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Heading over the river or through the woods? Expect more traffic on Idaho roads

TWIN FALLS — Average gas prices in Idaho are about 30 cents higher than a year ago, but that isn’t expected to discourage drivers from hitting the road this Thanksgiving.

AAA expects Wednesday to have the highest number of vehicles on the road, with Saturday and Sunday also busy, as nearly 265,000 Idahoans travel this week. It’s part of a 3.3 percent nationwide increase in Thanksgiving Day ground travel, with 50.9 million Americans expected to drive.

It’s projected to be the highest Thanksgiving Day traffic volume since 2005.

“People are willing to travel, and they feel like times are good,” said Matthew Conde, a spokesman for AAA Idaho.


This map of Idaho, courtesy of AAA, shows the counties with the most and least expensive average gas prices. Counties in dark blue have the lowest prices, while counties in dark red have the highest. Counties in white are in-between.

As of Tuesday, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Twin Falls was $2.57 — compared with $2.34 a year ago. Idaho’s average gas price was $2.66, and the U.S. average was $2.53.

According to AAA, Twin Falls County has among the lowest prices in the state.

“The roads will definitely be busier this year,” Conde said. “But the biggest percentage growth — a 5 percent increase — is taking place at the airports. Relatively affordable airfare is attracting many travelers who wish to avoid vehicle traffic.”

Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles were among the top 10 busiest airports in AAA projections — but most people were departing Tuesday. Still, more people at the airport could affect wait and processing times.

“Don’t hang out in the restaurant too long,” Conde warned. “Get to the gate and make sure you’re there.”

As far as driving goes, if you’re only driving a couple of hours, he recommends leaving Thursday morning, when there should be less road congestion.

“Whether you’re traveling by car or through the air, make sure you have food, water, and warm clothing for everyone in your party,” Conde said. “Try to stay calm if there are delays. Stress leads to aggressive behavior and makes for an unpleasant travel experience.”

No bones about it: Trump continues turkey-pardon tradition

WASHINGTON — The first presidential pardon granted by President Donald Trump went to a sheriff convicted of criminal contempt for failing to heed a federal court order to cease a discriminatory practice of detaining suspected illegal immigrants.

The second went to a turkey named Drumstick.

“Over the past 10 months Melania and I have had the pleasure of welcoming many, many special visitors to the great White House,” Trump said in a ceremony in the Rose Garden Tuesday. “We have hosted dozens of incredible world leaders, members of Congress and, along the way, a few very strange birds. But we have yet to receive any visitors quite like our magnificent guest of honor today, Drumstick.”

He extended his arm toward the fowl with a grand flourish.

“Hi, Drumstick,” he said. “Oh, Drumstick, I think, is going to be very happy.”

The president was taking part in one of the White House’s longest running holiday traditions: The presentation — and more recently, the pardoning — of a turkey. This year’s bird was a 47-pound male raised in Western Minnesota. He was gifted the name Drumstick and, after winning a social media contest against the backup bird named Wishbone, was declared the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Rather than become Thursday dinner, Drumstick and Wishbone will live out their predictably short lives at a facility at Virginia Tech, along with last year’s pardoned birds, Tater and Tot.

“As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor,” Trump said. “However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s office that Tator and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked. So, we’re not going to revoke them.”

The audience chuckled; Barron Trump, who stood beside his father, did not. When everyone clapped for the young women from the 4-H chapter who helped raise the birds, Barron kept his arms at his sides. Like Malia and Sasha Obama before him, he seemed unimpressed with his father’s jokes and with this nonsense entirely.

His father, however, appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

“Wow, wow, big bird! That’s a big bird,” Trump said as he approached the turkey, perched on a cloth-covered table. “Are we allowed to touch? Wow. I feel so good about myself doing this.”

Trump has, in recent days, shown a fondness for not killing animals. On Nov. 17, he halted a decision that would have lifted a ban on importing hunted elephant carcasses as trophies. His administration had already lifted a ban on importing lion carcasses last month — but, well, not a lot of people noticed. The elephants, in contrast, were showered with bipartisan outrage, after which the lifting of the ban was paused. Trump tweeted Sunday that he will make a decision about “this horror show” later in the week.

That decision will apparently be issued from Mar-a-Lago, his private Palm Beach club where the Trump family is scheduled to fly later Tuesday. Trump, who is said to prefer his meat well-done and doused in ketchup, will enjoy his turkey in “the Winter White House” on Thanksgiving Day, and will stay in south Florida through the weekend.

The presentation of a Thanksgiving turkey has been a presidential tradition for 70 years. Wars, recessions, elections, natural disasters — no matter the moment in history, the birds have made it to the White House. Until George H.W. Bush made the pardon an official ritual in 1989, the vast majority of the birds succumbed to the fate that some 46 million American turkeys meet every Thanksgiving: They were eaten.

On Drumstick’s day in the spotlight, President Trump had plans to speak on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his administration was likely to be reviewing the latest message from North Korea, published earlier in the day, which called Trump “an old lunatic, mean trickster and human reject.”

One could envision Drumstick’s forefathers looking down from a palatial sawdust pile in the sky, remembering their own places in history: The very first turkey gifted to a president by the National Turkey Federation, which Harry Truman ate in 1947 at the dawn of the Cold War. The turkey that ended up in the stomach of Richard Nixon in 1973, the week after he told America “I am not a crook.” The 1995 bird Bill Clinton called “the most multicolored best-looking turkey we’ve had here since I’ve been president,” the same month his relationship with Monica Lewinsky began.

