ICE demands apology from New Yorker fact checker after slandering agent and Marine veteran as Nazi

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is demanding a fact checker for the New Yorker magazine apologize after she mistakenly accused a Marine veteran and current ICE agent of having a Nazi tattoo.

Talia Lavin, a staff member of the New Yorker and contributor to The Village Voice, came under fire over the weekend after spreading misinformation and accusing Justin Gaertner – a combat-wounded Marine veteran and the agency’s forensic analyst – of being a closeted Nazi sympathizer for a tattoo she perceived as being the “Iron Cross”.

But the tattoo on Gaertner’s left elbow has nothing to do with Nazi Germany at all – it is “the ‘Titan 2,’ the symbol for his platoon while he fought in Afghanistan,” ICE said on Monday. “The writing on his right arm is the Spartan Creed which is about protecting family and children.”

Others on social media joined Lavin in criticizing the agent. Actor Ron Perlman, known for his work in “Hellboy” and “Sons of Anarchy,” also spread the falsehood on Twitter.

“I know I’m a leftist, ‘D List’ actor, so my twitter feed is probably deceiving me, but is that an iron cross tattooed on this hero’s arm? This is a mistake, right? Cuz the Iron Cross was a symbol of Nazi Germany. Gotta be my twitter feed is leaning left again,” Perlman tweeted.


ICE criticized the New Yorker fact checker for “baselessly slandering an American hero” and said her tweets were the first ones to spread the fabrication. She deleted her accusation “after military veterans responded that the tattoo looked more like a Maltese cross, a symbol associated with fire fighters.”

The federal immigration authority then urged Lavin and the magazine to apologize. “Anyone attempting to advance their personal political opinions by baselessly slandering an American hero should be issuing public apologies to Mr. Gaertner and retractions. This includes Lavin and the New Yorker.”

Lavin locked her Twitter account, but the New Yorker distanced itself from the fact checker, saying she made a “derogatory assumption” and noted that personal social media accounts of the staff “do not represent the magazine, and we in no way share the viewpoint expressed in this tweet,” the magazine’s spokesperson told the National Review.

“The tweet has been deleted, and we deeply regret any harm that this may have caused Mr Gaertner,” the statement added.

Perlman also issued a half-hearted apology for spreading the fabrication, although the original tweet still remains available.

“My apologies! I mistook the symbol on this man’s arm before I actually knew the facts. So again, I apologize to the man in this picture for my mistake. Maybe it was the gusto, the relish this agency seems to project in their obsession to racially profile decent people,” he wrote.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

The Latest: Kim Jong Un meets with China’s president

The Latest developments in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to China (all times local):

7 p.m.

State broadcaster China Central Television has shown Chinese President Xi Jinping welcoming North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a visit to Beijing.

CCTV showed Kim in talks with Xi on Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Experts have said Kim is expected to discuss his next steps with Chinese leaders after last week’s nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kim’s two-day visit to Beijing, while expected, is one way for China to highlight its crucial role in U.S. efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The U.S. has long looked to China to use its influence with North Korea to bring it to negotiations, but the visit comes as ties between Beijing and Washington are being tested by a major trade dispute.


4:30 p.m.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s current visit to China highlights the “constructive role” Beijing could play in North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said Tuesday that Seoul and Beijing share a “strategic goal” in achieving the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and that progress in nuclear diplomacy has facilitated high-level contacts between North Korea and its neighbors.

He did not provide a straightforward answer when asked whether Beijing notified Seoul of Kim’s trip in advance.

Noh also downplayed concerns that improved relations between China and North Korea could result in China loosening its sanctions against the North, saying that Beijing has repeatedly stated its commitment to U.N. Security Council resolutions against North Korea.

Kim is making a two-day visit to Beijing, where he is expected to discuss with Chinese leaders his next steps after his nuclear summit with President Donald Trump last week.


9 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making a two-day visit to Beijing starting Tuesday and is expected to discuss with Chinese leaders his next steps after his nuclear summit with President Donald Trump last week.

Kim’s visit to Beijing, while expected, is one way for China to highlight its crucial role in U.S. efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The U.S. has long looked to China to use its influence with North Korea to bring it to negotiations, but the visit comes as ties between Beijing and Washington are being tested by a major trade dispute.

Chinese President Xi Jinping “is exerting a lot of influence from behind the scenes,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Glaser said it was predictable Xi would want to be briefed by Kim directly about the North Korean leader’s talks with Trump.

