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John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Army soldiers have removed barbed wire along the US-Mexico border in areas where the Trump administration has said more border security measures are needed after local community leaders raised concerns.

About 2 miles of military-grade wire was removed from city land in Laredo, Texas, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials. The agency ordered the removals after hearing from local elected officials who raised environmental and public safety concerns with the wire running near community parks.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, who leads the Texas Border Commission, said the Trump administration has, in part, used his community to fabricate the threat of migrants traveling north.

“They want to be overly protective,” Saenz told ABC News. “But at what cost? The cost to the local economy. The cost to our livelihoods here at the border area.”

Citing the “very real threat we face at the border,” the Trump administration recently extended the deployment of U.S. troops along the border through January.

“As the situation along the border continues to evolve, we will continue to assess our operational needs, including removal of the c-wire,” a CBP official said in a statement to ABC News.

 Laredo routinely handles the bulk of trade across the US-Mexico border, which amounts to more than $200 billion each year.

Saenz emphasized the historic, cultural connection between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican town directly across the border line. He said the politicized decision-making has strained this relationship and threatens the local economy.

“By all means we want security, but it’s got to be done properly and weighed carefully,” the mayor said.

Razor wire has also been removed in Hidalgo, Texas, where the Rio Grande River valley acts as a natural impediment to crossing as it does throughout much of south Texas.

Even though some border communities like Hidalgo haven’t seen the direct impact from the military fortifications, City Councilman Rudy Franz says the extra measures are excessive.

“This is blown out of proportion,” Franz told ABC News. “I don’t think it’s necessary. I think it puts fear in people.”

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Sherry Bishop(NEW YORK) -- A deaf and nearly blind puppy was rescued in Kentucky earlier this week after being thrown alive into a rock-filled trash bag and dumped in a partially frozen creek.

Highway workers on a road above the creek in Sadieville, Kentucky, spotted the seven-week-old female puppy on Tuesday as she wiggled her head out of the trash bag and tried to keep her head above the freezing cold water. One of the men waded through the icy waters to get her out of the plastic trash bag, which had another bag inside full of large rocks.

The puppy, "shivering and wet," was suffering from hypothermia, so the men brought her to the Scott County Animal Shelter in Georgetown, Kentucky, according to the shelter's assistant director, Sherry Bishop.

"She couldn't even hold her head up and was very disoriented," Bishop told ABC News. "We rushed her to the vet, where she received fluids to warm up her little body."

The puppy, who has been named Chapel, is believed to be a purebred Australian Shepherd and also what's known as a "double merle," which means the puppy's mother and father both had merle coats. Merle-to-merle breeding can result in a beautiful, almost all-white coat but the puppies have a high chance of being born blind, deaf or both.

Chapel is deaf and severely vision impaired, according to Bishop.

"It's a breeder being greedy," she said. "The breeder can't make money from the ones with congenital birth defects, like in Chapel's case, so we feel like she was tossed away like trash."

The Scott County Animal Shelter is working with local law enforcement to find the person or persons responsible, according to Bishop.

"Whomever did this could have called us and we would have gladly picked her up, or they could've dropped her off at the shelter," she said.

Chapel is doing well after the visit to the veterinarian clinic, plus plenty of love and attention from the shelter staff. The puppy has a good appetite and loves to run, play and nap, Bishop said.

"She makes up for being blind and deaf with her sense of smell. It's amazing to watch," she told ABC News. "She would follow us around by our scent or would hang onto our pant leg with her mouth."

On Friday, Chapel was transported to Speak for the Unspoken, a pet rescue group near Columbus, Ohio, that focuses on special needs animals. She has been placed in a foster home, according to the group's executive director Andrea Kochensparger.

Bishop said it was bittersweet saying goodbye to Chapel, who immediately captured the hearts of the shelter staff.

"They will keep her in foster care for awhile and then find the perfect home suited for her needs," she told ABC News "We are going to miss her, but can't wait to see her placed in a loving home."

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John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The recent death of a 7-year-old girl in U.S. government custody appears to have been one of four people who died this month trying to cross the Mexico border, and one of more than 260 this year, according to an unclassified government report obtained by ABC News.

The report, marked “sensitive but unclassified,” had been updated on Friday, suggesting that Jakil Caal Maquin, 7, was counted among those four December deaths counted by border authorities.

