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Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

At least four women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment called on Monday for a congressional investigation into Trump’s behavior, pointing to recent investigations announced into lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.

>> Read more trending news

Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne were among the more than a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

In a statement, White House officials dismissed the accusations as false and politically motivated.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct? 

Leeds said she was motivated to speak out again in the wake of recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“In some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously. People were being held accountable. Except for our president,” Leeds said. “In fact, his staff made a big point of calling us all liars.”

Earlier on Monday, Crooks, Leeds and Holvey appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” to share their stories.

Leeds said she shared her story because she "wanted people to know what kind of person he is.” Holvey said his election despite the allegations against him made Trump’s inauguration day particularly difficult.

“It was like the entire country said, ‘Meh, we don’t care that he’s like this,’” she said.

Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, told CNN last year that Trump inspected each woman during an event in New York City in the month before the contest. 

"He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat; we were just sexual objects; that we were not people," Holvey told CNN. "You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It's that feeling."

Crooks told The New York Times that she shook hands when she met Trump while working for a firm in Manhattan's Trump Tower in 2005. Crooks, then 22, said he wouldn't let go of her hand, kissed her cheeks, then kissed her "directly on the mouth."

>> Related: Rep. John Conyers announces retirement in wake of sexual harassment allegations

"It was so inappropriate," she told the Times. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Leeds told The New York Times that Trump put his hands up her skirt after meeting her on a plane in the early 1980s.

"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."

Boyne told The Huffington Post that Trump made models walk on a table during a dinner in New York in 1996.

She told the news site Trump “stuck his head right underneath their skirts” and made crude comments about their underwear and genitalia.

In a statement released Monday, White House officials called the accusations false.

“The American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory (last year),” the statement said. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

Crooks called the White House statement “laughable.” 

“I think, if they were willing to investigate Sen. (Al) Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” Crooks said.

>> Related: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Franken announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. The Minnesota Democrat was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two women.

He is one of three lawmakers who have announced their intention to leave office in weeks amid sexual misconduct scandals.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Girl has blunt message for Aetna after brain surgery coverage denied

A New York teenager had strong words when her parents’ insurance company denied her coverage for minimally invasive brain surgery that could end the seizures that have plagued her since she was 9.

>> Read more trending news/

The surgery for Cara Pressman, 15, was rejected by Aetna six weeks ago, CNN reported. She had been scheduled to have laser ablation surgery on Oct. 23, but three days before the procedure her family received a rejection letter from the insurance giant.

“When my parents told me, I went kind of blank and started crying,” Cara said. “I cried for like an hour.”

Since then, the teen from Rockland, New York, has suffered more than two dozen seizures.

“Considering they're denying me getting surgery and stopping this thing that's wrong with my brain, I would probably just say, ‘Screw you.’” Cara told CNN.

Cara’s seizures can be triggered by stress, by being happy, by exerting herself -- almost anything. “It's like having a nightmare but while you're awake," she told CNN.

Aetna is the third-largest health insurance provider in the country, providing medical coverage to 23.1 million people.

Neurologists consider laser ablation, which is performed through a small hole in the skull, to be safer and more precise than traditional brain surgery, CNN reported.

In its rejection letter, Aetna said it considered laser ablation surgery “experimental and investigational for the treatment of epilepsy because the effectiveness of this approach has not been established.”

"Clinical studies have not proven that this procedures (sic) effective for treatment of the member's condition," Aetna wrote.

The insurance company did approve Cara for the more invasive and more expensive open brain surgery, CNN reported.

Dr. Jamie Van Gompel, a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic, said Aetna's assessment was wrong.

“I would not call it experimental at all,” Van Gompel told CNN. “It's definitely not an experimental procedure. There've been thousands of patients treated with it. It's FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved. There's a lot of data out there to suggest it's effective for epilepsy."

When pressed for a better explanation on its denial, Aetna stood by its rejection, saying it was in the best interest of the patients, CNN reported, noting that the insurance company’s tone had softened somewhat.