“I expect they will talk about the path going forward and where priorities should lie,” Glaser said. Those priorities, from China’s perspective, would be to ensure that Beijing is included in any in peace treaty talks and for creating an environment on the Korean Peninsula that will make it unnecessary for US troops to remain.

Security was tight Tuesday morning in the Pyongyang airport, where another flight was unexpectedly delayed, and later at the Beijing airport where paramilitary police prevented journalists from shooting photos. A motorcade including sedans, minibuses, motorcycles and a stretch limo with a golden emblem similar to one Kim used previously was seen leaving the airport.

Roads near the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where senior Chinese officials meet with visiting leaders, were closed and the same motorcade with motorcycle escorts was later seen heading into the compound. A ring of police vehicles and black sedans surrounded the perimeter of the guesthouse where Kim stayed on his first visit earlier this year. Kim’s presence there and the schedule of his visit, including any meetings with Xi, have not been confirmed.

Kim was diplomatically isolated for years before making his first foreign trip as leader in March to meet with Xi in Beijing. This would be his third visit to China, North Korea’s main ally and key source of trade and economic assistance. Following his summit with Trump, Kim was expected to meet with Chinese leaders to discuss progress in halting his country’s missile and nuclear weapons programs in exchange for economic incentives.

The Singapore meeting resulted in a surprise announcement of a U.S. suspension of military drills with its South Korean ally, a goal long pursued by Beijing and Pyongyang. That move is seen as potentially weakening defenses and diplomacy among America’s Asian allies, while bolstering China and Russia.

The U.S. has stationed combat troops in South Korea since the Korean War, in which China fought on North Korea’s side and which ended in 1953 with an armistice and no peace treaty.

The state media treatment of Kim’s visit departed from past practice of not announcing his travels until Kim returned home. Analysts said Beijing appeared to be trying to normalize such visits.

Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at Renmin University’s School of International Studies in Beijing, said the frequency of Kim’s visits was “unprecedented.” He noted that unlike on previous visits, China’s state broadcaster CCTV announced Kim’s visit before his departure.

“This is an improvement. This shows that China is moving toward a healthier and more normal direction in relations with North Korea,” Cheng said.

The visit comes as a dispute over the large trade imbalance between China and the U.S. has been escalating, straining ties between the world’s two largest economies and moving them closer to a potential trade war.

Trump recently ordered tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual property theft. The tariffs were quickly matched by China on U.S. exports, a move that drew the president’s ire. On Tuesday morning China woke to news that Trump directed the U.S. Trade Representative to prepare new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, a move swiftly criticized by Beijing.

A trade war with the U.S. could make it less attractive for China to use its influence over North Korea to help the U.S. achieve its objectives of denuclearization.

“The potential comprehensive trade war will make the cooperation between China and U.S. in North Korea’s nuclear issue more complicated,” Cheng said. “There will be a big question mark over whether China and U.S. will continue this cooperation.”


Associated Press writers Gillian Wong and Adam Schreck and researcher Shanshan Wang contributed to this report.

Utah teen, 16, dies in 100-foot fall during hike, authorities say

A 16-year-old girl in Utah died Monday after she fell about 100 feet at a waterfall during a hike with a friend, The Deseret News reported.

Kaylee Marvin reportedly “lost her footing” in Santaquin Canyon and sustained serious head and leg injuries in the fall, authorities said, according to the paper.

Authorities said Marvin’s friends alerted authorities and performed CPR until police arrived. Police continued CPR for another 40 minutes. Authorities told the paper that there appears to be “nothing suspicious” and categorized it as a tragic accident.

“Obviously this is a huge loss. A beautiful young lady now has tragically passed away from an unfortunate accident,” Lt. Tom Hodgson with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 13 Salt Lake.

“She took a miss step she basically slipped while she was trying to navigate across a log,” said Hodgson. “With the water up there and the slick rocks the way they are, she just unfortunately didn’t put her feet in the right locations and slipped off the edge.”

More than 500 guns seized from Southern California homes

Authorities have seized more than 550 guns at two Southern California homes and made one arrest after getting a tip that a convicted felon was storing an arsenal.

Sixty-year-old Manuel Fernandez was arrested last week after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and state and federal investigators raided his Agua Dulce home.

Officials Monday say the searchers found 432 rifles and handguns, then returned later and found 91 more hidden weapons.

Finally, 30 guns were seized at another home believed linked to an associate of Fernandez who hasn’t returned to the home.