The figure represents migrant deaths recorded by border officials within their area of responsibility and is not exclusive to people in U.S. custody.

For example, 50 deaths in 2018 are marked as “water-related,” presumably people who drowned trying to cross sections of the border marked by rivers.

Another 27 deaths were skeletal remains discovered by American authorities.

Exposure to heat was attributed to the largest number of deaths.

The figures paint a grim picture for the caravans of migrants making their way to the U.S. border.

This week, the death of Maquin sparked an uproar among congressional Democrats and advocacy groups.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Friday that the Guatemalan child died shortly after turning herself in with her father at a remote New Mexico border crossing.

A total of 281 deaths were counted in the 2018 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, according to the document. Since then, another 32 people have been found dead -- a figure that includes the four in December.

The document states that the vast majority of deaths in the recent budget year -- 117 -- were migrants from Mexico. Another 116 people were “unknown.” It counts 19 people who died in 2018 from Guatemala, 14 from Honduras and eight from El Salvador.

The number of deaths actually represents a slight drop in prior years, including 2016 -- before President Donald Trump took office -- when 329 migrant deaths were recorded by border officials.

The document notes that the numbers are “preliminary and subject to change.”

Maquin was traveling from Guatemala with her father as part of a group of 163 people, including 50 children who were without parents or guardians, according to Department of Homeland Security officials who spoke with reporters on a conference call on Friday.

When they were apprehended in a remote desert area near the New Mexico border around 9 p.m. on Dec. 6, officials said, the girl was assessed to be in good health and the father signed a form saying she was not sick.

But by 5 a.m. the following morning when Maquin and her father got on a bus to a nearby military base, she was sick and vomiting, according to officials.

Agents called ahead to Lordsburg Border Patrol Station about 95 miles away, where the bus was headed, officials said, so that paramedics could meet them when they arrived. By the time they arrived around 6:30 a.m., the young girl's father told agents she wasn't breathing, officials said.

Paramedics determined she had a 105.9-degree fever and she was airlifted to a children's hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she went into cardiac arrest and later died.

Maquin was one of a group of more than 160 migrants apprehended by four border patrol agents the night of Dec. 6. There was no medical staff on the scene, officials said, describing the border crossing as extremely remote.

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ViewApart/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Utah is getting ready to implement the strictest blood-alcohol driving limits in the country.

The law, which was passed in March 2017 by Gov. Gary Herbert, will define driving under the influence as having a “blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater,” making it lower than the nation’s standard of .08.

Under the new law, which will go into effect Dec. 30, a person will also be charged with “automobile homicide” if they kill another person while operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .05 or higher -- considered a third-degree felony.

By lowering the BAC limit, Utah becomes the first and only state to take action on the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations to lower BAC limits to .05. In the report, NTSB stated that “more than 100 countries have already established per se BAC limits at or below 0.05.”

NTSB cited several studies supporting its recommendations. One, for example, found that the risk of being involved in a fatal crash at BACs between .05 and .079 ranged from 3 to 17 times higher, depending on the age of the driver. Another, based out of Queensland, Australia, found that the risk of fatal crashes dropped 18 percent after the limits were lowered.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10,874 people who died in 2017 from crashes involving a vehicle where the driver had a BAC of .08 or higher. It was the lowest number of deaths since the NHTSA first started reporting alcohol data in 1982.

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Brendan Mullin/U.S. Marine Corps (WASHINGTON) -- Days before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump announced the deployment of active duty troops to the southern border to stop caravans of migrants making their way through Mexico.

On Saturday, that original border mission comes to a close, but thousands of U.S. troops will remain for an extended and reduced mission in support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) slated to last through January 31.

At the height of the deployment, there were 5,900 active duty troops stationed in California, Arizona and Texas. On Thursday, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) said that figure had dropped to 4,200, but a U.S. official told ABC News that eventually only about 2,500 to 3,000 troops will remain.

The downsizing of the mission comes just days after Trump suggested that the military could be used to build a wall on the southern border. A Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday that there was "no plan to build sections of the wall."

A troop rotation has been established for the extension, allowing those who were deployed over Thanksgiving to make it home for Christmas, the official said.

The Pentagon has estimated that the original deployment through Dec. 15 would cost taxpayers $72 million, but the extended mission is expected to cost less because of the reduced footprint and the fact that infrastructure is already in place and materials like concertina wire have already been purchased and used.

