Jamathon 2017

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James Comey blasts Trump's 'LIES'

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james-comey-photo-1.jpgFired FBI Director James Comey kicked off the most watched political testimony in years by blasting the 'lies' told after President sacked him, blasting an administration he says chose to 'demean' him.

In his opening comments, he called out 'shifting explanations' that followed his firing, and specifically pointed to Trump's televised comment that he fired Comey because of the FBI's Russia investigation.

'The administration then chose to demean me and more importantly the FBI,' Comey complained at the top of his remarks.

'Those were lies, plain and simple,' he said.

He said he kept detailed records of his interactions with the president because he was 'honestly concerned that [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting.'

It was a contrast to the reviews he got from the president while he was in office. 'He had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and he hoped I would stay.

In an early revelation, Comey stopped short of describing a conversation where Trump asked him to let go of an investigation into fired national security advisor Mike Flynn as obstruction of justice, which is a federal crime.

'General Flynn at that point of time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts and the contacts themselves,' Comey said.

'I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. But that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that's an offense,' he said.

Comey explained why he kept detailed memos on his conversations and meetings with the president - something he said he didn't do with President George W. Bush and Barack Obama because there wasn't a need.

'I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution,' Comey said.

'I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,' he said.

Comey also explained how he interpreted Trump's statement in an unusual one-on-one meeting where he asked Comey to let the investigation of security advisor Mike Flynn go.





Jamathon 2017

Haramber the gorilla became the 'Meme of 2016'

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gorilla-harambe.jpgHis was the face which launched a thousand memes - so why did Harambe the gorilla capture 2016's collective online psyche?

It was a sad story that could have been even sadder. In May, a three-year-old child fell into an enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo. One of the Western lowland gorillas inside started dragging the boy around.

"Mommy's right here! Mommy loves you!" the boy's mother shouted, as bystanders became increasingly panicked.

Finally, fearing that the boy's life was in danger, a zoo worker killed Harambe with a single shot. The boy escaped without serious injury.

The events were captured on a YouTube video which has been watched millions of times.

Harambe's death touched off a heated - if predictable - debate about zoo welfare standards and whether lethal force was necessary.

But what wasn't expected was what came next. Harambe became memeified. His image was spread far and wide throughout the internet. He became the subject of serious and unserious campaigns. And he was even memorialised in song.





crime-scene-gun.jpgPolice in Istanbul are hunting for a gunman who opened fire at a well-known nightclub, killing at least 39 people.

The attack happened at Reina nightclub early on Sunday, as hundreds of revellers marked the new year.

Officials say some 15 foreigners were killed, including citizens from Israel, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The attacker left his gun before "taking advantage of the chaos" and fleeing the scene, Turkey's PM said.

Binali Yildirim also confirmed the gunman was not dressed as Santa Claus, contradicting earlier reports.

The attack unfolded some 75 minutes into the new year as around 700 people gathered in the waterside Reina club, one of Istanbul's most upmarket venues.

The attacker shot dead a policeman and a security guard at the entrance before heading into the club, which is popular with celebrities and foreigners.

Eyewitnesses described seeing dozens of bodies lying on the floor. Some revellers reportedly threw themselves into the Bosphorus to escape the carnage.

"Gunshots rang out. When those sounds were heard, many girls fainted," professional footballer Sefa Boydas told AFP news agency.

He said people appeared to be crushed as they ran away. "They say 35 to 40 died but it's probably more because when I was walking, people were walking on top of people."





The autistic man who was the intended target of a police bullet is suffering from emotional distress, not eating and traumatised following the shooting of his caretaker.

Arnaldo Rios' mother, Gladys Soto, said during a Saturday news conference that she is worried about the safety of her son, who wandered back to the site of the Monday shooting a day later, threw himself on the ground and shouted: "I hate the police, I hate the police," The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

"It's too emotional to see your baby caught up in something like this," Soto said.

Miriam Soto said her brother is suffering from night terrors and is not sleeping or eating.

"He's not the same anymore," Soto said of her brother.

The four North Miami police officers who aimed rifles at Rios and his black therapist, Charles Kinsey, in the middle of an intersection were responding to a 911 call about a suicidal man with a gun. Rios sat cross-legged. He yelled. He didn't obey commands to lie down with his hands up, as Kinsey was doing, and he fidgeted with a metal object.

One of the officers, Jonathan Aledda, thought the disabled man was about to shoot Kinsey, who was trying to coax Rios back to a nearby group home, the police union has said. The officer fired three shots at Rios because he thought he was a threat, but he missed and accidentally struck Kinsey in the leg.

The metal object turned out to be a toy truck and there was no suicide threat.

Monday's shooting was the latest in a violent month of police shootings, but it also highlights the difficulties officers have in identifying people with autism. The characteristics of autism range from mild quirks or obsessions, to people who can't communicate, yell and occasionally become violent.

The family's attorney Matthew Dietz on Saturday criticised the officers' training in dealing with people with mental illness.

"After they knew that he had autism, what did they do? They threw him on the ground," Dietz said.





franklyn-graham-and-obama.jpgEvangelist Franklin Graham held a prayer rally in Cleveland before the start of the Republican National Convention during which he said the nation is in trouble, the nation has ejected God from the public square, "and our country is beginning to implode," that we are "on the precipice of anarchy.

Reverend Graham, son of world-renowned pastor Billy Graham, also stressed that the only solution is "a spiritual healing from God," that politicians cannot solve the problem, only God can.

In his July 18 Facebook Live prayer event, as reported by CBN News, Rev. Graham said, "This nation-it needs a spiritual healing from Almighty God. Our country-I don't have to tell you-is in trouble.... And the only hope for this country is God. It's not the politicians. It's God."

We must pray for the politicians, Republicans and Democrats, said Graham. It is important "that the politicians listen to God."

He then addressed the irreligious atmosphere in America today.

"The secularists, the progressives, many of these people, most of them are people that would be atheistic, and we have taken God out of our country," he said. "We have taken Him out of our nation. We have taken Him out of our government."





omar-mateen-gay-lover-miguel.jpgOmar Mateen, the Muslim gunman who committed the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, was "100 percent" gay and bore a grudge against Latino men because he felt used by them, according to a man who says he was his lover for two months.

"I've cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn't do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge," he told Univision Noticias anchor Maria Elena Salinas in an exclusive interview in English and Spanish on Tuesday.

He said Mateen was angry and upset after a man he had sex with later revealed he was infected with the HIV virus.

Asked why he decided to come forward with his story, he said: "It's my responsibility as a citizen of the United States and a gay man."

The man said he had approached by the FBI and been interviewed three times in person by agents.The FBI confirmed to Univision that it had met with him.The man, who did not want his true identity revealed, agreed to an interview wearing a disguise and calling himself Miguel. Speaking in fluent Spanish and accented English, he said he met Mateen last year through a gay dating site and began a relationship soon after. He and Mateen were "friends with benefits," he said.

He described Mateen as "a very sweet guy" who never showed a violent side. He loved to be cuddled. "He was looking for love," he said. Mateen never revealed his name to him, saying only that he was 35 years old and married with a son, Miguel told Univision. He said they met 15-20 times, the last occasion in late December. He said he believed Mateen's second wife knew he frequented gay bars and that his marriage was a smoke screen to hide that he was "100 percent" gay.

"He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin - but he felt rejected. He felt used by them - there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him," Miguel said. "I believe this crazy horrible thing he did - that was revenge."

Mateen expressed frustration over his father's extreme views on homosexuality, which included a belief that "gay people [are] the devil and gay people have to die," Miguel said.

Mateen was especially upset after a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom later revealed he was HIV positive, he added.

"He [Omar] was terrified that he was infected," he said. "I asked him, 'Did you do a test?' Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test ... it came out negative but it doesn't come out right away. It takes 4, 5 months."

"When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was 'I'm going to make them pay for what they did to me.'"





omar-mateen-gay-lover.jpgPortions of Omar Mateen's alleged hookup with at least one gay man were captured on surveillance cameras at an Orlando hotel ... TMZ has learned.

Sources at the Ambassador Hotel tell TMZ, Mateen was seen on camera footage recorded December 14, 2015 around 11 PM. We're told the video bolsters the claims of the heavily disguised man who told Univision he met up with Mateen 15-20 times at the hotel between November and December.

Our sources say the video shows Mateen walk to the front desk, speak to a staffer and then walk around a corner toward the room where the anonymous man says he was staying during their rendezvous.

We're told management showed the video to staffers and asked if anyone recalled seeing Mateen. The only person who noticed him is a guy who works the night shift.

We're told the FBI went to the Ambassador Tuesday night and took a copy of the surveillance footage.

The Bureau wouldn't confirm, but the video could go a long way to figuring out if Mateen attacked a gay club as part of a twisted revenge plot.





Mother kills and dismembers her 3 young sons

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mother-kills-sons.jpgThe Phoenix mother had been transported to the hospital covered in blood with stab wounds to her neck and abdomen when police officers searching her house opened a closet to a grim discovery.

Inside officers found the partially dismembered bodies of her three young sons. Police discovered the dead boys - ages 2 months old and 5 and 8 years old - in a closet full of miscellaneous items. Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said the youngest boy's body was in a suitcase.

Crump said the children appeared to have been stabbed to death and "parts of their bodies were dismembered."

The 29-year-old mother is in the hospital in critical condition with self-inflicted stab wounds. Police say she is the primary suspect and will face charges.

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messi-court.jpgSpanish prosecutors called Friday for Lionel Messi to be absolved on the final day of his tax fraud trial, but the lawyer representing fiscal authorities disagreed, comparing him to a "crime boss."

The Argentina and Barcelona star and his father Jorge Horacio Messi have been accused of using companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

Prosecutor Raquel Amado called for the footballer to be let off in her closing arguments, a day after he took the stand and said he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.

"There is no evidence that anyone explained anything to him," she said.

But Mario Maza, the state attorney representing tax authorities in the trial, said he found it unlikely that Messi knew nothing about the situation.

"There is no deliberate ignorance here, it's fraud and that's all there is to it, because he didn't want to pay his taxes," he said.

"It's like a crime boss. At the very top is the bigwig who doesn't want to know about the details."

He is seeking a fine equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded, plus a prison sentence of 22 and a half months for Messi and his father.

Any such prison sentence would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.

Source: (AFP)





muhammad-ali-career-in-pictures.jpgThe children of the sporting icon have rushed to be at his bedside as doctors treating the former heavyweight champ have told them they fear he "is near the end".

Already four of the 74-year-old's nine children, including daughters Laila, Hana and Maryum, are at the hospital in the Phoenix area where medics continue to fight a breathing problem picked up by the star.

The children flew in last night from around the US as doctors said the future survival of the champ was "uncertain".

Although there were discussions about transporting him to another area of the hospital, sources claimed doctors decided the move "potentially could be deadly," and the transfer was called off. Sources close to the star say Ali's battle with his respiratory problem has been complicated by the Parkinson's that he was diagnosed with in the 1980s.

"Like in the ring, Ali is a fighter on the ward," said a source.

"Doctors are working to regulate his breathing put it is being hampered by his Parkinson's.

"His children are all extremely concerned and dropped everything to be with him. They fear the worst. "Ali is everything to them and there are worried his problems are worse than first feared."

The boxer has children - two sons and seven daughters - from three marriages although two of his kids are from extra marital relationships.

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Oprah Winfrey #2 on Forbes rich list

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forbes-richest-self-made-women.jpgoprah-winfrey.jpgForbes Magazine released the second annual list of America's Richest Self-Made Women. These women have achieved unparalleled success through invention and innovation to create their own fortunes.

Out of the 60 women, 17 of them are billionaires including the richest woman in America Diane Hendricks, with US$4.9 billion.

Hendricks owns ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing and siding in the country. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey had to settle for number two with a net worth of US$3.1 billion.

Thirteen newcomers debuted in this year's list including Taylor Swift, Jessica Alba, Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion.





teacher-sex-eight-grader.jpgAlexandria M. Vera, an eighth-grade English teacher at Stovall Middle School in Houston, told police in April that the relationship she had with one of her students started through messages on Instagram - and had evolved into a great love.

On Wednesday, two months after the police investigation began and nearly eight months after 24-year-old Vera allegedly started having sex with the eighth-grader, authorities issued a warrant for her arrest on a felony charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The student is under the age of 14.

Vera turned herself in at a suburban jail in Montgomery County and later was released on $100,000 bond, reported the Associated Press.

Court documents filed last week in a Harris County District Court offer a detailed look into Vera's account of their blossoming relationship, which she told police was not only approved but celebrated by the boy's parents. It wasn't until April, when Stovall principal Elsa Wright got a tip about Vera, that the school district's police department began investigating.

The English teacher admitted to both the principal and a police officer that she'd been having an ongoing relationship with the boy for months, court documents show. The bizarre and layered saga began nearly a year ago, Vera told police, when she met the boy during summer school in 2015. She said at first he was rude, asking for her Instagram account name and sending her a follow request after she refused to provide it or accept his invitation, according to court records.

But their interactions picked up in the fall, when the regular school year began and the boy was assigned to one of her eighth-grade English classes. Vera described for police a period of flirting that she claims she initially resisted, until the month of September. The teacher said she became worried when the boy didn't show up to class, so she sent him a message on Instagram and reminded him to turn in an upcoming assignment.

He replied, according to court documents, and asked for her phone number. Then the boy asked his teacher if they could hang out. She said yes.Vera drove the boy around in her car, she told police, and they kissed. The next day, when the boy's parents weren't home, she returned and the two had sex for the first time, according to the documents.After that, the sexual encounters occurred almost daily, Vera told police.

"She stated that she and the Complainant had sex on almost a daily basis at her home and that they love each other," police wrote in the documents.

In January, Vera said she discovered the boy had gotten her pregnant.

When the couple told the boy's family, according to the teacher, they were ecstatic and supportive.

His parents had known about the relationship since October, Vera told police, when they came to the school for an open house. Afterward, she was invited back to their home and introduced to the family as the boy's girlfriend, documents say. They were "accepting of the relationship," Vera told police, and she was welcomed to family gatherings thereafter.





Brazil votes to impeach Presidentar

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brazil-president-cartoon.jpgBrazil's Senate voted on Thursday to put leftist President Dilma Rousseff on trial in a historic decision brought on by a deep recession and a corruption scandal that will now confront Michel Temer, the vice president who succeeds her.

With Rousseff suspended during the Senate trial for allegedly breaking budget rules, the centrist Temer will take the helm of a country that again finds itself mired in political and economic volatility after a recent decade of prosperity.

The 55-22 vote ends more than 13 years of rule by the left-wing Workers Party, which rose from Brazil's labor movement and helped pull millions of people out of poverty before seeing many of its leaders face corruption investigations.

Fireworks rang out in some neighborhoods across Brazil after the vote at the end of a 20-hour session in the Senate. Police had briefly clashed with pro-Rousseff demonstrators in Brasilia on Wednesday, exchanging volleys of tear gas and rocks.

The impeachment process began in the lower house of Congress in December and Rousseff, a 68-year-old economist and former Marxist guerrilla who was Brazil's first female president, is unlikely to be acquitted in a trial that could last as long as six months.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the Senate to convict her but the scale of her defeat in the vote on Thursday showed how little support she has.

"Today we are trying to overcome this situation by removing an irresponsible government. We have no alternative," said Senator Blairo Maggi, one of Brazil's biggest soy farmers, who is slated to become agriculture minister in Temer's government.

Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and called her impeachment a "coup".





postal-worker-glen-grays-and-cops.jpgNEW YORK -- Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had some harsh words for the officers accused of handcuffing a postal worker while he delivered packages on his route in Brooklyn.

CBS New York reports Bratton said he was "very concerned" about the March 17 confrontation between 27-year-old Glenn Grays and four plainclothes officers and a lieutenant.

"I'm very concerned about the performance of the officers, about the leadership role of the lieutenant involved and about the processing of the arrest at the precinct stationhouse," Bratton said Tuesday.

He also questioned the legitimacy of Grays' arrest for disorderly conduct.

"Based on what I witnessed on that, the various videos I've reviewed now, I have strong concerns about the charge against the individual," Bratton said.

The entire incident was captured on cellphone video.

DNAinfo reports the officers involved have been "removed from their normal posts as the NYPD investigates the incident."

Grays was in the middle of his shift on Saint Patrick's Day when he claims an unmarked police car nearly ran him over in Crown Heights. He said he then shouted at the officers, who stopped and demanded identification.

"My ID right there on the side of the truck," Grays can be heard saying in the video.

"Let's go get your ID," an officer says.

"I'm not going nowhere," Grays responds. "I'm delivering my postal route."

The video then shows the officers telling Grays to "stop resisting" even though it doesn't appear that he is resisting.

"I'm not resisting!" Gray yells back.

Grays is then handcuffed and put in the unmarked patrol car, his mail truck left unattended. That's when the video ends.

Bratton said the NYPD's Internal Affairs is investigating. He said the officers were members of a conditions unit and were supposed to work in uniform.

"Out of the investigation into that incident will be why were they in plainclothes, for what purpose, who authorized it," he said.

The commissioner was also concerned that a USPS truck was left unattended.

In an interview with "CBS This Morning," Grays said: "The only thing I think saved me is that it was on videotape."

"Never been arrested, never received a summons. I was extremely terrified. I wouldn't say afraid - I passed the stage of afraid," Grays said. "I was afraid that if I didn't comply that something was going to happen to me."

The NYPD has been hit with other caught-on-camera incidents of alleged police harassment against people of color, including the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

Grays said he wants justice. To him, that means disciplinary action.

"I don't want them to be jobless because they might have family, kids they need to support," Grays said. "It's sad that I thought that when I put on a uniform that I'll be treated a little different, but it's no difference. You know, I'm just another brother with a uniform."





postal-worker-glen-grays-and-cops.jpgGlen Grays, a postal worker in Brooklyn, had his delivery route cut short on St. Patrick's Day when he was handcuffed by four plainclothes police officers and placed in an unmarked car.

Cellphone video filmed by a bystander shows Grays in his postal service uniform, holding a package, when the officers approach him. The video doesn't show what led up to the encounter.

The footage was released this week by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who said Grays had been "carrying out his normal duties" as a mail carrier when he got out of his truck and "a vehicle passed by him, almost striking him."

"He made comments to the vehicle, as any New Yorker would," Adams said at a news conference Wednesday. "The occupants of the vehicle stopped, backed up when he was crossing the street delivering the package."

Those occupants were the four plainclothes officers who followed Grays to his delivery stop, according to Adams. The video shows the officers tell Gray to "stop resisting." They then take him away in handcuffs, leaving his mail truck unattended.

Yelling at the unmarked car about driving recklessly "is the only action that Glen did that day that caused those plainclothes officers to stop their vehicle and to show who's the biggest and the baddest, and place handcuffs on an on-duty postal employee who is delivering the U.S. mail," Adams said. "If they would do that to Glen, in his postal uniform, they would do it to any other person of color in this community."

Asked about the incident, the New York Police Department said only that "the matter is under internal review."

Mayor Bill de Blasio "will be in close touch" with New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton "about this incident's investigation and findings," Monica Klein, the mayor's deputy press secretary, said in a statement.

"We expect all members of NYPD to act professionally and respectfully," Klein said.

Grays, who said he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct, is engaged to a New York police officer he met while on his delivery route, the New York Times reported.

"I don't hate cops," Grays told the newspaper. Pointing to his fiancee, he said: "I'm marrying one."

Adams said the incident has "traumatized" Grays, who has never been arrested or received a summons from police before.

Adams said that Grays did nothing wrong in the video, adding: "It's hard not the believe that the only reason Glen was handcuffed is because [of] the color of his skin."

Grays is African American.

The police department in New York has come under fire in the past for policies that critics said disproportionately targeted people of color.

Fatal encounters with New York City police have brought additional scrutiny to the department: In 2014, an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, died after he was taken to the ground by officers and put in what appeared to be a chokehold. The incident was caught on tape and ignited protests across the country, with Garner's last words, "I can't breathe," becoming a rallying cry.

That same year, a rookie officer fatally shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. The officer, Peter Liang, was convicted of manslaughter and fired from the department.

In 1999, an unarmed African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, was gunned down by four New York City police officers in front of his apartment building, killed in a hail of 41 bullets.

postal-worker-glen-grays-and-mother.jpg

Sonya Sapp, the mother of Glen Grays, said this week that she cried when she watched the video of her son's arrest. He is the eldest of her six sons.

"I worry about all my boys, every minute, every second of every day," Sapp said at a news conference Wednesday.

The video begins by showing plainclothes officers approaching Grays, who is holding a package. Not all of the words they exchange are clear.

"You want my ID? My ID is right there inside of the truck," Grays tells the officers, pointing to the vehicle.

The officers tell him to get his ID. Grays is heard telling them he is delivering his postal route. Two officers physically pull him away from the door. The package, having fallen to the ground, is kicked away by an officer.

Grays is told to put his hands behind his back.

"Stop resisting," officers tell him.

"He almost hit me," Grays says. "I'm not resisting."

"Put [your hands] behind your back, or you're going to get f---- hurt," one officer tells him.

Four officers surround Grays, who repeats, frustrated: "I'm not resisting."

"Get off of me," he says.

The four plainclothes officers eventually lead Grays, handcuffed, to their unmarked black car.

An officer frisks him and puts him in the car.

Bystanders yell at the officers throughout the encounter. Some recognize Grays and call out to him by name. The video ends there.

Adams, the borough president, said that after the police vehicle drove away, it rear-ended another car and that Grays, who wasn't placed in a seatbelt, was injured in the crash.

"The driver, who had turned around to taunt him, hit the vehicle in front of them, Mr. Grays said, causing him to bang his shoulder against the front seat. Mr. Grays was then taken to the 71st Precinct station, where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct that will require him to appear in court. He was then released."

Adams denounced the actions of the officers, saying he was deeply troubled by the treatment of a federal employee and that the "major steps" taken by de Blasio and Bratton to reform police practices haven't gotten "down to the street."

"This could have been another Eric Garner situation if Glen had not responded as calmly as he did," Adams said.





Michael Jackson's father thanks son's estate

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joe-jackson.jpgJoseph Jackson has sent a public Thank You note to Michael Jackson's executors. The reason? They sold Michael's part of Sony/ATV Music and the Beatles catalog back to Sony for $750 million. Joe no doubt read that there's a $733 lump sum payout on March 31st. He's probably hoping for a taste. I love how he adds "my wife Katherine and myself"- they haven't lived together for years, he has an illegitimate daughter, she's had divorce papers drawn up several times.

At 87, Joseph Jackson's been recuperating from strokes and a heart attack he had in Brazil on his birthday last year after taking sex drugs in the hopes of getting some action. Am I being too hard on him? Yeah, he beat those kids, particularly Michael. If Michael were alive, the catalog would still not be sold, and Joe wouldn't be getting money from him. Remember, this is the man who brought a Michael Jackson imitator with him to the BET Awards four days after Michael died.

Here's his statement:

On behalf of my wife Katherine and myself, I would like to personally thank the Executors of my Son's Estate for a Job well done. Selling the Music catalog at the high end of today's Market value of over 750 Million US Dollars, has secured many times over the financial future of Michael's children: Prince, Paris and Blanket.

It is every fathers dream to secure the financial well being of his children. That is what drove me to work 2 jobs in my youth while struggling to make it through the Entertainment world.





schwarzenegger-vs-trump-donald.jpgThere's one topic off limits when interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger: Donald Trump.

The former Governor of California walked off-set during an interview on Australia's "Weekend Sunrise" program Saturday morning after being asked to opine on possible Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"This is an interview that I only do about fitness and health, not about politics or my relationships," Schwarzenegger told host Angela Cox before ending the interview.

Schwarzenegger is currently in Australia to promote a series of fitness events, including the Arnold World Strongman Championships.

It's understandable why a journalist would be interested in Arnold's thoughts on Trump. Like Trump, Schwarzenegger is an entertainment personality-turned-Republican politician, and was also named as Trump's replacement on "The Celebrity Apprentice" in September 2015.

Schwarzenegger endorsed Republican candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kashich earlier this month.

Earlier in the interview, Cox had asked Schwarzenegger about his failed marriage to Maria Shriver. In 2011, it was revealed that he had fathered a child with the couple's housekeeper.

When asked how having that news made public changed his life, Schwarzenegger refused to answer.





van-der-sloot-and-natalie-holloway.jpgJoran van der Sloot, the chief suspect in the unsolved 2005 Aruba disappearance of Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway, appears to have made a shocking confession to an undercover reporter about having murdered her.

Dutch convicted killer van der Sloot, who is in a Peru jail for the 2010 murder of a 22-year-old woman there, was captured on an undercover video admitting that he lied to the police about Holloway's death, Radar¬Online.com reported Wednesday.

"I always lied to the police. I never told the truth," said a grinning van der Sloot in the video. He was speaking in Dutch about the Holloway case to his wife and an undercover reporter working for Radar¬Online and the National Enquirer.

"Also, when I was young¬er, I never told everything. The police just never knew what they had to ask me," van der Sloot said.

When asked if he's talking about the Holloway case, van der Sloot replied, "Yes, this is also where I am guilty and I accept everything that I have done."

He added, "I think that was one of the worst police investigations that ever took place."

Van der Sloot was the last person to be seen with 18-year-old Holloway, who vanished on a high school trip to the Caribbean island.





maria-sharapova-tennis.jpgTennis' now-disgraced golden girl, Maria Sharapova has been branded "reckless beyond description" by Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

According to Pound, Maria Sharapova wasamid revelations the Russian was warned five times in December to stop using Meldonium.

Sharapova was contacted on three occasions by the International Tennis Federation and twice by the Women's Tennis Association with warnings Meldonium would be outlawed from January 1.The alerts were sent to all players.

The former world champion continued to use the drug, apparently unaware it had been placed on the banned list after failing to properly open email links.Her ignorance drew sharp condemnation from Pound who says she has no excuses for the failed test.

"Running a $30 million business depends on you staying eligible to play tennis," Pound said.

"You are taking something on a (banned) list. I am sorry, that is a big mistake - of course she should have known.

"She is taking something that is not generally permitted in her country of residence (US) for medical purposes, so she says, so there must be a doctor following this.

"Anytime there is a change to the list, notice is given on 30 September prior to the change. You have October, November, December to get off what you are doing.

"All the tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless beyond description."

Several of Sharapova's former sponsors including Nike and Porsche have distanced themselves from the Russian who retains the support of many of her rivals, including world no.1 Serena Williams.

Pound meanwhile laid into the 28 year old amid uncertainty over whether she had registered use of Meldonium on paperwork accompanying drug testing.

According to Pound "A drug like this over a long period of time is contraindicated. It means you would not take it over a long period of time.

"That is why there was an urge to put the drug on the list. A lot of people were taking it for performance enhancing.

"Most of the drugs of choice for dopers were built for therapeutic reasons - like EPO and others.

"That was supposed to regenerate blood if you had cancer treatment or surgical intervention if you needed to increase blood supply.

"Someone has said: 'Hmm, more oxygen in the blood? Hmm, very interesting. Let's see if we can use it for that purpose.'

"There is a side effect to every drug, somebody must be monitoring this."

Sharapova faces a ban of up to four years, however several tennis identities believe, with a successful defence, the suspension could be as brief as four to six months.

A date for her hearing has yet to be set.





supreme-court-justice-scalia.jpgAlthough investigators have declared that Justice Antonin Scalia had died of natural causes and that there was no foul play involved, mystery continues to shroud his death amid the unusual circumstances before and during the discovery of his body.

The highly respected 79-year-old U.S. Supreme Court associate justice was found dead in his resort hotel room at Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas on Saturday, WND reported.

According to Houston businessman and ranch owner John Poindexter, Scalia was "animated and engaged" during dinner Friday night. He was one of Poindexter's 36 guests that day.

Speaking to the San Antonio Express-News, Poindexter said, "Scalia was seated near me and I had a chance to observe him. He was very entertaining. But about 9 p.m. he said, 'It's been a long day and a long week, I want to get some sleep.'"

Poindexter said he knocked on Scalia's door at about 8:30 the next morning. The door was locked and the judge did not answer. Three hours later, the ranch owner returned from an outing and found Scalia still had not come out of his room.

Poindexter then went to Scalia's room again, unlocked the door and "discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled."

"He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap," he said.

"His hands were sort of almost folded on top of the sheets," Poindexter told the New York Times. "The sheets weren't rumpled up at all."

He said Scalia did not have a pulse and his body was cold. After consulting with a doctor at a hospital in Alpine, Poindexter realised that resuscitation would be pointless.

Authorities in remote West Texas then contacted Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara who pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes even without seeing the body. She also decided not to order an autopsy.A second justice of the peace, who was called but couldn't get to Scalia's body in time, said she would have ordered an autopsy, according to WND.

However, Scalia's family reportedly refused to have the justice's body autopsied.

Guevara admitted that she pronounced Scalia dead by phone, without seeing his body, and just relied on the statements made by law enforcement officials at the scene who assured her "there were no signs of foul play."

She said she also talked to Scalia's physician in Washington, who said that the justice suffered from a host of chronic conditions.

However, Guevara denied a report by a Dallas TV station that quoted her as saying that Scalia had died of "myocardial infarction." In an interview with The Washington Post, she said she meant only that his heart had stopped.

"It wasn't a heart attack," Guevara said. "He died of natural causes."

But despite Guevara's clarification that Scalia did not die of myocardial infarction, WFAA-TV in Dallas said the death certificate would show the cause of the death was a heart attack.





It was just another morning in Cincinnati, Ohio for 29-year-old Charles Harrell when he was making his way back from a early morning coffee run. Filming his trip, Harrell recorded his interaction with police officer Baron Osterman, who can be seen trailing behind Harrell on a bicycle. Sharing that the police office asked if he "had a problem," Harrell noted that this was a normal occurrence in his hometown.

"This is what we have to go through in Cincinnati, harassment" he said. "You can't be a black man and enjoy your morning, because the police are going to harass you in Cincinnati, Ohio."

As the video continues to roll, Osterman approaches Harrell for allegedly crossing against the light. In response, Harrell admits that he was frightened by the officer's trailing of him, stating, "You were scaring me, sir. I don't know why you're following me anyway. You followed me all the way down the street." Osterman then demands that Harrell put his phone and coffee on the ground. Refusing to lay his objects down, Harrell instead offers his I.D., and the officer become physical, warning him: "Don't reach around." Harrell is pinned against the wall and handcuffed.

According to Cincinnati.com, this is not the first time Officer Osterman has been linked to the use of excessive force. He reportedly was involved in the death of a black man, Nathaniel Jones, in 2003 in a local White Castle restaurant. The Citizen Complaint Authority ruled that Osterman and his fellow officer James Pike used excessive force in subduing Jones in 2004. They were both cleared in 2008 and awarded financial compensation.

Harrell was arrested for a pedestrian violation, resisting arrest and possession of a small amount of marijuana. The police department released a statement saying that the incident was up for internal review. Watch the footage of the incident below:





A Christian student has been ejected from his university course for voicing his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook.

Felix Ngole, 38, was expelled from Sheffield University after faculty staff decided he 'may have caused offence to some individuals'.

The postgraduate father of four, who was studying to become a social worker, has been told his actions affect his fitness to practise and was ordered to hand back his student ID and library card.

Mr Ngole was reported after using his private Facebook account to express support for Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions there last September.

Mr Ngole argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an 'abomination'.

Yesterday, he said he was appealing the university's decision because the case had wider consequences for the 'freedom of religion and freedom of expression'.

Claiming he had been censored, he added: 'The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs.

'I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Sharia law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don't think so.'

Following a disciplinary hearing, the student was told he had brought his profession 'into disrepute' and breached 'personal conduct' guidelines. A separate 'fitness to practise' panel later concluded that he was entitled to his opinion about gay marriage but may have 'caused offence to some individuals'.

They said his comment would affect his ability to operate in the social work profession even though he was not yet qualified.





from-plastic-bag-to-real-messi-jersey.jpg"As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Leo Messi believes in the child's right to play and the transforming power of sport in children's lives," UNICEF said. "All the items were signed by Messi himself. Both jerseys carried the message, 'Con mucho carino, Leo.'(Translation: "With much love, Leo"). The football was signed 'Leo.'"

Murtaza was "very happy" and is now asking his family to "only call him Messi," according to his 15-year-old brother Hamayon Ahmadi.

Hamayon told ABC News today he was the one who took the viral photos of his little brother in the plastic bag Messi jersey. He explained that his little brother was "crazy" about Messi at the time and kept asking his father for a Messi jersey.

"My father did not have enough money to buy it," Hamayon said, adding that his father didn't make much as a farmer. "So one day, I just made a jersey from a plastic bag."

Hamayon said soccer is just one of the few ways he and his brother "try and stay happy" despite "constant war and violence" in their village.

"Everyday someone is killed by the brutal Taliban," he said. "This is our life, always war and violence."

Hamayon said no one in his family has been hurt, but many of his friends have been killed by the Taliban.

He added that he hopes his little brother's story will help encourage peace in the country.

"I love my homeland," he said. "But how long do we have to tolerate the violence? A peaceful life should be our right."





support-the-puff.jpgThe fight and backlash against natural hair is real - real disgusting! And once again, yet another story of young women being attacked for their natural tresses has gone mainstream.

According to Wapa.TV, , a high school student at CR Walker in the Bahamas, was told by her principal that her natural hair was "untidy, ungroomed, and unkept," which violates school rules. Deleveaux and several other students are also alleging that they were not only reprimanded for simply rocking their natural curls but suspended and threatened with expulsion if they did not straighten their hair. Although the school denies the allegations, Delveveax's mother took to Facebook to share her daughters story and the outrage she felt over such punishment, explaining that Tayjah's hair "does not affect her brain." "What could possibly be so wrong with this hairstyle?!" she wrote. "SHE IS A BLACK CHILD WITH THICK NATURAL HAIR!!!!"

Once the post went viral, the controversy sparked girls all over the world to use the hashtag #SupportThePuff with a photo of their own beautifully textured tresses in support of women and girls loving their natural hair.

In addition to the millions of hashtags that have surfaced on the internet in the past two days, an online natural hair petition was also created in support of the students. "This petition has been created in support of those students and we encourage you the potential voter to consider the damaging effects of telling our precious darlings that in the year 2016, their hair is not good enough to be worn naturally," the site reads.

Hype Hair also reports that the country's ministry of education responded to the comments regarding the issue, saying, "We are fully cognisant of the sensitivity of this matter and are confident that after review with the school administrator, the school board and the individuals involved, the matter will be amicably resolved."





obama-responds-to-little-girl.jpgPresident Barack Obama on Saturday responded to a video of a little girl bursting into tears when she found out Obama wouldn't be president for much longer.

"But I'm not ready for a new president yet," the little girl, with tears streaming down her face told her grandmother in the video.

In a Facebook comment on the video posted by the girl's grandmother, Caprina Harris, the president told the young girl, who shares a birthday with Obama, that once he left office, he wasn't going anywhere.

"Caprina, tell her to dry her tears, because I'm not going anywhere. Once I leave the White House, I'll still be a citizen just like her," Obama wrote.

"And when she grows up, she can get involved right alongside me. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for her letter, and we'll always get to celebrate our birthdays together!"





louis-farrakhan.jpgLouis Farrakhan closed out the Nation of Islam's annual Saviour's Day convention in Detroit this weekend with a speech comparing sports stars to slaves, attacking police for their treatment of Beyonce and calling in the black community to make Detroit the new Mecca.

'Please don't put up another basketball court and think you're giving back to the back community,' said Farrakhan during his remarks.

'Basketball courts are a training ground for a basketball plantation.'

He then added that spectators watching people play sports are just like men sizing up slaves back in the day.

'Well, that's that what you do in sports. You run up and down the field, show them how swift you are, how clever you are,' he said.

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'And they're sitting there, watching you, timing you: "That's a good one. I'll get him. I'm drafting him."'