Could those birds have imagined what was to come?

What does Drumstick know?

For now, he seemed only passingly aware that he was being patted by Tiffany Trump, and then patted by Ivanka Trump. Barron Trump was walking away. Cameras were flashing. Ivanka urged her 6-year-old daughter Arabella to inch a little closer to Drumstick. It seemed, for a moment, as if he was looking her in the eyes. She did not pat him. She did not eat him. And with that, the cameras turned off, and Drumstick was taken away.

Man charged in Twin Falls stabbing, bond set at $1 million

TWIN FALLS — A man accused of stabbing a woman last week appeared in court Tuesday.

Philip M. Wolff, 33, was arraigned on a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a judge set his bond at $1 million. Police say Wolff stabbed a 28-year-old woman multiple times in the neck and upper body.

On the evening of Nov. 15, police responded to a call on the 100 block of Quincy Street, where they found the injured woman on the street near her home. She told officers that Wolff, a friend of hers, had come over that night. At some point during the visit, Wolff pulled a knife out of his pocket and began to stab her.

Police found Wolff, who was known to law enforcement, leaving the home. According to police, Wolff appeared to be delusional during an interrogation and was unable to respond to questioning in a coherent way.

Police said Wolff was uncooperative in jail, delaying his initial appearance in court. Generally, defendants are arraigned within 24 hours of being arrested.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1.


Lighthouse Christian's Trudy Millenkamp guards Castleford's Maddy March as Chloe Gomez comes from behind for the steal Tuesday night, Nov. 21, 2017, at Lighthouse Christian in Twin Falls.

'We don't need a liberal:' Trump discounts Moore accusations

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moore’s “liberal” rival.

The president said he would announce next week whether he will campaign for Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump, who won election despite facing more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct himself, dismissed questions from reporters about backing a Republican accused of sexual assault over a man who is a Democrat. Trump pointed to Moore’s assertions that he did nothing wrong.

“Roy Moore denies it, that’s all I can say,” Trump said. In fact, he repeated 10 times in a 5-minute session outside the White House that the GOP candidate has denied any wrongdoing.

Two Alabama women have accused Moore of assault or molestation — including one who says she was 14 at the time — and six others have said he pursued romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s.

Trump didn’t explicitly say he was endorsing Moore, but he said with emphasis, “We don’t need a liberal person in there. ... We don’t need somebody who’s soft on crime like Jones.”

He also noted that the allegations came from behavior alleged to have happened decades ago.

“Forty years is a long time,” Trump said, questioning why it took so long for Moore’s accusers to come forward.

Former Sen. Sessions has said he has no reason to doubt the allegations against Moore, Republican leaders in Washington have called for Moore to leave the race, and the White House has repeatedly said Trump himself felt Moore would “do the right thing and step aside” if the allegations proved true.

But Trump had been publicly silent until Tuesday when he exchanged questions and answers with reporters, shouting to be heard over the noise of his Marine helicopter, waiting to take him to Air Force One, which then flew him to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for Thanksgiving.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both Republicans, have called on Moore to leave the race in light of the accusations. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for his campaign.

Trump backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a September Republican primary, but moved quickly to embrace Moore after he won. A White House official said Tuesday that Trump’s attack on Jones did not amount to a formal endorsement of Moore, only that Trump was communicating that sending the Democrat to Washington would hamper his agenda.

Republican leaders briefly explored the possibility of seeking a write-in candidate but have determined those efforts would only increase Jones’ chances by splitting the GOP vote in the Republican state. Sessions has resisted pleas to mount a last-minute campaign for his old seat.

The allegations against Moore come amid a national reckoning over misdeeds by powerful men in media, business and politics.

Just Tuesday, longtime Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledged that his office settled a sexual harassment complaint involving a former staffer, though he “vehemently” denied allegations in the complaint.

BuzzFeed reported that Conyers’ office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected the Democrat’s sexual advances.

Trump said he was “very happy” that women are speaking out about their experiences.

“I think it’s a very special time because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women,” he said.

More than a dozen women came forward in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election to say that Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years. He denied it. A tape was also released catching him boasting in 2005 that he could grab women’s private parts with impunity. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Trump, who has said all of his accusers lied, declined to answer Tuesday when asked why he does not believe Moore’s accusers.

Jones, Moore’s senatorial opponent, served as a federal prosecutor in Alabama, where he brought charges against two Ku Klux Klan members over their roles in killing four girls in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.

Jones began airing a new ad Monday that features statements made by Sessions, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and first daughter Ivanka Trump responding to the allegations against Moore.

Shelby, a fellow Republican, said he will “absolutely not” vote for Moore. Ivanka Trump said there’s “a special place in hell” for people who prey on children.

“I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts,” Ivanka Trump told the AP last week.

The ad was the first direct assault by the Jones camp against Moore on the allegations.

Moore’s camp has begun firing back at the media and one of the accusers. His campaign held an afternoon news conference to vigorously question the account of Beverly Nelson, who said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress.

The campaign quoted two former restaurant employees and a former customer who said they did not remember Nelson working there or Moore eating there.