ACROSS OUR STATE & NATION

US Marshals:

Scammers pose

as law enforcement officials

CINCINNATI (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service is warning of nationwide scams by individuals claiming to be marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.

U.S. Marshal Pete Tobin says victims have lost thousands of dollars to scammers who tell them they failed to report for jury duty or committed other offenses. They often tell victims they can avoid arrest by buying a prepaid debit card and providing the card number to the caller.

Tobin’s statement says U.S. Marshals would never ask for a credit, debit or gift card number or banking routing numbers or ask for funds to be wired for any purpose

He urges people across the country to report such phone calls to their local U.S. Marshals Service office and to the Federal Trade Commission.

68,000 students participate in

Ohio college credit program

COLUMBUS (AP) — The state says more than 68,000 students participated during the second full year of a statewide program that allows Ohio middle- and high-schoolers to earn free college credit.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education says that figure for the 2016-17 school year represents a slight increase in College Credit Plus participation over last year’s 54,000 students.

The program is open to college-ready students at public, private and in-home schools, grades 7 through 12.

The department says 44 percent of participating students were high school seniors. Twenty-eight percent were juniors. More than 90 percent of participants got the passing grade necessary to earn college credit.

The department estimates families saved $124 million in future college tuition through the program. Students’ home districts pick up the tab for most of that cost.

Youth hunters

take nearly 5,000 deer in youth

gun season

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio officials say nearly 5,000 white-tailed deer were harvested during this year’s two-day youth gun season.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says young hunters checked 4,958 deer during the Nov. 18-19 season.

State officials say 5,930 white-tailed deer were checked during last year’s season.

Young hunters were allowed to use a legal shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun or specific straight-walled cartridge rifle and were required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult during the two-day season. Youth hunting seasons are also available for small game, wild turkey and waterfowl.

The regular deer-gun season is Monday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 3, and also Dec. 16-17.

Deer-muzzleloader season is Saturday, Jan. 6, through Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Deer-archery season is open now through Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.

Las Vegas pot

dispensaries offer Black Friday deals

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Big-box stores won’t be the only ones offering discounts to shoppers in Las Vegas this Black Friday. Marijuana dispensaries are rolling out deals, too.

More than 40 dispensaries in the Sin City area will offer discounts on marijuana flower products, edibles such as chocolates, and concentrates, the Las Vegas Sun reported Wednesday. This will be the first Black Friday since legal sales of recreation marijuana began in Nevada.

“It’s a great stocking-stuffer, and now you can treat it like alcohol in that regard,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who helped legalize recreational pot in the state. “As long as no kids can get to it. It’s for adults only.”

Some dispensaries will offer an eighth of an ounce of select flower products for $35, down from $53. One dispensary will gift shoppers a 10-pack of fruit chew edibles with any purchase, while another one will have a buy-one-get-one-free special on edibles.

Legal sales of recreational marijuana began in the state July 1. Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. People can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Las Vegas Strip, hotels and casinos.

“Cannabis use has been misunderstood and vilified in our country for over 80 years, so this day will feel both surreal and celebratory,” said Andrew Jolley, owner of dispensaries and president of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “We’re very excited about the first holiday season of adult-use in Nevada.”

South Dakota

lawmaker, brother-in-law drown

in Cook Islands

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota state representative and his brother-in-law drowned in an apparent kayaking accident in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, where they were attending a wedding for the lawmaker’s daughter, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office said in a statement that state Rep. Craig Tieszen, 68, a Republican from Rapid City, and his brother-in-law, Brent Moline, 61, died Wednesday

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender wrote on his Facebook page that Tieszen and Moline died in a kayak accident. Tieszen and his family had traveled to the Cook Islands for their wedding, according to Allender’s post.

The Cook Islands Police Service didn’t immediately return an email from The Associated Press seeking additional information.

The agency wrote in a Facebook post that officials had been at the scene of a “double tragedy at sea,” saying two men had taken their kayaks over a reef and capsized. The post doesn’t name Tieszen or Moline, but describes the two victims as American citizens aged 68 and 61.

Police haven’t concluded their investigation, according to the post.

Tieszen, who served as chairman of the House Retirement Laws Committee, was in his first term representing District 34 in the House. He had previously served in the Senate from 2009 through 2016.

Tieszen spent 32 years in law enforcement before retiring as police chief of Rapid City in western South Dakota. A telephone message the AP left at Tieszen’s home wasn’t immediately returned.

“Craig Tieszen was a good man and a dedicated public servant, and his loss is very sad,” Daugaard said in the statement. “Craig Tieszen spent his life serving the public. He was a thoughtful and conscientious legislator, and a leader on criminal justice issues.”

The governor said he will order flags to fly at half-staff statewide to honor Tieszen on the day of his funeral, which hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Congressional

Russia probes likely to head

into 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some Republicans are hoping lawmakers will soon wrap up investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that have dragged on for most of the year. But with new details in the probe emerging almost daily, that seems unlikely.

Three congressional committees are investigating Russian interference and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign was in any way involved. The panels have obtained thousands of pages of documents from Trump’s campaign and other officials, and have done dozens of interviews.

The probes are separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller can prosecute for criminal activity, while Congress can only lay out findings, publicize any perceived wrongdoing and pass legislation to try to keep problems from happening again. If any committee finds evidence of criminal activity, it must refer the matter to Mueller.

