Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 10:20 p.m. EDT

July 04, 2018 - 12:00 am

STATUE OF LIBERTY-ARRESTS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Statue of Liberty base climber identified

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal official says a woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty's base and spurred the statue's evacuation on July Fourth told police she was protesting the separation of immigrant children from parents who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The official identifies the woman as Therese Okoumou. The official wasn't authorized to discuss it and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A message left at a possible phone number for the woman hasn't been returned.

A group that organized a protest at the statue earlier Wednesday says she took part in unfurling a banner at the statue's pedestal calling for abolishing the federal government's chief immigration enforcement agency. But the group says no one else was aware she would climb the base.

At least six people were arrested in the banner demonstration.

THAILAND-CAVE SEARCH-THE LATEST

The Latest: Cave rescuers setting up internet, drain water

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — A Thai official says rescue teams are still busy trying to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their trapped children.

Korbchai Boonorana, deputy director of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, also says Thursday rescuers are continuing to drain water from wells near the cave complex to reduce water levels inside in order to make the extraction of the 12 teammates and their coach possible.

He says: "The water continues to be drained out. The more the better."

Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said earlier that not all the boys may be extracted at the same time depending on their health.

He said any extraction has to be "100 percent safe."

BRITAIN-POISONING PROBE-THE LATEST

The Latest: Police say Britons were exposed to nerve agent

AMESBURY, England (AP) — British police say two Britons who fell critically ill in the town of Amesbury were exposed to nerve agent Novichok, the same material used to poison a former Russian spy in a nearby area last spring.

Medical officials said Wednesday people who had been in the area where the couple had been should take precautions and wash their clothes.

Police said it is unclear if this incident is linked to the earlier poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, or if the batch was the same as the one that poisoned them on March 4.

Counter-terrorism police detective Neil Basu said it is unclear if the couple were targeted or if the poisoning was accidental.

OREGON BLACK LEGISLATOR-911

Black Oregon lawmaker says constituent called 911 on her

(Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A black Oregon lawmaker says one of her constituents called police on her while she was canvassing a Portland-area neighborhood that she represents.

State Rep. Janelle Bynum, who is running for re-election this fall, says she was knocking on doors and taking notes on her cellphone in Clackamas Tuesday when a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy showed up.

Bynum tells The Oregonian/OregonLive that the deputy told her a woman called police because the lawmaker appeared to spend a long time at homes.

Bynum says she has knocked on thousands of doors and this was the first time someone reported her to police. She called it "just bizarre."

The sheriff's office did not immediately comment on the incident.

Bynum says she understands the woman's concerns but said the woman could have tried talking to her first rather than calling police.

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JULY FOURTH

On July 4, Americans celebrate their union, rue divisions

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are marking Independence Day with parades, fireworks and, for some, a renewed sense of pride in their 242-year-old nation.

For others, a sense of a United States divided weighs heavy on its quintessential holiday.

From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common. Festivities are as elaborate as the Macy's July Fourth fireworks show, as gulp-worthy as the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest and as easygoing as backyard barbecues.

But in a country roiled with debate over what it means to be an American, there are even competing televised Independence Day events in the nation's capital.

PBS' broadcast of music and fireworks from the U.S. Capitol's West Lawn faces new counterprogramming from the White House, which is hosting its own concert.

HOT DOG CONTEST-THE LATEST

The Latest: Judging errors cast confusion at hot dog contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Judging errors cast widespread confusion over Joey "Jaws" Chestnut's record-setting 11th title at the annual Nathan's Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest.

Chestnut took home the Mustard Belt after downing 74 franks and buns in 10 minutes — two more than he did last year. Second-place finisher Carmen Cincotti ate 64.

But longtime announcer George Shea tells The Associated Press he noticed in real time that jurists measuring Chestnut's and Cincotti's intake weren't counting from two plates stacked with franks that the eaters were drawing from. The under-counted tally was then displayed on live TV.

Shea says both Chestnut and Cincotti were adamant about their scores, which were certified by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

He says new judges will be used next year.

VENEZUELA-US MILITARY INTERVENTION

US official: Trump pressed aides about Venezuela invasion

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Last August during a meeting in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump pressed aides on the possibility of invading Venezuela.

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser General H.R. McMaster, who have since left the administration.

This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

Trump then raised the military option twice more with Latin American leaders.

The behind-the-scenes talks, coupled with belligerent comments from Trump, highlight the White House's focus on forcing Venezuela's president from power. But critics say it also underscores how his "America First" foreign policy at times borders on being reckless.

WESTERN WILDFIRES

California wildfire grows, but so does control over flames

GUINDA, Calif. (AP) — Crews are making progress against a Northern California wildfire that threatens hundreds of buildings but say wind and dry vegetation could still fuel the blaze.

California officials said the fire in rural counties northwest of Sacramento was 25 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. That's up from 15 percent the previous day.

It has burned through 129 square miles (334 square kilometers) after igniting Saturday. Some areas have been under evacuation orders for days.

It's among the massive wildfires burning in the Western United States and putting some Fourth of July plans on hold.

NEW ZEALAND-KIM DOTCOM

Kim Dotcom loses latest legal bid to avoid US extradition

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Flamboyant internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues have lost their latest bid to avoid extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

New Zealand's Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld earlier court rulings that the men were eligible to be handed over to U.S. authorities.

The decision comes more than six years after U.S. authorities shut down Dotcom's file-sharing website Megaupload and filed charges of conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering against the men. If found guilty, they could face decades in prison.

Megaupload was once one of the internet's most popular sites. U.S. prosecutors say it raked in at least $175 million from people using it to illegally download songs, television shows and movies.

Dotcom says he can't be held responsible for how others used the site.

IMMIGRATION-SEPARATING FAMILIES

Attorney: Parents are in fragile state for asylum interviews

LOS FRESNOS, Texas (AP) — Attorneys for immigrant parents who have been split up from their children are calling attention to an overlooked effect of the separations.

Some immigrants complain that they stumbled through their first asylum interviews when they were deeply distraught over the loss of their children. The interviews can have life-changing consequences because they are critical to establishing why families cannot return home safely.

To clear the initial hurdle, asylum seekers must demonstrate a "significant possibility" that they can prove they have been persecuted or will be persecuted if they go home.

Attorneys say many asylum seekers speak through translators and fumble their interviews by holding back details that may help their cases.

Many of the parents have talked to their children on the phone, but they know little else about them.

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