The focus of the extended mission will be on California, where thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America have arrived in Tijuana with many waiting to apply for asylum.

In late November, a group of migrants attempted to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border near the San Ysidro port of entry, prompting CBP agents to use tear gas and close cross-border traffic for several hours. But since that incident, the border has been relatively quiet.

During the six-week deployment, military engineers constructed approximately 70 miles of wire obstacles and placed movable barriers at 22 Ports of Entry across California, Arizona, and Texas, NORTHCOM said. Military Police units, trained to act as back-up for CBP agents in the event of another cross-border skirmish with migrants, conducted more than 10,000 man-hours of unit training.

"With the completion of border hardening missions, some engineering, logistics and headquarters elements will redeploy to their home bases to prepare for other missions," NORTHCOM said in a tweet on Thursday.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Ottawa last week that he would leave some engineers in Texas and Arizona "if we ever had to close the ports of entry," as was done in San Ysidro.

"But a number of these troops will be coming off," Mattis said, adding, "The missions that are done, they're coming home."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A storm in the eastern U.S. is bringing mainly heavy rain to half of the nation this weekend. On Friday, over 2 inches of rain fell in parts of South Carolina, with flooding reported there and some minor flooding reported in parts of Florida as well.

The radar is showing several areas of very heavy rain Saturday morning from Missouri to Washington, D.C., and south to Florida.

Heavy rain, and in some locations a melting snow pack, could cause some flooding through the weekend. Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour will be possible. Flood alerts have been issued for a large part of the East Coast, including Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

The storm is a slow mover, which could enhance rainfall totals in some spots. By Sunday morning, rain will still be falling in parts of the Northeast. However, rain moving into parts of interior New England could mix with or transition to snow during the morning hours.

Little to no accumulation is expected, but some slick spots are possible in the interior Northeast on Sunday morning.

By Monday morning, colder air wrapping around the storm should bring a quick round of snow to parts of the interior Northeast again. It is likely that accumulations will be very limited with the best chances for accumulation located in the higher elevations south of Albany, New York.

The other notable mention with this system is that this latest storm is bringing more rain to a region of the country that is already breaking annual records.

Heavy rain is falling in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday morning, which has already observed its wettest year on record. As of 11 p.m. Friday, Wilmington had received 99.68 inches of rain in 2018. A large amount of this rainfall came from Hurricane Florence in September. The previous record was 83.65 inches in 1877.

Washington, D.C., is also seeing heavy rain Saturday morning. The city has already seen 61.06 inches of rain in 2018, making it the second-wettest year on record. With another 1 to 2 inches of rain forecast, D.C. will almost certainly break the annual record of 61.33 inches set in 1889.

West Coast storm

Strong winds on Friday night caused over 100,000 power outages in northwest Washington, some of those in the Seattle area. Wind were reported to be close to 50 mph at times.

Behind the gusty winds, a storm is moving into the Northwest by Saturday night which will bring mainly heavy rain and some mountain snow. The heavy rain will stretch down to parts of California as well.

Another low is lurking right behind this system that will bring the next round of rain to the region for Tuesday and Wednesday. Some flooding is possible in parts of the West with this second system.

Rainfall totals in parts of the western U.S. through Wednesday could exceed 5 to 6 inches. However, much of the Pacific Northwest is used to seeing rainfall in this fashion during the colder months. In parts of the Sierra Nevadas, mountain snow of 1 to 2 feet is possible through Monday.

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Prathaan/iStock(WOODLAND PARK, Colo.) -- It's been 23 days since a young Colorado mother vanished -- and as investigators search the home of the last person who talked to her in person, police are calling her disappearance "suspicious."

Kelsey Berreth, a 29-year-old mother of a 1-year-old girl, was last seen on Thanksgiving in the area of her Woodland Park home.

Authorities executed a search warrant Friday morning at the home of Patrick Frazee, Berreth's fiancé and the father of her baby.

The search was still going as of Friday afternoon, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said.

Frazee was the last person to talk to Berreth face-to-face and is being asked to sit down with investigators, Young said at a Friday news conference.

The chief said Friday he wasn't willing to label individuals as suspects or persons of interest, but he added, "We are considering every possibility."