All three committees have focused on a June 2016 meeting that Trump campaign officials held in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and others. They are also looking into outreach by several other Russians to the campaign, including involvement of George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty this month to lying to the FBI as part of Mueller’s probe. New threads continue to emerge, such as a recent revelation that Donald Trump Jr. was messaging with WikiLeaks, the website that leaked emails from top Democratic officials during the campaign.

Barton to go mum over disclosed photo, citing probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Suggesting he’s a victim of revenge porn from a jilted lover, Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas says he plans to go silent about the release of a nude photo of him online because police are investigating the disclosure as a possible crime against him. Authorities have not confirmed an investigation.

The 68-year-old Barton, who joined the House in 1985, has acknowledged sharing intimate material with a lover and accused her of threatening to make it public when he ended the relationship. The unidentified woman told The Washington Post that she did not put it online and said the congressman sought to intimidate her by threatening to go to the authorities if she exposed his conduct.

The he said-she said dispute erupted in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations drawing in several other members of Congress as well as Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who is accused of disrobing a 14-year-old girl. The consequences for Barton are not immediately apparent aside from his mortification: The relationship with the woman was evidently consensual.

The Post published details of a secretly recorded conversation between Barton and his lover from 2015 in which he threatened to “take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation” if she did not agree to keep “inappropriate photographs and video” that he had exchanged with her from becoming public. He said she had already shared material with other women with whom he had been involved.

In a statement after that report, Barton said the “Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted. Because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment.” He said the woman’s comments on the tape could be evidence of a “potential crime against me.”

Franken’s rising

political star

obscured by

accusations

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Many of you have jobs, many of you have families,” Sen. Al Franken told Democratic leaders gathered on the eve of a hotly contested governor’s election in Virginia. After an expectant pause, he leaned into the microphone and added, “Ignore them.”

Franken was jokingly beseeching activists to get out the vote the following day, in what ended up as a surprisingly decisive victory for Democratic candidate Ralph Northam.

But the moment, barely two weeks ago, also underscored how high the one-time “Saturday Night Live” comic had risen in his party’s firmament.

After spending much of his nearly nine years as senator trying to shed his funnyman image and quietly digging into issues like internet access and consumer protection, he was now a draw at political events and mentioned by some as a 2020 presidential possibility.

Months of savaging some of President Donald Trump’s appointees had turned the Harvard-educated Franken into a weapon of choice for Democrats eager to attack the administration and energize party voters.

Now, Franken’s rising trajectory has been interrupted by allegations he had physical contact with four women without their permission.

He faces a Senate ethics investigation for improper conduct and hasn’t been seen publicly since the first claims of misbehavior last week. His future is suddenly unclear.

“It’s always a great disappointment when leaders you like and admire do bad stuff,” said Mike Lux, a liberal Democratic consultant. He said it was premature to say how the allegations would affect Franken’s career. But, Lux added, “If more incidents come to light, he’s got a real problem.”

Bannon insurgency stresses loyalty to Trump, not policy

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies, doesn’t look much like the renegade outsiders whom political strategist Steve Bannon says he’s recruiting for his war on the Republican establishment. But Nicholson has Bannon’s backing anyway, thanks to his loyalty to President Donald Trump.

As Bannon drafts his team of challengers to the old guard, the new guard is increasingly aligned not by ideology, but by its history of support for the president.

Republicans who have criticized the president or been slow to embrace him are out.

One particular test for the Breitbart News chairman and former Trump White House strategist is how such Republicans reacted during the campaign to the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video showing Trump bragging about sexually imposing himself on women. Those who kept quiet about it or stuck with him earn Bannon’s favor now even if it means looking the other way on some policy positions and affiliations. Nicholson, for example, has backing from wealthy free-trade advocates, an awkward policy fit with Trump’s economic nationalism.

“If you were never-Trump, refused to ever endorse the president or withdrew your endorsement following ‘Access Hollywood’weekend, don’t even bother walking through Bannon’s door,” said Bannon adviser Andy Surabian.

Bannon hopes chiefly to topple Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he has blamed for obstructing Trump’s agenda, especially efforts to dismantle Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Bannon has threatened to find a Republican primary opponent for almost every GOP senator seeking re-election in 2018.

As shoppers

mobilize on Thanksgiving,

retailers branch

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving and will be finding some surprises: toys and TVs at J.C. Penney, Barbies at Best Buy, kitchen appliances like wine refrigerators at B.J.’s.

As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off Thursday, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. But they’re also looking beyond economic data and mapping out ways to pick up sales from other retailers as Amazon expands its reach.

That can mean opening earlier than rivals on the holidays or even jumping into new product categories. The fight for market share comes as analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the holiday season’s sales growth.

And Amazon is the top destination for people to begin holiday shopping, according to a September study by market research firm NPD Group.

“The retailers are in survival mode. It’s about stealing each other’s market share,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Amazon is the Grinch. They’re stealing the growth.”

Abi and Sush Gyawali — both 27-year-old biology graduate students at the University of Missouri — were among hundreds of people who lined up outside J.C. Penney in Columbia, Missouri, before the store opened at 2 p.m. Thursday.