“Detectives also seized computers, cellphones, and hard drives from the residence believed to be involved in the illicit purchase of firearms by the suspect,” the sheriff’s department said in its release.

Fernandez was booked on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition and illegally possessing an assault rifle and large-capacity magazines.

He’s free on bond. A call by The Associated Press to his listed phone number rang unanswered Monday.

The Los Angeles Times, citing an unnamed source, reported that the owner of the firearms appears to be a collector as opposed to someone who intends to use the guns for violence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 


South Korea says US drills suspended to aid talks with North

South Korea said Tuesday that a joint military exercise scheduled with the U.S. has been suspended to support ongoing talks both countries have with North Korea.

“South Korea and the U.S. made the decision as we believe this will contribute to maintaining such momentum,” said Choi Hyun-soo, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman.

She spoke after the U.S. and South Korea announced that the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills slated for August had been called off.

The announcement was widely anticipated following President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week. Trump said after the summit in Singapore that he would suspend the U.S. military’s “war games” with South Korea unless and until the talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program break down.

His statement appeared to catch both South Korea and the Pentagon by surprise, but they presented a united front in cancelling the upcoming exercise.

Dana White, spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department, said planning for the summer drills had stopped, but no decisions have been made on any other military exercises with South Korea. Joint exercises with Japan and other countries in the Pacific will continue.

Choi echoed that nothing has been decided on other exercises. She was unwilling to provide a straightforward answer when asked whether there had been any discussions between the allies’ militaries on suspending the drills before Trump’s sudden announcement.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera showed understanding for the move but stressed the need for the two countries to continue their other joint drills.

He called U.S.-South Korean exercises “important pillars” to maintaining regional peace and stability. Plans for U.S.-Japan exercises are unchanged, he added.

Last year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian went on for 11 days in August and involved about 17,500 U.S. and 50,000 South Korean troops. Also participating were other nations that contributed forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, including Australia, Britain, Canada and Colombia.

The summertime military exercises usually coincide with a nationwide civilian defense drill in South Korea in which ordinary people take shelter in buildings and subway stations at the sound of air-raid sirens. Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-keum said the civilian drill could be held as planned, suspended or modified to reflect “changing circumstances.”

The other major U.S. military exercises with South Korea — Key Resolve and Foal Eagle — took place earlier this spring. They historically include live-fire drills with tanks, aircraft and warships and feature about 10,000 American and 200,000 Korean troops. The drills were delayed this year because of North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.


Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.

Not just heat: Climate change signs can be seen all around

You don’t just feel the heat of global warming, you can see it in action all around.

Some examples of where climate change’s effects have been measured:

—Glaciers across the globe are melting and retreating, with 279 billion tons of ice lost since 2002, according to NASA’s GRACE satellite. Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland is flowing faster than any other glacier on Earth. In 2012, it hit a record pace of about 75 inches per hour (1.9 meters). In 2017, it slowed down to 40 inches per hour (1 meter). The Portage Glacier in Alaska has retreated so much it cannot be seen from the visitor center that opened in 1986.

—In the Rocky Mountains, the first robins of spring are arriving 10.5 days earlier than 30 years ago. The first larkspur wildflower is showing up eight days earlier and the marmots are coming out of hibernation five days earlier, according to data gathered by the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab.

—On average, during the past 30 years there have been more major hurricanes (those with winds of more than 110 mph), they have lasted longer and they produced more energy than the previous 30 years, according to an Associated Press analysis of storm data. Other studies have shown that the first named storm in the Atlantic forms nearly a month earlier than 30 years ago and storms are moving slower, allowing more rain to fall.

—Across the globe, seas have risen about 3 inches since 1993. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is enough to cover the entire United States in water about 9 feet deep. Places like Miami Beach, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia, flood frequently with high tides.

—The number of acres burned in the U.S. by wildfire has doubled compared with 30 years ago. Last year, more than 10 million acres burned. Over the last five years, an average of 6.7 million acres burned a year. From 1984 to 1988, about 2.8 million years burned, on average.

—Allergies have gotten worse with longer growing seasons and more potent pollen. High ragweed pollen days have increased by between 15 and 29 days since 1990 in a swath of the country from Oklahoma City north to Winnipeg, Canada, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study.

—In the western United States the cute rodent called a pika needs weather around freezing for most of the year. But those habitats are shrinking, forcing them to higher altitudes. University of Colorado’s Chris Ray, a pika expert, said she hasn’t definitively linked climate change to dramatic reductions in pika populations, but she found that they have disappeared more from places that are warming and drying.