Farrakhan also spoke about improving Detroit, and making it a new holy city.

'Detroit can be the new Mecca,' said Farrakhan.

'It can be great, great city. And it's 83 percent black.

'You don't have to move out to the white community. Instead of moving out of the hood, let's make the hood what we desire it to be.'

He then added; 'Look at all the old homes going for five, 10, 15, $20,000.

'All they need is someone to take them over, fix them up, and give them some love.

'Don't go moving off into white neighborhoods. Look at your own neighborhoods and make them hoods we desire.'

Farrakhan, 82, also both praised and attacked police during his speech.

After praising Beyonce for her Super Bowl performance, which paid tribute to the Black Panthers and Farrakhan's mentor Malcolm X, Farrakhan blasted those who police forces that have said that will now ban Beyonce, who he called 'my sweet sister.'

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'You won't offer her police protection, but the FOI will,' said Farrakhan, referring to the Fruit of Islam, which provides the NOI's security.

At the same time he had nothing but kind things to say about Detroit Police Chief James E. Craig, who provided a motorcade for the group's leaders to the convention.

Farrakhan praised rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West as well for speaking out on social issues.

'Say what you feel. Put it out there!' he said.

He attacked both political parties too during his speech, saying; 'You have made no progress under Democrats.

'I don't know why you're such a slave. Figure out what did they do for you, when what you have given to the Democratic Party.'

Republicans meanwhile were accused of writing and passing laws that deny blacks the same opportunities as whites.

And he urged medical marijuana dispensaries to make a bid so that they could legally operate in the city.

'And that's good because medical marijuana could be used to help people who are being addicted to prescription drugs. God made the weed. I used to smoke it, too,' he said.

'But when I smoked it there was a divine reason: "God made it. It has to be good."'

He then began laughing as he told the audience; 'Stop lying to yourself.'





ten-year-old-fashion-designer-ife-ufele.jpgIt's no small feat to break into the competitive world of fashion design, but an even more astounding one to do so at the age of 10. Stacking the deck against her further still, Egypt Ufele, who goes by "Ify," was being bullied at school for her size.

Ify responded in the best possible way: she designed a line of clothing that includes plus-size fashions. The kicker? She's made it to New York Fashion Week - the only child designer to dress curvy models.

"People applaud me and tell me I'm good at fashion," Ify said. They used to tell her very different things, at least at her school in Queens.

"I was bullied and they called me all kinds of names. One time I got stabbed by a pencil," she said.

But Ify was determined to rise above, so she pulled out her grandmother's sewing machine and got to work on what soon became "Chubiline," which she describes as "bringing Africa to America, one design at a time."

She's certainly getting noticed. "When I see her line, I see a future in the fashion industry," said Preston Walker, owner and founder of Small Boutique Fashion.

As for Ify, she's happy to have shared such a positive message. "I turned negative attention into positive attention," she said. Break a leg, Ify!





Florida teen arrested for pretending to be a doctor

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florida-teen-fake-doctor.jpgMalachi Love-Robinson, an 18-year-old from Florida, was arrested on Tuesday for practising medicine without a licence, according to WPBF. He was taken into custody by authorities who ran an undercover operation. Love-Robinson was allegedly advertising himself as a doctor on Facebook, and other similar sites.

The undercover operation was issued by the Palm Beach Narcotics Task Force and the Florida Department of Health. A county official pretended to be a patient receiving "medical advice" from a faux doctor.

"I'm hurt because of all of these allegations," Robinson told WPBF. "This is not the first time I have been accused and I will pursue this, and when I do, you will be the first to know."

Robinson was swiftly arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license, and he was held with a $6,000 bail with no attorney mentioned, according to NBC Washington. His office, New Birth New Life Alternative Medicine and Urgent Care Clinic, allegedly consists of a staff of 'alternative medical professionals."

This isn't the first time, however, the teen has been charged with fraudulent medical practices. Back in January of last year, at 17 he was accused of posing as a doctor at St.Mary's Medical Center. "I requested to shadow physicians," he told reporters at the time. "Next thing I know, cops are there. That's all I know."

On Tuesday afternoon, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office tweeted this:"Just because you saw a season of Grey's Anatomy doesn't mean you could practice medicine.





Apple CEO Tom Cook denounces 'chilling' FBI demands

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apple-ceo-tim-cook.jpgUS magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to help the FBI access the iPhone of one of the shooters in December's San Bernardino attack.

Thr magistrate told Apple to disable the iPhone's auto-erase function that deletes a handset's data after 10 failed passcode attempts, thereby allowing investigators multiple attempts to break the code via electronic means and gain access to the phone's data.

However, the Cupertino company may tell the court it's unable to comply with the request as the nature of its encryption technology makes it impossible to do so. Such a response was used by Apple in a case last October when it told a New York judge it couldn't unlock an iOS device running iOS 8 or higher. The work phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernadino shooter whose handset the FBI is trying to access, runs iOS 9. Apple introduced the tougher system in 2014 with the launch of iOS 8 following Edward Snowden's government surveillance revelations.

Judge Pym's court order marks the latest chapter in the ongoing battle between tech firms and policy makers over privacy and security in the digital world. Apple chief Tim Cook has stated on many occasions his support for unbreakable encryption for users. The CEO vehemently opposes granting investigators access to private data held on Apple's mobile devices, an act the company says would damage customer trust.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported Judge Pym's decision, investigators are hoping the phone's data will reveal information about who Farook and his wife communicated with and places they visited in lead up to the shooting. The pair were apparently careful to physically destroy two other personal handsets, preventing the FBI from extracting any information from them.

Speaking to members of Congress last week, FBI director James Comey touched on the case, saying his investigators had so far been unable to gain access to a phone connected with the San Bernardino shooting.

"It is a big problem for law enforcement armed with a search warrant when you find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it," the FBI chief said, adding, "It affects our counterterrorism work....we still have one of those killers' phones that we have not been able to open, and it's been over two months and we're still working on it."

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, gunned down 14 people on December 2 at an event for Farook's co-workers. The pair later died in a shootout with police. The FBI believes their attack was at least partly inspired by ISIS, as Malik's Facebook page showed a message pledging allegiance to the group.

As for Apple, it has five days to inform the LA court if it has an issue with its ruling.

Late Tuesday, Tim Cook offered a robust response to the ruling in an open letter to Apple customers.

He wrote that while Apple has worked hard with the FBI to help find out more about "this horrible crime," the security service has now asked the company "for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."

Cook said the FBI wants Apple "to make a new version of the iPhone operating system" that would circumvent important security features to give it access to Farook's phone.

He even goes so far as to describe the implications of the government's demands as "chilling."

The CEO notes, "In the wrong hands, this software - which does not exist today - would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," ending with the message, "We are challenging the FBI's demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications."





Port of Spain mayor apologises

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Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee has apologised for comments "attributed to him" at a news conference yesterday, insisting they were taken out of context. In the same breath, he has agreed that his comments could have been considered out of line.

Following the announcement of the Downtown Carnival results at his City Hall office yesterday, Mayor Tim Kee was asked for his comment on the discovery of the body of a female masquerader at the Queen's Park Savannah.

The statements suggested that the woman's death, later identified as Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya, was in some way linked to a culture of lewdness.

The Mayor says his comments were completely misconstrued, and singled out a headline in a daily newspaper which read "POS Mayor criticises women". Tim Kee said it was a matter of "drawing fire even before the article was read."





pissed-off-plane-passenger.jpgA pissed-off passenger who was not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol aboard a Paris-bound plane took out his frustrations on a fellow flier by urinating on him.

The mile-high waterworks forced the Air Meditarranee flight from Algiers to divert to Lyon when flight attendants pinned the shirtless goon after a free-for-all, the MailOnline reported.

Another man involved in the melee also was removed from the Airbus A321 at Lyon, where the charter flight was delayed for about three hours. The airline, based in Toulouse, uses Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris as its hub for domestic flights and international routes to the Canary Islands, Greece and Lebanon, among other destinations.





Noela Rukundo sat in a car outside her home in Melbourne, Australia, watching as the last few mourners filed out. They were leaving a funeral - her funeral.

Finally, she spotted the man she'd been waiting for. She stepped out of her car, and her husband put his hands on his head in horror.

"Is it my eyes?" she recalled him saying. "Is it a ghost?"

"Surprise! I'm still alive!" she replied.

Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. Five days earlier, he had ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. And they did - well, they told him they did. They even got him to pay an extra few thousand dollars for carrying out the crime.

Now here was his wife, standing before him. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Rukundo recalled how he touched her shoulder to find it unnervingly solid. He jumped. Then he started screaming.

"I'm sorry for everything," he wailed.

But it was far too late for apologies; Rukundo called the police. The husband, Balenga Kalala, ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (the ABC).

The happy ending - or as happy as can be expected to a saga in which a man tries to have his wife killed - was made possible by three unusually principled hit men, a helpful pastor and one incredibly gutsy woman: Rukundo.

Here is how she pulled it off.

Rukundo's ordeal began almost exactly a year ago, when she flew from her home in Melbourne with her husband, Kalala, to attend a funeral in her native Burundi. Her stepmother had died, and the service left her saddened and stressed. She retreated to her hotel room in Bujumbura, the capital, early in the evening; despondent after the events of the day, she lay down in bed. Then her husband called.

"He told me to go outside for fresh air," she told the BBC.

But the minute Rukundo stepped out of her hotel, a man charged forward, pointing a gun right at her.

"Don't scream," she recalled him saying. "If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead."

Rukundo, terrified, did as she was told. She was ushered into a car and blindfolded so she couldn't see where she was being taken. After 30 or 40 minutes, the car came to a stop, and Rukundo was pushed into a building and tied to a chair.

She could hear male voices, she told the ABC. One asked her, "You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?"

"What are you talking about?" Rukundo demanded.

"Balenga sent us to kill you."

They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.

"You're a fool," they told her.

There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband's voice.

"Kill her," he said.

And Rukundo fainted.

Rukundo had met her husband 11 years earlier, right after she arrived in Australia from Burundi, according to the BBC. He was a recent refugee from Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them get on their feet. Since Kalala already knew English, their social worker often recruited him to translate for Rukundo, who spoke Swahili.

They fell in love, moved in together in the Melbourne suburb of Kings Park, and had three children (Rukundo also had five kids from a previous relationship). She learned more about her husband's past - he had fled a rebel army that had ransacked his village, killing his wife and young son. She also learned more about his character.

"I knew he was a violent man," Rukundo told the BBC. "But I didn't believe he can kill me."

But, it appeared, he could.

Rukundo came to in the strange building somewhere near Bujumbura. The kidnappers were still there, she told the ABC.

They weren't going to kill her, the men then explained - they didn't believe in killing women, and they knew her brother. But they would keep her husband's money and tell him that she was dead. After two days, they set her free on the side of a road, but not before giving her a cellphone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment, according to Australia's The Age newspaper.

"We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened," Rukundo said she was told before the gang members drove away.

Shaken, but alive and doggedly determined, Rukundo began plotting her next move. She sought help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, she told the BBC, and explained to him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home to her neighborhood near Melbourne.

Meanwhile, her husband had told everyone she had died in a tragic accident and the entire community mourned her at her funeral at the family home. On the night of Feb. 22, 2015, just as the widower Kalala waved goodbye to neighbors who had come to comfort him, Rukundo approached him, the very man whose voice she'd heard over the phone five days earlier, ordering that she be killed.

"I felt like somebody who had risen again," she told the BBC.

Though Kalala initially denied all involvement, Rukundo got him to confess to the crime during a phone conversation that was secretly recorded by police, according to The Age.

"Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, 'Why I did that thing?' later," he said, as he begged her to forgive him.

Kalala eventually pleaded guilty to the scheme. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by a judge in Melbourne.

"Had Ms. Rukundo's kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother," Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, according to the ABC. "It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo."

Rukundo said that Kalala tried to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man - an accusation she denies.

But her trials are not yet over. Rukundo told the ABC she's gotten backlash from Melbourne's Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police. Someone left threatening messages for her, and she returned home one day to find her back door broken. She now has eight children to raise alone and has asked the Department of Human Services to help her find a new place to live.

And lying in bed at night, Kalala's voice still comes to her: "Kill her, kill her," she told the BBC. "Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers."

Despite all that, "I will stand up like a strong woman," she said. "My situation, my past life? That is gone. I'm starting a new life now."





Common myths about global warming

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global-warming-myth.jpgMYTH 1: Global temperatures are rising at a rapid, unprecedented rate.

FACT: The HadCRUT3 surface temperature index, produced by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, shows warming to 1878, cooling to 1911, warming to 1941, cooling to 1964, warming to 1998 and cooling through 2011. The warming rate from 1964 to 1998 was the same as the previous warming from 1911 to 1941. Satellites, weather balloons and ground stations all show cooling since 2001. The mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8 C over the 20th century is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas ("heat islands"), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas ("land use effects"). Two science teams have shown that correcting the surface temperature record for the effects of urban development would reduce the reported warming trend over land from 1980 by half. There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.


MYTH 2: The "hockey stick" graph proves that the earth has experienced a steady, very gradual temperature decrease for 1000 years, then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT: Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the 17th Century the "average global temperature" has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 - 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

The "hockey stick", a poster boy of both the UN's IPCC and Canada's Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well. It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that. See here for more information.

global-warmingal-polar-bears-invent.jpg


MYTH 3: Human produced carbon dioxide has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus causing most of the earth's warming of the last 100 years.

FACT: Carbon dioxide levels have indeed changed for various reasons, human and otherwise, just as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by about 120 part per million (ppm), most of which is likely due to human-caused CO2 emissions. The RATE of growth during this century has been about 0.55%/year. However, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores dated over many thousands of years, CO2 levels move up and down AFTER the temperature has done so, and thus are the RESULT OF, NOT THE CAUSE of warming. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth's oceans expel more CO2 as a result.


MYTH 4: CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.

FACT: Greenhouse gases form about 3% of the atmosphere by volume. They consist of varying amounts, (about 97%) of water vapour and clouds, with the remainder being gases like CO2, CH4, Ozone and N2O, of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Hence, CO2 constitutes about 0.04% of the atmosphere. While the minor gases are more effective as "greenhouse agents" than water vapour and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their sheer volume and - in the end - are thought to be responsible for 75% of the "Greenhouse effect". (See here) At current concentrations, a 3% change of water vapour in the atmosphere would have the same effect as a 100% change in CO2.

Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention these important facts.


MYTH 5: Computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming.

FACT: The computer models assume that CO2 is the primary climate driver, and that the Sun has an insignificant effect on climate. Using the output of a model to verify its initial assumption is committing the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. Computer models can be made to roughly match the 20th century temperature rise by adjusting many input parameters and using strong positive feedbacks. They do not "prove" anything. Also, computer models predicting global warming are incapable of properly including the effects of the sun, cosmic rays and the clouds. The sun is a major cause of temperature variation on the earth surface as its received radiation changes all the time, This happens largely in cyclical fashion. The number and the lengths in time of sunspots can be correlated very closely with average temperatures on earth, e.g. the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Varying intensity of solar heat radiation affects the surface temperature of the oceans and the currents. Warmer ocean water expels gases, some of which are CO2. Solar radiation interferes with the cosmic ray flux, thus influencing the amount ionized nuclei which control cloud cover.


MYTH 6: The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has proven that man-made CO2 causes global warming.

FACT: In a 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft approved and accepted by a panel of scientists. Here they are:

1) "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases."

2) "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man-made causes"

To the present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.


MYTH 7: CO2 is a pollutant.

FACT: This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is. CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow more vigorously. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government has included CO2 with a number of truly toxic and noxious substances listed by the Environmental Protection Act, only as their means to politically control it. The graph here shows changes in vegetative cover due to CO2 fertilization between 1982 and 2010 (Donohue et al., 2013 GRL). A major study here shows that CO2 fertilization will likely increase the value of crop production between now and 2050 by an additional $11.7 trillion ($US 2014). See here for more discussion.


MYTH 8: Global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

FACT: There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports such claims on a global scale. Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, are sometimes claimed to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development value, and ever more media reporting. See here for graphs and discussion of extreme weather.


MYTH 9: Receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of man-made global warming.

FACT: Glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It's normal. Besides, changes to glacier's extent is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.


MYTH 10: The earth's poles are warming and the polar ice caps are breaking up and melting.

FACT: The earth is variable. The Arctic Region had warmed from 1966 to 2005, due to cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean and soot from Asia darkening the ice, but there has been no warming since 2005. Current temperatures are the same as in 1943. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice cap thicknesses in both Greenland and Antarctica are increasing. North polar temperature graph here. South polar temperature graph here. See here for sea ice extent.


Source: http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=3





Former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores is dead

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salvadoran-president.jpgSAN SALVADOR - Former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores died Saturday in a private hospital in the capital after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, his party confirmed.

Flores, 56, had been in a coma since undergoing emergency surgery.

Flores, who led El Salvador from 1999 to 2004, was under house arrest on charges of embezzlement and illegal enrichment. He was accused of diverting more than $15 million, which had been donated by Taiwan to help the victims of earthquakes in 2001. A court says $10 million of that went to the party backing him and the remainder to him.

The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, better known as ARENA, which carried Flores to the presidency, mourned his death and said it would support his family. Current Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez also offered his condolences through his official Twitter account.

Doctors last week said Flores had suffered irreversible neurological damage and that his chances of survival were minimal.

Flores had suffered from thrombosis, the clotting of blood in veins. He was hospitalized for it in October 2014. He was hospitalized again Dec. 22, 2015, for an internal hemorrhage.

Flores had a meteoric rise to the presidency, but once there gained a reputation for being arrogant and distant from his people. He became El Salvador's first president to be charged and put on trial for acts of corruption during his time in office.

Born to a well-off, conservative and anti-communist family, Flores rose quickly through the ranks of Arena, which ruled El Salvador between 1989 and 2009. He started in the government of Arena's first president, Alfredo Cristiani, in 1989, when he was still in his 20s.

Just a few days into his new position, a guerrilla attack killed his wife's father. In the 1990s, he served as an Arena legislator and in 1997 was elected president of the legislature.

He won the presidency in 1999, beating former guerrilla commander Facundo Guardado.

Flores took office at the age of 39 as Arena's third consecutive president. He left office in 2004.

During his time in power, El Salvador was hit with successive natural disasters.

Earthquakes in January and February 2001 killed more than 1,000 people and left 200,000 homeless. Later a severe drought destroyed coffee crops.

The corruption scandal and alleged theft of the earthquake-relief funds sealed his reputation with many. The switch to the U.S. dollar as the country's currency also received a huge popular backlash.





female-doctor-attacks-cab-driver-photo-1.jpgThe Florida doctor captured on video lashing out at an Uber driver in downtown Miami says she is ashamed of her actions and says she and her family have been targeted since the video's release.

"I see a person that is not me. I'm ashamed," Anjali Ramkissoon said today on "Good Morning America" of the video that shows her berating the driver of another customer's Uber. "I still can't watch the entire video."

"Every time someone brings it up or tries to ask me, 'What was happening at this point?,' I just, I can't," she said.

Ramkissoon, a fourth-year neurology resident, can be seen in the video berating the driver, trying to hit him, and throwing items out of the window of the passenger seat, and ultimately trying to knee the driver.

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"In the moment I was just so angry. I wasn't really thinking and if I could take it back I would," Ramkissoon said. "There is absolutely no excuse for my actions. I am ashamed. I am so sorry. I've hurt so many people with this."

Ramkisson says her father was admitted to the hospital that day and, just minutes before the incident, she and her boyfriend of two years had split.

"I was extremely stressed out that day," she said. "It was probably one of the worst days of my life and I was caught at my lowest moment. Nothing like this has ever happened."

"I made a huge mistake, the biggest mistake of my life, and that person is not me," Ramkissoon said.

Yes," Ramkissoon replied when asked if she'd been drinking. "I'd actually driven to that place that night but I did not want to drive my car home so I left my car there and that was why I was trying to get the Uber to get home."

The customer who ordered the Uber car that Ramkissoon tried to get in filmed the heated incident on a cellphone and posted the video on YouTube.

Ramkissoon, who can be heard telling the Uber driver, "I'm getting really like belligerent right now," says she was cyberbullied after the video's release.

"My family was targeted. Their address was leaked," she said. "I've received messages telling me that I should kill myself, that I should have been raped that night."

"I think it's ridiculous and I'm here to own up to what I did," Ramkissoon said. "I'm taking responsibility for it and I'm asking for forgiveness."

The Uber driver declined to press charges against Ramkissoon, for which she says she is "grateful." Uber told ABC News they've suspended Ramkissoon's account while the incident is investigated.

"We actually settled while we were out there. I paid for the damages and I apologized to him and he accepted my apology," Ramkissoon said. "I'm so thankful that he did not press charges, that he did not have me arrested."

Ramkissoon has been placed on administrative leave and removed from all clinical duties, by her employer, the Jackson Health System. An internal investigation is underway to "determine if any disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination," a hospital spokesperson told ABC News last week.





al-gore-climate-change.jpgWatch out world, and we are sorry if you had not realised before reading this, the world is ending today. That's because today is the day that climate change entrepreneur, and former US Vice President, Al Gore warned us would be the beginning of a global emergency.

Gore told his supporters a decade ago that the world had until 27th January 2016 to end its addiction to fossil fuels or the it would come to an end. Gore did not specify what householders might expect to happen today, but he was clear that this would be the end. ...





obama-killer-banner-moscow.jpgEarly this morning in Moscow, a 30-foot flag featuring Barack Obama was raised to the top floor of a building across from the U.S. Embassy. In blood red letters, the word "KILLER" is stamped beneath the face of the president. The evening before, a laser display projected "Obama Killer #1" onto the U.S. Embassy itself.

The party responsible for such anti-American productions is the Moscow-based "Glavplakat" art society, who issued a statement saying the banner was in response to the "U.S. Government's plans to invade the territory of yet another sovereign state."

"The word 'killer' defines the 44th U.S. President, and is given to him because of his decision to send the infamous 101st Airborne Division into the Syrian conflict," states Glavplakat. "Let's keep in mind that this division carried out practically every U.S. military invasion in the last decade."

The move to send the 101st Airborne Division to Syria and Iraq was announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, on January 25.

Also known as "The Screaming Eagles," the 101st Airborne Division is armed with 300 helicopters, including three battalions of 'Apache Attack' Boeing AH-64s. The decision to employ The Screaming Eagles only adds fuel to the fire that burns between Moscow and Washington-leading Russia's Foreign Minister to announce at a press conference yesterday that, "there will be no business as usual between Russia and the West."





japanese-haitian-tennis-teen.jpgAfter routinely dismantling 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the 3rd round of the Australian Open, 18-year-old Naomi Osaka, a self-described "child of the internet," was talking to reporters about Pokemon.

Asked about her tennis aspirations, Osaka smiled and declared confidently, "To be the very best, like no one ever was."

"That's a Pokemon quote, I'm sorry," she clarified, laughing. "That's the Pokemon theme song. But, yeah, to be the very best, and go as far as I can go."

Between her casual off-court banter with reporters and her cool domination in her first two matches, Osaka has been all the rage of the Australian Open. Even Serena Williams is gushing.

"She's really young and really aggressive," Williams said earlier this week. "She's a really good, talented player. Very dangerous."

Osaka is currently ranked 127th in the world and only qualified for the main women's draw by winning all three of her qualifying matches. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, she plays under the Japanese flag but trains and lives permanently in Florida, where she is coached by her dad.

Nevertheless, at the Australian Open she's taken to bowing to the Japanese fans that have turned out in droves to cheer for her and wave the Japanese flag during her matches.

"Yeah, it's the only part of my Japanese side," she said of the bow after the Svitolina match. "Kind of because there were a lot of people cheering for me, and I kind of wanted to show how grateful I was. I always think that they're surprised that I'm Japanese. So the fact that there was like Japanese flags and stuff, it was, like, really touching."

Osaka may be virtually unknown to the casual tennis fan, but her impressive play over the first two rounds isn't much of a surprise to those paying attention. As a 16-year-old, Osaka upset former world no. 1 Samantha Stosur with aggressive and powerful shots, including a 100-mile forehand.

During her second round of the Australian Open, she used her big serve to frustrate Svitolina. Svitolina was visibly frustrated throughout the match, while Osaka remained staunchly emotionless.

"Just genetically my face is like this. I'm sorry," she told reporters afterwards. "I feel like there's something wrong with me because I don't get excited or anything that much."

Her on-court Poker Face, of course, doesn't mean that she isn't nervous.

"In my brain I'm going, 'Oh, my God, why' about like 90 per cent of the time," Osaka said. "But, you know, I feel like I try to smile sometimes just so I don't throw my racquet."

As in all sports, tennis players regularly hide behind empty cliches about hard work and taking things one day at a time, which is why it's especially refreshing to hear Osaka speak so honestly to reporters. Her sense of humor, she said, is the product of Youtube.

"I feel like I'm a child of the Internet, and the Internet has raised me, and its jokes might not be appropriate at certain times," she acknowledged.

Osaka will have her work cut out for her in the 3rd round, where she will face Victoria Azarenka, the hard-hitting Belarusian who has dropped only three games through her first two rounds. But Osaka isn't worried.

"I never feel pressure from playing someone that's supposed to be like better than me," she said. "Sort of."





female-doctor-attacks-cab-driver-photo-1.jpgA Miami woman who was filmed attacking an Uber driver and throwing the man's belongings into the street before walking away has been identified as a local doctor.

Anjali Ramkissoon, a fourth-year neurology resident with Jackson Health System, reportedly got into an Uber without a reservation on Sunday night and when the driver asked her to leave became angry and belligerent.

The video shows her punching and kicking the man, who eventually walks away, and then getting into the passenger seat of the vehicle and throwing his mail, cell phone, electronics and other devices and possessions out into the street. At one point she also yells at him; 'Get the f*** in the car you piece of f****** disgusting s***.'

The Miami Herald reports that Ramkissoon has now been 'removed from all clinical duties'.

Her employer said in a statement; 'Jackson has launched an internal investigation.

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'The outcome of the investigation will determine whether any disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination.'

The video footage was taken by Juan Cinco, who had ordered the car to take him home from the Mary Brickell Village in Miami, Florida, on Sunday night. He later uploaded the clip to YouTube.

Information posted with the clip explains Ramkissoon, who was dressed in tight white shorts and a red top, came 'out of nowhere' and climbed into the backseat of the Uber.

When she refused to get out, Mr Cinco and his friend told the driver to cancel their ride and offered to book another ride home.

He said the driver pretended to phone the police, asking them to remove the woman from his car, which prompted Ramkissoon to reach into the front seat, grab his keys and start to walk away.

This was the point at which Cinco started filming, he said.

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In his YouTube post, Mr Cinco writes that the police arrived and had to remove Ramkissoon from a taxi she had hailed in an attempt to leave.

He continued: 'Once in handcuffs, she then tried kicking some of the police officers on the scene.

'It was only when they put her in the police car that she started crying, apologizing, and claiming that she would lose her medical license (she claimed to be a neurologist) if she got arrested.'

Mr Cinco said the Uber driver was 'too good of a person' and decided to take a cash settlement - 'only enough to pay his cellphone bill and maybe his cable bill' - rather than take legal action.

Miami police spokeswoman Frederica Burden confirmed officers had responded to the scene but said there was no report and there would be no investigation.

Uber also released a statement after the incident, saying; 'Uber expects everyone associated with the platform - both drivers and riders - to conduct themselves with a shared level of respect and common courtesy, and all forms of harassment and abuse are not tolerated.

'We have suspended the rider account of this individual as we investigate the incident.





First case of Zika virus hits the US

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zika-virus-photo-1.jpgAs if travelers didn't have enough to worry about with mosquitos spreading diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile, now there's a new virus threatening our health: Zika virus.

Just two days after the CDC issued a travel alert advising pregnant women to consider avoiding areas including Brazil, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico where this once rare virus is now rapidly spreading, the first U.S. case of a baby born with Zika-related microcephaly has been confirmed in Hawaii. It is believed that the baby's mother was infected while pregnant in Brazil last year.

Mounting evidence has linked Zika infections in pregnant women to the birth defect microcephaly, a potentially deadly underdevelopment of a baby's brain, also resulting in abnormally small head size. Richard Kuhn, head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University tells Yahoo Travel that "Once a pregnant woman is infected, the placenta can also become infected, causing an infection in the brain of the fetus. It is still unclear whether there is a particular trimester during which fetuses are the most vulnerable," says Kuhn.

The most common symptoms of Zika, a flavivirus related to Dengue, Yellow Fever, and West Nile, according to Richard Kuhn, Head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, include flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, headache), as well as rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.





A man died in a French hospital Sunday after taking part in an experimental drug trial for a painkiller, and five other participants remain hospitalized after one of France's most troubling medical incidents.

French prosecutors have launched a manslaughter investigation into the unusual case, which shined a spotlight on the practice of testing drugs on paid, healthy human volunteers. Scores of others were also given the drug. The Portuguese pharmaceutical company testing the drug, Bial, said in a statement that it's working with health authorities to determine what caused "this tragic and unfortunate situation."

The Rennes University Hospital in western France announced the death in a statement, but didn't identify the patient, who had already been in a state of brain death.

He was among six male volunteers between 28 and 49 hospitalized last week after volunteering to take the drug. French health authorities have said three of the hospitalized volunteers face possible brain damage.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the investigation was expanded after the death to include potential manslaughter charges.

The trial, which began Jan. 7, involved 90 healthy volunteers who were given the experimental drug in varying doses at different times.

The hospital said it has contacted the 84 other volunteers exposed to the new painkiller. Ten of those volunteers underwent medical exams Saturday, but the hospital found no anomalies, the statement says. It said another five will have medical exams closer to their homes, but didn't say whether the others are being monitored or tested.

The drug was given orally to healthy volunteers as part of a Phase 1 trial by Biotrial, a drug evaluation company based in Rennes, on behalf of Bial.





David Bowie Was The Original Hot Mug Shot Guy

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david-bowie-mug-shot.jpgBack in the day, when the word "viral" referred to the spread of disease and nothing more, David Bowie took a mug shot.

It was and is the perfect mug shot. In it, Bowie's style is impeccable. His hair is combed back or hanging to the side, just so. His jawline, apparently chiseled by the Gods. His eyes, peering into your soul.

The photos were taken in March 1976 in Rochester, New York. After playing a show in the area, he was arrested at a hotel along with Iggy Pop and two others for having a bunch of weed on them. Though they were charged with possession of marijuana, they never went to jail, and Bowie again played in the western New York state city.

In short, David Bowie was cooler and better-looking than you, and he was the original hot mug shot guy, too. R.I.P.





Remembering David Bowie

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david-bowie-remembered.jpgStyle icon and legendary musician David Bowie died at the age of 69 on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer. The star's death led to an outpouring of love for the singer from his wife, Iman, his son and fans alike. Bowie, who released a final album earlier this month, was a groundbreaking figure throughout his career, and will be deeply missed.





brooklyn-teen-victims-mom-boyfriend.jpg

A Brooklyn teen has been charged with the the gruesome murder of her mother, and her mother's boyfriend.

According to reports, 15-year-old Destiny Garcia confessed during questioning to the double murder of Rosie Sanchez, 38 and her mother's boyfriend, 40-year-old Anderson Nunez.

Police say the bodies were found at about 6:30p.m. Monday (January 4) in her Sheepshead Bay apartment. Sanchez had been shot multiple times in the chest and was found sitting in the chair, while Nunez, who was shot and stabbed, was found on the living room floor. Destiny allegedly lived with the corpses for several days, and even went to Times Square to celebrate New Years Eve.

Initially, Garcia told police she murdered the pair because she was sexually abused by Nunez, and that her mom had turned a blind eye to the repeated attacks, sources said.

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But on Monday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the girl changed her story, claiming she was actually being beaten by her mother, and the boyfriend was the one who wouldn't help.

"She said basically it was the mother that actually was abusive to her, physically abusive to her, in the past," Boyce said. "We don't believe this was at all an act of self-defense. She went and got a gun.... That's not consistent with someone (acting) in self-defense."

Garcia's close relative and confidant Jason Valentin, first cousin of the slain mom, said he doesn't believe any of it.

"What she's saying, I don't think is true," said Jason Valentin, 37. "It sounds like someone coached her to say that."

Valentin said he called police and drove Garcia from Sunset Park to the 61st Precinct stationhouse after she told him what she had done.

"It was hard for me, but at the end of the day, whether family or not, a crime was committed," he said. "Whoever is responsible, even if it's her, they have to pay for what they did."

The teen kept the killings and her alleged role in them secret for nearly a week - and went shopping and then to Times Square for New Year's Eve three days afterward, sources said.

On Monday, the girl gave a confession to cops at the stationhouse in the presence of her father, police said. She's being prosecuted as an adult and was arraigned Monday night.

Garcia's mom died of a gunshot wound to the head and a stab wound in the chest, the medical examiner said. Nunez was stabbed in the head, neck and torso.

Sources said Garcia told police she grabbed a gun out of a drawer in her mother's bedroom and fired at least two bullets into Sanchez. Then she allegedly fired the gun at Nunez. It's not known who the gun belonged to or how long it had been there.





Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran

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saudi-arabia.jpgSaudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters ransacked its embassy in Tehran to protest the execution of a Shiite cleric whose killing has sparked fury.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made the announcement at a news conference in Riyadh, and said Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The diplomatic fallout come as Iran's supreme leader said Saudi Arabia would face "divine revenge" for executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and as Western nations voiced concern about escalating sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Muslims.

Saudi Arabia "is breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran and requests that all members of the Iranian diplomatic mission leave... within 48 hours," Jubeir said.

"Iran's history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction," he said, and accused Tehran of seeking to "destabilise" the region.

On Saturday, a mob attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate in second city Mashhad amid protests at Nimr's execution.

Jubeir said Saudi authorities had asked their Iranian counterparts to ensure security at the embassy but they did not cooperate and failed to protect it.

Nimr, 56, was a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia, where Shiites have complained of marginalisation.

He was put to death along with 46 other people, Shiite activists and convicted Sunni militants who the Saudi interior ministry says were involved in Al-Qaeda attacks that killed dozens in 2003 and 2004. Some were beheaded and others were shot by firing squad.

Iran has said it arrested 44 people over the embassy attacks, and President Hassan Rouhani said the demonstrators were "radicals" and the assaults "totally unjustifiable".

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Nimr's execution, saying "God will not forgive" Saudi Arabia for putting him to death.

"It will haunt the politicians of this regime," he said.





zika-virus.jpgSAO PAULO, Brazil - A little-known virus spread by mosquitoes is causing one of the most alarming health crises to hit Brazil in decades, officials here warn: thousands of cases of brain damage, in which babies are born with unusually small heads.

Many pregnant women across Brazil are in a panic. The government, under withering criticism for not acting sooner, is urging them to take every precaution to avoid mosquito bites. One official even suggested that women living in areas where mosquitoes are especially prevalent postpone having children.

"If she can wait, then she should," said Claudio Maierovitch, director of the department of surveillance of communicable diseases at Brazil's health ministry.

The alarm stems from a huge surge in babies with microcephaly (my-kroh-SEF-uh-lee), a rare, incurable condition in which their heads are abnormally small. Brazilian officials have registered at least 2,782 cases this year, compared with just 147 in 2014 and 167 the year before.

A woman in Brazil holds her daughter, who was born with microcephaly. An increase in the disease - a form of brain damage - has been blamed on the Zika virus.Global Health: Zika Virus, a Mosquito-Borne Infection, May Threaten Brazil's NewbornsDEC. 28, 2015

At least 40 of the infants have recently died, and some Brazilian researchers warn that cases could multiply in the months ahead. Those babies who survive may face impaired intellectual development for the rest of their lives.

Brazilian researchers say that an obscure mosquito-borne virus that made its way to the country only recently - Zika - is to blame for the sudden increase in brain damage among infants.

