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Oakland homeless advocates turn encampment into ‘a little oasis’

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Oakland homeless advocates turn encampment into 'a little oasis'

A group of Oakland residents developed a creative way to attack the city’s burgeoning housing crisis. They built their own “community center” at a homeless encampment beneath a highway overpass.

Called Cob on the Wood, the working village includes the basics of home, such as toilet, shower and kitchen, plus a health clinic and small store, The San Jose Mercury News reported.

“It’s sort of like a little oasis in the middle of nowhere that makes you feel like maybe you’re normal again,” John Janosko, who lives in a trailer in the encampment, told the paper, which described the development “like something out of a fairy tale.”

One publication describes an idyllic setting:

“Winding stone pathways connect the structures and are bordered by little gardens of herbs, greens, and flowers. The kitchen has a stove, sink with running water, shelving full of bread and a refrigerator full of food. Herbs and emergency medical supplies fill the clinic. The shower’s water runs hot.”

Amenities reportedly include pizza oven, fire pit and open mic nights.

The village challenges local regulations, zoning laws, health ordinances and safety issues.

The Oakland city auditor in April released a report that highlighted a litany of problems that plague the city’s estimated 140 homeless communities, including: 1,599 interventions for “hygiene and garbage services” from 2018 to 2020, 1,458 police calls and 988 fires over the same period.

Cob on the Wood advocates hope the village mitigates many of those problems.

“This place and what we created can serve as a model for other encampments across Oakland, across the nation and across the world,” Xochitl Bernadette Moreno, co-founder and director of the grassroots group Essential Food and Medicine, told the Mercury News.

Her group helped build Cob on the Wood with two other activist organizations, Living Earth Structures and Artists Building Communities.

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Miami Beach building collapse

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Miami Beach building collapse

More than 80 fire rescue units are responding to a partial building collapse this morning just north of Miami Beach and rescues are underway, officials said.

It was a high-rise condominium building and rescues of trapped residents were underway, reports CBS Miami.

A boy was pulled from the rubble of the collapsed condo building and was placed onto a stretcher, NBC 2 News reports.

According to CBS Miami, a man who was evacuated from a nearby hotel said, “The building – one of these huge buildings – gone! … The building – it’s gone. … The whole building’s gone. … Oh my gosh. This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

It’s unclear if there are any injuries. Miami Beach police and fire departments are responding to the building in Surfside. 

Multiple police and fire departments from across Miami-Dade County are also assisting.

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Man sentenced to a year in prison for buying endangered animal parts

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Man sentenced to a year in prison for buying endangered animal parts

A Florida man was sentenced to prison last week for buying parts of dead endangered animals.

Steven Phillip Griffin II, 36, was sentenced to a year and day in a federal lockup after pleading guilty in November to receiving and transporting endangered species in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Griffin was busted after he met undercover wildlife agents in Texas in May 2019 to buy two Southern White rhino horns, four elephant ivory tusks, one African lion skull and three leopard skulls for $9,750, investigators said.

In the two years leading up to the meeting, Griffin communicated with an undercover agent to negotiate the deal, according to the plea agreement.

He told the agent he collects dead animal parts, including skulls and full skeletons and even sent pictures of his collection.

After the meeting, authorities operating with a search warrant seized a variety of animal parts, guns and ammunition from Griffin’s Tampa Bay home.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon.

With Post wires

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Man arrested for taking $1.2M yacht on joyride in upstate NY

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Man arrested for taking $1.2M yacht on joyride in upstate NY

A man was arrested after he stole a $1.2 million yacht and took it for a joy ride from upstate New York to Vermont over one of the Great Lakes, reports said.

And when 56-year-old Robert Morris was busted by police he made the outrageous claim he was only giving it a test drive, according to local reports.

The would-be captain took the 48-foot yacht christened “Volans” from New York’s Rouses Point Marina on Monday morning and was caught after crossing Lake Champlain to a state park off the coast of St. Albans, Vt., WCAX reported.

The boat, a Jeanneau Prestige 500, was located by a US Border Patrol helicopter, NBC 5 reported. Morris was nabbed on Burton Island by the St. Albans Police Department and slapped with multiple charges, including possession of stolen property, the station said.

At a court hearing the day after his arrest, Smith was talkative and said he “was water testing the boat after making mechanical fixes,” WCAX said.

Morris was a wanted fugitive in New Hampshire and had a list of prior arrests, according to WCAX. He had also told cops he was given permission to take the boat and said he was caught bringing the yacht back to its owner, which the owner denies, WCAX said.

The accused, who made an “inappropriate gesture” to the webcam as he left the meeting, will undergo a competency exam, the station reported.

Morris is to be extradited to New York to face additional charges, the report said.

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