—Extreme one-day rainfall across the nation has increased 80 percent over the past 30 years. Ellicott City, Maryland, had so-called thousand-year floods in 2016 and this year. Flooding in Louisiana, West Virginia and Houston in 2016, South Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma in 2015, Michigan and parts of the Northeast in 2014 all caused more than $1 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

—The number of polar bears in parts of Alaska dropped 40 percent since the late 1990s. When scientists have weighed polar bears recently in certain locations they were losing 2.9 to 5.5 pounds per day at a time of year when they were supposed to be putting on weight.

—Warmer water is repeatedly causing mass global bleaching events to Earth’s fragile coral reefs. Before 1998 there had been no global mass bleaching events — which turn the living coral white and often lead to death. But there have been three in the last two decades. U.S. government coral reef specialist Mark Eakin said for multiple reasons, including global warming, “most of the reefs that were in great shape in the 1980s in Florida are just barely hanging on now.”


The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Child scales ‘un-climbable’ pool ladder in viral video

A Massachusetts family has captured a viral video Monday of their toddler climbing what is supposed to be a gate stopping children from getting into a pool.

Keith Wyman says his family was in their backyard in Attleboro Monday when his 2-year-old son Cody began to climb the gate blocking the ladder to their above-ground pool.

“Within two seconds, he was up,” Wyman told KUTV. “If a two-year-old can do it, a six-year-old can do it,”

The Wymans grabbed Cody before he got into the pool, but not before capturing it on camera to show other parents how easily kids could climb over.

The video has since been viewed more than 16 million times on Facebook.

The Wymans say the store where they bought the ladder and gate from offered them a replacement, but all the other gates had a similar design.

“You can’t not watch them for one second because it only took him two seconds to climb that thing without stairs,” Wyman said.

The Associated Press cotributed to this report

West Point grad who posed with ‘Communism will win’ in cap discharged

The West Point graduate, who last year posed in a picture holding a cap that had “Communism will win” written inside, is officially out of the U.S. Army with an other-than-honorable discharge.

Spenser Rapone rocked the military community last year after his social media posts were revealed, showing him wearing a Che Guevara shirt underneath his military uniform.

He is no longer part of the U.S. military after top brass at Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division accepted his resignation Monday after an earlier warning for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” He’s leaving the military with an other-than-honorable discharge.

Army officials condemned the cadet last year and opened an investigation into his social media activity. “Second Lieutenant Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” an Army statement read.

Spenser Rapone

Spenser Rapone is seen in an undated photo wearing a Che Guevara shirt underneath his U.S. Military Academy uniform.


His open advocacy of communism attracted the criticism from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who then urged the U.S. military to dismiss Rapone for supporting the country’s enemies.

The now-former cadet said the probe found him advocating for socialist revolution online and disparaging high-ranking officers and U.S. officials. The Army said it took “appropriate action” in dealing with the situation.

But Rapone remains unabashed, posting a picture on Monday showing him the middle finger at a sign at the entrance to Fort Drum, captioned with “One final salute.”

He also remains committed to the far-left causes, saying he considers himself “a revolutionary socialist” and urged others to join him in his revolution,

“I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement,” he said.

Rubio cheered the departure of Rapone. “While in uniform, Spenser Rapone advocated for communism and political violence, and expressed support and sympathy for enemies of the United States,” the Senator said on Monday. “I’m glad to see that they have given him an ‘other-than-honorable’ discharge.”

“While in uniform, Spenser Rapone advocated for communism and political violence, and expressed support and sympathy for enemies of the United States. I’m glad to see that they have given him an ‘other-than-honorable’ discharge.”

– Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Military experts say it’s rare for an officer out of West Point to receive an other-than-honorable discharge. Greg Rinckey, an attorney specializing in military law, claimed that this opens an opportunity for the military to seek money back from Rapone for the education he received as he didn’t fulfil the five-year service obligation for all the graduates.

“I knew there could be repercussions,” said Rapone, who’s becoming a prominent far-left advocate and will be speaking at a conference for socialism next month. “Of course my military career is dead in the water. On the other hand, many people reached out and showed me support. There are a lot of veterans both active duty and not that feel like I do.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Sandberg donate to charity helping separated migrant families: report

Two of Facebook’s top executives have donated to a charity started by former workers at the tech giant that intends on uniting immigrant families separated at the border.