But other virologists caution that more testing is needed to prove the dangerous link between the virus and brain damage, leaving the full extent of the threat to the country, and the hemisphere, unclear.

"Why this may have happened in Brazil and not elsewhere is at this stage difficult to answer," said Alain Kohl, a virologist at the University of Glasgow who studies Zika.

"Perhaps it was never properly registered in other areas, or the situation in Brazil is indeed different," he added, citing the possibility that the link between Zika and microcephaly could be related to particular strains of the virus.

The Zika virus has already reached several countries in Latin America, including Mexico, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that it could spread in parts of the United States as well. There have already been cases diagnosed in the United States, in travelers who visited affected countries, and the C.D.C. expects these instances to increase.

"I cried for a month when I learned how God is testing us," said Gleyse Kelly da Silva, 27, a toll road attendant in the city of Recife in northeast Brazil, describing how an ultrasound exam had detected microcephaly in the seventh month of her pregnancy with her daughter, Maria Giovanna, born in October.

Just a few months earlier, Ms. da Silva had sought medical attention after experiencing some of Zika's symptoms: fever, joint pain and a red rash.

"I had never heard of Zika or microcephaly," said Ms. da Silva, the mother of three other children. "Now I just pray that my daughter can endure life with this misfortune."

No one knows precisely when the Zika virus made the leap to Brazil from its place of origin in Africa. Some researchers say it could have arrived during the 2014 World Cup, when Brazil welcomed travelers from around the globe. Others think the virus may have come during a canoe race weeks later, when paddlers from French Polynesia, the site of a recent Zika outbreak, arrived in Rio de Janeiro.

Researchers, alert to the rapid increase in cases, say that Zika's spread to Brazil reflects how easily viruses are jumping from one part of the planet to another.

They are particularly worried that the disease is wreaking havoc in a region where the population has not encountered it before, and that climate change may be allowing viruses like Zika to thrive in new domains.

The Brazilian government has stopped short of officially advising women not to get pregnant, but confusion and fear are spreading along with the virus.

"The situation is incredibly frightening," said Andreza Mireli Silva, 22, a worker in a shoe factory in Sergipe State in northeast Brazil who is seven months pregnant. She said she was trying to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long pants despite the heat of the Southern Hemisphere summer and applying insect repellent every three hours.

Zika, named for the forest in Uganda where scientists discovered it in the 1940s, often goes unnoticed in the people it infects and was not considered especially life-threatening before spreading to Brazil.





Bill Cosby charged in sexual assault case

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cosby-charged.jpgThe authorities in Pennsylvania announced criminal charges on Wednesday against the entertainer Bill Cosby stemming from a woman's accusation that he drugged and sexually abused her at his home in a suburb north of Philadelphia, in 2004.

Kevin Steele, Montgomery County's district attorney-elect, said that Mr. Cosby faces a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault. He said the investigation involved a "relationship" between Mr. Cosby and the woman, Andrea Constand, that came about from her work with the basketball team at Temple University, Mr. Cosby's alma mater.

Mr. Cosby became a "mentor" and "friend" to Ms. Constand, Mr. Steele said, and at one point she went to his home in Cheltenham Township. According to the accusations, Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills and drink wine until she was unable to move, after which he committed the assault.

"The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed," Mr. Steele said. He added: "A person in that state cannot give consent."

The criminal charges come after a year of tumult in his career as dozens of women came forward to accuse Mr. Cosby, who was once revered as a father figure and popular moralist, of sexually abusing them. Many of those women on Wednesday cheered the decision to prosecute him.

The entertainer, who has long denied the charges and had never before been criminally charged, had only recently spoken of how he had been harmed by the accusations as universities and even Disney World retracted honors they had bestowed on him.





Regular flights between US and Cuba to be resumed

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us-cuba-flights.jpgThe United States announced Thursday the resumption of regular flights to and from Cuba, the latest step in a historic thaw in relations.

"On December 16, the United States and Cuba reached a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries," the State Department said in a statement.

The announcement came a year to the day after presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations after a half century of enmity rooted in the Cold War. The countries actually did so in July and have opened embassies in each other's capitals.

The aviation accord reached Wednesday brought the countries yet a bit closer to each other as they move to eliminate restrictions on trade and travel and treat each other like countries without a historic gripe.

But for now the US trade embargo on Cuba remains in place. So does a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba for the purpose of tourism, the State Department recalled in Thursday's statement.

Still, "a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our two countries," the statement said.





man-who-raised-aids-drugs-arrested.jpgA boyish-looking entrepreneur who became the new face of corporate greed when he jacked up the price of a lifesaving drug fiftyfold was led away in handcuffs by the FBI on unrelated fraud charges Thursday in a scene that left more than a few Americans positively gleeful.

Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager and relentless self-promoter who has called himself "the world's most eligible bachelor" on Twitter, was arrested in a gray hoodie and taken into federal court in Brooklyn, where he pleaded not guilty. He was released on $5 million bail.

If convicted, he could get up to 20 years in prison. He left court without speaking to reporters. His attorneys had no immediate comment.

Online, many people took delight in his arrest, calling him a greedy, arrogant "punk" who gave capitalism a bad name and got what was coming to him. Some cracked jokes about lawyers jacking up their hourly fees 5,000 percent to defend him in his hour of need.

Prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2014, Shkreli lost some of his hedge fund investors' money through bad trades, then looted Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company where he was CEO, for $11 million to pay back his disgruntled clients.

Shkreli "engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

Shkreli was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy. A second defendant, lawyer Evan Greebel, of Scarsdale, New York, was charged with conspiracy and also pleaded not guilty.

In September, Shkreli was widely vilified after a drug company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, spent $55 million for the U.S. rights to sell a medicine called Daraprim and promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

The 62-year-old drug is the only approved treatment for toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

The move sparked outrage on the presidential campaign trail and helped prompt a Capitol Hill hearing on drug prices. Headlines called the Brooklyn-born Shkreli such thing as "America's most hated man," the "drug industry's villain" and "biotech's bad boy" - and those were just some of the more printable names.

Hillary Clinton called it price-gouging and said the company's behavior was "outrageous." Donald Trump called Shkreli "a spoiled brat." Bernie Sanders returned a donation from Shkreli.





imf-christine-lagarde.jpgInternational Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has been ordered to stand trial in France over her role in a 2008 arbitration ruling that handed 400 million euros ($434 million) to French businessman Bernard Tapie.

Lagarde was French finance minister at the time. She has denied wrongdoing, and after years of investigation, a prosecutor in September argued that the case against her should be dropped.

But the Court of Justice of the Republic on Thursday announced it has decided to send her to trial. It is a special court for trials of government ministers.

Her lawyer, Yves Repiquet, said on i-Tele television that he plans to appeal the decision.





bill-cosby.jpgBOSTON (AP) - Bill Cosby fired back Monday at seven women who are suing him for defamation, accusing them of making false accusations of sexual misconduct for financial gain.

In a countersuit filed in federal court, Cosby alleges the women made "malicious, opportunistic, and false and defamatory accusations" against him. Cosby is seeking monetary damages "to the maximum extent permitted by law."

The women have claimed Cosby defamed them by allowing his representatives to brand them as liars after they went public with allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct dating back decades.

In his counterclaim, the comedian says the women have "engaged in a campaign to assassinate" his reputation and character. He says their campaign is "nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from him."

The women suing Cosby in U.S. District Court in Springfield are among approximately 50 who have come forward with allegations of rape or unwanted sexual contact over the last year. Cosby has a home in Shelburne in western Massachusetts.

Joseph Cammarata, an attorney representing the women, said Cosby's countersuit "stinks of retaliation."

"To suggest that these ladies - each and every one of them - got together and orchestrated a campaign against Mr. Cosby is hard to fathom," Cammarata said.

Cosby's countersuit cites his work as an entertainer and philanthropist, saying Cosby "prides himself in the legacy and reputation he has earned throughout his life."

His lawyers say that his reputation and career have been damaged by the women, noting that they filed their defamation lawsuit against Cosby at a time when he was set to return to television in a new NBC series.

Once news of his return to television became well publicized in 2014, each of the women "repeatedly and maliciously published their unsubstantiated stories through multiple interviews and posts on social media platforms," Cosby's lawyers wrote. NBC dropped plans for the show after multiple women came forward with rape allegations.

When Cosby's former longtime attorney, Martin Singer, defended the comedian by denying accusations of sexual misconduct, the women filed a defamation suit against him "to silence his defenses and monetize their false accusations," his attorneys wrote.

In his countersuit, Cosby denies the rape and other sexual misconduct claims made by the women and says the allegations were motivated by money.

For example, Cosby's lawyers cite comments one of the women, Therese Serignese, made to The Huffington Post in November 2014.

Serignese said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976 and that she called him after her mother said Cosby maybe would "take care of you." Serignese told website that she contacted Cosby in the 1990s and accepted money from him after being injured in a car accident.

In a statement, Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, said the women's "multidecade-old, false, uncorroborated, opportunistic allegations of sexual assault have caused and continue to cause him to suffer substantial injuries and damages" to his reputation and business contracts.





footballer-assassinated.jpgGunmen killed Honduras international and former Rangers star Arnold Peralta in a drive-by shooting in a shopping mall car park, police said.

The 26-year-old was assassinated in his home city of La Ceiba, police spokesman Commissioner Leonel Sauceda told AFP.

Peralta, who had been laying for Olimpia, the top side in Honduras, is the latest victim of apparent gang violence in Honduras, where gang warfare has given it one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Police were hunting for at least one gunman, said Sauceda, adding that the motive was unlikely to be a robbery because none of Peralta's belongings were taken.

"Apparently it was one or two individuals who were traveling in a vehicle -- a motorcycle or car," he added.

Osman Madrid, Olimpia vice president, told HRN radio station: "We are saddened, dismayed."

Peralta's name trended on Twitter, where fans of Scottish side Rangers remembered him fondly as a committed player who endeared himself to the Ibrox crowd with his work rate.

Peralta made his name in the local leagues in the coastal city of La Ceiba and was picked for the Honduras squad for the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009. He was in the squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He joined Rangers in 2013 but returned home in January this year to sign for Olimpia, the most successful team in Honduras.





dengue.jpgThe number of cases of dengue fever in Hawaii has risen to 139, prompting health authorities this week to warn residents and travelers to the popular winter vacation destination to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

The Department of Health said in its latest statement on the outbreak that 122 residents and 17 visitors on Hawaii Island, the largest of the state's eight main islands, have been confirmed to have dengue fever.

The first cases in the current outbreak were traced back to September, and over time they developed into what is now being treated as a cluster of 108 adults and 31 children. The cluster has now grown to rival the last major dengue outbreak, which took place in 2001 and lasted about 10 months with 92 cases on Maui, 26 on Oahu and four on Kauai.

The outbreak is taking place at the start of the island's peak tourism season, which usually begins around mid-December and lasts until March or mid-April. The Hawaii Tourism Authority published an alert last month instructing tourists to take precautions against the illness.

"Of the confirmed cases, 122 are Hawaii Island residents and 17 are visitors," the state department of health said in an update released Monday.

But there's not much they can do, an expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Dengue control is extremely difficult. We don't have a very good way of stopping dengue outbreaks," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, an expert on mosquito-borne infections at CDC who's just back from Hawaii.

"Maybe you can slow it down somewhat but there's no way to stop it."

That's in part because dengue usually causes a very mild illness, so people are still apt to go outside, where they are likely to be bitten by mosquitoes - which in turn will spread the virus to others.

Petersen says there are "clearly" more than 139 cases now on Hawaii. "You can't count them all. You are counting people going to the doctor and seeking medical help and getting tested. But people with more mild illness may not go to the doctor," he said.

Dengue is carried by mosquitoes - especially the Aedes aegypti mosquito that thrives in tropical zones. There's no treatment for dengue and no vaccine.

It can cause a very severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which kills 20 percent of victims, although good medical care can lower death rates dramatically.

The last real dengue outbreak in Hawaii was in 2001 and 2002, and lasted nine months. This outbreak may have been driven by a lot of recent rain, Petersen said.

Dengue has been moving into the continental United States, especially in Florida and south Texas.

The CDC's keeping an eye on two other mosquito-borne viruses - Chikungunya and Zika. "Chikungunya and Zika are spread by the same mosquito," Petersen said. "We are definitely worried about one of those viruses being introduced on Hawaii."





The US's biggest manager of prescription drug benefits said it will cover a $1-a-capsule alternative to the anti-parasitic treatment Daraprim, which costs $750 a pill after Turing Pharmaceuticals AG raised the drug's price from $13.50 this year.

Express Scripts Holding Co. said in a statement that it's partnering with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based company specializing in compounded drugs. In October, Imprimis started making a medicine for as little as $1 a capsule that includes the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, together with a vitamin called leucovorin that Daraprim is usually used with.

Turing's price increase for Daraprim, a decades-old drug that no longer enjoys patent protection, drew outrage from politicians, doctors and health insurers. By having a compounding pharmacy combine the two drugs, Express Scripts doesn't need to wait for an FDA-approved direct competitor to Daraprim to come to market at a lower cost.

The $750-a-pill price "wasn't acceptable," Steve Miller, chief medical officer for Express Scripts, said in an interview Monday. Using a compounded drug is "a simple, elegant solution that gets desperate patients the drugs they need at an affordable price." Miller said because Daraprim isn't needed in large quantities, Imprimis should not have a supply problem.

Safety Concern

Daraprim treats a condition called toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a parasite that can become active in people with weakened immune systems because of HIV, chemotherapy or other conditions or treatments.





oscar-pistorius-photo-1.jpgOscar Pistorius was found guilty of murder on Thursday after South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal threw out a manslaughter conviction for killing his girlfriend, and he now faces a 15-year prison term.

The judge described the Paralympian's testimony over the 2013 shooting of Reeva Steenkamp as "untruthful" and delivered a damning indictment of the original verdict. The double-amputee athlete known as the "Blade Runner" was released on parole in October after serving one year of his five-year prison sentence for the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

He killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day two years ago, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet.

"Guilty of murder, with the accused having criminal intent," judge Eric Leach told the court in South Africa's judicial capital Bloemfontein in a dramatic legal reversal.

"The matter is referred back to the trial court to consider an appropriate sentence."

The Paralympic gold medallist, who was not present in court, now faces a minimum 15-year sentence for murder -- although he could be released earlier on parole.

"It is inconceivable that a rational person thought he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-duty firearm," said Leach, who described Pistorius's testimony as "vacillating and untruthful".

"He ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide... but of culpable murder," the judge added.

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that Pistorius, 29, will remain on parole under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in the capital Pretoria until he is re-sentenced.

"I'm satisfied with everything," Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp told reporters shortly after the unanimous ruling by five appeal court judges.

Her mother June sat quietly in court with a sombre expression as the ruling was announced, and made no immediate comment afterwards.

At the crux of the case was how trial judge Thokozile Masipa interpreted the principle of "dolus eventualis" -- awareness of the likely outcome of an action -- under which she acquitted Pistorius of murder.

"This was expected. Judge Masipa legally got the whole issue completely wrong," William Booth, a defence lawyer based in Cape Town, told AFP.

"Four shots into a tiny toilet when you know somebody is on the other side -- that person shooting knows he is going to hit the person.

"He faces a minimum of 15 years. My feeling is that he's done a year, so looking at all the factors, maybe nine, 10 years in prison."

The trial of Pistorius, who became a global icon as the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics in 2012, attracted worldwide attention. He denied killing Steenkamp, 29, in a rage after the couple had gone to bed, sobbing and occasionally vomiting in the dock as details of his lover's death were examined in excruciating detail.

"I was overcome with fear," he said during his trial last year, describing how he thought he heard an intruder in the bathroom.

He grabbed his gun, and rushed without his prostheses to the bathroom.

"Before I knew it, I'd fired four shots at the door," he said, adding that he ran back to the bed only to find that Steenkamp was not there.

Pistorius killed Steenkamp at the peak of his fame, and he has since lost his glittering sports career, lucrative contracts and status as a global role model for the disabled.

Last month he made his first appearance in public since leaving jail, looking gaunt when he reported for community service at a Pretoria police station.The case triggered fierce debate in South Africa about violence against women, and activists from the ruling ANC party's women's league packed the public benches throughout the long case.

"I'm overwhelmed. The women of South Africa, the women of the whole world, have won today," league spokeswoman Mapaseka Nkoane said outside the court.





black-man-gunned-down-san-francisco-street.jpgA black man was gunned down in the street by police after he was surrounded by officers in a San Francisco street.

Police Chief Gregory Suhr confirmed the man, who was holding a knife, was killed after the shooting in Bayview at around 5pm on Wednesday.

His description is said to have matched that of a suspected wanted for stabbing someone in a nearby street.

Now a graphic video, which has not yet been verified by police, has emerged on social media which shows a man as he is surrounded by around eight armed police officers.

Standing on the sidewalk with his back up against a wall, he suddenly appears to double over.

But the man, who appears to be dazed, stands up again and begins to shuffle away - while the cops have the guns raised and trained on him.

The camera then cuts away as a barrage of bullets are heard while people are heard screaming in the background.

Police blocked off the intersection of Third Street and Gilman Avenue in San Francisco and Munli trains were halted as they responded to the incident.

San Francisco Police Department Chief Suhr said officers fired beanbags at the man and used attempted other non-lethal force before they opened fire.

'It looks like an execution,' a local resident who told the San Francisco Police Commission, reported The Daily Beast. 'This is why we need the cameras and the video.'

Department of Public Health workers, who are typically sent out to assist families after a violent death, were at the scene in Bayview.

The footage follows a series of high profile police shootings which have sparked Black Lives Matter across the country.

Just two days before the San Francisco incident, Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

The charge came after footage of him shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on the night of October 20 last year was made public by order of a judge.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets within hours of the video's release, chanting '16 shots' and forming human blockades across roads in the city's West Side. Other demonstrators gathered outside police stations as at least two people were arrested in connection to the protests.

Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy was sacked on Tuesday over his handling of the case while Mayor Rahm Emanuel now faces pressure to stand down over the incident.

The case is certain to be one of the most contentious to reach the courts since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.

VIDEO LINK:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3343872/It-looks-like-execution-Cops-surround-gun-black-man-San-Francisco-street.html#v-1132948120880135237





the-turkey-residents-sone-who-funds-isis.jpgRussia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.

But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).

As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey's airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey's actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."

More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey's role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:

"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey's involvement in the ISIS' illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."

Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"

Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.

And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's son: Bilal Erdogan.

Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.

After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ", a marine transportation corporation.





pope-francis.jpgPope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, which is worth billions of dollars and owns some of the most expensive art collections in this world, lashed out at wealthy minorities who hoard resources at the expense of the poor as he visited a crowded Nairobi slum today during his three-day tour of Kenya.

The 78-year-old pontiff was given a rapturous welcome as he arrived in Kangemi, which is home to more than 100,000 people who live in shacks without sewerage, including 20,000 who belong to the local Catholic parish.

Residents of the slum lined the mud streets to welcome him, standing alongside goats and hens outside the corrugated tin-roofed shacks where the shantytown's many small businesses operate: beauty parlours, cellphone 'top-up' shops and storefront evangelical churches.

Speaking at the local Catholic church, Francis condemned the 'dreadful injustice of urban exclusion' that has forced some 60 per cent of Nairobi's population to move to slums that cover just 6 per cent of the city's residential land, according to 2014 figures from the UN Habitat programme.

However, even as the Pope slammed the wealthy, online readers made it their point of duty to slam the Vatican: "Last time I checked the Vatican was worth billions.... Pot and kettle?," on reader commented.

Says the guy who lives in his own private city!!

This is a man who sits on a solid gold throne.

I recently walked around the Vatican and was amazed at the priceless works or art, anyway what what the Pope saying again?





native-american-indian.jpgThe celebration of Thanksgiving may be a beloved tradition, but one group of Native Americans has revealed what the holiday really means to them in a moving video series that dispels the historical inaccuracies and stereotypes associated with their culture.

As part of Cut.com's One Word video series, a group of men and women from the Native American community have shared their thoughts on the words: Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus, reservation and redskins.

And while many of the men and women agree that the 'redskins' is an 'offensive' and 'racist' term, the group shared different opinions about what it means to celebrate Thanksgiving as a Native American.

Columbus, however, the reactions were across-the-board negative. Some branded the Italian explorer 'pure evil' or 'a murderer' and even 'the first terrorist in America'.

Some uttered expletives or raised their middle fingers in response to the man's name.

'It always was weird to me to have that day off in celebration of somebody, like, we don't have a day for Hitler, but it's the same thing,' said one man.

Others seemed simply bewildered at why he's considered an important figure in history at all, given he 'didn't discover anything, and instead got lost'.

The reactions to the word 'redskin' were similarly negative, save for one woman who declared she was 'proud' to call herself a redskin.

'Derogatory', 'racist' and 'offensive' were the most common responses to the word, with many comparing it to the n-word or various other racist terms used to belittle people of certain races.

Some told the disturbing story behind the word.

'Redskin is interesting, because we call ourselves the cinnamon people, but redskin turned very ugly,' explained one woman. 'It was settlers collecting basically scalps and skins of Indians.'

The participants' reaction to the idea of Thanksgiving in another one of the Cut.com videos was much more mixed, including quick word associations with everything from 'inaccurate' to 'slaughter'.

'Ugh, lies,' said one man, simply.

'Sadness. Total sadness,' said another. 'Thanksgiving is a time when my family gets together and tells stories about our creation myths and who we were and who we are and really what we lost.'

'Turkey and white pilgrims,' added one man. 'I don't know what the first Thanksgiving was, but I highly doubt it was a group of happy Pilgrims and a group of happy Indians cooking turkey together.'

For many, the feelings themselves were mixed, as they enjoyed celebrating the 'overall idea' of Thanksgiving, but 'not where it actually comes from'.

'I don't really celebrate the holiday for what it actually is, more of like just getting to have family over and eat,' said one interviewee.

'Thanksgiving to me just means a day of football and good eating - and trying not to think about what it really represents,' echoed another.

However, some glossed over the negativity, with three women in a row in the clip saying they associate Thanksgiving with 'family'.

Others were all negative, with some even becoming riled up over the idea.

'It was a massacre. Puritans came and slaughtered them,' one man explained. They didn't want to eat with a savage. They slaughtered millions of us. I don't know why they call themselves Puritans.'

Another video from the series sees the same interviewees respond to the word 'reservation', which had many of the men and women become emotional.

One man described the word as synonymous to 'damnation' while others compared it to 'prison' or 'concentration camp'.

'There are no good reservations,' added one woman, who herself grew up on a Navajo reservation. 'We were one of the few lucky peoples that got to remain where our homelands are, but there are other reservations where people were forced there, and they can't fend for themselves like they used to in the old days. You can't hunt anymore, you can't fish anymore.

'You're just stuck on this reservation with substandard housing, living in third country conditions. Youths killing themselves because there is no future, no hope!' she added, tearing up. 'That's a reservation to me.'





vladimir-putin-russia.jpgTurkey shooting down a Russian jet on Tuesday morning is just proof of the 'toxic cocktail' of dangers in the region which could erupt into crisis with devastating effect, an expert has warned.

Middle East expert Shashank Joshi, from the Royal United Services Institute, said the skies over Syria and Turkey are an 'incredibly crowded airspace', with planes from both nations and members of the US-led coalition against IS - including the UK - operating.

Turkey, a Nato member, has already complained about Russian incursions into its skies and last month the alliance condemned the 'unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace by Russian combat aircraft'.

Mr Joshi said: 'The situation is dangerous because Russia is quite probably deliberately probing Turkish airspace both for military reasons and political reasons.'

The Russians will be testing the military responses of the Nato member, but also carrying out the same 'psychological intimidation' tactics used in the Baltic and North Atlantic, he suggested.

The combination of the crowded airspace, Russian probing tactics and the diplomatic tensions create a 'real toxic cocktail that can easily erupt into crisis', he warned.

Ankara will be 'furious' at the incursion and Russia can expect Nato to strike a 'tough' note, but behind the scenes there will be intense diplomatic efforts to calm tensions.

But if Moscow responds in a provocative way, there is a risk of the crisis escalating.

Mr Joshi warned: 'These things always proceed in a very unpredictable fashion. We have seen how conflicts can begin when there are large alliances.'





Friend kills pregnant woman, rips baby from her womb

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crime-scene-7.jpgA woman in New York was fatally strangled and stabbed on Friday before the killer ripped her baby from her womb.

Police arrested a woman at the scene who they believe murdered the Bronx 22-year-old before taking the child in the bloody altercation and allegedly claiming it as her own.

The child survived the attack and investigators were working over the weekend to determine how far along in her pregnancy the victim was.

According to the Associated Press, police arrived to the scene on Friday afternoon to find the victim stabbed multiple times in the abdomen.

Authorities said the suspect, who is also 22, tried to claim the child was hers.

"When the cops arrived, the perp claimed it was her child and that she gave birth during the struggle," New York City Councilman Andy King told NBC New York.

The victim was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The suspect is now under arrest on a murder charge.





secret-service-officer-arrested-in-child-sexting-sting.jpgA US Secret Service officer assigned to the White House was arrested this week after he sent naked pictures of himself to someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, according to a criminal complaint.

Lee Robert Moore, 37, of Church Hill, Maryland, turned himself in to Maryland State Police on Monday and faces charges including solicitation of a minor, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware. Federal authorities say Moore, a Secret Service agent from Maryland, sent obscene images and texts to someone he thought was a young Delaware girl, sometimes doing it while on duty at the White House.

The complaint details a series of pornographic online chats starting in late August between Moore and a Delaware State Police detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. Moore sent naked photos of himself to the undercover officer and asked to meet in person to have sex, according to the complaint.

In an interview with police, Moore admitted to communicating with the person while he was working at the White House, the complaint said.

The Secret Service, the agency that protects the president, has placed Moore on administrative leave, according to the complaint. The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear from the complaint whether Moore has retained an attorney.

Moore's arrest is the latest blow to the Secret Service after a series of scandals and security lapses.

In March, two senior agents, after a night of drinking, drove into a White House barricade inches away from a suspicious package that was being investigated as a possible bomb.

Last year, agents failed to stop a knife-carrying man from jumping a fence and running into the White House in one of the worst security breaches since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. (Caption: This booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Lee Robert Moore. Federal authorities say Moore, a Secret Service agent from Maryland, sent obscene images and texts to someone he thought was a young Delaware girl, sometimes doing it while on duty at the White House. (Delaware Department of Justice via AP)





Apple employee asks black students to leave store

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black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-1.jpgSix black students have been asked to leave a store over concerns they 'might steal something', in an incident which appears to have racist motivations.

The incident at an Apple store in Highpoint shopping centre, north-west Melbourne, was caught on video and uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday night.

The footage has since been viewed almost 47,000 times, sparking outrage at what most viewers are calling 'blatant racism'.

'These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store,' security at the Apple store is heard saying in the footage.

When the boys, taken aback, asked for what reason they were being asked to leave, security responded: 'They're just a bit worried you might steal something.'

'Guys, end of discussion, I need to ask you to leave our store.'

In the Facebook post, one of the boys said the argument between them lasted 15 minutes.

'He was circling us for 10 minutes while we were in the store,' one of the boys wrote on the Facebook post.

black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-2.jpg'These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store,' security at the Apple store is heard saying in the footage. When the boys asked for what reason, security responded: 'They're just a bit worried you might steal something'

The boys, who are Year 10 students at Maribyrnong College, in inner-west Melbourne, according to Sydney Morning Herald, later got an apology from the store.

'They called security but the guy ended up apologising to us,' one wrote, with Apple security calling security at Highpoint shopping centre.

'The Highpoint guards were nice as, it was just the Apple employees & security that were acting up,' another posted in the comment thread.

When many were understandably outraged at the video footage and suggested taking complaints further, the six boys appeared to be in good spirits.

'They apologised so we're chilling no need to take this further,' one commented.

Another joked: 'I'm not in the financial status to take Apple to court.'

'We just wanted to show people the prejudice we went through and the racial profiling of the Apple staff and security.'

black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-3.jpgAccording to SMH, Maribyrnong College principal Nick Scott accompanied the six boys to the Apple store on Wednesday afternoon, and a senior manager apologised.

It was reportedly a private security guard hired by Apple who first raised concerns about the teenagers, and an Apple employee shown in the video speaking with the boys.

An Apple spokesperson told SMH they were committed to cultural diversity and inclusion, and said they were looking into the situation.





first-african-to-win-world-scrabble-champion.jpgA Nigerian in a cowboy hat beat an English opponent to become Africa's first World Scrabble champion.

Wellington Jighere crushed Lewis MacKay 4-0 in a best of seven final in Perth, Australia. Jighere, 32, used high-scoring words such as fahlores, avouched and mentored. Fahlores is another spelling of fahlerz, a grey crystalline mineral.

His victory over more than 120 rivals at the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association Championship won praise from Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari who said he had 'done the country proud'.

Mr Jighere won a L6,600 prize but now needs a job, having completed his national service after graduating from university.

He and the five other members of the Nigerian team arrived in Australia just a day before the tournament started. They had little chance to get over the 20-hour flight or the seven-hour time difference.

Mr Jighere said on his Facebook page that he felt he was playing with the 'whole continent' behind him.

He added that it 'still baffles' him that he managed to win, given how tired he felt as he had 'not slept well in about a week'.

New Zealander Nigel Richards stunned the francophone world in July when he won the game's French version. He doesn't speak the language and spent only nine weeks studying the official Scrabble dictionary.

Mr MacKay put down words including: yex, an old English word for sobbing; Wemb, an obsolete alternative spelling for womb and Onely, an obsolete alternative spelling of only.

In return Mr Jighere put down: dacoit, a member of a class of robbers in India and Burma; yow - Australian slang for keeping a look-out and Katti - an alternative spelling for a weight used in China.

Adam Kretschmer, one of the organisers of the event, said: 'He had to battle for four days to emerge on top but once he got there - maybe he was a little fresher, or got a bit of luck - everything fell into place for him and he won four-nil.'





us-rep-louie-gohmert.jpgRep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who previously compared the treatment of marriage equality opponents to how Nazis persecuted Jews during World War II, argued that even Americans who don't believe in God should be able to see that same-sex relationships aren't natural, Right Wing Watch reports.

He went on to suggest conducting a "totally secular" congressional study that would prove it, too.

"How about if we take four heterosexual couples, and put them on an island where they have everything they need to live and exist, and we take four couples of just men and put them on an island where they have all they need to survive," he said. "And then let's take four couples of just women and put them on an island, and then let's come back in 100 years and see which one nature favors."

It isn't the first time Gohmert has made the deserted island suggestion. In July, he slammed the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling on same-sex marriage, arguing that Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg "ought to be impeached" for participating in the case.

Outlining the deserted island plan in more detail, Gohmert suggested a 100- to 200-year waiting period to determine "which one nature says is the preferred marriage."





franklyn-graham-and-obama.jpgDuring a trip to Moscow last week where he participated in a forum on the persecution of Christians, Rev. Franklin Graham said that President Barack Obama supports abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage, which are "sins against God," and that Obama is "taking a stand against God."

In an Oct. 30 interview with the Moskoviskij Komsomolets newspaper, Rev. Graham was asked, "I heard that you called Barack Obama 'the leader of the anti-Christ movement.' Is that true? What do you think about the current president of the United States?"

Rev. Graham, the son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said, "I have met the president on several occasions. He's a very nice person. But he supports and promotes policies that contradict the teachings of God."

"As a Christian, I believe that abortion is murder -- he supports it," said Graham. "Homosexuality and same-sex marriage - those are sins against God, and the president is promoting them."

"I'm not against homosexuals as people," said the reverend. "But God commanded that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda, if only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people's children."

"I believe that President Obama (and I'll repeat, he's a very nice person) is leading America down the wrong road," said Rev. Graham. "He's taking a stand against God."

In response to a question about religious freedom in America, Graham said, "[T]he situation in the United States regarding religion is in decline. Secularism, which is almost no different from communism, is an atheistic movement."

"Our country is becoming more and more secular, more atheist, taking God out of government, taking God out of schools," said the reverend. "We are witnessing America losing many religious freedoms. In your country over the past 30 years, we have seen positive changes. But over this same period of time in the United States, the changes have been negative."

Franklin Graham, 62, is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and he also runs the international Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse. He is married and has five children. Franklin Graham regularly preaches in the United States and overseas.





student-arrest.jpgCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A girl who refused to surrender her phone after texting in math class was flipped backward and tossed across the classroom floor by a sheriff's deputy, prompting a federal civil rights probe on Tuesday.

The sheriff said the girl "may have had a rug burn" but was not injured, and said the teacher and vice principal felt the officer acted appropriately. Still, videos of the confrontation between a white officer and black girl stirred such outrage that he called the FBI and Justice Department for help.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott suspended Senior Deputy Ben Fields without pay, and said what he did at Spring Valley High School in Columbia made him want to "throw up."

"Literally, it just makes you sick to your stomach when you see that initial video. But again, that's a snapshot," he said.

Videos taken by students and posted online show Fields warning the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed on Monday. The officer then wraps a forearm around her neck, flips her and the desk backward onto the floor, tosses her toward the front of the classroom and handcuffs her.

Lott pointed out at a news conference that the girl can also be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down, but said he's focused on the deputy's actions as he decides within 24 hours whether Fields should remain on the force.

"I think sometimes our officers are put in uncomfortable positions when a teacher can't control a student," the sheriff said, promising to be fair.

Email, phone and text messages for Fields were not returned.

The deputy also arrested a second student who verbally objected to his actions. Both girls were charged with disturbing schools and released to their parents. Their names were not officially released.

The second student, Niya Kenny, told WLTX-TV that she felt she had to say something. Doris Kenny said she's proud her daughter was "brave enough to speak out against what was going on."

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night, Niya Kenny said an administrator told her to sit down, be quiet and to put her cellphone away. She refused.

"'This is not right. This is not right,'" Kenny recalled saying in the classroom. "'I can't believe y'all are doing this to her.'"

Kenny said Fields arrested her and handcuffed her inside the classroom.

Lt. Curtis Wilson told The Associated Press in an email to "keep in mind this is not a race issue."

"Race is indeed a factor," countered South Carolina's NAACP president, Lonnie Randolph Jr., who praised the Justice Department for agreeing to investigate.

"To be thrown out of her seat as she was thrown, and dumped on the floor ... I don't ever recall a female student who is not of color (being treated this way). It doesn't affect white students," Randolph said.

The sheriff, for his part, said race won't factor into his evaluation: "It really doesn't matter to me whether that child had been purple," Lott said.

Tony Robinson Jr., who recorded the final moments, said it all began when the teacher asked the girl to hand over her phone during class. She refused, so he called an administrator, who summoned the officer.

"The administrator tried to get her to move and pleaded with her to get out of her seat," Robinson told WLTX. "She said she really hadn't done anything wrong. She said she took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second, you know, please, she was begging, apologetic."

"Next, the administrator called Deputy Fields in. ... He asked, 'Will you move?' and she said 'No, I haven't done anything wrong,'" Robinson said.

"When I saw what was going to happen, my immediate first thing to think was, let me get this on camera. This was going to be something ... that everyone else needs to see, something that we can't just let this pass by."

Districts across the country put officers in schools after teenagers massacred fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Schools now routinely summon police to discipline students, experts say.

"Kids are not criminals, by the way. When they won't get up, when they won't put up the phone, they're silly, disobedient kids - not criminals," said John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.

Police should guard doors to "stop the crazies from getting in these schools," Whitehead said, but "when you have police in the schools, you're going to run into this - having police do what teachers and parents should do."

The National Association of School Resource Officers recommends that schools and police agree to prohibit officers "from becoming involved in formal school discipline situations that are the responsibility of school administrators."

At a school board meeting Tuesday night, parents spoke out about the arrest.

"This is not a race issue," said Rebekah Woodford, a white mother of two Spring Valley graduates and one current student. "This is, 'I want to be defiant and not do what I'm told.' ... The child is the one who can choose what to do."