Earlier this week the chief told reporters Frazee was not a suspect.

Frazee's attorney, Jeremy Loew, said in a statement Friday that his client "continues to cooperate with law enforcement in the missing person investigation."

"Frazee was never asked to voluntarily participate" in Friday's search at his property, Loew said, adding, "We encourage law enforcement to take whatever steps it deems necessary to find Kelsey Berreth and to be able to exclude Patrick Frazee as a possible suspect."

Frazee is declining to speak publicly and is instead focusing "on parenting the child he shares with Ms. Berreth," his attorney said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol officials made a concerted effort Friday to explain the circumstances surrounding the death of a 7-year-old girl in government custody after she and her father were apprehended attempting to cross the southern border into New Mexico.

Since The Washington Post first reported on the girl's case Thursday, five days after she died from dehydration and cardiac arrest, Democrats have called for an investigation and the ACLU has criticized how migrants apprehended on the border are treated once arrested.

While defending how the case was handled, saying the girl received all the medical attention available despite a 90-minute delay after the father alerted agents she was sick, DHS officials said Friday the department's Office of Inspector General would investigate the girl's death.

According to the DHS officials on a conference call with reporters, the girl was traveling from Guatemala with her father as part of a group of 163 people, including 50 children who were without parents or guardians. When they were apprehended in a remote desert area near the New Mexico border around 9 p.m. on Dec. 6, officials said, the girl was assessed to be in good health -- but it would only be a matter of hours before the young girl's health took a serious turn.

Four border patrol agents apprehended the group of over 160 migrants and there were no medical staff on the scene, according to officials.

"Our agents are almost always outnumbered in the middle of the night, that’s the work that we do," said a CBP official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, in describing the nature of apprehending large groups like this one, which officials said wasn't unusual.

According to officials, Border Patrol has 1,300 has emergency medical personnel on staff. Several thousand U.S. military troops have been deployed to the border since November, and are scheduled to stay through January.

Around 5 a.m., when the girl got on a bus with her father to a nearby base, he alerted agents she was throwing up and sick. Agents called ahead to Lordsburg Border Patrol Station about 95 miles away, where the bus was headed, officials said, so paramedics could meet them when they arrived. By the time they arrived around 6:30 a.m., the young girl's father told agents she wasn't breathing, officials said.

"There wasn't a whole lot more the agents could do in this situation" besides call ahead to alert medical staff, a CBP official said Friday when explaining the details of the night.

Paramedics determined she had a 105.9-degree fever and she was airlifted to a children's hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she went into cardiac arrest. While at the hospital, the young girl suffered brain swelling and liver failure. She was breathing by a machine before she died, according to CBP and DHS officials.

She died at the hospital less than 24 hours later, DHS said.

In an interview Friday morning on Fox News, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the girl's death was "heart-wrenching" and an example of the dangerous trek to cross into the U.S. through its Southwest border.

"We gave immediate care, we'll continue to look into the situation, but again, I cannot stress enough how dangerous this journey is when migrants choose to come here illegally," Nielsen said.

What happened with the girl, whose name has not been released, adds to a growing concern about a number of deaths related to substandard healthcare provided in border facilities.

Cynthia Pompa, an advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said the girl's death shed a light on "inhumane conditions" at CBP facilities.

"Lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths. In 2017, migrant deaths increased even as the number of border crossings dramatically decreased," Pompa said.

“When the Trump administration pushes for the militarization of the border, including more border wall construction, they are driving people fleeing violence into the deadliest desert regions. The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” she said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which didn't publicly alert the press of the girl's death through regular channels, is currently reviewing their "notification and disclosure policy," according to officials from the DHS and CBP, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

On Thursday, ABC News reported on the death of 52-year-old Gerardo Cruz, a father of six who died after 25 days in CBP custody, where his cellmate said he was throwing up blood.

Cruz died in March, 25 days after he was first detained, 18 days after he arrived at a detention center in San Diego, and 17 days after first seeking medical attention.

And in August, a mother filed suit against a detention center because of the death of her toddler, who died from a respiratory infection more than two months after her and her mother were detained.

According to a claim filed by Yazmin Juarez, whose young daughter was named Mariee, the little girl contracted the sickness in the immigration detention facility.