“Clinical effectiveness and our members' safety are the primary criteria we use in determining whether a treatment or service is medically necessary,” Aetna told CNN. “There is currently a limited amount of evidence-based, clinical studies related to laser ablation surgery. As noted by the Epilepsy Foundation, only studies with a very small number of participants have been used to report the effectiveness of this procedure. We consistently evaluate any new studies or additional evidence when developing our clinical policy bulletins, and will continue to do so for this procedure.”

The Epilepsy Foundation strongly objected to Aetna's remarks, saying the insurance company took its information out of context, CNN reported.

Laser ablation surgery "has emerged as a new minimally invasive surgical option that is best suited for patients with symptomatic localization-related epilepsy," said Dr. Jacqueline French, the chief science officer with the Epilepsy Foundation.

Meanwhile, the Pressman family is frustrated, knowing that a procedure is available to Cara but unobtainable through its insurance.

“It's just so frustrating for us to know there's a solution out there -- a way to fix our daughter -- and some bureaucratic machine is preventing this from happening,” said Robert Pressman, Cara’s father. “You get so angry, but you don't know who to take it out on, because there's no particular person that's doing it. It's this big bureaucracy that's preventing this from happening.”

Robert Pressman and his wife, Julie, said they have paid $24,000 for insurance with Aetna this year. They said they are determined to get Cara laser ablation surgery with or without the insurance company's help. They will appeal Aetna's latest rejection -- but are not optimistic.

To prepare, they are considering dipping into their retirement funds to pay the $300,000 out of pocket, CNN reported.

“Cara is worth every penny, but man,” Julie Pressman said. “‘Screw Aetna,’ indeed, to quote my kid.”

Woman arrested, accused of threatening to ‘kill everybody’ on Southwest flight

A woman was arrested after she was accused of smoking on a plane and threatening to kill passengers on the flight.

KOIN reported that the woman was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon to Sacramento, California,  Saturday. Passenger-recorded video appears to show a woman yelling at crew.

>> Read more trending news

“I swear if you don’t (expletive) land I will (expletive) kill everyone on this (expletive) plane,” the woman says in the video.

KOVR reported that the witness who recorded the video said the woman, Valerie Curbelo, 24, was caught smoking in the bathroom of the plane and attempted to interfere with the smoke detector. She was told to go back to her seat when she began yelling and making threats. According to the witness, Curbelo had to be restrained by crew members for the last 30 minutes flight, which lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

Curbelo was arrested by law enforcement at the gate. She was booked into the Saramento County Jail and making criminal threats.

Curbelo spoke to KOVR from her jail cell. She said she smoked because she was anxious, but she did not provides and explanation for the threat she is accused of making, or what she was anxious about. 

“I don’t know,” Curbelo, who is from Sandy, Oregon, said. “It was not me. It was not me.”

Curbelo wouldn’t say why she was flying to Sacramento.

Southwest airlines provided a statement to KOIN on the incident:

“Our Crew in command of Flight 2943 traveling from Portland on Saturday afternoon safely landed on-time in Sacramento following an inflight disturbance. Our reports from Flight Attendants indicate a Customer violated federal laws by both smoking onboard an aircraft and by tampering with a smoke detector in an aircraft restroom. Our Crew enforced the regulation and that was followed by the passenger outburst. The safety of our Crew and Passengers is our top priority and we take all threats seriously. The Pilots declared an emergency to receive priority handling from air traffic controllers, and our Crew handled the situation onboard until the plane landed and local authorities stepped in. The flight carried 136 Customers and a Crew of five.”

The Sacramento Bee reported that Curbelo has an arraignment Tuesday afternoon.

Woman’s floating retirement home sinks into California bay

A California woman who was buoyed by the idea of a floating retirement home watched her life savings sink to the bottom of a bay, KGO reported.

>> Read more trending news

Debbie Herbstreit had paid $25,000 for the boat to use as a home and had owned it for a month. Sunday, she received an urgent call from the harbormaster at the San Leandro Marina, informing her that the boat was taking on water..

“I dropped everything and came here and I was praying a little prayer that it would be an inch of water or something,” Herbstreit told KGO.

It was worse than that. The boat was half-submerged and leaking fuel.

“My entire life savings,” Herbstreit told KGO. “This was going to be my retirement home, because I cannot afford a house in San Francisco and I love the city.”

Herbstreit said she was unaware of any defects in the boat and has no idea why it sank.