School Superintendent Debbie Hamm said "the district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students." School Board Chairman Jim Manning called the deputy's actions "shamefully shocking."

Fields, who also coaches football at the high school, has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.





south-carolina-student-arrest-officer-assault.jpgFootage of a female student being dragged from her desk in a South Carolina classroom by a school resource officer went viral on Monday. The disturbing video should serve as a stark reminder that schools aren't always the safe places they should be, especially for black girls.

Cell phone video captured by several of the high school student's peers show officer Ben Fields of the Richland County Sheriff's Office standing over her desk asking her to stand up. When she remains seated, Fields puts his forearm around her neck, flips her desk over, and drags her toward the front of the classroom before handcuffing her.

The deputy, who has been placed on administrative leave, has previously faced accusations of excessive force and racial bias, according to The Post and Courier. Fields is white; the student is black.

Students say the girl had her cell phone out in math class and refused to hand it over to her teacher. Niya Kenny, another student, was also arrested for crying and yelling at the officer during the incident and charged under South Carolina's disturbing schools law. The law, which has been in place since the 1970s, allows school resource officers to arrest students who disrupt, disturb, or interfere with school classes or functions.

"The horrific incident is not about one bad officer, but also about larger policies that criminalize students in schools in South Carolina and across the country," Mishi Faruqee, the national field director for juvenile justice reform group Youth First Initiative, told TakePart. "Under South Carolina's Disturbing Schools law, even routine disciplinary problems are treated as crimes."

Students of color in particular bear the brunt of the criminalization Faruqee describes. Nationally, black boys are the most harshly punished group of students in U.S. schools, and black girls are suspended at six times the rate of their white female peers, according to a study released last year by the African American Policy Forum.

They are also at increased risk of expulsion, making it less likely for black girls to graduate from high school on time or ultimately attend college. Expulsion can set students on a path to criminal justice system that advocates call the school-to-prison pipeline.

Police have been present in schools for decades-particularly in low-income communities of color-but some experts also tie their increased presence to the rise in school shootings. After Columbine, the Department of Justice invested $876 million to fund the presence of nearly 7,000 school resource officers like Fields. During the 2013-2014 school year, there were more than 82,000 officers working in public schools.

The increased presence of these officers in schools has proved counterproductive in terms of public safety, and increases the likelihood that normal teenage behavior will be classified as criminal and reported to the police, according to The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.

Tony Robinson Jr., one of the students who filmed the incident, described it to local news channel WLTX19.

"That [officer is] supposed to be somebody that's going to protect us," Robinson said. "Not somebody that we need to be scared of, or afraid."

On Tuesday, following the request of the Richland County Sheriff, federal authorities announced they had opened a civil rights investigation into the incident at Spring Valley High School.





lewis-hamilton-wins-world-championship.jpgNewly crowned three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton basked in the glory of emulating childhood hero Ayrton Senna on Sunday, describing his United States Grand Prix triumph as his "greatest moment".

As his Mercedes team celebrated all around him, soaking him in champagne, the 30-year-old Briton reflected on his role-model status and his hopes and inspirations in the aftermath of an astonishing race and achievement.

"This is the greatest moment of my life," Hamilton told his team in the emotional moments after he crossed the line to add the 2015 title to those of 2008 and 2014.

Later, he said he felt moved to have realised a dream in matching Senna's achievement in winning three championships.

"For me, that was the target," he said. "I wanted to get the three that Ayrton had. He wasn't from the same country as me, but he was the guy who inspired me as a youngster.

"Now, I don't know what is going to come next. There is nobody else I look to who I want to emulate, and I feel like I've got the baton for myself and Ayrton, and I will carry that on and see how far I can take it."

After feeling deeply emotional after the race, he told a news conference: "I'm so overwhelmed right now. I remember my first British Championship and when my dad drove me home.

"We were singing 'We Are The Champions' in the car as we drove home. I owe so much to them -- my mum, my dad, my family -- for all that they sacrificed for me."

Hamilton's father Anthony and family were not in Austin to see him win the race and take his third title, an absence that the champion addressed by sending messages to them at every opportunity.

Asked about his dreams and his role, he said: "I want to encourage young kids. It is about the self-belief they have.

"Hopefully this will inspire parents. I wanted to be Ayrton Senna or Superman when I was younger, and I hope that they feel the same and don't give up on their dreams.

"I can't believe I am here now, and I thank my fans for supporting me all over the world and I know that this is a platform to inspire people, young people -- never give up on your dreams hopes and desires."

Hamilton snatched victory when Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg ran wide on lap 49 to open the door to his third title.

"Today, so many times, I thought I'd lost the race. With the Safety Car and Nico was so quick, but I just never gave up," said Hamilton.

The champion said the crazy nature of the race was emotionally draining.

"The last 10-15 laps were the tough ones," he said.

"Those last laps, the world championship is right there, and I'm thinking 'am I going to get it?'

"Everything I have got from these years, everything I have built up, I was so close, I could smell it, so I was pushing.

"I'm just overwhelmed. It's difficult to find the words. It's crazy to think I'm a three-time Formula One world champion, but I am."





A radical call for governments around the world to decriminalise the use and possession of 'all drugs' has been foiled, after at least one country has blocked the move.

The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had called for governments to legalise all drugs for 'personal consumption', according to Sir Richard Branson.

The Virgin boss claimed the 'shift' in policy from the UN could 'end the needless criminalistion of millions of drug users'.

But it is not to be, as the paper has been withdrawn.

According to a statement released by the UNODC the document was 'neither final nor formal', but it added that the topic is still under review.

The statement continued: 'There has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper.'

It added, however, that the office is still investigating an alternative to a jail sentence in cases of drug use.

Sir Richard, who sits on the Global Commission on Drug Policy, revealed in a blog that he had seen a copy of an unreleased document from the agency, describing its contents as 'refreshing'.

He wrote: 'In an as-yet unreleased statement... the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, call on governments around the world to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs.

'This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world.

'My colleagues on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and I could not be more delighted.

'Together with countless other tireless advocates, I've for years argued that we should treat drug use as a health issue, not as a crime.

'While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell.'

The 65-year-old tycoon said it was 'exciting' that UNODC had now 'unequivocally stated that criminalisation is harmful, unnecessary and disproportionate'.

He said that countries like Portugal where decriminalisation had been tried had seen a 'significant reduction in drug-related deaths.

People who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell

'I hope this groundbreaking news will empower and embolden governments everywhere, including the UK, to do the right thing and consider a different course in drug policy,' he added.

In an update, after it was confirmed that the call would not go ahead, the tycoon added: 'Drugs should be treated as a health issue. My great hope is that today's actions bring that day a little bit closer to reality, so that the millions who continue to be harmed by current policies can be helped instead.'

According to the Daily Telegraph the billionaire businessman said that the document had originally been earmarked for release on Sunday at the International Harm Reduction conference in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

But without naming the nation involved, he said that 'at least one government is putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the UNODC.'

Ending his statement, Sir Richard called for an end to the war on drugs adding that it 'has done too much damage to too many people already.'

A UNODC spokesman described the paper as 'neither a final nor formal document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy'.

The statement added: 'It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper.

'UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But, it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready.

'Overall, UNODC remains committed to the balanced approach that, in particular, promotes alternatives to incarceration in line with international human rights standards.'





racist-white-man-little-black-boy.jpgSome of the Facebook commenters who posted racist remarks about a three-year-old Black child have released apologies after being terminated from their jobs.

The story of the trending hashtag #HisNameIsCayden began last week, when Facebook user Gerod Roth (Geris Hilton on the site) posted a photo of himself with Cayden Jenkins, the son of his co-worker, Sydney Shelton.

After making the photo his profile picture, many of his friends wrote racist comments about the child, calling him "Kunta Kinte" and using slave jokes. Roth did little to extinguish the raced-based jokes, adding himself that the child "was feral."

"A person said, 'Oh, you mean to tell me that you just have wild kids running through your office building?' And that's when I said 'he was feral.' That was interpreted as racist and that, honestly, was not my intention whatsoever," Roth told Fox 5 Atlanta.

Earlier this week, Roth was fired from his position at Polaris Marketing Group in Atlanta. In addition to Roth's firing, another commenter who goes by the name Emily Irene Red was reportedly terminated from her position at The Conch Republic restaurant.

@tyriquex Just spoke to the manager of The Conch Republic Grill. Emily Irene was fired today. He says they were "appalled" by her remarks.

- DavidGrapeJuice (@DavidGrapeJuice) October 1, 2015

Tim Zheng, the Facebook user who called the toddler "Kunta Kinte" in Roth's comments, also apologized for his actions. Sharing a story about his immigrant parents and the racism they faced, Zheng now claims he's learned from his actions. But Cayden's supporters weren't buying his apology, especially after old posts of Zheng's mocking the Black Lives Matter movement were uncovered.

Shelton is grateful for the support she's received since the hashtag's inception. Speaking with Fox 5 Atlanta, the mother stated Roth never mentioned the comments to her, or even asked to take a photo with her son weeks before it caught attention online.

"He is not a deaf child. He is not mute. He has never been abandoned. He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old," Shelton said in response to comments made on the post.

Roth emailed Shelton an apology, but she doesn't believe it's sincere.





Twitter to cut up to 8 percent of global workforce

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Twitter Inc said it would lay off up to 336 employees, or cut about 8 percent of its global workforce, as part of an overall plan to streamline operations.

The layoffs come about a week after the microblogging service provider appointed its co-founder Jack Dorsey its permanent CEO. (http://1.usa.gov/1Gbb31A)

Twitter shares rose 2.3 percent to US$29.41 in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Twitter said it expected to incur about US$10 million-US$20 million in severance costs and US$5 million-US$15 million in restructuring costs.

The company said it expected to record most of these pretax restructuring charges in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Twitter is working to rekindle growth after its latest quarterly results in July revealed the slowest rise in monthly average users since it went public in 2013.

The company will report its third-quarter results on Oct. 27 after the market closes.





12-year-old-black-boy-suspended-for-staring-at-classmate.jpgLast week, an Ohio judge refused to erase the suspension of a 12-year-old black boy who was punished for staring at his classmate last year.

The boy was suspended several days after participating in a staring contest with a white female classmate at St. Gabriel Consolidated School, and allegedly made her feel "fearful." School officials were notified by the girl's parents the day after the contest, claiming she felt intimidated by the boy. But the boy, who was forced to write an apology letter and subsequently suspended for a day, maintained he was unaware that his classmate was feeling uncomfortable.

"I never knew she was scared because she was laughing," he wrote. "I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation."

The 12-year-old's mother, Candice Tolbert, said her son was suspended because of a "perception [that] he intimidated her." The family filed a lawsuit to have the punishment dismissed from his record, but Judge Patrick Dinkelacker declined the request. The ruling could be appealed in the future.

Studies show that black children are far more likely to be suspended than their white peers. According to the ACLU, 31 percent of school arrests involve black youth. Roughly one-third of all black boys in middle school and high school are suspended.

Zero-tolerance school policies that lead to student suspensions or entry into the justice system have long-term consequences. They pave the way for future arrests or stints in juvenile detention - known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Suspended students are also more likely to drop out of school.

While cops were not involved in this particular case, the boy's suspension highlights how students of color are slapped with egregious punishments for minor offenses by school administrators. In the past, students have been arrested for violating dress codes, being late to school, initiating food fights, swearing and throwing skittles, and throwing peanuts. Others like Ahmed Mohamed and Kiera Wilmot are disciplined for their intellectual curiosity. Oftentimes, those students are denied due process.

Under former Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ issued guidance to reduce harsh school punishments in schools.

"Too often, so-called "zero-tolerance" policies - however well-intentioned - make students feel unwelcome in their own schools. They disrupt the learning process. And they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people - increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice systems," he said.

The DOJ guidance emphasized additional staff training, specific methods to create a positive school climate with multiple avenues for student support, and how to establish a clear set of disciplinary guidelines with the help of community stakeholders.





missing-cargo-ship.jpgJACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The captain of the 790-foot El Faro planned to bypass Hurricane Joaquin, but some kind of mechanical failure left the U.S. container ship with 33 people aboard helplessly - and tragically - adrift in the path of the powerful storm, the vessel's owners say.

On Monday, four days after the ship vanished, the Coast Guard concluded it sank near the Bahamas in about 15,000 feet of water. One unidentified body in a survival suit was spotted, and the search went on for any trace of the other crew members. Survival suits help mariners float and stay warm. But even with the water temperature at 85 degrees, hypothermia can set in quickly, Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said. He noted that the hurricane had winds of about 140 mph and waves topping 50 feet.

"These are trained mariners. They know how to abandon ship," Fedor said. But "those are challenging conditions to survive."

The ship, carrying cars and other products, had 28 crew members from the U.S. and five from Poland. Coast Guard and Navy planes, helicopters, cutters and tugboats searched across a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas, where the ship was last heard from while on its way from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.

A heavily damaged lifeboat from the El Faro was discovered, no one aboard, Fedor said. The ship had two lifeboats capable of holding 43 people each.

"We are still looking for survivors or any sign of life," he said.

Also spotted were an oil sheen, cargo containers, a partly submerged life raft - the ship carried five rafts, each capable of holding 17 people - life jackets and life rings, authorities said.

Phil Greene, president and CEO of ship owner Tote Services Inc., said the captain had a plan to sail ahead of the hurricane with room to spare. Greene said the captain, whose name has not been released, had conferred with the El Faro's sister ship - which was returning to Jacksonville along a similar route - and determined the weather was good enough to go forward.

"Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm," Greene said. "We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems."

The last message from the ship came Thursday morning, when the captain reported the El Faro was listing slightly at 15 degrees in strong winds and heavy seas. Some water had entered through a hatch that popped open. The captain, who has 20 years' experience on cargo ships, calmly told company officials the crew was removing the water.

The Coast Guard was unable to fly into the ship's last known position until Sunday, because of the fierce hurricane winds. Steven Werse, a ship captain with 31 years' experience on the seas, said merchant vessels have access to up-to-date weather forecasting and technology that allow them to avoid most storms. If the El Faro had not lost engine power, he added, it would probably still have been powerful enough to make it through Joaquin. Without power, it was a sitting duck.

"The ship really is at the mercy of the sea. You have no means of maneuvering the ship. You would be rolling with the seas," said Werse, secretary-treasurer of the Master Mates and Pilots Union in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. The union has no connection to the El Faro or its crew.

Abandoning ship would be difficult, he added, because the lifeboats might not be accessible on a listing ship and life rafts could be torn apart or blown away.

"Sometimes circumstances overwhelm you. You can do all the planning you want," Werse said.

Bernard Ferguson, a commercial fisherman who was at his home on Crooked Island during the hurricane, said it must have been a nightmare for the crew.

"It's impossible for any kind of vessel to take that kind of beating for that length of time, maybe an hour or two, yes," Ferguson said. "But taking 36 hours of beating, there's no way."

Anxious family members, gathered at the Seafarers union hall in Jacksonville, tried to remain optimistic, but some wondered why the ship sailed into such a potent storm.

"What we've all questioned from the very start is why the captain would take them through a hurricane of this magnitude, or any hurricane," said Barry Young, uncle of crew member Shaun Riviera.

Terrence Meadows, a junior engineer and union member, said the captain and company made a poor decision to go to sea. He added there is often pressure for captains to stay on schedule.

"I personally believe that should not have happened," Meadows said. "We are the most important cargo on that vessel, not the cars" and other cargo.

Fedor said the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard will investigate the sinking. The Coast Guard did not immediately release safety records requested by The Associated Press for the ship and its compa





Air France execs beaten by staff; forced to flee

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air-france-execs-beaten-up-by staff.jpgManagers of the French airline, Air France, were forced to flee an angry mob of staffers on Monday, after announcing plans to slash the size of the workforce.

Pictures from the protest show senior managers with their shirts torn off climbing over a fence to escape.

Security officials were forced to usher the managers to safety.

According to a Sky News report, the airline's parent company, Air France-KLM, said it planned to take legal action over what it described as "aggravated violence" towards its senior staff.

"This violence was carried out by particularly violent, isolated individuals, whereas the protest by striking personnel was taking place calmly up until then," a spokesman said.

Hundreds of staff took part in the protest at the company's headquarters near Paris.

Air France managers had been outlining plans to cut 2,900 jobs, after failing to convince the airline's pilots to work longer hours.The company also intends to reduce its long-haul business by 10%, and cut 14 planes from its long-haul fleet.





racist-white-man-little-black-boy.jpgA white US marketing whizz was fired after posting selfie with the son of his black co-worker on Facebook with 'hurtful, racist' caption calling the little boy his 'slave' - and his friends just joined in the abuse

Gerod Roth, who goes by Geris Hilton on Facebook, posted the photo to Facebook (left) and wrote hurtful and bigoted comments with his friends that referred to the little boy that was pictured as 'starving' and 'feral', among other things. After the photo went viral, Roth was fired from Polaris Marketing Group in Altanta, who described his behavior as disgusting and slanderous. Roth's colleague Sydney then came forward identifying her son as Cayden Jace (together-right), and said they are 'above this nonsense'.





An American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Boston was forced to make an emergency landing in Syracuse, New York after the pilot suddenly died mid-flight, though the exact nature of the pilot's illness has not been confirmed. The pilot, whose name and age is currently being withheld, was reportedly treated in the air by a flight attendant with a nursing background but all such efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful.

American Airlines says they are "incredibly saddened" by the pilot's passing and are currently focusing on "taking are of the family members and crew," according to ABC News. Cockpit recordings reveal at least one member crew confirming that the captain was "incapacitated," before eventually stating that he has become "unresponsive [and is] not breathing."

The flight, an Airbus A320 which reportedly housed 147 passengers, landed safely in Syracuse shortly after 7 a.m., thanks to the flight's co-pilot. Per a requirement in the United States, all airlines must have two pilots aboard any given flight. "We're certainly well qualified to handle situations like these," a spokesperson tells BBC News. "That's why you've got more than one pilot in a cockpit."





Check out Kanya the lingerie model born without legs

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lingerie-model-without-legs-kanya.jpgKanya Sesser, of Los Angeles, is breaking through the boundaries of the modelling industry by posing in bras and underwear in revealing photos that display her missing legs, but not a disability.

The aspiring model, who is of mixed origin, was abandoned on the steps of a Buddhist temple in Thailand when she was just one week old and brought to Portland, Oregon at age five by her adoptive parents, is hoping to use her career to show that different is sexy.

Kanya shared: 'It's something fun and it shows my story - I'm different and that is sexy. I don't need legs to feel sexy.'

The beauty said she has modeled for big brands like Nike and many others in her budding career.

After beginning her modelling career at age 15 by posing for a number of sports brands, Kanya said she was then scouted by underwear brands.

She revealed: 'I enjoy making money from it and I love showing people what beauty can look like.'

And she isn't lying. Despite her missing limbs, she is not missing out on any money. As a lingerie model, Kanya is averaging about $1,000 a day doing shoots for magazines, online web portals and print

"These images show my strength," Kanya said of her modelling shots, which show her posing in lace thongs and bras in range of seductive positions.

Kanya, who loves extreme sports and hopes to compete in mono-ski competition at the 2018 Winter Paralympics South Korea, said she never intended to be a model, but 'it just happened' for her.





whos-the-boss.jpgOn Saturday night's episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", former child star Danny Pintauro revealed that he has been living with a big secret for more than a decade: He is HIV-positive.

Everyone remembers the young, blond-haired Pintauro as Jonathan on the family sitcom "Who's the Boss?" For eight years, Pintauro played the son of a driven single mother, winning over audiences with his nerdy charm. But, in the years after "Who's the Boss?" ended, the once-lighthearted little boy grew into a complicated young man trying to live a private life in the public eye.

In his sit-down with Oprah, Pintauro -- who goes by "Daniel" now -- begins the interview by sharing his long-held secret.

"I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn't ready. I'm ready now," Pintauro says. "I'm HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years."

Part of why Pintauro hadn't spoken publicly about his health before, he says, is because he wasn't sure if people were ready for a conversation of this magnitude. "It's just a big deal, you know? It's not something that people are really talking about right now," Pintauro says.

This isn't the first time Pintauro has revealed a private detail about his personal life. In 1997, when he was a college student, Pintauro came out as gay -- but he hadn't exactly planned to. "I was outed," Pintauro says. "It wasn't by choice."

The actor says that a tabloid reporter called him back then saying the paper was going to out him whether he cooperated or not. His former "Who's the Boss?" co-star, Judith Light, encouraged Pintauro to participate as a way of controlling the conversation. "It was the best thing," Pintauro says now. "'They can't misquote you,' she said. 'And as long as you give really responsible and mature answers, it can't be a bad article.'"

And, as Pintauro realized, it wasn't. "Believe it or not, the 'National Enquirer' actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it," he says. "I was shocked."

Pintauro says he regularly underwent routine HIV testing every six months. Then, in March of 2003, his whole world changed.

"I was living in New York at the time and completely clueless to the idea that I was positive. I went in for a regular checkup," Pintauro says. "It was just regular blood work. You go in, and you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles -- or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV."

Having come out of a two-year relationship, Pintauro admits later in the interview that he had been looking to explore more sexually and began using crystal meth as a means to that end. "I was doing crystal meth, which completely ruins your immune system. I'd been doing it at that point very briefly, but it was three weeks or so, off and on," he explains. "I had just come out of a two-year relationship, and I discovered in that relationship that there was more I wanted to explore sexually. Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions... And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.

"I was experimenting," he continues. "And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened."

Though Pintauro doesn't go into those details, he does say that he doesn't remember the man's name. "I regret not knowing that, because that person has completely changed my life," he says.





congressman-steals-pope-water.jpgA congressman stole the water glass Pope Francis was drinking out of during his address at the White House on Thursday.

Representative Bob Brady, a devout Catholic and Democrat from Pennsylvania immediately made his way to the podium after Pope Francis finished speaking and grabbed the glass that was still filled with water.

He then drank the water, gave some of the water to his wife Debra, and saved the rest for his grandchildren.

Representative Brady took photos as well, and had his staff send them out to the press.

He also shared some of the water with members of his staff and assistant, also a devout Catholic.

As for the saved water, he plans to sprinkle it on his grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Representative Brady may also get the chance to nab another one of Pope Francis' water glasses too, as he will be heading to Brady's district of Philadelphia over the weekend.

The congressman plans to attend Holy Mass and hear the Pope Francis speak in the city.

This is not the first time Brady has pulled a stunt like this, with the Philadelphia Daily News reporting he did the same thing after President Obama's inauguration, though he just saved that glass and did not drink from it.

They also spoke to Representative Brady who said he had saved the cup and would have police dust it for fingerprints to prove it was used by Pope Francis.

He also had police dust President Obama's glass as well.





us-cops-kill-wheelchair-man.jpg

This is the shocking moment a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot dead in a street by Delaware police

Shocking moment US cops shoot and kill wheelchair-bound black man

This is the shocking moment a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot dead in the street by Delaware police.

Officers had been responding to a 911 call that someone had attempted to shoot themselves, when they arrived to find Jeremy McDole 'still armed with a handgun.'

Cops opened fire on McDole, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a friend aged 18, after repeated requests for him to 'drop the gun.'

McDole's mother, Phyllis, has criticized the shooting as 'unjust' during a police news conference.

The incident, which took place in a Wilmington street, Delaware on Wednesday afternoon was caught on camera by stunned witnesses who uploaded it to You Tube.

The 1-minute-and-19-second-long clip opened with an officer, armed with a shotgun, shouting for the wheelchair-bound McDole to 'show his hands.'

A shot is fired just seconds later, before more cops move in shouting at the 28-year-old: 'Show me your hands! Drop the gun! Drop the gun!'

McDole appeared to be bleeding although the footage does not make clear if this was from the officer's first shot or if he had been previously injured in the alleged suicide attempt. His handgun is not easily identifiable in the video.

He is then seen putting his hands into his pockets at which point he in gunned down in a flurry of bullets with around ten shots fired.

McDole slumps over and falls to ground, dead. Cops said a .38-caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.

Police Chief Bobby Cummings said during a news conference that none of the officers involved 'intended to take anyone's life that day.'

He said that police had told him repeatedly to put his gun down but had 'engaged him' after he went to remove the weapon from his waist.

But Mrs McDole disputed the cops' version of events and interrupted the conference to demand answers.

'He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. There's video showing that he didn't pull a weapon, she said.

McDole's sister Letesha Green also criticized the cops for not attempting to use non-lethal force before opening fire.

'Why couldn't you taser this man out of his wheelchair,' she asked, reported NBC Philadelphia. 'Why couldn't you use rubber bullets to get him out of the wheelchair?'

However, Cummings said he had also viewed the video and believed the four officers involved - who have all been placed on administrative duty - acted correctly.

'The officers perceived what was a threat and they responded and they engaged,' he said, adding that only a 'thorough investigation' would reveal if they should have taken a different course of action.

Wilmington Police Department's criminal investigation and professional standards unit is now investigating the incident as is the Delaware Department of Justice's Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust which investigates all police fatal shootings.

The findings will determine whether the officers involved are to be charged.

Witnesses claim that McDole may have been trying to kill himself.





david-cameron-and-lord-ashcroft.jpgBritish Prime Minster David Cameron is trending on Twitter, but not for a good reason.

The hashtag #piggate has gone viral because of a new biography about Cameron, which says he once put his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig.

The inflammatory book titled Call Me Dave, was written by Lord Anthony Ashcroft, a former friend and treasurer of David Cameron's ruling Conservative Party.

The book says while Cameron, 48, was a student at the prestigious Oxford University, he took part in an "outrageous" initiation ceremony to join a debauched group called the Piers Gaveston Society which required him to place his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig.

The book says the severed head of the dead pig was sitting on a club member's lap and Mr Cameron "inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal's mouth".

The book also alleges among other things,that Mr. Cameron smoked cannabis as a student, joining a "dope smoking group" called the Flam Club, and cocaine was allowed to circulate at the London home of him and wife Samantha.

The author, Lord Ashcroft, who is also the 37th richest man in the UK, made it clear in the book that he has "beef" with Cameron because he did not receive a top job in Cameron's government back in 2010 though he was promised that he would.

The biography is therefore seen as revenge by many Brits including Cameron's spokeswoman who said she's "not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment or any PM reaction to it."

She added that the author "has set out his reasons for writing it."





clock-boy-ahmed.jpgPresident Barack Obama has extended a personal White House invitation to a 14-year-old Muslim boy from Texas who was detained by police after bringing in a homemade, beeping clock, which teachers had mistaken for a bomb.

No charges were filed. The story of the student, Ahmed Mohamed, spurred accusations of Islamophobia and the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to trend on Twitter, while his older sisters set up an account for him, @istandwithahmed, which has collected more than 26,000 followers within hours.

"Cool clock, Ahmed," Obama said on Twitter on Wednesday. "Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

According to The Dallas Morning News, Ahmed, who likes to invent things, brought a homemade digital clock, made out of a circuit board covered by a pencil case that resembles a metal briefcase, to MacArthur High School in Irving on Monday. He showed it to his engineering teacher and kept the clock inside his bag in another class, but his clock's alarm started beeping, the newspaper said. He then showed it to its teacher, who told him "Well it looks like a bomb. Don't show it to anyone else," and took it from him, NBCFW.com reported.

"I closed it with a cable, 'cause I didn't want to lock it to make it seem like a threat, so I just used a simple cable so it won't look that much suspicious." Ahmed said in a video posted by the outlet.

The school phoned police. Ahmed was suspended for three days. Irving police said in a report on Tuesday that cited three complaints from MacArthur High School teachers against the teen on the charge of bringing a "hoax bomb" and said Ahmed said it was a clock but offered no further explanation.

Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News that he was "interrogated" by several officers, who searched through his belongings, confiscated his tablet and took his fingerprints and mug shots before releasing him, after which he was able to talk to his parents. They believe race played a factor in their son being detained, while school officials say the reaction to the clock would have been the same regardless of his religion, NBCFD.com reported.

"It made me feel like I wasn't human," Ahmed told the newspaper. "It made me feel like a criminal."

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said in a press conference that the student was handcuffed "for his safety and for the safety of the officers," taken to a juvenile detention center and then released. He said a follow-up investigation revealed the device was a homemade experiment and there's no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm.

"No charges will be filed and the case is considered closed," he said.

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also expressed their support for Ahmed.

"Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe-they hold us back," Clinton tweeted. "Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."

"Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest," Zuckerberg said on Facebook. "The future belongs to people like Ahmed. Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building."

"Thank you for your support!" Ahmed wrote on Twitter. "I really didn't think people would care about a Muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed."

"We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again," he added.





mosque-deaths-moment-fatal-crane-struck-by-lightning.jpgAt least 87 people were killed and more than 180 injured when a crane crashed through the ceiling of the Grand Mosque of Mecca amid high winds and thunderstorms today.

Dramatic footage shows the moment the crane toppled in heavy rain, with another video capturing the chaos and confusion inside the building after impact.

Upsetting photos posted on social media shows the polished tiled floor of the mosque covered in rubble, bodies and pools of blood, and people fleeing the area bleeding and covered in soot.

The tragic incident in Saudi Arabia occurred shortly before the 6:30pm Friday evening prayer session - one of the busiest times of the week - causing devastation to what is the largest mosque in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are gathering at the holy site from all over the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage set to begin later this month.

A massive project is currently under way to increase the area of the mosque by 4.3million sq ft - so that it can accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.

Pictures taken before today's disaster show the fatal crane being struck by a bolt of lightning and authorities are in little doubt that extreme weather was to blame.

Earlier, the Civil Defense had issued thunderstorm, heavy rain and wind warnings in the area. Authorities say search and rescue teams and medical workers from the Saudi Red Crescent are now working at the scene.

The Grand Mosque, or Great Mosque of Mecca, surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba, in the city of Mecca.

The mosque is usually at its most crowded on Fridays as it is the Muslim weekly day of prayer, when Muslims face in the direction of the Kaaba while performing their obligatory daily prayers.

One of the five pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

Muslim faithful from about 160 countries converge on the Islamic city and other locations in western Saudi Arabia to complete the holy journey.





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Brothers Accused of Trying to Kill Parents at Georgia Home (ABC News)

Two brothers are in jail after they were accused of trying to kill their parents at the family's Georgia home, police said.

Just before 8 a.m. Saturday, a woman called 911 "stating her children were trying to kill her and her husband," the Gwinnett County Police Department said in a news release.

"She told the 911 operator that it was their two sons, one 17 and the other 22 years old, trying to kill them both. She stated that her husband was distracting them so she was able to call for help. The call eventually went silent," the police said.

Officers responded to the Snellville, Georgia, home, about 30 miles outside of Atlanta, where they found the father bleeding and seriously injured, police said.

The mother was also seriously injured, police said. Both parents were hospitalized.

"A strong odor of natural gas" was also detected in the house, police said. The sons were arrested and taken to the Gwinnett County Detention Center, police said.

The brothers were identified as Cameron Ervin, 17, and Christopher Ervin, 22, the Gwinnett County Police told ABC News.

"You would never even expect that," neighbor Clint Miller said, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta. "They're just an everyday normal family in the neighborhood."

Both brothers were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and arson in the first degree to endanger human life, the police told ABC News. In Georgia, 17 is considered an adult for prosecution of criminal offenses.

Possible motives have not been fully determined, the police said.

Police said it was not clear whether the brothers had lawyers.





katrina-girl-found.jpgAir Force Pararescue Jumper Mike Maroney had just returned from a devastating rescue mission in Afghanistan when he was called to New Orleans in September 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Maroney and his team spent seven days descending on rooftop after rooftop, rescuing stranded residents around the city, a grim task that left him wondering how many would actually survive.

One of the few bright spots was an adorable, pigtailed three-year-old girl, who greeted the soldier with a big, joyous hug after she and her family landed in his helicopter.

That hug "recharged me and gave me a little bit of a silver lining and some hope...that kept me going through rough times," Maroney, 40, now an Air Force Reservist who teaches people how to become pararescue jumpers in San Antonio, Texas, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "It couldn't have come at a more important moment."

Maroney, who never got the little girl or her family's names, has been searching for her ever since - and he's finally found her, he tells PEOPLE.

Her name is LeShay Brown, she's now 13 years old and she lives with her family in Waveland, Mississipi. The two will reunite in New Orleans later this month.

"I can't wait to meet her to tell her how important she is," he says.

"In my line of work, it doesn't usually turn out happily," he says. "This hug, this moment, was like - everybody I've ever saved, that was the thank you."

The Hunt Begins

The hug soon became an iconic image of the rescue efforts in the hurricane-ravaged town, thanks to a military photographer who snapped a photo of the heartwarming moment captured when Maroney dropped them off at the New Orleans airport.

"It was everywhere, on Burger King placemats and AT&T phone cards," Maroney told the Air Force Times, which first broke the story of his hunt for the little girl in March 2015. "A foundation for fallen rescue airmen - That Others May Live - used it on their brochures."

While LeShay doesn't remember the hug herself (she was too little), her mom remembers every moment of that meeting - as ironically, LeShay was comforting her as well.

"I was crying because I was scared...that was the first time I was on a helicopter, the first time I was on a plane and the first time I ever left New Orleans" Shawntrell Brown, who works at a local Dollar Store in Mississippi, tells PEOPLE.

"The helicopter had open doors, so I looked out and you could just see all the water over everything," she says, "and it was just too much for me, so she was comforting me."

Shawntrell, who says her three-year-old was "so smart, and always talking" knew the hug had been captured on film, but never found out what happened with it.

"They told me the picture might be in a magazine, but after all that time, I forgot about it," she explains. She had other things on her mind.

After Maroney brought the Browns to the airport, they were transferred to Tennessee.

"We didn't even know where we were going, but at that point, it didn't matter," she says. "Someone was there to help us."

Neither of them were aware of Maroney's search until recently - which was not surprising to Maroney, who said he knew the chances of finding her were slim.

"I figured one in a trillion," he says. "I thought it never would have happened."

And it almost didn't.

Through the years, Maroney kept posting about his efforts to find the little girl on his personal Facebook and Instagram pages.

But it wasn't until a high school student in Waterford, Michigan got involved that his search gained traction.

16-year-old Andrew Goard - whose grandfather was in the military police in Vietnam - has a fascination with pararescue jumpers and even launched an Instagram page to honor them.

After being alerted to Maroney's search by other jumpers on his page, Goard decided to take on the cause himself "because Mike had 18 years of service and he had never really been thanked for his service," he tells PEOPLE.

The high schooler used his page (which at the time had roughly 3,000 followers) to launch the #FindKatrinaGirl campaign in February 2015, which was then seen and written about by the Air Force Times, and picked up by hundreds of news outlets.

One of those was near where LeShay now lives - and so the #FindKatrinaGirl campaign finally made its way to the little girl herself.

"The whole neighborhood told us they saw LeShay on the news and everybody told us someone was looking for her," Shawntrell says.

After she saw the picture herself, "I knew that it was her," she says. "I didn't know he still remembered it, that he was that moved by her."

She reached out to Maroney and, later this month, he will finally meet up with the little girl who started it all.

And LeShay (who plans to be a lawyer or basketball player when she grows up), is ready for the big reunion herself.

"I was excited that he was looking for me for such a long time," she tells PEOPLE. After all, she exclaims, "I've barely seen any of the pictures!"





couple-replace-alcohol-with-marry-juana.jpgFor their recent wedding in Oregon, California-based marijuana grower John Ellege and his bride-to-be Whitney Alexander made a decision - the big day would be all about the bud, and not the beer.

Eschewing the free-for-all liquor custom - and the drunken guests that come with it - the teetotaler couple, who were married on a Christmas tree farm in West Linn, south of Portland, on August 8, instead set up a tent with an open weed bar - or 'cannibar' - complete with a 'budtender' to serve up the stash to those who cared to toke.

On the menu? A selection of 13 strands of 'marry-juana', and a very chill time.

