential debate this month.

President Donald Trump is 73.

Sanders’ campaign wouldn’t say whether the candidate had suffered a heart attack before the blockage was opened. But a doctor not involved in the care said, if not, Sanders could expect to be back to a normal busy schedule in about a week.

“This will give him more energy,” said Dr. Ron Waksman, an interventional cardiologist at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute in Washington.

Sanders’ hospitalization came on a day of celebration for his campaign, which had earlier announced the Democratic field’s strongest quarterly fundraising numbers so far. On a telephone call with supporters, campaign manager Faiz Shakir said, “The state of our campaign, we feel, is strong and getting stronger. We’ve got work to do because our path is the most ambitious path of any candidate out there.” He also touted the first television ad, which the campaign was scheduled to launch in Iowa.

But those spots were suspended on Wednesday.

The health issue comes as Sanders has been trying to turn a corner after a summer that saw him eclipsed as the premier liberal in the field by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Sanders has dropped well behind Warren, 70, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, in most polls and recently reshuffled his staffing in early states to become more competitive.

“Given his recent stalls in the polls, the timing is pretty bad here,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley said of Sanders’ heart procedure.

Sanders’ 2020 rivals were quick to wish him well. Warren told liberal activists in Las Vegas that she called and texted Sanders and that she “wants to see him strong and back on the trail as soon as possible.”

“We want to send our best wishes for a quick recovery to @BernieSanders today,” tweeted Julián Castro, an Obama administration housing chief. Added Sen. Kamala Harris of California: “If there’s one thing I know about him, he’s a fighter, and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail soon.”

Sanders mounted an insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. He is a top contender in the 2020 primary and announced Tuesday that he raised more than $25 million over the past three months. But he is facing stiff competition from Biden and Warren, who have overtaken him in many polls.

This is the second time during the 2020 campaign that health problems have forced Sanders to ease up on what has otherwise been a robust campaign schedule. Just last month, he canceled some appearances in South Carolina because he lost his voice. The campaign said at the time he felt fine.

Sanders is not the first candidate to face health issues in recent years while seeking the presidency. Clinton had to take time off from campaigning in 2016 after being treated for pneumonia.

In 2000, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, the leading Democratic challenger to then-Vice President Al Gore, had to cut short a campaign swing for treatment of an atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that is treatable but potentially serious. Bradley later resumed his campaign.

In Sanders’ case, when doctors insert a stent, they first thread a tiny balloon inside a blocked artery to widen it. The stent is a small wire mesh tube that then is propped inside to keep the artery open. The number of stents needed depends on the size of the clog.

The treatment can immediately improve symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The stents are threaded into place through blood vessels in the groin or wrist, requiring only a tiny incision. Most are coated with medication to prevent the targeted artery from reclosing. That is still a risk, requiring monitoring, and patients also often are prescribed blood thinners to prevent clots from forming in the stents.

A letter released by Sanders’ physician in 2016 cited a history of mildly elevated cholesterol but no heart disease.


Riccardi reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Will Weissert in Washington, Michelle L. Price in Las Vegas and Wilson Ring in Burlington, Vt., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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