Human Rights Watch, which reviewed the 52 publicly available death reports of the 81 detainees who have died in detention since 2010, determined in June that almost half of those deaths were linked to substandard care.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat from Texas who recently garnered popularity when he ran to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, called for a "complete investigation and the results shared with Congress and the public" on Thursday, after reports came out about the girl's death.

He was joined by other prominent Democrats, including former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"There are no words to capture the horror of a seven-year-old girl dying of dehydration in U.S. custody. What’s happening at our borders is a humanitarian crisis," Clinton tweeted Friday morning.

Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who serves as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, said Nielsen would face questions on the matter in a hearing scheduled for next Thursday.

The committee "will be demanding immediate answers to this tragedy," Nadler said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A 24-year-old woman found dead in broad daylight on a trail in DeKalb County, Georgia, may have been lured there, according to police.

The body of Shantrelle Monroe, who was shot dead, was found Wednesday afternoon on a pathway behind a subdivision playground, DeKalb police spokesman Sgt. J.D. Spencer told ABC News Friday via email.

Authorities are still working to identify a suspect.

"It's during the afternoon, kids walk through there," DeKalb County police Lt. Rod Bryant told ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV. "So it's very shocking."

No motive has been established but Spencer said "detectives believe that she was possibly lured to the location."

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kali9/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Police in Georgia are mourning the loss of an officer who was shot dead after a traffic stop turned into a foot chase Thursday night, authorities said.

Dekalb County Police Chief James Conroy was overcome with emotion when he announced that the unnamed officer, who was with the department for less than two years, "died in the line of duty serving the citizens of Dekalb County."

The deadly shooting began when the officer conducted a traffic stop and the driver fled on foot, Conroy said.

The officer pursued him and the suspect fatally shot the officer during the foot chase, the police chief said.

When other officers raced to the scene, a police K9 helped track the suspect who was found hiding behind a business, Conroy said.

The suspect shot the dog, which was taken to a veterinary center in critical condition, Conroy said.

Several officers returned fire at the suspect who was shot several times and also died, the police chief said.

Police did not release the identity of the suspect.

Governor-elect Brian Kemp tweeted about the slain officer, writing, "We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A storm system crossing the country dropped more than 4 inches of rain in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Thursday and snow in parts of Abilene, Texas.

As the storm moves east, numerous states from Texas to Maryland are under flood, wind and even snow alerts.

The storm is centered over Texas on Friday morning, but the heavy rain ahead of it is already spreading into the Carolinas.

By this evening, severe storms are possible across northern Florida and southern Georgia where damaging winds and a few tornadoes are possible.

Flash flooding cannot be ruled out from Tallahassee, Florida, to South Carolina and North Carolina, including the inland areas that got the heavy snow last weekend.

The heavy rain will move into the mid-Atlantic and part of the Northeast from Friday night into Saturday morning with some flooding possible near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

By Sunday, the main center of the storm system will move into the Northeast with more heavy rain and even snow to the north.

Some areas in the Southeast could see 2 to 4 inches of rain, with 5 inches of rain possible in some parts of northern Florida.

Due to a very saturated ground and the snowpack in the Southeast, flash flooding and river flooding is expected. Some of the river flooding could reach a major flood stage this weekend.

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ABC News(CLEAR CREEK, W.Va.) -- The four people who illegally entered a West Virginia mine, where they were trapped for days, could face felony charges if investigators determine they had intended to steal copper, authorities said.

The individuals entered the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek on Saturday, officials said.

Ed Williams, 43, escaped on Monday and told authorities the three others -- Kayla Williams, 25, Erica Treadway, 31, and Cody Beverly, 21, -- were alive and still inside. The final three were rescued Wednesday night.

Now that the rescue is complete, a criminal investigation is ongoing as authorities work to establish intent, Lt. M.A. McCray of the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office told ABC News Thursday.

Depending on what police find, they could face charges ranging from misdemeanor trespassing to felonies, McCray said.

Interviews are underway, McCray said.

While the rescue efforts were happening, Kayla Williams' father, Randy Williams, told ABC News, "The reason they're in there is to get copper."

"It's worth money," he said. "A couple years ago it was up to almost $4 a pound. You could go into a mine and make $1,000 a day."

Hours after their rescue, Kayla Williams and Beverly spoke out, thanking those who helped save them.

"All the effort that everybody put in to get us out, we really appreciate it and we thank God," Kayla Williams told ABC News.