'The tent was set well away from the rest of the reception, and facing away from the crowd to control where the smoke went,' the bride told The Huffington Post.

'There were actually guests that had no idea it was there until after the fact.'

Besides keeping the weed bar separate from the actual reception, the couple researched the legalities of serving marijuana.

According to the state's Oregon Measure 91, such an event was legal so long as they were on private property and there was no alcohol being served.

They also could not have more than the legal limit of eight ounces of pot on the premises.

Both were doable, they determined, and well worth it.

'The oldest person in the tent was an 81-year-old woman who hadn't smoked weed since the '60s,' Ellidge told The Huff Post.

'She loved it.'

But extra measures also had to be taken. It was the responsibility of the 'budtender' to ensure guests didn't smoke too much, and transportation to and from the wedding was provided for all guests.

Wedding planners Nora Sheils and Elizabeth Corr of Bridal Bliss said it was the first green wedding they had ever been involved with.

"We were worried that the tent might take away from the reception but it did the exact opposite,' Sheils told The Huff Post.

'Guests had a fun time and ended up dancing the night away, just like any other wedding.'

As the reception drew to a close, trays of french fries and pastries were brought out for people who suddenly found themselves hungry.

For more photos, visit the website of the wedding photographer, Jessica Hill Photography.





A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge was freed yesterday from a Missouri prison after being behind bars for two decades - a period in which the nation's attitudes towards pot have steadily softened.

Family, friends, supporters, and reporters flocked to meet Jeff Mizanskey as he stepped out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center into a sunny morning, wearing a new pair of white tennis shoes and a shirt that read 'I'm Jeff & I'm free'.

"I spent a third of my life in prison," said Mizanskey, now 62, who was greeted by his infant great-granddaughter. "It's a shame."

After a breakfast of steak and eggs with family, Mizanskey said he planned to spend his post-prison life seeking a job and advocating for the legalisation of marijuana. He criticised sentencing for some drug-related crimes as unfair and described his time behind bars as "hell".

His release followed years of lobbying by relatives, lawmakers and others, who argued that the sentence was too stiff and that marijuana should not be forbidden.

Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 - the same year California became the first state to legalise marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational marijuana has been legalised in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, DC.

"The reason he's getting out is because the public clearly has changed its opinion about marijuana, and it's just one of many ways in which that has been reflected in recent years," said Mizankey's attorney, Dan Viets.





reporters-killer.jpgA disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment this morning is in very critical condition after attempting to kill himself.

It was previously reported that Lester Lee Flanigan had died after shooting himself, but authorities are now saying that they have found him in Fauquier County, Virginia and he still has a pulse.

Viewers of WDBJ, a small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as the employee shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, as the two were filming a light-hearted live segment just before 7am.

Flanigan fled the scene after the shooting and then took to Twitter to explain his reasons for killing his former coworkers, all while being pursued closely by police.

Via his Twitter account, Lester Lee Flanigan posted a chilling video of the moment he first approached Ward and Parker as they filmed a segment. Then a gun is drawn and two WDBJ7 were left dead, while their interview subject, local chamber of commerce chief Vicki Gardner, was rushed to surgery.

WDBJ viewers watched in horror this morning as gun shots rang out during the interview, which was being broadcast live.

WDBJ viewers watched in horror this morning as gun shots rang out during the interview, which was being broadcast live. Above, a grab from the station's live video.

After cameraman Ward dropped to the ground, his camera kept rolling and the shooter is seen in the background leveling a gun at him.

Flanigan, who is African American, wrote that Parker made 'racist comments' and that a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission, but his station chose to hire her anyway.

As for Ward, Flanigan says that after working with the cameraman once, Ward complained to HR about the former general assignment reporter. It's unclear what exactly happened between the two men.

The station manager of WDBJ says that Flanigan left the station about two years ago, but that he still lived in the community. He did not go into detail about whether Flanigan was fired or quit on his own accord.

But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanigan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter.The chilling clip is taken from Flanigan's point of view and shows him approaching the two journalists as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce.

He opens fire first on Ward and then turns to kill Parker. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.

After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanigan's Twitter account was suspended.

Police tracked down Flanigan to Fauquier County, Virginia where he attempted to shoot himself. However, he did not die and is in critical condition.





reporters-killed.jpgA gunman killed two members of a news crew and injured one more in Moneta, Virginia, in a shooting that was partially captured on video on Wednesday morning.

Police are investigating the shooting at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake that took place at about 6.45am ET. A news crew from WDBJ7 local news was on the scene to film a segment for the morning news when several shots rang out. Screams followed and the camera recording the feature fell, as producers cut to the shocked studio news team.

The station later announced that two of their team, Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, had been shot dead.

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"Today was just like any other day," anchor Kim McBroom said on the morning broadcast. "They did great work every day and put their all into everything they did. "They were special people. They would lighten up a room."

With crying on the set of the studio audible, another anchor, Jean Jadhon, described Parker as "a rock star. She was a professional, so much fun and so kind".

Jeff Marks, general manager, recounted what police had told the station. "Someone with a gun, we believe it was a man, barged into where they were and fired several shots, six or seven, it sounded like. We heard screaming, and then we heard nothing, the camera fell.

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"The scene was described to us as chaos."

He expressed disbelief at the shooting: "How can this individual have robbed these families of Adam and Alison of their happiness and their love, for whatever reason."

Parker originally joined the station as an intern, and had graduated from James Madison University in 2012. According to her profile on the site, she enjoyed kayaking and local theater.

Ward was described as a gregarious, hardworking photojournalist, an avid fan of Virginia Tech and longtime employee of the station. He was engaged to Melissa Ott, a producer on the station who was celebrating her last day on Wednesday before going to a new job in Charlotte. He had planned to join her there and find a new job with her.

Parker had recently celebrated a birthday and was dating WDBJ7 reporter Chris Hurst.The station chief said the news team would hold a memorial on Wednesday afternoon.

Police from Franklin and Bedford counties as well as Virginia state police are searching for a suspect at the scene. They have not described the extent of the third victim's injuries.

Schools in the area have been locked down until further notice, the Bedford County superintendent announced.





Medical marijuana industry grows

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ganja-licence.jpgNearly a year after the state's six medical-marijuana dispensaries opened, patients are changing their habits.

For quick relief, they are smoking marijuana less and inhaling its vapours and therapeutic oils more, those in the industry say. Others are eating cookies or placing strips with the various active ingredients into their mouths to alleviate pain, nausea and seizures associated with the growing list of ailments.

Prices that a year ago were markedly more expensive than the underground market have dropped sharply and are now competitive, according to dispensaries, state officials and market analysts.

"When I started having success, I took the oil," said William McDonald, 42, of Monroe, referring to CBD extract, which does not induce a high.

McDonald has had cancer as well as complications from a 2008 bite of a brown recluse spider that included a staph infection and heart failure. His daily regimen starts with a strip of marijuana oil under his tongue first thing in the morning. He will inhale the vapours of a Cannabis Sativa strain during the day to elevate his mood, then the Cannabis Indica strain to relax and help bring on sleep in the evening.

"I was giving up because none of the medicine was working," McDonald said, noting marijuana has helped him. "My depression stopped," he said. "My anxiety about death has stopped."

Angela D'Amico, owner of the Compassionate Care of Connecticut dispensary in Bethel, said the shift away from smoking is the result of a widening array of treatment options.

"The absorption is that much greater when you vaporise rather than burn with a match, with the puff of a joint or smoking a pipe," D'Amico said.

A pharmacist at the dispensary recommends treatment depending on the patient's condition.

Cancer patients vaporise marijuana with high percentages of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant, for quick relief of the nausea that accompanies motherapy.





human-trafficking.jpgA third staff member at Cayman Airways has been arrested for human smuggling.

Police say the 30 year-old woman, from Georgetown, was taken into custody on Monday, and is being questioned by detectives.

Last week, two other employees of the airline were arrested, in a joint operation, involving police, immigration and international agencies.

The allegations concern foreign nationals, legitimately living in Cayman, using false documents to leave the country.

On Friday, Cayman Airways said it was fully cooperating with the authorities, adding operations were not affected in anyway.





frank-gifford-and-wife-kathy-lee.jpgLegendary Monday Night Football broadcaster Frank Gifford, the husband of Today co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 84.

"It is with deepest sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father and friend Frank Gifford," said the Gifford Family in a statement. "Frank died suddenly on this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."

Before launching his sport casting career, Gifford spent 12 seasons with the New York Giants, making eight pro Bowl appearances and winning the MVP award in 1956.

Gifford earned an Emmy nod in 1976 (for Outstanding Sports Personality), and in '97 was a recipient of the Sports Emmys' Lifetime Achievement Award.

He played himself in a number of sports-themed sitcoms, including Spin City and Coach.





texas-man-shoots-8-dead-murderer.jpgA Texas man has been charged with capital murder after a family of six children, one of them his own son, and two adults were found shot to death in a house in Houston, officials said on Sunday.

The children ranged in age from 6 to 13. The bodies of all eight victims, some of them handcuffed, were found in three bedrooms of the house, Craig Clopton, a homicide detective with the Harris County Sheriff's office, told a news conference.

David Conley, 48, surrendered to police after a standoff at the house on Saturday night that lasted several hours, said Harris County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Cannon.

The dead included married couple, Valerie and Dwayne Jackson, and six children, one of them Conley's 13 year-old son Nathaniel. Conley had a prior relationship with the dead woman, and the shootings are believed to have stemmed from a domestic dispute, Cannon said.

"The mass killing and the taking of the entire family are tragic realities our community has been forced to confront all too often," Cannon said. "We do not and cannot fully comprehend the motivation of an individual that would take the lives of so many innocent people, especially the lives of the young people."

texas-man-shoots-8-dead.jpg

Sheriff's deputies went to the house after a relative of one of the victims asked for a check on the family's welfare, Cannon said. They called for backup after learning that there was a man inside the home wanted for a prior aggravated assault.

When the deputies spotted the body of child through a window, they tried to force their way inside the home and were shot at before pulling back and calling for help.

Conley is being held without bond on three counts of capital murder, but each count can cover multiple offenses, officials said.

Authorities identified the children as Nathaniel Conley, 13, Honesty Jackson, 11, Dwayne Jackson, 10, Caleb Jackson, 9,

Trinity Jackson, 7, and Jonah Jackson, 6.





bride.jpgHe may have agreed to t ake her for better and for worse, but for one Algerian groom, seeing his new wife without make-up was a step too far.

The husband was so shocked after seeing his bride's face the morning after their wedding that he failed to even recognise her.

He even accused her of being a thief that had broken into his house.

After realising it was in fact the woman he had married only yesterday, he decided to take her to court - accusing her inflicting 'psychological suffering' by 'cheating' him with her make-up.

The groom is now seeking $20,000 (L13,000) damages.

Newspapers in the North African Arab country said the groom swore in court that he even mistook his wife for a 'thief who came to steal his apartment', Emirates 24/7 reports.

'He said he was deceived by her as she used to fill up her face with make up before their marriage,' the papers said, quoting a court source.

'He said she looked very beautiful and attractive before marriage, but when he woke up in the morning and found that she had washed the make-up off her face, he was frightened as he thought she was a thief.





stop-human-trafficking.jpgThe top Republican and top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are raising questions about the integrity of the State Department's annual report on human trafficking, pointing to the upgraded status of Cuba and Malaysia as cause for concern.

The report...lifted both Cuba and Malaysia from Tier 3, considered the worst offenders, to the Tier 2 Watch List. It said both countries are making progress in battling sex trafficking and various forms of forced labor...But the upgrade for Cuba comes as the Obama administration has renewed diplomatic ties and is pursuing more cooperation with the communist-led island nation.

The upgrade for Malaysia, where mass graves of migrant workers have recently spurred alarm, also makes it legally easier to include the country in a massive Asia-Pacific trade pact...The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but officials have previously insisted political considerations were not a factor in ranking the countries in the report. The TIP rankings can have tangible effects on the countries named by leading to a reduction in certain forms of U.S. assistance for the poor performers.





human-trafficking-awareness-training.jpgThe Malaysian Bar is perturbed by recent news reports suggesting that Malaysia will be upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List status in the rankings in the...2015 Trafficking in Persons ("TIP") report...It is inconceivable that Malaysia should receive an upgrade in 2015 based on the recent amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which, in any event, have yet to come into force.

If there is any lesson to be learnt from recent experience, it must be that the Government has an excellent record of drafting written plans, but a less than satisfactory record of implementing them. As such, the upgrade of Malaysia, if it were to occur, would be premature and undeserved. Further, the gruesome discovery of the "death camps" and mass graves of victims of human trafficking in May 2015 must necessarily be taken into consideration in the decision concerning Malaysia's current ranking, despite the cut-off date of March 2015 for the report. Such a discovery is irrefutable proof that human trafficking has been ongoing, on a large scale and for a considerable period of time, on Malaysian soil.

The Malaysian Government's alleged ignorance of this atrocity, which is incredulous, must not be disregarded or rewarded.





california-college-will-now-ask-students-to-pick-from-6-genders.jpgStudents at a California college weighed in on a change in the application process, and a decision has been made.

Beginning this fall, students at UC Irvine will have the option to self-identify about their sexual orientation on all university admissions forms, reports CBS Los Angeles.

The new form will ask students to pick one gender from six different choices. Prospective students will be asked to choose between male, female, trans male, trans female, gender queer/gender non-conforming and different identity.

CBS Los Angeles spoke to students at UC Irvine about the change.

"I feel like this is just a way of including everyone," said Augustine Pimentel.

"I don't mind; everybody do what they want. I don't want to judge people," says Nizar Hakim.

"I feel like people should have their freedom to be called what they want to be called," said Donna Taqawi.

Beyond the political or social reasons, some saw the financial reasons too.

"A lot of those questions when you're applying to graduate school or any sort of school are important for financial aid opportunities you can have," said Joanna Laird to CBS Los Angeles.

In a statement, Janet Napolitano, the president of the UC system said: "UC is working hard to ensure our campuses model inclusiveness and understanding. I'm proud of the work we've done so far, but it doesn't stop there. We must continue to look at where we can improve so everyone at UC feels respected and supported."

It wasn't the question itself that concerned one UC Irvine mom, but the reason why it was being asked.

"I don't know why they're asking it. I'd like to know their reason for asking it," said Elane Streets.

School officials told CBS Los Angeles the answers will be voluntary and not impact on the decision-making process for admissions.





nfl-player.jpgOver the weekend, Brandon Marshall found himself in a bit of a hazy situation. In Jamaica for his sister's wedding, Marshall wasn't necessarily partaking in any sort of activities that could get him suspended, but that didn't stop him from worrying about his next drug test.

According to Marshall, Jamaica smells like Denver, where smoking marijuana is legal. Naturally, Marshall got worried about being in the presence of all that marijuana, because if it were to show up in his next drug test, he'd most likely be facing a suspension. And let's face it, Geno Smith and the Jets are kind of in need of Marshall's services.

So, of course, Marshall tweeted about it to keep us all in the loop.

And then, perhaps getting paranoid, Marshall decided he didn't want to hide anything from the NFL. So, he then tweeted at the league and asked for its help in dealing with his situation.

The NFL did not, however, reply to Marshall's tweet, leaving Marshall's situation hazier than ever.





Man hid under ex-girlfriend's bed for 3 days

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A man who police say sneaked into a central New Jersey home and hid under a bed for three days before he was found was the ex-boyfriend of the homeowners' daughter.

Spotswood police announced late Tuesday that Jason Hubbard was charged with burglary in the incident, which occurred in May. He also was charged with theft of services because he allegedly charged his four cellphones in an electrical outlet under the bed.

Margaret Adamcewicz told WABC-TV (http://7ny.tv/1GHd4fa) on Wednesday that Hubbard was hiding upstairs underneath the bed in her daughter's bedroom. She said the two had dated five years ago.

"It didn't end well," Adamcewicz said. "He didn't say why he came back. He just picked our house to hide out in. He didn't have a home to live in.

"I haven't heard from him in five years," Adamcewicz said. "I wasn't scared, I was just angry."

Hubbard entered the home May 7, when the homeowner took out the garbage, authorities said. He remained jailed on $50,000 bail. It's not known if he has an attorney.





Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies say they have arrested a man on bestiality charges.

Deputies say 68-year-old Michael Crawford posted an ad on a popular website that caught the attention of a detective from the MCSO Animal Crimes unit.

The detective and Crawford communicated several times via telephone and e-mail. During those taped recordings and e-mail exchanges, deputies say that Crawford admitted to traveling the country to find horse owners willing to allow him to commit sexual acts with the animals.

"In one conversation, Crawford asked the detective what kind of horses and ponies he had, how large they were and if they are used to human sexual play. He later told the deputy that he purchased a non-refundable plane ticket to Phoenix adding, 'If you can really help with what I am seeking, I am definitely interested in traveling out to meet you.' Crawford said he would be bringing five shirts on which he wanted the horse to urinate. He told detectives he would mail them back to his home in Pennsylvania where he will wear them for arousal purposes."

According to MCSO, Crawford purchased a round-trip ticket to Phoenix with the intent to commit bestiality. Deputies say Crawford arrived at an airport in the Valley on Friday evening, July 10th. Video footage that was secretly recorded by MCSO detectives shows Crawford meeting with the planned horses.

"Perversion has reached a new level," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio in response to this latest bestiality investigation conducted by his animal crimes unit.

Deputies also say the suspect told them he's been performing sex acts on animals since the 1970s and he allegedly told them he is now retired after having worked for the government for more than 40 years.

The Sheriff said, "When he was arrested, he was shocked. He said I didn't do anything. Well, he did. He committed conspiracy. We are not going to let him go through the act.. of course, that's what he's thinking. He didn't do it, but we sure have enough to charge him."

Deputies arrested Crawford, who is now facing charges of bestiality, which is a class 6 felony. He has been booked into the Fourth Avenue jail.

"I take this crime seriously," stated Arpaio. "It is part of my office's fight against animal abuse. These animals are not meant to be sex toys for the perverted."

Arpaio says in the past five years, his deputies have made eight arrests for bestiality.





No weed at weed church

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no-weed-at-weed-church.jpgThe First Church of Cannabis announced that its first service Wednesday will not include marijuana due to an advanced warning from police.Church founder Bill Levin, who anointed himself the Grand Pooh-bah and Minister of Love, asked his followers on Facebook to refrain from bringing pot, which they intended to smoke as a sacrament, to their inaugural meeting.

"The Police dept has wagged [sic] a display of shameless misconceptions and voluntary ignorance. We will do our first service without the use of any cannabis," he wrote.

Levin, a 59-year-old carpenter, said that his Indianapolis-based house of worship would have a better chance securing its right to get high for spiritual purposes if his congregants were not dragged to criminal court.

"We will meet them in a civil court where the laws are clear about religious persecution," he continued. "We do not start fights. We Finish Them!"

In May, the First Church of Cannabis, which Levin had founded two months earlier, was designated a nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

Cannabis is currently illegal in Indiana for both recreational and medicinal use. But Levin argues that the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act should protect them from legal consequences for smoking the plant for religious purposes.

Several supporters expressed disappointment with the church's decision not to proceed with using the drug at its inaugural service as an act of civil disobedience.

"Make them arrest everyone/anyone, and make the state waste tax dollars blatantly in the open to see how much cannabis prohibition really costs," one supporter posted to the group's Facebook wall.

The church responded to many of these complaints with a quote from attorney Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who thinks the decision is a brilliant move from a "tactical perspective."

"You avoid the hassle of criminal charges, but instead you go to civil court to challenge the law. For standing to sue, generally speaking, you need an injury or threat of injury, causation and redress. The ... threat of arrest and prosecution is enough to get you there. Bill Levin is not stupid."





The white supremacist Ku Klux Klan has received approval from South Carolina officials to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol, a newspaper reported on Monday, less than two weeks after a white man shot dead nine people in a black church.

The suspect in the church shooting, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has confessed to the killing. He had previously posted a racist manifesto online as well as photos of him posing with a Confederate flag, a Civil-War era banner associated with slavery and seen by many as a symbol of racist oppression.

The shootings on June 17, in which all nine victims were black, unleashed shockwaves across the United States and triggered calls for South Carolina to stop displaying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag's removal, and told the Post and Courier that she did not endorse the Klan's planned rally.

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the "Loyal White Knights" chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

The state capitol is located in South Carolina's capital, Columbia, about 115 miles (185 km) northwest of Charleston, home to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shootings occurred.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist organizations, lists the Loyal White Knights as an active group within the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

With roots reaching back to the Civil War, the Klan is known for its white robes and pointed hoods and for its acts of violence and intimidation against African-Americans, including cross burnings and killings.

An answering machine for the South Carolina chapter referred to Roof as a "warrior," according to the Post and Courier.

Federal authorities said on Monday they are investigating a spate of fires at predominantly black churches across the southern United States, though so far no link between the incidents has been established.

In past year, race relations have been increasingly under the spotlight in the United States amid growing anger over frequent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement, leading to demonstrations and occasional unrest.





A Connecticut man convicted of breaking his four-month-old daughter's arms, legs and ribs was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday, and ordered to take anger management classes and undergo a complete mental evaluation.

"You are either evil and a monster or very, very ill," Judge Maria Kahn told the man, Morice Wilkerson, 26, during a hearing in Superior Court in Bridgeport. Wilkerson broke down in tears as he was removed from the courtroom, and relatives also wailed and sobbed.

Wilkerson was convicted last month of third degree assault and risk of injury to a minor, after bringing the infant to a hospital in 2012 with all four limbs and two ribs broken.

He and his wife, Stephanie Kearney, had attempted to explain their daughter's multiple injuries by saying they were the results of various accidents, like rolling over while asleep, and genetic fragility.

Kearney, 25, was found not guilty of any crimes.

Before he was sentenced, Wilkerson pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying "I love my family and I would never do anything to hurt them."

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Kelley urged a significant sentence, arguing the girl's injuries could cause a crooked leg and stunted growth.

"This is one of the most troubling cases the state has ever prosecuted because of the severity of the injuries to such a young child," Kelley told the judge.

The judge sentenced Wilkerson to 10 years, with two years suspended.





Charleston shooting suspect confesses

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charleston-church-shooting-dylann-roof-court.jpgThe 21-year-old white man suspected of gunning down nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina has confessed to the crime, US media reported Friday, citing unnamed officials.

One law enforcement official told CNN that alleged shooter Dylann Roof told investigators that he "wanted to start a race war" when he walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday night and opened fire on a Bible study class.

All of the victims were black.

Roof -- who was arrested in North Carolina on Thursday and brought back to South Carolina after he opted not to fight extradition -- was due in court later Friday for a bond hearing.

"We are getting cooperation at this point," another official told local ABC affiliate WCIV.

Two sources also confirmed to NBC News that Roof -- whose Facebook page includes a picture of him wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia -- has confessed.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Friday she believed Roof should face the death penalty if convicted. Capital punishment is legal in the southern state.

"This is an absolute hate crime," she told NBC's "Today" show.

"We will absolutely will want him to have the death penalty. This is the worst hate that I've seen and the country has seen in a long time," she said.

"We will fight this and we will fight this as hard as we can."

The carnage was the worst at a US place of worship in decades and recalled the darkest periods of US history, in a church once burned to the ground after a failed slave revolt.





rachel-dolezal.jpgRachel Dolezal stepped down from her position as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington State on Monday - days after her ethnic identity became a national controversy.

The civil rights activist made the announcement in an open letter - posted on Facebook - to the organization's executive committee and members.

"It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley," she wrote.

Dolezal vowed to always fight for "what is right and good in this world" and thanked everyone who had supported her throughout the media firestorm that erupted over her ethnicity.





shocked.jpgA Finnish court on Monday sentenced a 36-year-old woman to life in prison for killing her five newborns between 2005 and 2013 and hiding them in a freezer.

The Oulu district court in western Finland found the woman guilty of five counts of murder and five counts of disturbing the peace of the dead for failing to give the babies proper burials.

"The homicides took place by leaving the newborns without care and warmth... Clearly this measure... caused particular agony to the babies," the court said in its ruling.

The woman, who has a 14-year-old son, had pleaded innocent and said the babies were all stillborn. But the court ruled on the basis of dental examinations that at least some of the babies had lived for up to four days before dying in a bucket where she had left them.

The horrific crimes were discovered in June 2014 when neighbours began to complain of a bad smell in the apartment building where a new couple had moved in. It was soon discovered that the woman had dumped the babies' bodies in garbage bags in the building's cellar. Previously she had managed to hide the bodies by keeping them in a freezer in her old apartment but there was no longer room for a freezer in the new apartment.

Court documents showed she had hid her pregnancies under loose clothing, and gave birth to the babies at home without anyone's knowledge.District prosecutor Sari Kemppainen told AFP that all of the babies were born full-term or nearly full-term.

The fathers of the first two babies were not identified, but in 2010 she married a man and got pregnant a third time. She later told him she had suffered a miscarriage. The husband went on to father two more babies, but was unaware of his wife's pregnancies or crimes. He petitioned for divorce immediately after the bodies were discovered.

When questioned by police, the mother was unable to explain why she had opted to keep, and not bury, the bodies.





naacp-rachel-dolezal.jpgRachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP, is being accused of falsely portraying herself as a black woman, CBS News' Adriana Diaz reports.

Her biological parents claim she is misrepresenting "major portions of her life," including being born white. As the city's mayor says it has opened an investigation and is gathering facts to determine if any city policies were violated, Dolezal is denying these accusations.

"Actually, I don't like the term African-American; I prefer black. So, if asked, I would say, yes, I consider myself to be black," Dolezal said to Spokane affiliate KREM.

But Dolezal's biological parents say that's just not true.

"Our daughter is primarily German and Czech and of European descent," her mother said.

Her parents, Ruthanne and Larry, live in a rural home in Troy, Montana.

Her father described a young Dolezal as blonde, blue-eyed and freckled-face.

"No way to get around it," he said.

The couple say their daughter is pretending to be someone she's not.

"Rachel has wanted to be somebody she's not. She's chosen not to just be herself but to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person," Ruthanne said.

Dolezal's biography at Eastern Washington University says she received her master's degree from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.

KREM-TV obtained police reports in which Dolezal claims to be the victim of several hate crimes. They found that police responded but no suspects were identified and no arrests were ever made.

She said the only ones questioning her identity are Larry and Ruthanne.

"I don't give two (expletive) what they think," Dolezal said.

"It's more important for me to clarify that with the black community and my executive board than with people who don't understand," she said.

In the past, Dolezal has identified herself as a mix of black, white and Native American.

Dolezal dismisses the controversy as little more than an ugly byproduct of family dysfunction.





malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-1.jpgFour Western tourists were ordered deported from Malaysia on Friday after pleading guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on a popular climbing peak, an act some in the country blamed for causing a deadly earthquake.

The defendants -- Eleanor Hawkins of Britain, 24, Dutchman Dylan Snel, 23, and Canadian brother and sister Lindsey, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22 -- were arrested earlier this week in the wake of the deadly June 5 quake which killed 18 people on Mount Kinabalu.

A court in Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah on Borneo island, sentenced them to three days' jail time starting from when they were arrested on Tuesday, meaning their term had been served.

They also were fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit ($1,330) and ordered deported for committing an "obscene act in a public place," which can carry a three-month jail term.

It was not immediately clear when they would be deported.





malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-1.jpgA group of Western tourists who sparked anger in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain could be sentenced to three months in prison - or face a traditional Malay tribunal and pay a fine of 10 buffalo.

Eleanor Hawkins, a 24-year-old from Derby, was arrested on Tuesday after a photograph appeared showing her and nine others posing naked on top of Mount Kinabalu.

Of the ten tourists, five have been arrested, including a Canadian brother and sister, Lindsey, 22, and 23-year-old Danielle Peterson; another Candadian, 33-year-old Emil Kaminski, and a Dutch man, Dylan Snel, 23.

Authorities are currently searching for the other five people involved.

The detained group are being held in at Karamunsing police station in Kota Kinabalu, the main town near Mount Kimbalu.

According to Malaysian law, the punishment for such an offence is a fine of 400 ringgit ($106).

Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage Site and popular climbing destination, is considered sacred by Sabah's Kadazan Dusun tribal group, who believe it is a resting place for spirits. The pictures infuriated many in Malaysia.

On Friday a 6.0-magnitude quake struck near the mountain, sending landslides crashing down from its summit just as more than 150 hikers were at the peak enjoying sunrise views.

Sixteen people have been confirmed killed on the mountain and two remain missing.

In the wake of the disaster, Malaysian social media users and some Sabah officials have focused on the nudists, suggesting that their actions angered the spirits and led to the earthquake.

"This will certainly bring misfortune... we can't play with the spirit of the sacred mountain," deputy state chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan had told reporters on Saturday.malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-2.jpg





creflo-dollar.jpgThe Gulfstream G650 isn't just any private jet. The billionaires lining up these luxury jets, which sell for upwards of $65 million each, are willing to put their names on a waiting list for years just for the pleasure. It is the "Holy Grail" of luxury private jets, Bloomberg once wrote. And now, televangelist Creflo Dollar's ministry has announced that it will also buy a G650, a purchase the ministry says is "necessary" to spread God's word.

The announcement comes months after Dollar's ministries abandoned an earlier campaign to raise funds from his faithful followers for the same plane, following considerable backlash.

The board of World Changers Church International - which also operates as Creflo Dollar Ministries - said in a statement that the ministry will now go ahead and buy a Gulfstream G650 jet anyway, "at a time, place and price of our choosing."

"We wholeheartedly reject the notion that the ministry's airplane project is an imposition on our community or that it somehow takes advantage of our people," WCCI said in a lengthy statement. "We plan to acquire a Gulfstream G650 because it is the best, and it is a reflection of the level of excellence at which this organization chooses to operate."

Dollar's first fundraising effort for the plane, "Project G650," was dropped in March, just days after it was announced. A video outlining the campaign encouraged Dollar's followers to donate at least $300 each towards the purchase of a luxury jet. In the video, the ministry explained that the televangelist's current jet was more than 30 years old and was damaged in November.

In its most recent statement, the ministry described the luxury jet campaign as "standard operating procedure for people of faith" in "our community."

Dollar, the founder of the 30,000-member World Changers Church International in Georgia, preaches prosperity gospel, or that God will send earthly rewards (including wealth) to those who are properly faithful. In Dollar's ministry, that often includes "Honor Giving," a name Dollar sometimes uses for a practice akin to tithing, or giving 10 percent of your income to the church.

Although Dollar is a pretty high-profile evangelist, it's worth noting that most Christians, evangelical or otherwise, do not consider prosperity gospel to be a mainstream interpretation of Scripture.





maggi-noodles-india.jpgIndian shopkeepers withdrew a popular brand of Nestle instant noodles from their shelves Wednesday after tests revealed the snack contained unsafe levels of lead.

India's states have either ordered the withdrawal of Maggi noodles from shops or are carrying out further tests on noodle samples before taking action in conjunction with the federal government.

Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than the legal maximum. The tests also detected the chemical flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product's list of ingredients.

On Tuesday, the Delhi city government said it had conducted tests on 13 samples of Maggi noodles and 10 were found to be unsafe with lead exceeding the allowable level. Earlier tests, performed by food safety authorities in Uttar Pradesh state, showed that samples contained 17.2 parts per million of lead, many times the allowable limits which range between 0.01 and 2.5 ppm.

The Delhi government said it will take legal action against Nestle India, which is a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA, and was meeting Wednesday with company officials. It banned the sale of Maggi noodles in all state-run stores in the Indian capital. Several major grocery chains in the city have also announced that they are taking the noodles off shelves.

Maggi noodles are a hot favorite with school and college students and Nestle's "two-minute" advertising campaign stressing the ease of making the snack have made it a household name in India. The noodles are Nestle's fastest selling food item in India, clocking around 15 billion rupees ($240 million) in sales annually.

Some of India's biggest film stars have appeared in television commercials aimed at mothers and young children to promote Maggi noodles. A court in Bihar state on Tuesday ordered that a complaint be filed against three of Bollywood's biggest stars, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta, for acting as brand ambassadors for Maggi.

Spurred by the Maggi noodle scare, India's federal government was readying a new law to deal with cases in which consumers of essential commodities and foods were misled through wrong information.





A South Florida judge has refused to release the teenage son of a prominent Canadian diplomat on bail pending trial on murder charges.

Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled Wednesday that 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu was too great of a flight risk and would be difficult to extradite if he fled to Canada. He is the son of Roxanne Dube, Canada's consul general in Miami.

Wabafiyebazu faces felony murder and other charges as an adult in a March 30 shootout that killed his older brother and another teenager. Police say the slayings happened after the Wabafiyebazu brothers tried to rob marijuana dealers.

Marc Wabafiyebazu has pleaded not guilty. His mother says she is convinced he is innocent and had insisted she would ensure he remained in the US if released.





spelling-bee-champions-jody-anne-maxwell.jpgFor seven years in a row, and for 11 of the past 15 years, the $30,000 Scripps National Spelling Bee championship has been won by American youngsters of Indian heritage. They make up one in five of the 285 spellers, aged nine through 15, from all 50 states and seven foreign countries, who ran a gauntlet of local and regional contests to qualify for the big event.

One of them, Vanya Shivashankar, 13, who lives in Kansas, is back for a fifth time -- inspired no doubt by her sister Kavya, the 2009 champion. Last year ended in a tie between Sriran Hathwar of upstate New York and Ansun Sujoe from Texas after they failed to knock each other out after five rounds.

But on social media, the reaction from some of the nearly one million people viewing the finals live on cable television veered towards the xenophobic.

"One year I wish an American kid could win," read one of several dubious Twitter posts curated on Storify.com by tech journalist Jeff Chu.

"Not to be offensive...but how do kids from India dominate the American spelling bee?!?" read another tweet.

"The kids in the spelling bee should only be AMERICAN," declared a third.

Such sentiments clearly rankle the organizers of the National Spelling Bee, whose longtime core sponsor is the Scripps media group.

"I look forward to the day, as do I think many of our South Asian participants, when they are called what they want to be called -- Americans," bee director Paige Kimble, the 1981 champion, said Wednesday.

"The bee is one of the truest forms of meritocracy, and we support every kid no matter where they come from," Kimble added.

"It's unfortunate that people have some not very nice things to say on social media."

Americans of South Asian heritage make up just one percent of the US population, but only a few are really into competitive spelling, said Northwestern University anthropology professor Shalini Shankar. More often than not, those families hail from southern India and emigrated to America as highly educated professionals, notably in the tech sector.

"The kids that do make it are extremely talented by any standard, but even among Indian Americans they are really gifted," she said.

They also keep in practice, thanks to a network of regular competitive spelling events on the margins of the usual scholastic fixtures, Shankar told AFP.

And it's not just in spelling, either. Seven of the 10 finalists in the National Geographic Bee earlier this month were Indian American, including the winner, Karan Menon, from New Jersey.

Last year Swapnil Garg, from California, clinched the national Mathcounts challenge, which is more often won by high school students of Chinese ethnicity.

Only once has the National Spelling Bee actually been won by a non-American: Jody-Anne Maxwell, whose 1998 victory made her a celebrity in her native Jamaica. CAPTION: Jody-Anne Maxwell, whose 1998 victory made her person outside of the US to ever win the competition.





6 dead in Amtrack train crash

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philly-train-wreck.jpgAt least five persons are dead, following the derailment of an Amtrak train headed to New York City on Tuesday evening.

The derailment took place in Philadelphia, as train 188, a Northeast Regional, traveling from Washington, D.C., was going into a deep turn.

The front of the train has been described by eyewitnesses as "mangled."

Many of the injured passengers have been taken to area hospitals.

The area where the derailment occurred is known as Frankford Junction and has a big curve.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.





94-year-old man finally finishes college

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diploma.jpgA 94-year-old man will be one of the oldest graduates in the history of West Virginia University when he receives his diploma Sunday.