“It was beautiful. Hardwood floors, dishwasher, washer and dryer, a whirlpool bathtub,” she told KGO. “I had friends say to me, ‘wow!’

“They didn’t even think they were on a boat.”

‘Welcome to Florida’ sign covered in snow

Visitors to the Sunshine State got a winter’s greeting when the “Welcome to Florida” sign was seen blanketed in snow. 

>> Read more trending news

The image of the snowy welcome sign was shared by news website northescambia.com.

The state, as well as much of the Deep South, was hit by uncharacteristic cold over the weekend, which dropped flurries and left people without power in some states. 

Temperatures throughout Florida dipped to the 40s,with some parts getting to freezing Sunday night. 

Thousands were without power in Georgia and the Carolinas. Hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled over the weekend. Power was restored and airports were back on schedule Sunday.

Temperatures throughout the south were on a warming trend Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Man killed in fiery crash after buying daughter’s Christmas presents

A young Idaho father was killed Friday night when he crashed his car on the way home from buying his 3-year-old daughter’s Christmas presents, police and family said.

Idaho State Police officials reported that Andrew P. Blum, 29, of Spokane, Washington, was driving a maroon 2002 Mazda Tribute near Priest River when he lost control of the car in a curve. The car flipped in a ditch and, according to KHQ-TV in Spokane, burst into flames.

Neither Blum nor his sole passenger, older brother Jerod M. Paulus, were wearing their seatbelts, investigators said. Blum died at Bonner General Hospital, where Paulus, 32, was recovering from his injuries. 

Loved ones told KHQ that Blum’s life revolved around his daughter, Emma.

“He was a very good dad,” Sadie Brown, the girl’s mother, told the news station. “He loved Emma with everything he had.”

Brown said that, although they were no longer a couple, she and Blum spoke daily. She last spoke to him about 30 minutes before the crash, when he told her he was shopping for their little girl.

>> Read more trending news

The gifts he bought her were burned in the crash, but Brown said the loss of her father is all Emma cares about.

“She keeps saying, ‘Let me call my dad. I want to see my dad,’” Brown said. 

GoFundMe account has been set up to help Blum’s family pay for his funeral. 

Priest River is in North Idaho, about 45 miles north of Coeur d’Alene and 55 miles northeast of Spokane. 

Baby formula recalled over salmonella contamination

One of the world’s largest dairy groups has ordered a global recall of millions of baby milk products over fears of salmonella bacteria contamination.

>> Read more trending news

Lactalis is pulling millions of products made since mid-February and shipped to markets including China, Greece, Pakistan and Britain, according to a company list

Products in the United States are not affected. 

French health officials said 26 infants have gotten sick since Dec. 1. Those cases were linked to products branded Picot SL, Pepti Junior 1, Milumel Bio 1 and Picot Riz.

“(Lactalis is) sincerely sorry for the concern generated by the situation and expresses its compassion and support to the families whose children fell ill,” the company said in a statement.

Salmonella can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever. Most people are able to recover without treatment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ellen DeGeneres’ California home threatened by wildfires

The Thomas Fire is impacting thousands of California residents, including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

>> Read more trending news

DeGeneres tweeted Sunday night that her Santa Barbara home is in danger from the raging wildfire.

“We just had to evacuate our pets,” she wrote. “I’m praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters.”

The Thomas Fire has burned through at least 200,000 acres through Sunday evening and also interrupted transmission lines in the Santa Barbara area, leaving more than 85,000 customers without power.

>> PHOTOS: California wildfires burn thousands of acres

The fire began seven days ago and has forced more than 88,000 people to evacuate their homes, KCBS reported.

More than 4,000 firefighters have been deployed to the firefight.

Baby Pleads For Help In Hilarious Santa Photo

Baby Pleads For Help In Hilarious Santa Photo

Who is Akayed Ullah, suspect in New York explosion?

Four people were injured Monday morning when an explosive device went off in an underground passageway near Times Square, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. Among those injured was a man suspected of strapping the device to himself and carrying it toward Times Square.

>> Read more trending news

>> Related: New York explosion: Suspect, 3 others injured in 'terror-related' attack

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neil identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, 27.

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