Beverly added, "Everyone who was involved in searching for us, I just wanna thank you, with everything inside of me. This is the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned in my life. This is a life-changing experience for me."

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Melania Trump visited the Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, continuing a tradition followed by every first lady since Bess Truman more than 60 years ago, according to the White House.

It came on the heels of a Fox News interview in which, asked about criticism, she said, "I follow what’s going on. And I give my husband advice and my honest opinion. And sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn’t."

During her visit to the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, to meet with families and their children who have graduated from the program, a 7-year-old girl told Trump that she wanted a dog for Christmas. The first lady then asked if she had a name in mind, to which the child replied, "Peppermint."

Trump then read Oliver the Ornament to children who are current patients. The story is about an ornament who is pushed around by others, playing to the first lady's "Be Best" campaign and its prevailing anti-bullying message.

The holiday visit followed her interview with Fox News that aired Wednesday night, in which she shared her views on her first two years in the White House while visiting troops on the USS George H.W. Bush. During the visit to the troops, the first lady posted a photo to Twitter wearing a USS George H.W. Bush baseball cap while aboard a flight on a V-22 Osprey, a military aircraft -- making history as the first presidential spouse to take the flight.

Trump said the hardest part in her role was coping with people who she said frequently "use" her and her husband.

“I would say the opportunists who are using my name, or my family name, to advance themselves -- from comedians to journalists to book writers," are the most difficult parts of the job, Trump said.

The first lady then said she is prepared for regular criticism, but added she does what she believes to be correct.

“I know I will get the criticism -- from the public or from the media -- but I will do what is right and what I feel is right for the country and for the people," she said.

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ssuaphoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A fuzzy orange creature famous for standing on a stump played a role in a legal decision on a major natural gas pipeline this week.

A federal judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals quoted Dr. Seuss' beloved environmental warrior in a decision calling for the U.S. Forest Service to revisit its approval for a natural gas pipeline on the East Coast to go forward.

"We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,'" Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote, quoting Dr. Seuss' 1971 book The Lorax.

"A thorough review of the record leads to the necessary conclusion that the Forest Service abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources. This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service’s serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company’s deadlines," she wrote.

The decision issued Thursday was the latest move in ongoing lawsuits seeking to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile underground natural gas pipeline through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The route for the pipeline would cross the Appalachian Trail and George Washington and Monongahela national forests, which environmental groups say could be threatened by the project.

Environmental groups, like the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club, have argued in this case that Dominion Energy, the company behind the pipeline, went around Forest Service officials who expressed concerns about the project and asked political appointees in the Trump administration to approve the project.

Thacker and the two other judges on the panel agreed Thursday that the Forest Service permits should not have been approved because the company didn't provide information to resolve the agency's earlier concerns. The permits were vacated and are no longer valid.

Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, also said the decision found that no federal agency has the authority to allow a pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, essentially blocking the planned path for the project completely.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby said they strongly disagree with the court's ruling and plan to appeal immediately. He said other federal agencies have said the Forest Service does have the authority to approve pipelines across the Appalachian Trial.

"We are confident we will prevail on appeal," he said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Forest Service said they will review the court opinion and look into their options before taking any further action.

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TinaFields/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Multiple bomb threats have been reported across the country, according to authorities.

The New York Police Department said it was monitoring multiple bomb threats sent electronically to various locations throughout the city. The threats are not credible at this time, the department said.

 The FBI said in a statement that it was aware of "recent bomb threats made in cities around the country." The agency is in touch with local law enforcement to provide assistance, it said, asking the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report any suspicious activity.

Also in New York City, a call came into The Bronx High School of Science saying a pipe bomb would explode in 20 minutes, a police spokesperson told ABC News. The school was cleared, and it was determined that there was no threat, police said.

 The threat seemed to fit the pattern of others deemed not credible, saying that a detonation would occur in the absence of a $20,000 bitcoin payment.

Massachusetts State Police are also tracking multiple bomb threats emailed to several businesses throughout the state, it said.

Bomb threats were made to several locations in the Chicago area, including Aurora City Hall, the Aurora Library and Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, ABC Chicago station WLS-TV reported.

Threats have also been made in Canadian cities Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Penticton, CTV reported.

It is unclear how many bomb threats were made. Additional details were not immediately available.

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