The school says in a press release that Anthony Brutto, who studied on and off for 75 years, will be awarded his Regents Bachelor of Arts degree during commencement.

Brutto first entered the university in 1939 when tuition was $50. He was drafted in 1942, serving in the Army Air Corps until the end of World War II.

Brutto re-enrolled at the school in 1946, but could not finish because he had to care for his sick wife.

A machinist by trade, Brutto says graduating from college was always important to him. He jokingly says he'll take a break before pursuing a master's degree.





baltimore-mom.jpgThe Baltimore teenager who was smacked by his angry mother during Monday's riots - a moment seen in a video that quickly went viral - says he learned a lesson from his public shaming. But some are questioning the celebration of her tactics.

In a pair of interviews, Michael Singleton described the confrontation.

"I was just like, 'Oh, man. What is my mother doing down here? Why would she be down here?'"Singleton told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "But when I heard, 'Put that brick down,' I was like, 'Oh, that's my mother.'"

On Tuesday, Toya Graham, the 42-year-old single mother of six, told CBS News that she didn't want to see her only son become "a Freddie Gray," the 25-year-old who died in police custody earlier this month.

"I felt as though my friends were down there," the 16-year-old said of his decision to join the rioters. "A couple of my friends had been beaten by the police, killed by the police. So I felt as though I needed to go down there, show my respect."

"I was so angry with him that he had made a decision to do some harm to the police officers," Graham told Cooper. "I just lost it at that point."

Or, as Singleton put it, "It was just World War III from right there."

As the clip of the maternal smackdown circulated, Graham was soon branded a "hero mom."

"Forget the National Guard," the New York Post declared on its front page. "Send in the moms."





baltimore-mom.jpgBALTIMORE (AP) - A mother who was caught on video smacking her 16-year-old son around after he threw objects at police said when they made eye contact, he knew he was in trouble.

"I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody that knows me, know I don't play that," Toya Graham, a single mother of six, told CBS News. "He said, when 'I seen you,' he said, 'ma, my instinct was to run.'"

Graham received wide praise from people on social media and even the Baltimore police commissioner, who said more parents should have taken charge of their children like Graham after the riots started.

Graham said she saw her only son wearing a hoodie and mask amid the protesters demonstrating just hours after a funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who died after suffering an unexplained spinal injury in police custody.

"At that point, I just lost it," she said. "I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that."

Graham said she and her son watched news coverage of the riots together. And then the images of her reaction went viral. Comments started appearing on her son's Facebook page, many in support of her, she said.

"Friends and everybody making comments and saying, 'you know, you shouldn't be mad at your mother, you should give her a hug,'" Graham said.

She hopes it will be a teachable moment.

"And by him seeing everything what's going on I just hope, I'm not sure, but I hope that he understands the seriousness of what was going on last night," she said.





JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) - South African police said Tuesday they had arrested three people for the rape and murder of an 86-year-old nun of Austrian origin nearly two weeks ago.

Sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher, from the Sacred Heart Home Convent in the village of Ixopo, southwest of Durban, was found murdered in her room after being suffocated with a towel, and her hands tied with an electric typewriter cord.

Police said the three male suspects, aged between 25 and 35, would appear in a local magistrate's court on Wednesday on murder, robbery and rape charges.

"They were found in possession of some of the stolen property which were positively identified as property belonging to the victim," police said in a statement.

"It is alleged that foreign currency had been taken from Tiefebacher's room. It is also suspected that the victim was raped before she was killed."

Austrian-born Tiefenbacher was buried on Monday in Ixopo after a church service at Sacred Heart, where she worked as a school secretary and administration officer for 40 years.

Her family in Austria were unable to attend the funeral, according to a report by News 24.

The service was attended by fellow sisters and former pupils.

The killing shocked the small village, which was the setting for South African author Alan Paton's novel "Cry the Beloved Country".

"We still cannot believe she is gone but she is in the Lord's hands now. She did not deserve to die this way," one nun told News 24.

Tiefebacher moved to South Africa 50 years ago to work for the Roman Catholic Church.





Hillary Clinton is running for president

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After years of often-breathless speculation about her future, Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in politics: She's running for president. The former first lady and secretary of state officially entered the 2016 presidential race with a video announcement to supporters Sunday, saying she wants to be the champion of "everyday Americans."

"Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top," Clinton told supporters at the end of a more than two-minute-long video posted on her official campaign website, hillaryclinton.com. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by."

The video represented a sharp tonal shift from her announcement video in 2008, which featured Clinton addressing voters while sitting on a couch in her Washington, D.C., home. In contrast, Clinton is only seen and heard in roughly the last minute of Sunday's video, which features testimony and footage from families, young workers and gay couples.

While she told voters in 2008 that she was "in to win," Clinton told voters Sunday that she is "hitting the road to earn your vote, because it's your time." "I hope you'll join me on this journey," Clinton added.





maya-angelou-stamp.jpg The poet Maya Angelou may well be one of America's greatest literary figures. But you'll find someone else's words on a postage stamp to be unveiled Tuesday by the U.S. Postal Service that honors the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

The stamp features the late Angelou's picture, her name and the quotation: "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." That was in fact penned by Joan Walsh Anglund, an 89-year-old children's book author, according to The Washington Post.

The quote appears on page 15 of Anglund's book of poems "A Cup of Sun," published in 1967, The Post reports.

"Yes, that's my quote," Anglund told The Post. But she doesn't seem to mind the mix-up. "I love [Maya Angelou] and all she's done," she said, "and I also love my own private thinking that also comes to the public, because it comes from what I've been thinking and how I've been feeling."

The quotation does recall the title of one of Angelou's most famous works, her autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1969), and it is widely associated with her.

Even President Barack Obama attributed the quotation to Angelou during the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal award ceremony. The poet herself received a National Medal of Arts in 2000.

After being informed that Anglund had confirmed that the quotation was hers, a Postal Service spokesman issued a statement saying that had it known beforehand, the service would instead have used another quote - from Maya Angelou herself. Still, as Mark Saunders, U.S. Postal Service spokesman, put it, "The sentence held great meaning for her, and she is publicly identified with its popularity."

Angelou, who was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, died on May 28, 2014.





cop-caught-on-video-shoot-black-man.jpg

A white South Carolina police officer was arrested and charged with murder Tuesday after video showed him fatally shooting a fleeing, unarmed black man in the back.

North Charleston Police Officer Michael T. Slager, 33, can be seen shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott after a confrontation on Saturday, according to The Post and Courier. Slager chases Scott and shoots at him eight times in the video .

Scott died there, though it wasn't clear if he died immediately.

The graphic video raises questions about Slager's original assertion that he used his gun because he felt endangered.

The confrontation started when Slager had reportedly pulled over Scott because of a broken taillight. It escalated into a foot chase as Scott allegedly fled because there were family court-issued warrants for his arrest. Slager pursued Scott into a grassy lot and claimed that he fired his Taser to subdue him.

Moments later, Slager reported on his radio, "Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser," according to the Times.

Earlier this week, an attorney for Slager said the cop felt threatened after Scott tried to overpower him and take his Taser. Today that attorney told The Post and Courier that he's "no longer involved" in the case.

But first images in the video are of Slager shooting at Scott as he runs away from him. It also appears that Slager drops the Taser near Scott after he was gunned down, according to The New York Times.

Police reports also say that responding officers performed CPR and delivered medical aid to Scott, but the video shows Scott face down in handcuffs for several minutes after the shooting. Another officer shows up and appears to give Scott aid, but never performs CPR.

Police Chief Eddie Driggers said Tuesday that Slager had been arrested.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that FBI investigators would work with the State Law Enforcement Division, which typically investigates officer-involved shootings in South Carolina, and the state's attorney general to investigate any civil rights violations in Scott's death. Mayor Keith Summey added during a news conference that as a result of the video and Slager's "bad decision," the officer would be charged with murder.

Scott had been arrested about 10 times in the past, mostly for failing to pay child support or show up for hearings, according to the paper.

"He has four children, he doesn't have some type of big violent past or arrest record. He had a job, he was engaged," a lawyer for Scott's family told the Times. "He had back child support and didn't want to go to jail for back child support."

In a statement released Tuesday night, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) said, "What happened in this case is not acceptable in South Carolina." Senator Tim Scott (R) said "The senseless shooting and taking of Walter Scott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable," adding that he would be watching the case closely.

The shooting in North Charleston comes on the heels of several high-profile cases of police officers using deadly force against unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland and New York. This is one of the few times the offending officer has been charged with murder.

"What if there was no video? What if there was no witness? Where would we be without that video," Justin Bamberg said at a presser with the family on Tuesday night. Bamburg is one of the Scotts' family attorneys and also represents South Carolina's House District 90.

Family attorney L. Chris Stewart called the witness who recorded the video a "hero," saying that video evidence disproved initial reports that Scott reached for the Slager's Taser. Stewart added that the witness is working with investigators and may eventually come forward.

Bamberg told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell that the witness contacted the family following the shooting. They were the first to watch the video.

"If there was no video, I do not believe that officer would be in jail," Bamberg said. "From what the video shows, I think that provides the necessary ammunition to hold this officer accountable."

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, a state agency also known as SLED, was later contacted and promptly launched an investigation.

"I don't think anybody can see that and not see that what that officer did was murder Mr. Scott in cold blood," Bamberg said. "What would have happened if this witness did not have the courage to stand up and do the right thing and decide that what he witnessed was wrong? I'm glad we don't have to ponder that."





Kenyan university death toll now at 147

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The number of people killed in an attack by al-Shabab Islamist militants on a university campus in north-eastern Kenya has risen to 147, Kenyan government officials say.

The operation to secure the Garissa University College campus was now over, with all four attackers killed, they added.

Officials said 587 students had been evacuated, 79 of whom were injured.

Nine critically injured students were airlifted to the capital Nairobi for treatment, they added.

But each student had been accounted for by the end of the evacuation. Masked gunmen had stormed the university early on Thursday morning.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he called a "terrorist attack" and said the UN was ready to help Kenya "prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism".

The United States said it was offering Nairobi assistance to take on al-Shabab and will continue to work with others in the region to take on the group.

The Kenyan government has named Mohamed Kuno, a high-ranking al-Shabab official, as the mastermind of the attack.

A BBC Somali Service reporter says Mr Kuno was headmaster at an Islamic school in Garissa before he quit in 2007.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta offered his condolences to families of the victims and ordered "urgent steps" to ensure police recruits could begin training immediately. "We have suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel," he said.

Earlier, al-Shabab told the BBC its members were holding Christians hostage and freeing Muslims. The gunmen reportedly ordered students to lie down on the floor, but some of them escaped. Student Augustine Alanga told the BBC's Newsday programme: "It was horrible, there was shooting everywhere."

He said it was "pathetic" that the university was only guarded by two police officers.





One person was killed in gunfire that erupted outside National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., Monday after a car carrying two men dressed as women tried to crash through a checkpoint at the base, officials say.

One of the men in the car was killed when armed security guard at the gate opened fire, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press. ABC News reported that the other was "severely injured" and "probably won't survive."

An NSA official told the AP that their vehicle smashed into a police car, and that police opened fire when it refused to stop. An NSA police officer was injured in the encounter, the official said.

According to WTOP.com, one person was transported to a Baltimore trauma center. The identities of the men involved in the shooting were not immediately released.

Aerial images from news helicopters on the scene appear to show two damaged SUVs outside the gate and a white sheet covering a body next to one of them. The footage also showed emergency workers treating a man in a uniform and loading him into an ambulance.

The FBI is investigating the shooting.





shocked.jpgTAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A 13-year-old boy in Florida fatally shot his 6-year-old brother, wounded his 16-year-old brother and then killed himself on Wednesday during an argument over food, authorities said.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office received a call about the shooting at 6:19 p.m. local time in the city of Hudson, some 45 miles (72 km) north of Tampa, the office said in a statement.

The three brothers were squabbling over dinner, the statement said, when the 13-year-old grabbed a handgun and shot his two brothers before killing himself. The children were home alone at the time.

The older brother was taken to a hospital and his injuries were not considered life-threatening, the statement said. The names of the children were not released by authorities.

"This is a horrific scene," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco Chris said, according to the Tampa Bay Times newspaper. "This is a nightmare when you hear about the ages of these boys, a 6-year-old that was probably playing in his room, an argument over food and he lost his life."

The Times said that the children's mother was at work and a fourth son, who is 18-years-old, was not at the house.





DETROIT (AP) - A teenager told authorities that her mother killed two siblings and forced her to put one of the bodies in the freezer of their Detroit home where both were found by an eviction crew.

Details of death and extreme abuse emerged Thursday as Mitchelle Blair appeared in court, two days after the bodies of a 9-year-old son, Stephen Berry, and 13-year-old daughter, Stoni Blair, were discovered.

Blair, 35, is charged with child abuse, but she could face murder charges when the bodies thaw and autopsies are performed, prosecutors said. Bond was set at $1 million. An attorney hasn't been assigned.

The Michigan Department of Human Services is taking steps to end Blair's rights to two other children, a 17-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. In a court filing, the state said the teen described a house of horror, where she and her surviving brother were beaten with an extension cord and piece of wood, hit with a hot curling iron and burned with a clothing iron.

"Blair tortured Stephen for approximately two weeks prior to his death by tying a belt around his neck, throwing hot water on him while in the shower and putting a plastic bag over his head," the state said, quoting the 17-year-old.

Stephen was "unresponsive" on Aug. 30, 2012, and Blair wrapped his body in bed linen and put him in the freezer, the state said.

Mitchelle Blair stands during her video arraignment at the 36th District Court, Thursday, March 26...

Nine months later, Blair became "enraged" when Stoni said she didn't like her surviving siblings and strangled the girl with a T-shirt and suffocated her with a plastic bag, the department said.

Blair then made the teen "put Stoni in the deep freezer following her death," the agency said.

The 8-year-old boy also was aware that his sister and brother were killed and subsequently placed in the freezer, the department said.

Medical exams revealed evidence of abuse, including numerous scars, on the children. The teenager said neither she nor her siblings have attended school for two years.

Earlier Thursday, Blair appeared in court on child abuse charges via a video feed from a police lockup. Magistrate Renee McDuffee entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf.

"The charges in this matter are so heinous," McDuffee said in explaining the $1 million bond.

The state said it investigated allegations of abuse in 2002 and 2005. Blair was referred to counseling.

The state said the two fathers of Blair's surviving children are unfit to care for them. Together they owe $50,000 in child support and haven't seen the kids in two to three years.





INKSTER, Mich. (AP) -- A pastor leading a protest Wednesday outside a Detroit-area police department threatened to shut down the city until white officers are fired for the bloody arrest of a black man who was pulled from his car and repeatedly punched in the head.

The march in Inkster came a day after TV station WDIV aired police dashcam video of the Jan. 28 arrest of Floyd Dent, 57. In it, an officer punches Dent many times in the head while another officer tries to handcuff the motorist, who is on the ground. Dent's face and shirt were bloodied.

Police say Dent disregarded stop signs and refused to pull over, then resisted arrest and threatened them. They also say they found a bag of crack cocaine in his car.

Dent, who spent three days in the hospital with broken ribs, blood on his brain and other injuries, told reporters at a news conference that he was defending himself as an officer was "nearly choking me to death."

"I wasn't resisting arrest," he said. "When someone is beating your face, you're going to protect yourself."

Hours earlier, Rev. Charles Williams II and about 50 protesters were told to leave the police department because they were blocking the door. Inkster Police Chief Vicki Yost met them outside and said Michigan State Police would investigate the arrest. She told The Associated Press the department also was conducting an internal probe.

"I understand your concern," Yost told Williams. "Again, we're going to let the investigation play out. ... We're going to act accordingly. We're not hiding from this."

Both Dent and Williams say the officers should be fired. Yost told The Associated Press that one is on "administrative duty" but declined to elaborate.

"We will shut Inkster down until we get justice," said Williams, who added that the video "made me sick."

In the police report released by defense attorney Greg Rohl, Inkster officer William Melendez wrote that he was patrolling for "narcotics activity" when he saw Dent's Cadillac pull into a hotel parking lot. He wrote that Dent went into a hotel room for a few minutes, came out and pulled away.

Melendez said in the report that he turned on his lights after Dent failed to use a proper turn signal and disregarded a stop sign. He said Dent failed to stop for some distance. When Dent pulled over, Melendez said he approached the car with his weapon out and raised it when he thought Dent, who was unarmed, was reaching for a weapon.

An auxiliary officer pulled Dent to the ground and Melendez put the motorist in a hold and punched him in the face after Melendez said Dent bit him on the arm; Dent denies biting Melendez. Another officer used a stun gun three times to subdue Dent, the report said.

A judge has dismissed charges of fleeing and resisting police, but Dent still faces a drug charge. He says he was visiting a friend, and that the officers planted the drugs in his car. He also said he was tested at the hospital and was "clean" of alcohol or drugs.

In 2004, Melendez and seven other Detroit officers were acquitted of lying, falsifying reports and planting evidence. Federal prosecutors had accused him and another officer of being the "masterminds" of a conspiracy to "run roughshod over the civil rights of the victims."

Inkster, population 25,000, is 73 percent black.





plane-crash-french-alps.jpg A black box recovered from the scene and pulverized pieces of debris strewn across Alpine mountainsides held clues to what caused a German jetliner to take an unexplained eight-minute dive Tuesday midway through a flight from Spain to Germany, apparently killing all 150 people on board.

The victims included two babies, two opera singers and 16 German high school students and their teachers returning from an exchange trip to Spain. It was the deadliest crash in France in decades.

The Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, was less than an hour from landing in Duesseldorf on a flight from Barcelona when it unexpectedly went into a rapid descent. The pilots sent out no distress call and had lost radio contact with their control center, France's aviation authority said, deepening the mystery.

While investigators searched through debris from Flight 9525 on steep and desolate slopes, families across Europe reeled with shock and grief. Sobbing relatives at both airports were led away by airport workers and crisis counselors.





Jamathon 2017

crime-scene-gun.jpgPolice in Istanbul are hunting for a gunman who opened fire at a well-known nightclub, killing at least 39 people.

The attack happened at Reina nightclub early on Sunday, as hundreds of revellers marked the new year.

Officials say some 15 foreigners were killed, including citizens from Israel, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The attacker left his gun before "taking advantage of the chaos" and fleeing the scene, Turkey's PM said.

Binali Yildirim also confirmed the gunman was not dressed as Santa Claus, contradicting earlier reports.

The attack unfolded some 75 minutes into the new year as around 700 people gathered in the waterside Reina club, one of Istanbul's most upmarket venues.

The attacker shot dead a policeman and a security guard at the entrance before heading into the club, which is popular with celebrities and foreigners.

Eyewitnesses described seeing dozens of bodies lying on the floor. Some revellers reportedly threw themselves into the Bosphorus to escape the carnage.

"Gunshots rang out. When those sounds were heard, many girls fainted," professional footballer Sefa Boydas told AFP news agency.

He said people appeared to be crushed as they ran away. "They say 35 to 40 died but it's probably more because when I was walking, people were walking on top of people."





The autistic man who was the intended target of a police bullet is suffering from emotional distress, not eating and traumatised following the shooting of his caretaker.

Arnaldo Rios' mother, Gladys Soto, said during a Saturday news conference that she is worried about the safety of her son, who wandered back to the site of the Monday shooting a day later, threw himself on the ground and shouted: "I hate the police, I hate the police," The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

"It's too emotional to see your baby caught up in something like this," Soto said.

Miriam Soto said her brother is suffering from night terrors and is not sleeping or eating.

"He's not the same anymore," Soto said of her brother.

The four North Miami police officers who aimed rifles at Rios and his black therapist, Charles Kinsey, in the middle of an intersection were responding to a 911 call about a suicidal man with a gun. Rios sat cross-legged. He yelled. He didn't obey commands to lie down with his hands up, as Kinsey was doing, and he fidgeted with a metal object.

One of the officers, Jonathan Aledda, thought the disabled man was about to shoot Kinsey, who was trying to coax Rios back to a nearby group home, the police union has said. The officer fired three shots at Rios because he thought he was a threat, but he missed and accidentally struck Kinsey in the leg.

The metal object turned out to be a toy truck and there was no suicide threat.

Monday's shooting was the latest in a violent month of police shootings, but it also highlights the difficulties officers have in identifying people with autism. The characteristics of autism range from mild quirks or obsessions, to people who can't communicate, yell and occasionally become violent.

The family's attorney Matthew Dietz on Saturday criticised the officers' training in dealing with people with mental illness.

"After they knew that he had autism, what did they do? They threw him on the ground," Dietz said.





franklyn-graham-and-obama.jpgEvangelist Franklin Graham held a prayer rally in Cleveland before the start of the Republican National Convention during which he said the nation is in trouble, the nation has ejected God from the public square, "and our country is beginning to implode," that we are "on the precipice of anarchy.

Reverend Graham, son of world-renowned pastor Billy Graham, also stressed that the only solution is "a spiritual healing from God," that politicians cannot solve the problem, only God can.

In his July 18 Facebook Live prayer event, as reported by CBN News, Rev. Graham said, "This nation-it needs a spiritual healing from Almighty God. Our country-I don't have to tell you-is in trouble.... And the only hope for this country is God. It's not the politicians. It's God."

We must pray for the politicians, Republicans and Democrats, said Graham. It is important "that the politicians listen to God."

He then addressed the irreligious atmosphere in America today.

"The secularists, the progressives, many of these people, most of them are people that would be atheistic, and we have taken God out of our country," he said. "We have taken Him out of our nation. We have taken Him out of our government."





omar-mateen-gay-lover-miguel.jpgOmar Mateen, the Muslim gunman who committed the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, was "100 percent" gay and bore a grudge against Latino men because he felt used by them, according to a man who says he was his lover for two months.

"I've cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn't do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge," he told Univision Noticias anchor Maria Elena Salinas in an exclusive interview in English and Spanish on Tuesday.

He said Mateen was angry and upset after a man he had sex with later revealed he was infected with the HIV virus.

Asked why he decided to come forward with his story, he said: "It's my responsibility as a citizen of the United States and a gay man."

The man said he had approached by the FBI and been interviewed three times in person by agents.The FBI confirmed to Univision that it had met with him.The man, who did not want his true identity revealed, agreed to an interview wearing a disguise and calling himself Miguel. Speaking in fluent Spanish and accented English, he said he met Mateen last year through a gay dating site and began a relationship soon after. He and Mateen were "friends with benefits," he said.

He described Mateen as "a very sweet guy" who never showed a violent side. He loved to be cuddled. "He was looking for love," he said. Mateen never revealed his name to him, saying only that he was 35 years old and married with a son, Miguel told Univision. He said they met 15-20 times, the last occasion in late December. He said he believed Mateen's second wife knew he frequented gay bars and that his marriage was a smoke screen to hide that he was "100 percent" gay.

"He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin - but he felt rejected. He felt used by them - there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him," Miguel said. "I believe this crazy horrible thing he did - that was revenge."

Mateen expressed frustration over his father's extreme views on homosexuality, which included a belief that "gay people [are] the devil and gay people have to die," Miguel said.

Mateen was especially upset after a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom later revealed he was HIV positive, he added.

"He [Omar] was terrified that he was infected," he said. "I asked him, 'Did you do a test?' Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test ... it came out negative but it doesn't come out right away. It takes 4, 5 months."

"When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was 'I'm going to make them pay for what they did to me.'"





omar-mateen-gay-lover.jpgPortions of Omar Mateen's alleged hookup with at least one gay man were captured on surveillance cameras at an Orlando hotel ... TMZ has learned.

Sources at the Ambassador Hotel tell TMZ, Mateen was seen on camera footage recorded December 14, 2015 around 11 PM. We're told the video bolsters the claims of the heavily disguised man who told Univision he met up with Mateen 15-20 times at the hotel between November and December.

Our sources say the video shows Mateen walk to the front desk, speak to a staffer and then walk around a corner toward the room where the anonymous man says he was staying during their rendezvous.

We're told management showed the video to staffers and asked if anyone recalled seeing Mateen. The only person who noticed him is a guy who works the night shift.

We're told the FBI went to the Ambassador Tuesday night and took a copy of the surveillance footage.

The Bureau wouldn't confirm, but the video could go a long way to figuring out if Mateen attacked a gay club as part of a twisted revenge plot.





Mother kills and dismembers her 3 young sons

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mother-kills-sons.jpgThe Phoenix mother had been transported to the hospital covered in blood with stab wounds to her neck and abdomen when police officers searching her house opened a closet to a grim discovery.

Inside officers found the partially dismembered bodies of her three young sons. Police discovered the dead boys - ages 2 months old and 5 and 8 years old - in a closet full of miscellaneous items. Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said the youngest boy's body was in a suitcase.

Crump said the children appeared to have been stabbed to death and "parts of their bodies were dismembered."

The 29-year-old mother is in the hospital in critical condition with self-inflicted stab wounds. Police say she is the primary suspect and will face charges.

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messi-court.jpgSpanish prosecutors called Friday for Lionel Messi to be absolved on the final day of his tax fraud trial, but the lawyer representing fiscal authorities disagreed, comparing him to a "crime boss."

The Argentina and Barcelona star and his father Jorge Horacio Messi have been accused of using companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

Prosecutor Raquel Amado called for the footballer to be let off in her closing arguments, a day after he took the stand and said he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.

"There is no evidence that anyone explained anything to him," she said.

But Mario Maza, the state attorney representing tax authorities in the trial, said he found it unlikely that Messi knew nothing about the situation.

"There is no deliberate ignorance here, it's fraud and that's all there is to it, because he didn't want to pay his taxes," he said.

"It's like a crime boss. At the very top is the bigwig who doesn't want to know about the details."

He is seeking a fine equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded, plus a prison sentence of 22 and a half months for Messi and his father.

Any such prison sentence would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.

Source: (AFP)





muhammad-ali-career-in-pictures.jpgThe children of the sporting icon have rushed to be at his bedside as doctors treating the former heavyweight champ have told them they fear he "is near the end".

Already four of the 74-year-old's nine children, including daughters Laila, Hana and Maryum, are at the hospital in the Phoenix area where medics continue to fight a breathing problem picked up by the star.

The children flew in last night from around the US as doctors said the future survival of the champ was "uncertain".

Although there were discussions about transporting him to another area of the hospital, sources claimed doctors decided the move "potentially could be deadly," and the transfer was called off. Sources close to the star say Ali's battle with his respiratory problem has been complicated by the Parkinson's that he was diagnosed with in the 1980s.

"Like in the ring, Ali is a fighter on the ward," said a source.

"Doctors are working to regulate his breathing put it is being hampered by his Parkinson's.

"His children are all extremely concerned and dropped everything to be with him. They fear the worst. "Ali is everything to them and there are worried his problems are worse than first feared."

The boxer has children - two sons and seven daughters - from three marriages although two of his kids are from extra marital relationships.

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Oprah Winfrey #2 on Forbes rich list

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forbes-richest-self-made-women.jpgoprah-winfrey.jpgForbes Magazine released the second annual list of America's Richest Self-Made Women. These women have achieved unparalleled success through invention and innovation to create their own fortunes.

Out of the 60 women, 17 of them are billionaires including the richest woman in America Diane Hendricks, with US$4.9 billion.

Hendricks owns ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing and siding in the country. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey had to settle for number two with a net worth of US$3.1 billion.

Thirteen newcomers debuted in this year's list including Taylor Swift, Jessica Alba, Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion.





teacher-sex-eight-grader.jpgAlexandria M. Vera, an eighth-grade English teacher at Stovall Middle School in Houston, told police in April that the relationship she had with one of her students started through messages on Instagram - and had evolved into a great love.

On Wednesday, two months after the police investigation began and nearly eight months after 24-year-old Vera allegedly started having sex with the eighth-grader, authorities issued a warrant for her arrest on a felony charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. The student is under the age of 14.

Vera turned herself in at a suburban jail in Montgomery County and later was released on $100,000 bond, reported the Associated Press.

Court documents filed last week in a Harris County District Court offer a detailed look into Vera's account of their blossoming relationship, which she told police was not only approved but celebrated by the boy's parents. It wasn't until April, when Stovall principal Elsa Wright got a tip about Vera, that the school district's police department began investigating.

The English teacher admitted to both the principal and a police officer that she'd been having an ongoing relationship with the boy for months, court documents show. The bizarre and layered saga began nearly a year ago, Vera told police, when she met the boy during summer school in 2015. She said at first he was rude, asking for her Instagram account name and sending her a follow request after she refused to provide it or accept his invitation, according to court records.

But their interactions picked up in the fall, when the regular school year began and the boy was assigned to one of her eighth-grade English classes. Vera described for police a period of flirting that she claims she initially resisted, until the month of September. The teacher said she became worried when the boy didn't show up to class, so she sent him a message on Instagram and reminded him to turn in an upcoming assignment.

He replied, according to court documents, and asked for her phone number. Then the boy asked his teacher if they could hang out. She said yes.Vera drove the boy around in her car, she told police, and they kissed. The next day, when the boy's parents weren't home, she returned and the two had sex for the first time, according to the documents.After that, the sexual encounters occurred almost daily, Vera told police.

"She stated that she and the Complainant had sex on almost a daily basis at her home and that they love each other," police wrote in the documents.

In January, Vera said she discovered the boy had gotten her pregnant.

When the couple told the boy's family, according to the teacher, they were ecstatic and supportive.

His parents had known about the relationship since October, Vera told police, when they came to the school for an open house. Afterward, she was invited back to their home and introduced to the family as the boy's girlfriend, documents say. They were "accepting of the relationship," Vera told police, and she was welcomed to family gatherings thereafter.





Brazil votes to impeach Presidentar

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brazil-president-cartoon.jpgBrazil's Senate voted on Thursday to put leftist President Dilma Rousseff on trial in a historic decision brought on by a deep recession and a corruption scandal that will now confront Michel Temer, the vice president who succeeds her.

With Rousseff suspended during the Senate trial for allegedly breaking budget rules, the centrist Temer will take the helm of a country that again finds itself mired in political and economic volatility after a recent decade of prosperity.

The 55-22 vote ends more than 13 years of rule by the left-wing Workers Party, which rose from Brazil's labor movement and helped pull millions of people out of poverty before seeing many of its leaders face corruption investigations.

Fireworks rang out in some neighborhoods across Brazil after the vote at the end of a 20-hour session in the Senate. Police had briefly clashed with pro-Rousseff demonstrators in Brasilia on Wednesday, exchanging volleys of tear gas and rocks.

The impeachment process began in the lower house of Congress in December and Rousseff, a 68-year-old economist and former Marxist guerrilla who was Brazil's first female president, is unlikely to be acquitted in a trial that could last as long as six months.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the Senate to convict her but the scale of her defeat in the vote on Thursday showed how little support she has.

"Today we are trying to overcome this situation by removing an irresponsible government. We have no alternative," said Senator Blairo Maggi, one of Brazil's biggest soy farmers, who is slated to become agriculture minister in Temer's government.

Rousseff has denied any wrongdoing and called her impeachment a "coup".





postal-worker-glen-grays-and-cops.jpgNEW YORK -- Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had some harsh words for the officers accused of handcuffing a postal worker while he delivered packages on his route in Brooklyn.

CBS New York reports Bratton said he was "very concerned" about the March 17 confrontation between 27-year-old Glenn Grays and four plainclothes officers and a lieutenant.

"I'm very concerned about the performance of the officers, about the leadership role of the lieutenant involved and about the processing of the arrest at the precinct stationhouse," Bratton said Tuesday.

He also questioned the legitimacy of Grays' arrest for disorderly conduct.

"Based on what I witnessed on that, the various videos I've reviewed now, I have strong concerns about the charge against the individual," Bratton said.

The entire incident was captured on cellphone video.

DNAinfo reports the officers involved have been "removed from their normal posts as the NYPD investigates the incident."

Grays was in the middle of his shift on Saint Patrick's Day when he claims an unmarked police car nearly ran him over in Crown Heights. He said he then shouted at the officers, who stopped and demanded identification.

"My ID right there on the side of the truck," Grays can be heard saying in the video.

"Let's go get your ID," an officer says.

"I'm not going nowhere," Grays responds. "I'm delivering my postal route."

The video then shows the officers telling Grays to "stop resisting" even though it doesn't appear that he is resisting.

"I'm not resisting!" Gray yells back.

Grays is then handcuffed and put in the unmarked patrol car, his mail truck left unattended. That's when the video ends.

Bratton said the NYPD's Internal Affairs is investigating. He said the officers were members of a conditions unit and were supposed to work in uniform.

"Out of the investigation into that incident will be why were they in plainclothes, for what purpose, who authorized it," he said.

The commissioner was also concerned that a USPS truck was left unattended.

In an interview with "CBS This Morning," Grays said: "The only thing I think saved me is that it was on videotape."

"Never been arrested, never received a summons. I was extremely terrified. I wouldn't say afraid - I passed the stage of afraid," Grays said. "I was afraid that if I didn't comply that something was going to happen to me."

The NYPD has been hit with other caught-on-camera incidents of alleged police harassment against people of color, including the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

Grays said he wants justice. To him, that means disciplinary action.

"I don't want them to be jobless because they might have family, kids they need to support," Grays said. "It's sad that I thought that when I put on a uniform that I'll be treated a little different, but it's no difference. You know, I'm just another brother with a uniform."





postal-worker-glen-grays-and-cops.jpgGlen Grays, a postal worker in Brooklyn, had his delivery route cut short on St. Patrick's Day when he was handcuffed by four plainclothes police officers and placed in an unmarked car.

Cellphone video filmed by a bystander shows Grays in his postal service uniform, holding a package, when the officers approach him. The video doesn't show what led up to the encounter.

The footage was released this week by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who said Grays had been "carrying out his normal duties" as a mail carrier when he got out of his truck and "a vehicle passed by him, almost striking him."

"He made comments to the vehicle, as any New Yorker would," Adams said at a news conference Wednesday. "The occupants of the vehicle stopped, backed up when he was crossing the street delivering the package."

Those occupants were the four plainclothes officers who followed Grays to his delivery stop, according to Adams. The video shows the officers tell Gray to "stop resisting." They then take him away in handcuffs, leaving his mail truck unattended.

Yelling at the unmarked car about driving recklessly "is the only action that Glen did that day that caused those plainclothes officers to stop their vehicle and to show who's the biggest and the baddest, and place handcuffs on an on-duty postal employee who is delivering the U.S. mail," Adams said. "If they would do that to Glen, in his postal uniform, they would do it to any other person of color in this community."

Asked about the incident, the New York Police Department said only that "the matter is under internal review."

Mayor Bill de Blasio "will be in close touch" with New York City Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton "about this incident's investigation and findings," Monica Klein, the mayor's deputy press secretary, said in a statement.

"We expect all members of NYPD to act professionally and respectfully," Klein said.

Grays, who said he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct, is engaged to a New York police officer he met while on his delivery route, the New York Times reported.

"I don't hate cops," Grays told the newspaper. Pointing to his fiancee, he said: "I'm marrying one."

Adams said the incident has "traumatized" Grays, who has never been arrested or received a summons from police before.

Adams said that Grays did nothing wrong in the video, adding: "It's hard not the believe that the only reason Glen was handcuffed is because [of] the color of his skin."

Grays is African American.

The police department in New York has come under fire in the past for policies that critics said disproportionately targeted people of color.

Fatal encounters with New York City police have brought additional scrutiny to the department: In 2014, an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, died after he was taken to the ground by officers and put in what appeared to be a chokehold. The incident was caught on tape and ignited protests across the country, with Garner's last words, "I can't breathe," becoming a rallying cry.

That same year, a rookie officer fatally shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. The officer, Peter Liang, was convicted of manslaughter and fired from the department.

In 1999, an unarmed African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, was gunned down by four New York City police officers in front of his apartment building, killed in a hail of 41 bullets.

postal-worker-glen-grays-and-mother.jpg

Sonya Sapp, the mother of Glen Grays, said this week that she cried when she watched the video of her son's arrest. He is the eldest of her six sons.