Politico, citing a company spokesperson, reported Monday that CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg both donated to the fundraiser for the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

The Facebook page reported that the campaign raised $3.7 million of its $5 million goal. It is unclear how much the two billionaires donated.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions forcefully rebuked critics who fault the Trump administration for the separation of illegal immigrant families at the border, saying that the Obama administration’s policies are partially to blame.

Speaking to Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” Monday night, Sessions said illegal immigrants have taken advantage of the U.S.

“We have watched what happened with the Obama policies, and over years, we went from 15,000 illegal entries to 75,000 — this is a huge loophole in our system that’s attracting more and more people, as more and more people understand that, under previous policies, if they enter the country unlawfully, that nothing will happen,” Sessions said.

The attorney general denied that children are being abused or kept in inhumane conditions, saying that the Department of Health and Human Services spent approximately a billion dollars last year taking care of children caught crossing the border.

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report

Wife’s plea on Father’s Day: free pizza deliveryman from ICE for sake of his young daughters

Today is Father’s Day, and this is the first time my two little girls will spend it without their father, Pablo Villavicencio. They made handwritten cards and drawings telling him how much they love him, but sadly they won’t be able to give them to him.

Just a little over two weeks ago, Pablo was arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after delivering a pizza to the Fort Hamilton Army base, where he had gone before without any problem.

He was thrown into detention, and it seemed he would quickly be deported back to Ecuador — a country he has not seen in almost a decade.

Fortunately, a federal judge halted his deportation to allow his lawyers more time to fight his case. However, he remains in immigration custody at Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey.

His sudden arrest by ICE is suspicious, and his continued detention is cruel and unjust. His daughters need him. I need him. Our family should not be separated. His absence leaves a huge hole in the hearts of our family and our community. It feels like a death in the family.

"Every day our daughters ask me why their dad is not coming home." Pablo Villavicencio's children, Luciana (left), 3, and Antonia, 2, at home in Hempstead, L.I.
“Every day our daughters ask me why their dad is not coming home.” Pablo Villavicencio’s children, Luciana (left), 3, and Antonia, 2, at home in Hempstead, L.I. (Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)


Not only is Pablo our main provider, but he is a devoted and loving father who takes great care of our daughters. Our youngest daughter has medical issues and suffers from a congenital heart defect. Pablo has never missed her doctor or cardiologist appointments. Without him here, I have suddenly become a single mom and am struggling with all the responsibilities that I shared with my husband. His detention is a punishment that the whole family feels in many ways.

Pablo has no criminal record. He is not a flight risk. He is not a danger to anybody. He is a good man, loving father and devoted husband. We are trying to make sure that our family remains united by pursuing his green card application. His continued detention serves no real purpose other than to punish me and my daughters.

The front page of the News on Father's Day.
The front page of the News on Father’s Day. (New York Daily News)


I have visited Pablo a few times at the Hudson County jail. Pablo describes a scene where individuals are deported daily. Like him, many of these people came to this country to provide a better life for their families. It is shocking that a government can behave like this and separate loved ones.

When Pablo speaks to our daughters over the phone, we cry. The pain of being ripped away from our family is unspeakable.

We have truly been touched by the outpouring of support from New Yorkers and across the world for Pablo and our family. Pablo knows that many of you are rooting for him, and that gives him the strength with each passing day away from his daughters.

But as long as he remains detained, the heartache will continue.

On Wednesday, our oldest daughter will celebrate her fourth birthday. Pablo will likely not be there, and she’ll be wondering why. I’m sure that all fathers reading this can imagine the pain they’d feel missing these important days with their beautiful children.

ICE can make this right, and they have the authority to release Pablo at any moment they choose, so that he can continue working on his immigration case from home, not from jail. This is my plea to ICE: Release Pablo back to his family immediately.

all night art event Shot in NJ capital city, police say

A “very chaotic” scene developed early Sunday as “multiple people” were shot during an all-night art event in New Jersey’s capital city.

At least one person was killed at the 24-hour Art All Night show, the Trentonian reported.

“It’s very chaotic out here,” Trenton police Lt. Darren Zappley told the newspaper. “We have multiple people shot at this time.”

The gunfire happened shortly before 3 a.m., the report said. That was the advertised closing time for the event, which began at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The exact number of other victims was not immediately known.

“Maybe six or seven were injured by gunfire,” Zappley told the newspaper. “There’s several in the operating room right now.”

Police were receiving reports that several people were in the area carrying guns.

The event was billed as a showcase for more than 1,500 pieces of art.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.