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Whelen Engineering Cadillac wins 12 Hours of Sebring

SEBRING — The end of Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring became a parade of yellow. In the final two hours of the race there were four yellow flags, effectively turning the 12 Hours of Sebring into a sprint race, with teams trying to take advantage of different pit strategies to give them the best chance to win at the end. It was the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac that took the checkered flag after a late pile-up that took out the three race leaders.

Following the third yellow in the final two hours — the 11th caution of the race — No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 quickly took the lead from the Whelen Engineering Cadillac, with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura moving into second place and the No. 7 Porsche moving up to third place. With just under 20 minutes remaining, the No. 6 Porsche Penske made contact with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, who went off the track and came back on, only to take out several other cars.

“You don’t expect to be run off the road like that,” said Wayne Taylor. “That’s the way I saw it.”

The Whelen Engineering Cadillac was able to get past the wreck and move into the lead when the final yellow flag of the race came out. The race returned to green with five minutes remaining and Jack Aitken was able to bring the Cadillac home in front of the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW, which finished second. The No. 6 Porsche finished third.

It was the fourth win in the 12 Hours of Sebring for Pipo Derani, who shared the seat of the No. 31 Cadillac with Aitken and Alexander Sims.

“You got to be there at the end,” Derani said.

Racing near the front of the class wasn’t necessarily the place to be during the race.

The pole-sitting GTD car, the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3, was knocked out of the race due to contact with another car after 186 laps, while the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 had contact in Turn 1 while battling for the GTD lead. The Mercedes saw the right front suspension break, knocking it out after 198 laps.

The No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac was looking strong in the lead with three hours remaining in the race when the back of the car caught on fire, forcing the Cadillac out of the race.

The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura lost a wheel with less than two hours remaining, bringing out a lengthy yellow flag. The race returned to green, but only for a couple of minutes before the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing LMP2 lost a wheel that took out the No. 30 Jr III Racing LMP3, which had led the majority of the race in the LMP3 class.

The No. 8 Tower Motorsports LMP2 of John Farano, Scott McLaughlin and Kyffin Simpson took the class win and finished third overall, while the No. 74 Riley 74 Ranch Resort Ligier, driven by Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon took home the LMP3 class victory.

In GTD Pro, it was the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports / Motul / Motomaster / Porsche Centre Vaughan Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) of Klaus Bachler, Patrick Pilet and Laurens Vanthoor to take the class win.

In the GTD class, the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing TOTAL / UIS / Paul Miller Auto Group BMW M4 GT3 of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis seemed to come out of nowhere in the final 40 minutes to capture their second victory at Sebring.

“Today we had some luck on our side for sure,” Sellers said.

The Whelen Cadillac completed 322 laps during the race.

Russia's Putin visits Crimea following war crimes warrant

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has traveled to Crimea to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine.

Putin visited an art school and a children’s center on Saturday, the day after the International Criminal Court’ issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader accusing him of war crimes.

The court specifically accused him Friday of bearing personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine during Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighboring country that started almost 13 months ago.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most of the world considered illegal.

Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, the Ukrainian Air Force said in the early hours of Saturday. Writing on Telegram, the air force command said that 11 out of 16 drones were shot down “in the central, western and eastern regions.” Among areas targeted were the capital, Kyiv, and the western Lviv province.

The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones heading for the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said Saturday that three of six drones were shot down, with the other three hitting a district bordering Poland. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military additionally said in its regular update Saturday morning that Russian forces over the previous 24 hours launched 34 airstrikes, one missile strike and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire. The Facebook update said that falling debris hit the southern Kherson province, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.

According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia is continuing to concentrate its efforts on offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, focusing attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province. Pavlo Kyrylenko, regional Gov. of the Donetsk province, said one person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the province were shelled on Friday.

Further west, Russian rockets hit a residential area overnight Friday in the city of Zaporizhzhia, the regional capital of the partially occupied province of the same name. No casualties were reported, but houses were damaged and a catering establishment destroyed, Anatoliy Kurtev of the Zaporizhzhia City Council said.

The International Criminal Court said Friday that it has issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine, together with Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.

It is the first time the global court has issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

The move was immediately dismissed by Moscow — and welcomed by Ukraine as a major breakthrough.

Its practical implications, however, could be limited as the chances of Putin facing trial at the ICC are highly unlikely because Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction or extradite its nationals.

U.K. military officials said Saturday that Russia is likely to widen conscription. In its latest intelligence update, the U.K. defense ministry said that deputies in the Russian Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, introduced a bill Monday to change the conscription age for men to 21-30, from the current 18-27.

The ministry said that, at the moment, many men aged 18-21 claim exemption from military service because they are in higher education. The change would mean that they would eventually still have to serve. It said the law will likely be passed and come into force in January 2024.

FWC seizes birds from family wildlife center

David Wrede holds Thunder, his American bald eagle. Kids and adults have met Thunder at patriotic events, in schools, and at the Wrede Wildlife Center.

SEBRING – Thunder the American bald eagle is well-known to families and school kids all over Highlands County.

The magnificent animal made his appearance last year at the West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department’s 911 Memorial dedication on the arm of David Wreade, 78, his long-time owner. Wrede (pronounced “Reed-y”) and his wife Karen own the Wrede Wildlife Education Center home to several red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, screech owls, and vultures.

Until the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came and took his birds away, that is. The FWC arrived at their Wilderness Trail sanctuary on an August morning and confiscated a red-shouldered hawk, two red-tailed hawks, black vulture, turkey vulture, and a screech owl.

There is no indication in the FWC complaint that the Wredes, who have operated the wildlife center for nearly 28 years, mistreated, abused, or failed to care for the animals. There are no allegations of hungry, unwatered or poorly sheltered animals.

“There was no inadequate care or feeding,” David Wrede said. “What we got were third-degree misdemeanors for not having the proper paperwork, so it was harassment.”

Wrede does not consider them pets.

“When someone says they love an animal, they dress them up like dolls, carry them around on their baby strollers, things like that,” he said. “We don’t do that. Our birds are wild animals.”

According to the FWC, the problem was paperwork.

Though Karen Wrede has a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission special permit to possess both living and dead migratory birds for educational use; an USFWC permit to possess and exhibit bald eagles, and David possesses a venomous species and conditional license, they forgot one form when they renamed their facility in 2013 – almost a decade ago.

In December of that year, they changed the name of their facility from “Wrede’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center” to “Wrede’s Wildlife Center,” the FWC wrote in its complaint against the Wredes. That same month, David Wrede informed the FWC that they would no longer rehabilitate injured or sick birds. The couple didn’t know they would have to give up the birds they’d had for so long.

“I had to give up the rehab part because I wasn’t getting volunteers and funding,” David Wrede told the Highlands News-Sun. “It costs a lot to rehab animals. The animals we had in rehab we transferred to Wrede’s Wildlife Center for Education. I didn’t make a proper transfer request, just informed them of the change of name.”

The birds also were to have veterinarian evaluations and transfer requests to the newly named facility, which was exactly the same as the rehab facility.

There was another problem: The Wredes transferred the kestrel to a man who did not have a license to possess migratory or protected birds.

“So FWC confiscated our birds and took them somewhere, and they won’t tell me where they transferred them,” David said.

On Tuesday, prosecutors announced they were dropping the complaint and offering the Wredes a diversion program, fines and court fees.

Now he’s left with Thunder, two aging deer, a vulture, and a Burmese python – which he is not allowed to exhibit. He worries about his former charges.

“Miss them because they were here so long,” he said. “They weren’t mistreated; we never got any citation or complaints that our animals were underfed, malnourished or in ill health.”