"I worry about all my boys, every minute, every second of every day," Sapp said at a news conference Wednesday.

The video begins by showing plainclothes officers approaching Grays, who is holding a package. Not all of the words they exchange are clear.

"You want my ID? My ID is right there inside of the truck," Grays tells the officers, pointing to the vehicle.

The officers tell him to get his ID. Grays is heard telling them he is delivering his postal route. Two officers physically pull him away from the door. The package, having fallen to the ground, is kicked away by an officer.

Grays is told to put his hands behind his back.

"Stop resisting," officers tell him.

"He almost hit me," Grays says. "I'm not resisting."

"Put [your hands] behind your back, or you're going to get f---- hurt," one officer tells him.

Four officers surround Grays, who repeats, frustrated: "I'm not resisting."

"Get off of me," he says.

The four plainclothes officers eventually lead Grays, handcuffed, to their unmarked black car.

An officer frisks him and puts him in the car.

Bystanders yell at the officers throughout the encounter. Some recognize Grays and call out to him by name. The video ends there.

Adams, the borough president, said that after the police vehicle drove away, it rear-ended another car and that Grays, who wasn't placed in a seatbelt, was injured in the crash.

"The driver, who had turned around to taunt him, hit the vehicle in front of them, Mr. Grays said, causing him to bang his shoulder against the front seat. Mr. Grays was then taken to the 71st Precinct station, where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct that will require him to appear in court. He was then released."

Adams denounced the actions of the officers, saying he was deeply troubled by the treatment of a federal employee and that the "major steps" taken by de Blasio and Bratton to reform police practices haven't gotten "down to the street."

"This could have been another Eric Garner situation if Glen had not responded as calmly as he did," Adams said.





Michael Jackson's father thanks son's estate

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joe-jackson.jpgJoseph Jackson has sent a public Thank You note to Michael Jackson's executors. The reason? They sold Michael's part of Sony/ATV Music and the Beatles catalog back to Sony for $750 million. Joe no doubt read that there's a $733 lump sum payout on March 31st. He's probably hoping for a taste. I love how he adds "my wife Katherine and myself"- they haven't lived together for years, he has an illegitimate daughter, she's had divorce papers drawn up several times.

At 87, Joseph Jackson's been recuperating from strokes and a heart attack he had in Brazil on his birthday last year after taking sex drugs in the hopes of getting some action. Am I being too hard on him? Yeah, he beat those kids, particularly Michael. If Michael were alive, the catalog would still not be sold, and Joe wouldn't be getting money from him. Remember, this is the man who brought a Michael Jackson imitator with him to the BET Awards four days after Michael died.

Here's his statement:

On behalf of my wife Katherine and myself, I would like to personally thank the Executors of my Son's Estate for a Job well done. Selling the Music catalog at the high end of today's Market value of over 750 Million US Dollars, has secured many times over the financial future of Michael's children: Prince, Paris and Blanket.

It is every fathers dream to secure the financial well being of his children. That is what drove me to work 2 jobs in my youth while struggling to make it through the Entertainment world.





schwarzenegger-vs-trump-donald.jpgThere's one topic off limits when interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger: Donald Trump.

The former Governor of California walked off-set during an interview on Australia's "Weekend Sunrise" program Saturday morning after being asked to opine on possible Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"This is an interview that I only do about fitness and health, not about politics or my relationships," Schwarzenegger told host Angela Cox before ending the interview.

Schwarzenegger is currently in Australia to promote a series of fitness events, including the Arnold World Strongman Championships.

It's understandable why a journalist would be interested in Arnold's thoughts on Trump. Like Trump, Schwarzenegger is an entertainment personality-turned-Republican politician, and was also named as Trump's replacement on "The Celebrity Apprentice" in September 2015.

Schwarzenegger endorsed Republican candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kashich earlier this month.

Earlier in the interview, Cox had asked Schwarzenegger about his failed marriage to Maria Shriver. In 2011, it was revealed that he had fathered a child with the couple's housekeeper.

When asked how having that news made public changed his life, Schwarzenegger refused to answer.





van-der-sloot-and-natalie-holloway.jpgJoran van der Sloot, the chief suspect in the unsolved 2005 Aruba disappearance of Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway, appears to have made a shocking confession to an undercover reporter about having murdered her.

Dutch convicted killer van der Sloot, who is in a Peru jail for the 2010 murder of a 22-year-old woman there, was captured on an undercover video admitting that he lied to the police about Holloway's death, Radar¬Online.com reported Wednesday.

"I always lied to the police. I never told the truth," said a grinning van der Sloot in the video. He was speaking in Dutch about the Holloway case to his wife and an undercover reporter working for Radar¬Online and the National Enquirer.

"Also, when I was young¬er, I never told everything. The police just never knew what they had to ask me," van der Sloot said.

When asked if he's talking about the Holloway case, van der Sloot replied, "Yes, this is also where I am guilty and I accept everything that I have done."

He added, "I think that was one of the worst police investigations that ever took place."

Van der Sloot was the last person to be seen with 18-year-old Holloway, who vanished on a high school trip to the Caribbean island.





maria-sharapova-tennis.jpgTennis' now-disgraced golden girl, Maria Sharapova has been branded "reckless beyond description" by Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

According to Pound, Maria Sharapova wasamid revelations the Russian was warned five times in December to stop using Meldonium.

Sharapova was contacted on three occasions by the International Tennis Federation and twice by the Women's Tennis Association with warnings Meldonium would be outlawed from January 1.The alerts were sent to all players.

The former world champion continued to use the drug, apparently unaware it had been placed on the banned list after failing to properly open email links.Her ignorance drew sharp condemnation from Pound who says she has no excuses for the failed test.

"Running a $30 million business depends on you staying eligible to play tennis," Pound said.

"You are taking something on a (banned) list. I am sorry, that is a big mistake - of course she should have known.

"She is taking something that is not generally permitted in her country of residence (US) for medical purposes, so she says, so there must be a doctor following this.

"Anytime there is a change to the list, notice is given on 30 September prior to the change. You have October, November, December to get off what you are doing.

"All the tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless beyond description."

Several of Sharapova's former sponsors including Nike and Porsche have distanced themselves from the Russian who retains the support of many of her rivals, including world no.1 Serena Williams.

Pound meanwhile laid into the 28 year old amid uncertainty over whether she had registered use of Meldonium on paperwork accompanying drug testing.

According to Pound "A drug like this over a long period of time is contraindicated. It means you would not take it over a long period of time.

"That is why there was an urge to put the drug on the list. A lot of people were taking it for performance enhancing.

"Most of the drugs of choice for dopers were built for therapeutic reasons - like EPO and others.

"That was supposed to regenerate blood if you had cancer treatment or surgical intervention if you needed to increase blood supply.

"Someone has said: 'Hmm, more oxygen in the blood? Hmm, very interesting. Let's see if we can use it for that purpose.'

"There is a side effect to every drug, somebody must be monitoring this."

Sharapova faces a ban of up to four years, however several tennis identities believe, with a successful defence, the suspension could be as brief as four to six months.

A date for her hearing has yet to be set.





supreme-court-justice-scalia.jpgAlthough investigators have declared that Justice Antonin Scalia had died of natural causes and that there was no foul play involved, mystery continues to shroud his death amid the unusual circumstances before and during the discovery of his body.

The highly respected 79-year-old U.S. Supreme Court associate justice was found dead in his resort hotel room at Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas on Saturday, WND reported.

According to Houston businessman and ranch owner John Poindexter, Scalia was "animated and engaged" during dinner Friday night. He was one of Poindexter's 36 guests that day.

Speaking to the San Antonio Express-News, Poindexter said, "Scalia was seated near me and I had a chance to observe him. He was very entertaining. But about 9 p.m. he said, 'It's been a long day and a long week, I want to get some sleep.'"

Poindexter said he knocked on Scalia's door at about 8:30 the next morning. The door was locked and the judge did not answer. Three hours later, the ranch owner returned from an outing and found Scalia still had not come out of his room.

Poindexter then went to Scalia's room again, unlocked the door and "discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled."

"He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap," he said.

"His hands were sort of almost folded on top of the sheets," Poindexter told the New York Times. "The sheets weren't rumpled up at all."

He said Scalia did not have a pulse and his body was cold. After consulting with a doctor at a hospital in Alpine, Poindexter realised that resuscitation would be pointless.

Authorities in remote West Texas then contacted Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara who pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes even without seeing the body. She also decided not to order an autopsy.A second justice of the peace, who was called but couldn't get to Scalia's body in time, said she would have ordered an autopsy, according to WND.

However, Scalia's family reportedly refused to have the justice's body autopsied.

Guevara admitted that she pronounced Scalia dead by phone, without seeing his body, and just relied on the statements made by law enforcement officials at the scene who assured her "there were no signs of foul play."

She said she also talked to Scalia's physician in Washington, who said that the justice suffered from a host of chronic conditions.

However, Guevara denied a report by a Dallas TV station that quoted her as saying that Scalia had died of "myocardial infarction." In an interview with The Washington Post, she said she meant only that his heart had stopped.

"It wasn't a heart attack," Guevara said. "He died of natural causes."

But despite Guevara's clarification that Scalia did not die of myocardial infarction, WFAA-TV in Dallas said the death certificate would show the cause of the death was a heart attack.





It was just another morning in Cincinnati, Ohio for 29-year-old Charles Harrell when he was making his way back from a early morning coffee run. Filming his trip, Harrell recorded his interaction with police officer Baron Osterman, who can be seen trailing behind Harrell on a bicycle. Sharing that the police office asked if he "had a problem," Harrell noted that this was a normal occurrence in his hometown.

"This is what we have to go through in Cincinnati, harassment" he said. "You can't be a black man and enjoy your morning, because the police are going to harass you in Cincinnati, Ohio."

As the video continues to roll, Osterman approaches Harrell for allegedly crossing against the light. In response, Harrell admits that he was frightened by the officer's trailing of him, stating, "You were scaring me, sir. I don't know why you're following me anyway. You followed me all the way down the street." Osterman then demands that Harrell put his phone and coffee on the ground. Refusing to lay his objects down, Harrell instead offers his I.D., and the officer become physical, warning him: "Don't reach around." Harrell is pinned against the wall and handcuffed.

According to Cincinnati.com, this is not the first time Officer Osterman has been linked to the use of excessive force. He reportedly was involved in the death of a black man, Nathaniel Jones, in 2003 in a local White Castle restaurant. The Citizen Complaint Authority ruled that Osterman and his fellow officer James Pike used excessive force in subduing Jones in 2004. They were both cleared in 2008 and awarded financial compensation.

Harrell was arrested for a pedestrian violation, resisting arrest and possession of a small amount of marijuana. The police department released a statement saying that the incident was up for internal review. Watch the footage of the incident below:





A Christian student has been ejected from his university course for voicing his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook.

Felix Ngole, 38, was expelled from Sheffield University after faculty staff decided he 'may have caused offence to some individuals'.

The postgraduate father of four, who was studying to become a social worker, has been told his actions affect his fitness to practise and was ordered to hand back his student ID and library card.

Mr Ngole was reported after using his private Facebook account to express support for Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions there last September.

Mr Ngole argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an 'abomination'.

Yesterday, he said he was appealing the university's decision because the case had wider consequences for the 'freedom of religion and freedom of expression'.

Claiming he had been censored, he added: 'The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs.

'I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Sharia law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don't think so.'

Following a disciplinary hearing, the student was told he had brought his profession 'into disrepute' and breached 'personal conduct' guidelines. A separate 'fitness to practise' panel later concluded that he was entitled to his opinion about gay marriage but may have 'caused offence to some individuals'.

They said his comment would affect his ability to operate in the social work profession even though he was not yet qualified.





from-plastic-bag-to-real-messi-jersey.jpg"As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Leo Messi believes in the child's right to play and the transforming power of sport in children's lives," UNICEF said. "All the items were signed by Messi himself. Both jerseys carried the message, 'Con mucho carino, Leo.'(Translation: "With much love, Leo"). The football was signed 'Leo.'"

Murtaza was "very happy" and is now asking his family to "only call him Messi," according to his 15-year-old brother Hamayon Ahmadi.

Hamayon told ABC News today he was the one who took the viral photos of his little brother in the plastic bag Messi jersey. He explained that his little brother was "crazy" about Messi at the time and kept asking his father for a Messi jersey.

"My father did not have enough money to buy it," Hamayon said, adding that his father didn't make much as a farmer. "So one day, I just made a jersey from a plastic bag."

Hamayon said soccer is just one of the few ways he and his brother "try and stay happy" despite "constant war and violence" in their village.

"Everyday someone is killed by the brutal Taliban," he said. "This is our life, always war and violence."

Hamayon said no one in his family has been hurt, but many of his friends have been killed by the Taliban.

He added that he hopes his little brother's story will help encourage peace in the country.

"I love my homeland," he said. "But how long do we have to tolerate the violence? A peaceful life should be our right."





support-the-puff.jpgThe fight and backlash against natural hair is real - real disgusting! And once again, yet another story of young women being attacked for their natural tresses has gone mainstream.

According to Wapa.TV, , a high school student at CR Walker in the Bahamas, was told by her principal that her natural hair was "untidy, ungroomed, and unkept," which violates school rules. Deleveaux and several other students are also alleging that they were not only reprimanded for simply rocking their natural curls but suspended and threatened with expulsion if they did not straighten their hair. Although the school denies the allegations, Delveveax's mother took to Facebook to share her daughters story and the outrage she felt over such punishment, explaining that Tayjah's hair "does not affect her brain." "What could possibly be so wrong with this hairstyle?!" she wrote. "SHE IS A BLACK CHILD WITH THICK NATURAL HAIR!!!!"

Once the post went viral, the controversy sparked girls all over the world to use the hashtag #SupportThePuff with a photo of their own beautifully textured tresses in support of women and girls loving their natural hair.

In addition to the millions of hashtags that have surfaced on the internet in the past two days, an online natural hair petition was also created in support of the students. "This petition has been created in support of those students and we encourage you the potential voter to consider the damaging effects of telling our precious darlings that in the year 2016, their hair is not good enough to be worn naturally," the site reads.

Hype Hair also reports that the country's ministry of education responded to the comments regarding the issue, saying, "We are fully cognisant of the sensitivity of this matter and are confident that after review with the school administrator, the school board and the individuals involved, the matter will be amicably resolved."





obama-responds-to-little-girl.jpgPresident Barack Obama on Saturday responded to a video of a little girl bursting into tears when she found out Obama wouldn't be president for much longer.

"But I'm not ready for a new president yet," the little girl, with tears streaming down her face told her grandmother in the video.

In a Facebook comment on the video posted by the girl's grandmother, Caprina Harris, the president told the young girl, who shares a birthday with Obama, that once he left office, he wasn't going anywhere.

"Caprina, tell her to dry her tears, because I'm not going anywhere. Once I leave the White House, I'll still be a citizen just like her," Obama wrote.

"And when she grows up, she can get involved right alongside me. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for her letter, and we'll always get to celebrate our birthdays together!"





louis-farrakhan.jpgLouis Farrakhan closed out the Nation of Islam's annual Saviour's Day convention in Detroit this weekend with a speech comparing sports stars to slaves, attacking police for their treatment of Beyonce and calling in the black community to make Detroit the new Mecca.

'Please don't put up another basketball court and think you're giving back to the back community,' said Farrakhan during his remarks.

'Basketball courts are a training ground for a basketball plantation.'

He then added that spectators watching people play sports are just like men sizing up slaves back in the day.

'Well, that's that what you do in sports. You run up and down the field, show them how swift you are, how clever you are,' he said.

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'And they're sitting there, watching you, timing you: "That's a good one. I'll get him. I'm drafting him."'

Farrakhan also spoke about improving Detroit, and making it a new holy city.

'Detroit can be the new Mecca,' said Farrakhan.

'It can be great, great city. And it's 83 percent black.

'You don't have to move out to the white community. Instead of moving out of the hood, let's make the hood what we desire it to be.'

He then added; 'Look at all the old homes going for five, 10, 15, $20,000.

'All they need is someone to take them over, fix them up, and give them some love.

'Don't go moving off into white neighborhoods. Look at your own neighborhoods and make them hoods we desire.'

Farrakhan, 82, also both praised and attacked police during his speech.

After praising Beyonce for her Super Bowl performance, which paid tribute to the Black Panthers and Farrakhan's mentor Malcolm X, Farrakhan blasted those who police forces that have said that will now ban Beyonce, who he called 'my sweet sister.'

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'You won't offer her police protection, but the FOI will,' said Farrakhan, referring to the Fruit of Islam, which provides the NOI's security.

At the same time he had nothing but kind things to say about Detroit Police Chief James E. Craig, who provided a motorcade for the group's leaders to the convention.

Farrakhan praised rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West as well for speaking out on social issues.

'Say what you feel. Put it out there!' he said.

He attacked both political parties too during his speech, saying; 'You have made no progress under Democrats.

'I don't know why you're such a slave. Figure out what did they do for you, when what you have given to the Democratic Party.'

Republicans meanwhile were accused of writing and passing laws that deny blacks the same opportunities as whites.

And he urged medical marijuana dispensaries to make a bid so that they could legally operate in the city.

'And that's good because medical marijuana could be used to help people who are being addicted to prescription drugs. God made the weed. I used to smoke it, too,' he said.

'But when I smoked it there was a divine reason: "God made it. It has to be good."'

He then began laughing as he told the audience; 'Stop lying to yourself.'





ten-year-old-fashion-designer-ife-ufele.jpgIt's no small feat to break into the competitive world of fashion design, but an even more astounding one to do so at the age of 10. Stacking the deck against her further still, Egypt Ufele, who goes by "Ify," was being bullied at school for her size.

Ify responded in the best possible way: she designed a line of clothing that includes plus-size fashions. The kicker? She's made it to New York Fashion Week - the only child designer to dress curvy models.

"People applaud me and tell me I'm good at fashion," Ify said. They used to tell her very different things, at least at her school in Queens.

"I was bullied and they called me all kinds of names. One time I got stabbed by a pencil," she said.

But Ify was determined to rise above, so she pulled out her grandmother's sewing machine and got to work on what soon became "Chubiline," which she describes as "bringing Africa to America, one design at a time."

She's certainly getting noticed. "When I see her line, I see a future in the fashion industry," said Preston Walker, owner and founder of Small Boutique Fashion.

As for Ify, she's happy to have shared such a positive message. "I turned negative attention into positive attention," she said. Break a leg, Ify!





Florida teen arrested for pretending to be a doctor

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florida-teen-fake-doctor.jpgMalachi Love-Robinson, an 18-year-old from Florida, was arrested on Tuesday for practising medicine without a licence, according to WPBF. He was taken into custody by authorities who ran an undercover operation. Love-Robinson was allegedly advertising himself as a doctor on Facebook, and other similar sites.

The undercover operation was issued by the Palm Beach Narcotics Task Force and the Florida Department of Health. A county official pretended to be a patient receiving "medical advice" from a faux doctor.

"I'm hurt because of all of these allegations," Robinson told WPBF. "This is not the first time I have been accused and I will pursue this, and when I do, you will be the first to know."

Robinson was swiftly arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license, and he was held with a $6,000 bail with no attorney mentioned, according to NBC Washington. His office, New Birth New Life Alternative Medicine and Urgent Care Clinic, allegedly consists of a staff of 'alternative medical professionals."

This isn't the first time, however, the teen has been charged with fraudulent medical practices. Back in January of last year, at 17 he was accused of posing as a doctor at St.Mary's Medical Center. "I requested to shadow physicians," he told reporters at the time. "Next thing I know, cops are there. That's all I know."

On Tuesday afternoon, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office tweeted this:"Just because you saw a season of Grey's Anatomy doesn't mean you could practice medicine.





Apple CEO Tom Cook denounces 'chilling' FBI demands

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apple-ceo-tim-cook.jpgUS magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to help the FBI access the iPhone of one of the shooters in December's San Bernardino attack.

Thr magistrate told Apple to disable the iPhone's auto-erase function that deletes a handset's data after 10 failed passcode attempts, thereby allowing investigators multiple attempts to break the code via electronic means and gain access to the phone's data.

However, the Cupertino company may tell the court it's unable to comply with the request as the nature of its encryption technology makes it impossible to do so. Such a response was used by Apple in a case last October when it told a New York judge it couldn't unlock an iOS device running iOS 8 or higher. The work phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernadino shooter whose handset the FBI is trying to access, runs iOS 9. Apple introduced the tougher system in 2014 with the launch of iOS 8 following Edward Snowden's government surveillance revelations.

Judge Pym's court order marks the latest chapter in the ongoing battle between tech firms and policy makers over privacy and security in the digital world. Apple chief Tim Cook has stated on many occasions his support for unbreakable encryption for users. The CEO vehemently opposes granting investigators access to private data held on Apple's mobile devices, an act the company says would damage customer trust.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported Judge Pym's decision, investigators are hoping the phone's data will reveal information about who Farook and his wife communicated with and places they visited in lead up to the shooting. The pair were apparently careful to physically destroy two other personal handsets, preventing the FBI from extracting any information from them.

Speaking to members of Congress last week, FBI director James Comey touched on the case, saying his investigators had so far been unable to gain access to a phone connected with the San Bernardino shooting.

"It is a big problem for law enforcement armed with a search warrant when you find a device that can't be opened even when a judge says there's probable cause to open it," the FBI chief said, adding, "It affects our counterterrorism work....we still have one of those killers' phones that we have not been able to open, and it's been over two months and we're still working on it."

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, gunned down 14 people on December 2 at an event for Farook's co-workers. The pair later died in a shootout with police. The FBI believes their attack was at least partly inspired by ISIS, as Malik's Facebook page showed a message pledging allegiance to the group.

As for Apple, it has five days to inform the LA court if it has an issue with its ruling.

Late Tuesday, Tim Cook offered a robust response to the ruling in an open letter to Apple customers.

He wrote that while Apple has worked hard with the FBI to help find out more about "this horrible crime," the security service has now asked the company "for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone."

Cook said the FBI wants Apple "to make a new version of the iPhone operating system" that would circumvent important security features to give it access to Farook's phone.

He even goes so far as to describe the implications of the government's demands as "chilling."

The CEO notes, "In the wrong hands, this software - which does not exist today - would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone's physical possession," ending with the message, "We are challenging the FBI's demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications."





Port of Spain mayor apologises

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Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee has apologised for comments "attributed to him" at a news conference yesterday, insisting they were taken out of context. In the same breath, he has agreed that his comments could have been considered out of line.

Following the announcement of the Downtown Carnival results at his City Hall office yesterday, Mayor Tim Kee was asked for his comment on the discovery of the body of a female masquerader at the Queen's Park Savannah.

The statements suggested that the woman's death, later identified as Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya, was in some way linked to a culture of lewdness.

The Mayor says his comments were completely misconstrued, and singled out a headline in a daily newspaper which read "POS Mayor criticises women". Tim Kee said it was a matter of "drawing fire even before the article was read."





pissed-off-plane-passenger.jpgA pissed-off passenger who was not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol aboard a Paris-bound plane took out his frustrations on a fellow flier by urinating on him.

The mile-high waterworks forced the Air Meditarranee flight from Algiers to divert to Lyon when flight attendants pinned the shirtless goon after a free-for-all, the MailOnline reported.

Another man involved in the melee also was removed from the Airbus A321 at Lyon, where the charter flight was delayed for about three hours. The airline, based in Toulouse, uses Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris as its hub for domestic flights and international routes to the Canary Islands, Greece and Lebanon, among other destinations.





Noela Rukundo sat in a car outside her home in Melbourne, Australia, watching as the last few mourners filed out. They were leaving a funeral - her funeral.

Finally, she spotted the man she'd been waiting for. She stepped out of her car, and her husband put his hands on his head in horror.

"Is it my eyes?" she recalled him saying. "Is it a ghost?"

"Surprise! I'm still alive!" she replied.

Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. Five days earlier, he had ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. And they did - well, they told him they did. They even got him to pay an extra few thousand dollars for carrying out the crime.

Now here was his wife, standing before him. In an interview with the BBC on Thursday, Rukundo recalled how he touched her shoulder to find it unnervingly solid. He jumped. Then he started screaming.

"I'm sorry for everything," he wailed.

But it was far too late for apologies; Rukundo called the police. The husband, Balenga Kalala, ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (the ABC).

The happy ending - or as happy as can be expected to a saga in which a man tries to have his wife killed - was made possible by three unusually principled hit men, a helpful pastor and one incredibly gutsy woman: Rukundo.

Here is how she pulled it off.

Rukundo's ordeal began almost exactly a year ago, when she flew from her home in Melbourne with her husband, Kalala, to attend a funeral in her native Burundi. Her stepmother had died, and the service left her saddened and stressed. She retreated to her hotel room in Bujumbura, the capital, early in the evening; despondent after the events of the day, she lay down in bed. Then her husband called.

"He told me to go outside for fresh air," she told the BBC.

But the minute Rukundo stepped out of her hotel, a man charged forward, pointing a gun right at her.

"Don't scream," she recalled him saying. "If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead."

Rukundo, terrified, did as she was told. She was ushered into a car and blindfolded so she couldn't see where she was being taken. After 30 or 40 minutes, the car came to a stop, and Rukundo was pushed into a building and tied to a chair.

She could hear male voices, she told the ABC. One asked her, "You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?"

"What are you talking about?" Rukundo demanded.

"Balenga sent us to kill you."

They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.

"You're a fool," they told her.

There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband's voice.

"Kill her," he said.

And Rukundo fainted.

Rukundo had met her husband 11 years earlier, right after she arrived in Australia from Burundi, according to the BBC. He was a recent refugee from Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them get on their feet. Since Kalala already knew English, their social worker often recruited him to translate for Rukundo, who spoke Swahili.

They fell in love, moved in together in the Melbourne suburb of Kings Park, and had three children (Rukundo also had five kids from a previous relationship). She learned more about her husband's past - he had fled a rebel army that had ransacked his village, killing his wife and young son. She also learned more about his character.

"I knew he was a violent man," Rukundo told the BBC. "But I didn't believe he can kill me."

But, it appeared, he could.

Rukundo came to in the strange building somewhere near Bujumbura. The kidnappers were still there, she told the ABC.

They weren't going to kill her, the men then explained - they didn't believe in killing women, and they knew her brother. But they would keep her husband's money and tell him that she was dead. After two days, they set her free on the side of a road, but not before giving her a cellphone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment, according to Australia's The Age newspaper.

"We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened," Rukundo said she was told before the gang members drove away.

Shaken, but alive and doggedly determined, Rukundo began plotting her next move. She sought help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, she told the BBC, and explained to him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home to her neighborhood near Melbourne.

Meanwhile, her husband had told everyone she had died in a tragic accident and the entire community mourned her at her funeral at the family home. On the night of Feb. 22, 2015, just as the widower Kalala waved goodbye to neighbors who had come to comfort him, Rukundo approached him, the very man whose voice she'd heard over the phone five days earlier, ordering that she be killed.

"I felt like somebody who had risen again," she told the BBC.

Though Kalala initially denied all involvement, Rukundo got him to confess to the crime during a phone conversation that was secretly recorded by police, according to The Age.

"Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, 'Why I did that thing?' later," he said, as he begged her to forgive him.

Kalala eventually pleaded guilty to the scheme. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by a judge in Melbourne.

"Had Ms. Rukundo's kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother," Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, according to the ABC. "It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo."

Rukundo said that Kalala tried to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man - an accusation she denies.

But her trials are not yet over. Rukundo told the ABC she's gotten backlash from Melbourne's Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police. Someone left threatening messages for her, and she returned home one day to find her back door broken. She now has eight children to raise alone and has asked the Department of Human Services to help her find a new place to live.

And lying in bed at night, Kalala's voice still comes to her: "Kill her, kill her," she told the BBC. "Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers."

Despite all that, "I will stand up like a strong woman," she said. "My situation, my past life? That is gone. I'm starting a new life now."





Common myths about global warming

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global-warming-myth.jpgMYTH 1: Global temperatures are rising at a rapid, unprecedented rate.

FACT: The HadCRUT3 surface temperature index, produced by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, shows warming to 1878, cooling to 1911, warming to 1941, cooling to 1964, warming to 1998 and cooling through 2011. The warming rate from 1964 to 1998 was the same as the previous warming from 1911 to 1941. Satellites, weather balloons and ground stations all show cooling since 2001. The mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8 C over the 20th century is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas ("heat islands"), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas ("land use effects"). Two science teams have shown that correcting the surface temperature record for the effects of urban development would reduce the reported warming trend over land from 1980 by half. There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.


MYTH 2: The "hockey stick" graph proves that the earth has experienced a steady, very gradual temperature decrease for 1000 years, then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT: Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the 17th Century the "average global temperature" has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 - 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

The "hockey stick", a poster boy of both the UN's IPCC and Canada's Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well. It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that. See here for more information.

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MYTH 3: Human produced carbon dioxide has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus causing most of the earth's warming of the last 100 years.

FACT: Carbon dioxide levels have indeed changed for various reasons, human and otherwise, just as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by about 120 part per million (ppm), most of which is likely due to human-caused CO2 emissions. The RATE of growth during this century has been about 0.55%/year. However, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores dated over many thousands of years, CO2 levels move up and down AFTER the temperature has done so, and thus are the RESULT OF, NOT THE CAUSE of warming. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth's oceans expel more CO2 as a result.


MYTH 4: CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.

FACT: Greenhouse gases form about 3% of the atmosphere by volume. They consist of varying amounts, (about 97%) of water vapour and clouds, with the remainder being gases like CO2, CH4, Ozone and N2O, of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Hence, CO2 constitutes about 0.04% of the atmosphere. While the minor gases are more effective as "greenhouse agents" than water vapour and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their sheer volume and - in the end - are thought to be responsible for 75% of the "Greenhouse effect". (See here) At current concentrations, a 3% change of water vapour in the atmosphere would have the same effect as a 100% change in CO2.

Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention these important facts.


MYTH 5: Computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming.

FACT: The computer models assume that CO2 is the primary climate driver, and that the Sun has an insignificant effect on climate. Using the output of a model to verify its initial assumption is committing the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. Computer models can be made to roughly match the 20th century temperature rise by adjusting many input parameters and using strong positive feedbacks. They do not "prove" anything. Also, computer models predicting global warming are incapable of properly including the effects of the sun, cosmic rays and the clouds. The sun is a major cause of temperature variation on the earth surface as its received radiation changes all the time, This happens largely in cyclical fashion. The number and the lengths in time of sunspots can be correlated very closely with average temperatures on earth, e.g. the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Varying intensity of solar heat radiation affects the surface temperature of the oceans and the currents. Warmer ocean water expels gases, some of which are CO2. Solar radiation interferes with the cosmic ray flux, thus influencing the amount ionized nuclei which control cloud cover.


MYTH 6: The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has proven that man-made CO2 causes global warming.

FACT: In a 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft approved and accepted by a panel of scientists. Here they are:

1) "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases."

2) "No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man-made causes"

To the present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.


MYTH 7: CO2 is a pollutant.

FACT: This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is. CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow more vigorously. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government has included CO2 with a number of truly toxic and noxious substances listed by the Environmental Protection Act, only as their means to politically control it. The graph here shows changes in vegetative cover due to CO2 fertilization between 1982 and 2010 (Donohue et al., 2013 GRL). A major study here shows that CO2 fertilization will likely increase the value of crop production between now and 2050 by an additional $11.7 trillion ($US 2014). See here for more discussion.


MYTH 8: Global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

FACT: There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports such claims on a global scale. Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, are sometimes claimed to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development value, and ever more media reporting. See here for graphs and discussion of extreme weather.


MYTH 9: Receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of man-made global warming.

FACT: Glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It's normal. Besides, changes to glacier's extent is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.


MYTH 10: The earth's poles are warming and the polar ice caps are breaking up and melting.

FACT: The earth is variable. The Arctic Region had warmed from 1966 to 2005, due to cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean and soot from Asia darkening the ice, but there has been no warming since 2005. Current temperatures are the same as in 1943. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice cap thicknesses in both Greenland and Antarctica are increasing. North polar temperature graph here. South polar temperature graph here. See here for sea ice extent.


Source: http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=3





Former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores is dead

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salvadoran-president.jpgSAN SALVADOR - Former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores died Saturday in a private hospital in the capital after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, his party confirmed.

Flores, 56, had been in a coma since undergoing emergency surgery.

Flores, who led El Salvador from 1999 to 2004, was under house arrest on charges of embezzlement and illegal enrichment. He was accused of diverting more than $15 million, which had been donated by Taiwan to help the victims of earthquakes in 2001. A court says $10 million of that went to the party backing him and the remainder to him.

The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, better known as ARENA, which carried Flores to the presidency, mourned his death and said it would support his family. Current Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez also offered his condolences through his official Twitter account.

Doctors last week said Flores had suffered irreversible neurological damage and that his chances of survival were minimal.

Flores had suffered from thrombosis, the clotting of blood in veins. He was hospitalized for it in October 2014. He was hospitalized again Dec. 22, 2015, for an internal hemorrhage.

Flores had a meteoric rise to the presidency, but once there gained a reputation for being arrogant and distant from his people. He became El Salvador's first president to be charged and put on trial for acts of corruption during his time in office.

Born to a well-off, conservative and anti-communist family, Flores rose quickly through the ranks of Arena, which ruled El Salvador between 1989 and 2009. He started in the government of Arena's first president, Alfredo Cristiani, in 1989, when he was still in his 20s.

Just a few days into his new position, a guerrilla attack killed his wife's father. In the 1990s, he served as an Arena legislator and in 1997 was elected president of the legislature.

He won the presidency in 1999, beating former guerrilla commander Facundo Guardado.

Flores took office at the age of 39 as Arena's third consecutive president. He left office in 2004.

During his time in power, El Salvador was hit with successive natural disasters.

Earthquakes in January and February 2001 killed more than 1,000 people and left 200,000 homeless. Later a severe drought destroyed coffee crops.

The corruption scandal and alleged theft of the earthquake-relief funds sealed his reputation with many. The switch to the U.S. dollar as the country's currency also received a huge popular backlash.





female-doctor-attacks-cab-driver-photo-1.jpgThe Florida doctor captured on video lashing out at an Uber driver in downtown Miami says she is ashamed of her actions and says she and her family have been targeted since the video's release.

"I see a person that is not me. I'm ashamed," Anjali Ramkissoon said today on "Good Morning America" of the video that shows her berating the driver of another customer's Uber. "I still can't watch the entire video."

"Every time someone brings it up or tries to ask me, 'What was happening at this point?,' I just, I can't," she said.

Ramkissoon, a fourth-year neurology resident, can be seen in the video berating the driver, trying to hit him, and throwing items out of the window of the passenger seat, and ultimately trying to knee the driver.

female-doctor-attacks-cab-driver-photo-2.jpg

"In the moment I was just so angry. I wasn't really thinking and if I could take it back I would," Ramkissoon said. "There is absolutely no excuse for my actions. I am ashamed. I am so sorry. I've hurt so many people with this."

Ramkisson says her father was admitted to the hospital that day and, just minutes before the incident, she and her boyfriend of two years had split.

"I was extremely stressed out that day," she said. "It was probably one of the worst days of my life and I was caught at my lowest moment. Nothing like this has ever happened."

"I made a huge mistake, the biggest mistake of my life, and that person is not me," Ramkissoon said.

Yes," Ramkissoon replied when asked if she'd been drinking. "I'd actually driven to that place that night but I did not want to drive my car home so I left my car there and that was why I was trying to get the Uber to get home."

The customer who ordered the Uber car that Ramkissoon tried to get in filmed the heated incident on a cellphone and posted the video on YouTube.

Ramkissoon, who can be heard telling the Uber driver, "I'm getting really like belligerent right now," says she was cyberbullied after the video's release.

"My family was targeted. Their address was leaked," she said. "I've received messages telling me that I should kill myself, that I should have been raped that night."

"I think it's ridiculous and I'm here to own up to what I did," Ramkissoon said. "I'm taking responsibility for it and I'm asking for forgiveness."

The Uber driver declined to press charges against Ramkissoon, for which she says she is "grateful." Uber told ABC News they've suspended Ramkissoon's account while the incident is investigated.

"We actually settled while we were out there. I paid for the damages and I apologized to him and he accepted my apology," Ramkissoon said. "I'm so thankful that he did not press charges, that he did not have me arrested."

Ramkissoon has been placed on administrative leave and removed from all clinical duties, by her employer, the Jackson Health System. An internal investigation is underway to "determine if any disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination," a hospital spokesperson told ABC News last week.





al-gore-climate-change.jpgWatch out world, and we are sorry if you had not realised before reading this, the world is ending today. That's because today is the day that climate change entrepreneur, and former US Vice President, Al Gore warned us would be the beginning of a global emergency.

Gore told his supporters a decade ago that the world had until 27th January 2016 to end its addiction to fossil fuels or the it would come to an end. Gore did not specify what householders might expect to happen today, but he was clear that this would be the end. ...





obama-killer-banner-moscow.jpgEarly this morning in Moscow, a 30-foot flag featuring Barack Obama was raised to the top floor of a building across from the U.S. Embassy. In blood red letters, the word "KILLER" is stamped beneath the face of the president. The evening before, a laser display projected "Obama Killer #1" onto the U.S. Embassy itself.

The party responsible for such anti-American productions is the Moscow-based "Glavplakat" art society, who issued a statement saying the banner was in response to the "U.S. Government's plans to invade the territory of yet another sovereign state."

"The word 'killer' defines the 44th U.S. President, and is given to him because of his decision to send the infamous 101st Airborne Division into the Syrian conflict," states Glavplakat. "Let's keep in mind that this division carried out practically every U.S. military invasion in the last decade."

The move to send the 101st Airborne Division to Syria and Iraq was announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, on January 25.

Also known as "The Screaming Eagles," the 101st Airborne Division is armed with 300 helicopters, including three battalions of 'Apache Attack' Boeing AH-64s. The decision to employ The Screaming Eagles only adds fuel to the fire that burns between Moscow and Washington-leading Russia's Foreign Minister to announce at a press conference yesterday that, "there will be no business as usual between Russia and the West."





japanese-haitian-tennis-teen.jpgAfter routinely dismantling 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the 3rd round of the Australian Open, 18-year-old Naomi Osaka, a self-described "child of the internet," was talking to reporters about Pokemon.

Asked about her tennis aspirations, Osaka smiled and declared confidently, "To be the very best, like no one ever was."

"That's a Pokemon quote, I'm sorry," she clarified, laughing. "That's the Pokemon theme song. But, yeah, to be the very best, and go as far as I can go."

Between her casual off-court banter with reporters and her cool domination in her first two matches, Osaka has been all the rage of the Australian Open. Even Serena Williams is gushing.

"She's really young and really aggressive," Williams said earlier this week. "She's a really good, talented player. Very dangerous."

Osaka is currently ranked 127th in the world and only qualified for the main women's draw by winning all three of her qualifying matches. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, she plays under the Japanese flag but trains and lives permanently in Florida, where she is coached by her dad.

Nevertheless, at the Australian Open she's taken to bowing to the Japanese fans that have turned out in droves to cheer for her and wave the Japanese flag during her matches.

"Yeah, it's the only part of my Japanese side," she said of the bow after the Svitolina match. "Kind of because there were a lot of people cheering for me, and I kind of wanted to show how grateful I was. I always think that they're surprised that I'm Japanese. So the fact that there was like Japanese flags and stuff, it was, like, really touching."

Osaka may be virtually unknown to the casual tennis fan, but her impressive play over the first two rounds isn't much of a surprise to those paying attention. As a 16-year-old, Osaka upset former world no. 1 Samantha Stosur with aggressive and powerful shots, including a 100-mile forehand.

During her second round of the Australian Open, she used her big serve to frustrate Svitolina. Svitolina was visibly frustrated throughout the match, while Osaka remained staunchly emotionless.

"Just genetically my face is like this. I'm sorry," she told reporters afterwards. "I feel like there's something wrong with me because I don't get excited or anything that much."

Her on-court Poker Face, of course, doesn't mean that she isn't nervous.

"In my brain I'm going, 'Oh, my God, why' about like 90 per cent of the time," Osaka said. "But, you know, I feel like I try to smile sometimes just so I don't throw my racquet."

As in all sports, tennis players regularly hide behind empty cliches about hard work and taking things one day at a time, which is why it's especially refreshing to hear Osaka speak so honestly to reporters. Her sense of humor, she said, is the product of Youtube.

"I feel like I'm a child of the Internet, and the Internet has raised me, and its jokes might not be appropriate at certain times," she acknowledged.

Osaka will have her work cut out for her in the 3rd round, where she will face Victoria Azarenka, the hard-hitting Belarusian who has dropped only three games through her first two rounds. But Osaka isn't worried.

"I never feel pressure from playing someone that's supposed to be like better than me," she said. "Sort of."





female-doctor-attacks-cab-driver-photo-1.jpgA Miami woman who was filmed attacking an Uber driver and throwing the man's belongings into the street before walking away has been identified as a local doctor.

Anjali Ramkissoon, a fourth-year neurology resident with Jackson Health System, reportedly got into an Uber without a reservation on Sunday night and when the driver asked her to leave became angry and belligerent.

The video shows her punching and kicking the man, who eventually walks away, and then getting into the passenger seat of the vehicle and throwing his mail, cell phone, electronics and other devices and possessions out into the street. At one point she also yells at him; 'Get the f*** in the car you piece of f****** disgusting s***.'

The Miami Herald reports that Ramkissoon has now been 'removed from all clinical duties'.

Her employer said in a statement; 'Jackson has launched an internal investigation.

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'The outcome of the investigation will determine whether any disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including termination.'

The video footage was taken by Juan Cinco, who had ordered the car to take him home from the Mary Brickell Village in Miami, Florida, on Sunday night. He later uploaded the clip to YouTube.

Information posted with the clip explains Ramkissoon, who was dressed in tight white shorts and a red top, came 'out of nowhere' and climbed into the backseat of the Uber.

When she refused to get out, Mr Cinco and his friend told the driver to cancel their ride and offered to book another ride home.

He said the driver pretended to phone the police, asking them to remove the woman from his car, which prompted Ramkissoon to reach into the front seat, grab his keys and start to walk away.

This was the point at which Cinco started filming, he said.

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In his YouTube post, Mr Cinco writes that the police arrived and had to remove Ramkissoon from a taxi she had hailed in an attempt to leave.

He continued: 'Once in handcuffs, she then tried kicking some of the police officers on the scene.

'It was only when they put her in the police car that she started crying, apologizing, and claiming that she would lose her medical license (she claimed to be a neurologist) if she got arrested.'

Mr Cinco said the Uber driver was 'too good of a person' and decided to take a cash settlement - 'only enough to pay his cellphone bill and maybe his cable bill' - rather than take legal action.

Miami police spokeswoman Frederica Burden confirmed officers had responded to the scene but said there was no report and there would be no investigation.

Uber also released a statement after the incident, saying; 'Uber expects everyone associated with the platform - both drivers and riders - to conduct themselves with a shared level of respect and common courtesy, and all forms of harassment and abuse are not tolerated.

'We have suspended the rider account of this individual as we investigate the incident.





First case of Zika virus hits the US

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zika-virus-photo-1.jpgAs if travelers didn't have enough to worry about with mosquitos spreading diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile, now there's a new virus threatening our health: Zika virus.

Just two days after the CDC issued a travel alert advising pregnant women to consider avoiding areas including Brazil, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico where this once rare virus is now rapidly spreading, the first U.S. case of a baby born with Zika-related microcephaly has been confirmed in Hawaii. It is believed that the baby's mother was infected while pregnant in Brazil last year.

Mounting evidence has linked Zika infections in pregnant women to the birth defect microcephaly, a potentially deadly underdevelopment of a baby's brain, also resulting in abnormally small head size. Richard Kuhn, head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University tells Yahoo Travel that "Once a pregnant woman is infected, the placenta can also become infected, causing an infection in the brain of the fetus. It is still unclear whether there is a particular trimester during which fetuses are the most vulnerable," says Kuhn.

The most common symptoms of Zika, a flavivirus related to Dengue, Yellow Fever, and West Nile, according to Richard Kuhn, Head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, include flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, headache), as well as rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.





A man died in a French hospital Sunday after taking part in an experimental drug trial for a painkiller, and five other participants remain hospitalized after one of France's most troubling medical incidents.

French prosecutors have launched a manslaughter investigation into the unusual case, which shined a spotlight on the practice of testing drugs on paid, healthy human volunteers. Scores of others were also given the drug. The Portuguese pharmaceutical company testing the drug, Bial, said in a statement that it's working with health authorities to determine what caused "this tragic and unfortunate situation."

The Rennes University Hospital in western France announced the death in a statement, but didn't identify the patient, who had already been in a state of brain death.

He was among six male volunteers between 28 and 49 hospitalized last week after volunteering to take the drug. French health authorities have said three of the hospitalized volunteers face possible brain damage.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the investigation was expanded after the death to include potential manslaughter charges.

The trial, which began Jan. 7, involved 90 healthy volunteers who were given the experimental drug in varying doses at different times.

The hospital said it has contacted the 84 other volunteers exposed to the new painkiller. Ten of those volunteers underwent medical exams Saturday, but the hospital found no anomalies, the statement says. It said another five will have medical exams closer to their homes, but didn't say whether the others are being monitored or tested.

The drug was given orally to healthy volunteers as part of a Phase 1 trial by Biotrial, a drug evaluation company based in Rennes, on behalf of Bial.





David Bowie Was The Original Hot Mug Shot Guy

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david-bowie-mug-shot.jpgBack in the day, when the word "viral" referred to the spread of disease and nothing more, David Bowie took a mug shot.

It was and is the perfect mug shot. In it, Bowie's style is impeccable. His hair is combed back or hanging to the side, just so. His jawline, apparently chiseled by the Gods. His eyes, peering into your soul.

The photos were taken in March 1976 in Rochester, New York. After playing a show in the area, he was arrested at a hotel along with Iggy Pop and two others for having a bunch of weed on them. Though they were charged with possession of marijuana, they never went to jail, and Bowie again played in the western New York state city.

In short, David Bowie was cooler and better-looking than you, and he was the original hot mug shot guy, too. R.I.P.





Remembering David Bowie

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david-bowie-remembered.jpgStyle icon and legendary musician David Bowie died at the age of 69 on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer. The star's death led to an outpouring of love for the singer from his wife, Iman, his son and fans alike. Bowie, who released a final album earlier this month, was a groundbreaking figure throughout his career, and will be deeply missed.





brooklyn-teen-victims-mom-boyfriend.jpg

A Brooklyn teen has been charged with the the gruesome murder of her mother, and her mother's boyfriend.

According to reports, 15-year-old Destiny Garcia confessed during questioning to the double murder of Rosie Sanchez, 38 and her mother's boyfriend, 40-year-old Anderson Nunez.

Police say the bodies were found at about 6:30p.m. Monday (January 4) in her Sheepshead Bay apartment. Sanchez had been shot multiple times in the chest and was found sitting in the chair, while Nunez, who was shot and stabbed, was found on the living room floor. Destiny allegedly lived with the corpses for several days, and even went to Times Square to celebrate New Years Eve.

Initially, Garcia told police she murdered the pair because she was sexually abused by Nunez, and that her mom had turned a blind eye to the repeated attacks, sources said.

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But on Monday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the girl changed her story, claiming she was actually being beaten by her mother, and the boyfriend was the one who wouldn't help.

"She said basically it was the mother that actually was abusive to her, physically abusive to her, in the past," Boyce said. "We don't believe this was at all an act of self-defense. She went and got a gun.... That's not consistent with someone (acting) in self-defense."

Garcia's close relative and confidant Jason Valentin, first cousin of the slain mom, said he doesn't believe any of it.

"What she's saying, I don't think is true," said Jason Valentin, 37. "It sounds like someone coached her to say that."

Valentin said he called police and drove Garcia from Sunset Park to the 61st Precinct stationhouse after she told him what she had done.

"It was hard for me, but at the end of the day, whether family or not, a crime was committed," he said. "Whoever is responsible, even if it's her, they have to pay for what they did."

The teen kept the killings and her alleged role in them secret for nearly a week - and went shopping and then to Times Square for New Year's Eve three days afterward, sources said.

On Monday, the girl gave a confession to cops at the stationhouse in the presence of her father, police said. She's being prosecuted as an adult and was arraigned Monday night.

Garcia's mom died of a gunshot wound to the head and a stab wound in the chest, the medical examiner said. Nunez was stabbed in the head, neck and torso.

Sources said Garcia told police she grabbed a gun out of a drawer in her mother's bedroom and fired at least two bullets into Sanchez. Then she allegedly fired the gun at Nunez. It's not known who the gun belonged to or how long it had been there.





Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran

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saudi-arabia.jpgSaudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters ransacked its embassy in Tehran to protest the execution of a Shiite cleric whose killing has sparked fury.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made the announcement at a news conference in Riyadh, and said Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The diplomatic fallout come as Iran's supreme leader said Saudi Arabia would face "divine revenge" for executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and as Western nations voiced concern about escalating sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Muslims.

Saudi Arabia "is breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran and requests that all members of the Iranian diplomatic mission leave... within 48 hours," Jubeir said.

"Iran's history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction," he said, and accused Tehran of seeking to "destabilise" the region.

On Saturday, a mob attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate in second city Mashhad amid protests at Nimr's execution.

Jubeir said Saudi authorities had asked their Iranian counterparts to ensure security at the embassy but they did not cooperate and failed to protect it.

Nimr, 56, was a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia, where Shiites have complained of marginalisation.

He was put to death along with 46 other people, Shiite activists and convicted Sunni militants who the Saudi interior ministry says were involved in Al-Qaeda attacks that killed dozens in 2003 and 2004. Some were beheaded and others were shot by firing squad.

Iran has said it arrested 44 people over the embassy attacks, and President Hassan Rouhani said the demonstrators were "radicals" and the assaults "totally unjustifiable".

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned Nimr's execution, saying "God will not forgive" Saudi Arabia for putting him to death.

"It will haunt the politicians of this regime," he said.





zika-virus.jpgSAO PAULO, Brazil - A little-known virus spread by mosquitoes is causing one of the most alarming health crises to hit Brazil in decades, officials here warn: thousands of cases of brain damage, in which babies are born with unusually small heads.

Many pregnant women across Brazil are in a panic. The government, under withering criticism for not acting sooner, is urging them to take every precaution to avoid mosquito bites. One official even suggested that women living in areas where mosquitoes are especially prevalent postpone having children.

"If she can wait, then she should," said Claudio Maierovitch, director of the department of surveillance of communicable diseases at Brazil's health ministry.

The alarm stems from a huge surge in babies with microcephaly (my-kroh-SEF-uh-lee), a rare, incurable condition in which their heads are abnormally small. Brazilian officials have registered at least 2,782 cases this year, compared with just 147 in 2014 and 167 the year before.

A woman in Brazil holds her daughter, who was born with microcephaly. An increase in the disease - a form of brain damage - has been blamed on the Zika virus.Global Health: Zika Virus, a Mosquito-Borne Infection, May Threaten Brazil's NewbornsDEC. 28, 2015

At least 40 of the infants have recently died, and some Brazilian researchers warn that cases could multiply in the months ahead. Those babies who survive may face impaired intellectual development for the rest of their lives.

Brazilian researchers say that an obscure mosquito-borne virus that made its way to the country only recently - Zika - is to blame for the sudden increase in brain damage among infants.

But other virologists caution that more testing is needed to prove the dangerous link between the virus and brain damage, leaving the full extent of the threat to the country, and the hemisphere, unclear.

"Why this may have happened in Brazil and not elsewhere is at this stage difficult to answer," said Alain Kohl, a virologist at the University of Glasgow who studies Zika.

"Perhaps it was never properly registered in other areas, or the situation in Brazil is indeed different," he added, citing the possibility that the link between Zika and microcephaly could be related to particular strains of the virus.

The Zika virus has already reached several countries in Latin America, including Mexico, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that it could spread in parts of the United States as well. There have already been cases diagnosed in the United States, in travelers who visited affected countries, and the C.D.C. expects these instances to increase.

"I cried for a month when I learned how God is testing us," said Gleyse Kelly da Silva, 27, a toll road attendant in the city of Recife in northeast Brazil, describing how an ultrasound exam had detected microcephaly in the seventh month of her pregnancy with her daughter, Maria Giovanna, born in October.

Just a few months earlier, Ms. da Silva had sought medical attention after experiencing some of Zika's symptoms: fever, joint pain and a red rash.

"I had never heard of Zika or microcephaly," said Ms. da Silva, the mother of three other children. "Now I just pray that my daughter can endure life with this misfortune."

No one knows precisely when the Zika virus made the leap to Brazil from its place of origin in Africa. Some researchers say it could have arrived during the 2014 World Cup, when Brazil welcomed travelers from around the globe. Others think the virus may have come during a canoe race weeks later, when paddlers from French Polynesia, the site of a recent Zika outbreak, arrived in Rio de Janeiro.

Researchers, alert to the rapid increase in cases, say that Zika's spread to Brazil reflects how easily viruses are jumping from one part of the planet to another.

They are particularly worried that the disease is wreaking havoc in a region where the population has not encountered it before, and that climate change may be allowing viruses like Zika to thrive in new domains.

The Brazilian government has stopped short of officially advising women not to get pregnant, but confusion and fear are spreading along with the virus.

"The situation is incredibly frightening," said Andreza Mireli Silva, 22, a worker in a shoe factory in Sergipe State in northeast Brazil who is seven months pregnant. She said she was trying to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long pants despite the heat of the Southern Hemisphere summer and applying insect repellent every three hours.

Zika, named for the forest in Uganda where scientists discovered it in the 1940s, often goes unnoticed in the people it infects and was not considered especially life-threatening before spreading to Brazil.





Bill Cosby charged in sexual assault case

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cosby-charged.jpgThe authorities in Pennsylvania announced criminal charges on Wednesday against the entertainer Bill Cosby stemming from a woman's accusation that he drugged and sexually abused her at his home in a suburb north of Philadelphia, in 2004.

Kevin Steele, Montgomery County's district attorney-elect, said that Mr. Cosby faces a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault. He said the investigation involved a "relationship" between Mr. Cosby and the woman, Andrea Constand, that came about from her work with the basketball team at Temple University, Mr. Cosby's alma mater.

Mr. Cosby became a "mentor" and "friend" to Ms. Constand, Mr. Steele said, and at one point she went to his home in Cheltenham Township. According to the accusations, Mr. Cosby urged her to take pills and drink wine until she was unable to move, after which he committed the assault.

"The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed," Mr. Steele said. He added: "A person in that state cannot give consent."

The criminal charges come after a year of tumult in his career as dozens of women came forward to accuse Mr. Cosby, who was once revered as a father figure and popular moralist, of sexually abusing them. Many of those women on Wednesday cheered the decision to prosecute him.

The entertainer, who has long denied the charges and had never before been criminally charged, had only recently spoken of how he had been harmed by the accusations as universities and even Disney World retracted honors they had bestowed on him.





Regular flights between US and Cuba to be resumed

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us-cuba-flights.jpgThe United States announced Thursday the resumption of regular flights to and from Cuba, the latest step in a historic thaw in relations.

"On December 16, the United States and Cuba reached a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries," the State Department said in a statement.

The announcement came a year to the day after presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations after a half century of enmity rooted in the Cold War. The countries actually did so in July and have opened embassies in each other's capitals.

The aviation accord reached Wednesday brought the countries yet a bit closer to each other as they move to eliminate restrictions on trade and travel and treat each other like countries without a historic gripe.

But for now the US trade embargo on Cuba remains in place. So does a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba for the purpose of tourism, the State Department recalled in Thursday's statement.

Still, "a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our two countries," the statement said.





man-who-raised-aids-drugs-arrested.jpgA boyish-looking entrepreneur who became the new face of corporate greed when he jacked up the price of a lifesaving drug fiftyfold was led away in handcuffs by the FBI on unrelated fraud charges Thursday in a scene that left more than a few Americans positively gleeful.

Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old former hedge fund manager and relentless self-promoter who has called himself "the world's most eligible bachelor" on Twitter, was arrested in a gray hoodie and taken into federal court in Brooklyn, where he pleaded not guilty. He was released on $5 million bail.

If convicted, he could get up to 20 years in prison. He left court without speaking to reporters. His attorneys had no immediate comment.

Online, many people took delight in his arrest, calling him a greedy, arrogant "punk" who gave capitalism a bad name and got what was coming to him. Some cracked jokes about lawyers jacking up their hourly fees 5,000 percent to defend him in his hour of need.

Prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2014, Shkreli lost some of his hedge fund investors' money through bad trades, then looted Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company where he was CEO, for $11 million to pay back his disgruntled clients.

Shkreli "engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

Shkreli was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy. A second defendant, lawyer Evan Greebel, of Scarsdale, New York, was charged with conspiracy and also pleaded not guilty.

In September, Shkreli was widely vilified after a drug company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, spent $55 million for the U.S. rights to sell a medicine called Daraprim and promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

The 62-year-old drug is the only approved treatment for toxoplasmosis, a rare parasitic disease that mainly strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.

The move sparked outrage on the presidential campaign trail and helped prompt a Capitol Hill hearing on drug prices. Headlines called the Brooklyn-born Shkreli such thing as "America's most hated man," the "drug industry's villain" and "biotech's bad boy" - and those were just some of the more printable names.

Hillary Clinton called it price-gouging and said the company's behavior was "outrageous." Donald Trump called Shkreli "a spoiled brat." Bernie Sanders returned a donation from Shkreli.





imf-christine-lagarde.jpgInternational Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has been ordered to stand trial in France over her role in a 2008 arbitration ruling that handed 400 million euros ($434 million) to French businessman Bernard Tapie.

Lagarde was French finance minister at the time. She has denied wrongdoing, and after years of investigation, a prosecutor in September argued that the case against her should be dropped.

But the Court of Justice of the Republic on Thursday announced it has decided to send her to trial. It is a special court for trials of government ministers.

Her lawyer, Yves Repiquet, said on i-Tele television that he plans to appeal the decision.





bill-cosby.jpgBOSTON (AP) - Bill Cosby fired back Monday at seven women who are suing him for defamation, accusing them of making false accusations of sexual misconduct for financial gain.

In a countersuit filed in federal court, Cosby alleges the women made "malicious, opportunistic, and false and defamatory accusations" against him. Cosby is seeking monetary damages "to the maximum extent permitted by law."

The women have claimed Cosby defamed them by allowing his representatives to brand them as liars after they went public with allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct dating back decades.

In his counterclaim, the comedian says the women have "engaged in a campaign to assassinate" his reputation and character. He says their campaign is "nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from him."

The women suing Cosby in U.S. District Court in Springfield are among approximately 50 who have come forward with allegations of rape or unwanted sexual contact over the last year. Cosby has a home in Shelburne in western Massachusetts.

Joseph Cammarata, an attorney representing the women, said Cosby's countersuit "stinks of retaliation."

"To suggest that these ladies - each and every one of them - got together and orchestrated a campaign against Mr. Cosby is hard to fathom," Cammarata said.

Cosby's countersuit cites his work as an entertainer and philanthropist, saying Cosby "prides himself in the legacy and reputation he has earned throughout his life."

His lawyers say that his reputation and career have been damaged by the women, noting that they filed their defamation lawsuit against Cosby at a time when he was set to return to television in a new NBC series.

Once news of his return to television became well publicized in 2014, each of the women "repeatedly and maliciously published their unsubstantiated stories through multiple interviews and posts on social media platforms," Cosby's lawyers wrote. NBC dropped plans for the show after multiple women came forward with rape allegations.

When Cosby's former longtime attorney, Martin Singer, defended the comedian by denying accusations of sexual misconduct, the women filed a defamation suit against him "to silence his defenses and monetize their false accusations," his attorneys wrote.

In his countersuit, Cosby denies the rape and other sexual misconduct claims made by the women and says the allegations were motivated by money.

For example, Cosby's lawyers cite comments one of the women, Therese Serignese, made to The Huffington Post in November 2014.

Serignese said Cosby drugged and raped her in 1976 and that she called him after her mother said Cosby maybe would "take care of you." Serignese told website that she contacted Cosby in the 1990s and accepted money from him after being injured in a car accident.

In a statement, Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, said the women's "multidecade-old, false, uncorroborated, opportunistic allegations of sexual assault have caused and continue to cause him to suffer substantial injuries and damages" to his reputation and business contracts.





footballer-assassinated.jpgGunmen killed Honduras international and former Rangers star Arnold Peralta in a drive-by shooting in a shopping mall car park, police said.

The 26-year-old was assassinated in his home city of La Ceiba, police spokesman Commissioner Leonel Sauceda told AFP.

Peralta, who had been laying for Olimpia, the top side in Honduras, is the latest victim of apparent gang violence in Honduras, where gang warfare has given it one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Police were hunting for at least one gunman, said Sauceda, adding that the motive was unlikely to be a robbery because none of Peralta's belongings were taken.

"Apparently it was one or two individuals who were traveling in a vehicle -- a motorcycle or car," he added.

Osman Madrid, Olimpia vice president, told HRN radio station: "We are saddened, dismayed."

Peralta's name trended on Twitter, where fans of Scottish side Rangers remembered him fondly as a committed player who endeared himself to the Ibrox crowd with his work rate.

Peralta made his name in the local leagues in the coastal city of La Ceiba and was picked for the Honduras squad for the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009. He was in the squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He joined Rangers in 2013 but returned home in January this year to sign for Olimpia, the most successful team in Honduras.





dengue.jpgThe number of cases of dengue fever in Hawaii has risen to 139, prompting health authorities this week to warn residents and travelers to the popular winter vacation destination to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

The Department of Health said in its latest statement on the outbreak that 122 residents and 17 visitors on Hawaii Island, the largest of the state's eight main islands, have been confirmed to have dengue fever.

The first cases in the current outbreak were traced back to September, and over time they developed into what is now being treated as a cluster of 108 adults and 31 children. The cluster has now grown to rival the last major dengue outbreak, which took place in 2001 and lasted about 10 months with 92 cases on Maui, 26 on Oahu and four on Kauai.

The outbreak is taking place at the start of the island's peak tourism season, which usually begins around mid-December and lasts until March or mid-April. The Hawaii Tourism Authority published an alert last month instructing tourists to take precautions against the illness.

"Of the confirmed cases, 122 are Hawaii Island residents and 17 are visitors," the state department of health said in an update released Monday.

But there's not much they can do, an expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Dengue control is extremely difficult. We don't have a very good way of stopping dengue outbreaks," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, an expert on mosquito-borne infections at CDC who's just back from Hawaii.

"Maybe you can slow it down somewhat but there's no way to stop it."

That's in part because dengue usually causes a very mild illness, so people are still apt to go outside, where they are likely to be bitten by mosquitoes - which in turn will spread the virus to others.

Petersen says there are "clearly" more than 139 cases now on Hawaii. "You can't count them all. You are counting people going to the doctor and seeking medical help and getting tested. But people with more mild illness may not go to the doctor," he said.

Dengue is carried by mosquitoes - especially the Aedes aegypti mosquito that thrives in tropical zones. There's no treatment for dengue and no vaccine.

It can cause a very severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which kills 20 percent of victims, although good medical care can lower death rates dramatically.

The last real dengue outbreak in Hawaii was in 2001 and 2002, and lasted nine months. This outbreak may have been driven by a lot of recent rain, Petersen said.

Dengue has been moving into the continental United States, especially in Florida and south Texas.

The CDC's keeping an eye on two other mosquito-borne viruses - Chikungunya and Zika. "Chikungunya and Zika are spread by the same mosquito," Petersen said. "We are definitely worried about one of those viruses being introduced on Hawaii."





The US's biggest manager of prescription drug benefits said it will cover a $1-a-capsule alternative to the anti-parasitic treatment Daraprim, which costs $750 a pill after Turing Pharmaceuticals AG raised the drug's price from $13.50 this year.

Express Scripts Holding Co. said in a statement that it's partnering with Imprimis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based company specializing in compounded drugs. In October, Imprimis started making a medicine for as little as $1 a capsule that includes the active ingredient in Daraprim, pyrimethamine, together with a vitamin called leucovorin that Daraprim is usually used with.

Turing's price increase for Daraprim, a decades-old drug that no longer enjoys patent protection, drew outrage from politicians, doctors and health insurers. By having a compounding pharmacy combine the two drugs, Express Scripts doesn't need to wait for an FDA-approved direct competitor to Daraprim to come to market at a lower cost.

The $750-a-pill price "wasn't acceptable," Steve Miller, chief medical officer for Express Scripts, said in an interview Monday. Using a compounded drug is "a simple, elegant solution that gets desperate patients the drugs they need at an affordable price." Miller said because Daraprim isn't needed in large quantities, Imprimis should not have a supply problem.

Safety Concern

Daraprim treats a condition called toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a parasite that can become active in people with weakened immune systems because of HIV, chemotherapy or other conditions or treatments.





oscar-pistorius-photo-1.jpgOscar Pistorius was found guilty of murder on Thursday after South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal threw out a manslaughter conviction for killing his girlfriend, and he now faces a 15-year prison term.

The judge described the Paralympian's testimony over the 2013 shooting of Reeva Steenkamp as "untruthful" and delivered a damning indictment of the original verdict. The double-amputee athlete known as the "Blade Runner" was released on parole in October after serving one year of his five-year prison sentence for the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

He killed Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, in the early hours of Valentine's Day two years ago, saying he mistook her for an intruder when he shot four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet.

"Guilty of murder, with the accused having criminal intent," judge Eric Leach told the court in South Africa's judicial capital Bloemfontein in a dramatic legal reversal.

"The matter is referred back to the trial court to consider an appropriate sentence."

The Paralympic gold medallist, who was not present in court, now faces a minimum 15-year sentence for murder -- although he could be released earlier on parole.

"It is inconceivable that a rational person thought he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-duty firearm," said Leach, who described Pistorius's testimony as "vacillating and untruthful".

"He ought to have been convicted not of culpable homicide... but of culpable murder," the judge added.

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that Pistorius, 29, will remain on parole under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in the capital Pretoria until he is re-sentenced.

"I'm satisfied with everything," Reeva's father Barry Steenkamp told reporters shortly after the unanimous ruling by five appeal court judges.

Her mother June sat quietly in court with a sombre expression as the ruling was announced, and made no immediate comment afterwards.

At the crux of the case was how trial judge Thokozile Masipa interpreted the principle of "dolus eventualis" -- awareness of the likely outcome of an action -- under which she acquitted Pistorius of murder.

"This was expected. Judge Masipa legally got the whole issue completely wrong," William Booth, a defence lawyer based in Cape Town, told AFP.

"Four shots into a tiny toilet when you know somebody is on the other side -- that person shooting knows he is going to hit the person.

"He faces a minimum of 15 years. My feeling is that he's done a year, so looking at all the factors, maybe nine, 10 years in prison."

The trial of Pistorius, who became a global icon as the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics in 2012, attracted worldwide attention. He denied killing Steenkamp, 29, in a rage after the couple had gone to bed, sobbing and occasionally vomiting in the dock as details of his lover's death were examined in excruciating detail.

"I was overcome with fear," he said during his trial last year, describing how he thought he heard an intruder in the bathroom.

He grabbed his gun, and rushed without his prostheses to the bathroom.

"Before I knew it, I'd fired four shots at the door," he said, adding that he ran back to the bed only to find that Steenkamp was not there.

Pistorius killed Steenkamp at the peak of his fame, and he has since lost his glittering sports career, lucrative contracts and status as a global role model for the disabled.

Last month he made his first appearance in public since leaving jail, looking gaunt when he reported for community service at a Pretoria police station.The case triggered fierce debate in South Africa about violence against women, and activists from the ruling ANC party's women's league packed the public benches throughout the long case.

"I'm overwhelmed. The women of South Africa, the women of the whole world, have won today," league spokeswoman Mapaseka Nkoane said outside the court.





black-man-gunned-down-san-francisco-street.jpgA black man was gunned down in the street by police after he was surrounded by officers in a San Francisco street.

Police Chief Gregory Suhr confirmed the man, who was holding a knife, was killed after the shooting in Bayview at around 5pm on Wednesday.

His description is said to have matched that of a suspected wanted for stabbing someone in a nearby street.

Now a graphic video, which has not yet been verified by police, has emerged on social media which shows a man as he is surrounded by around eight armed police officers.

Standing on the sidewalk with his back up against a wall, he suddenly appears to double over.

But the man, who appears to be dazed, stands up again and begins to shuffle away - while the cops have the guns raised and trained on him.

The camera then cuts away as a barrage of bullets are heard while people are heard screaming in the background.

Police blocked off the intersection of Third Street and Gilman Avenue in San Francisco and Munli trains were halted as they responded to the incident.

San Francisco Police Department Chief Suhr said officers fired beanbags at the man and used attempted other non-lethal force before they opened fire.

'It looks like an execution,' a local resident who told the San Francisco Police Commission, reported The Daily Beast. 'This is why we need the cameras and the video.'

Department of Public Health workers, who are typically sent out to assist families after a violent death, were at the scene in Bayview.

The footage follows a series of high profile police shootings which have sparked Black Lives Matter across the country.

Just two days before the San Francisco incident, Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

The charge came after footage of him shooting black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on the night of October 20 last year was made public by order of a judge.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets within hours of the video's release, chanting '16 shots' and forming human blockades across roads in the city's West Side. Other demonstrators gathered outside police stations as at least two people were arrested in connection to the protests.

Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy was sacked on Tuesday over his handling of the case while Mayor Rahm Emanuel now faces pressure to stand down over the incident.

The case is certain to be one of the most contentious to reach the courts since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.

VIDEO LINK:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3343872/It-looks-like-execution-Cops-surround-gun-black-man-San-Francisco-street.html#v-1132948120880135237





the-turkey-residents-sone-who-funds-isis.jpgRussia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.

But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).

As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey's airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey's actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."

More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey's role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:

"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey's involvement in the ISIS' illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."

Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"

Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.

And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's son: Bilal Erdogan.

Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.

After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ", a marine transportation corporation.





pope-francis.jpgPope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, which is worth billions of dollars and owns some of the most expensive art collections in this world, lashed out at wealthy minorities who hoard resources at the expense of the poor as he visited a crowded Nairobi slum today during his three-day tour of Kenya.

The 78-year-old pontiff was given a rapturous welcome as he arrived in Kangemi, which is home to more than 100,000 people who live in shacks without sewerage, including 20,000 who belong to the local Catholic parish.

Residents of the slum lined the mud streets to welcome him, standing alongside goats and hens outside the corrugated tin-roofed shacks where the shantytown's many small businesses operate: beauty parlours, cellphone 'top-up' shops and storefront evangelical churches.

Speaking at the local Catholic church, Francis condemned the 'dreadful injustice of urban exclusion' that has forced some 60 per cent of Nairobi's population to move to slums that cover just 6 per cent of the city's residential land, according to 2014 figures from the UN Habitat programme.

However, even as the Pope slammed the wealthy, online readers made it their point of duty to slam the Vatican: "Last time I checked the Vatican was worth billions.... Pot and kettle?," on reader commented.

Says the guy who lives in his own private city!!

This is a man who sits on a solid gold throne.

I recently walked around the Vatican and was amazed at the priceless works or art, anyway what what the Pope saying again?





native-american-indian.jpgThe celebration of Thanksgiving may be a beloved tradition, but one group of Native Americans has revealed what the holiday really means to them in a moving video series that dispels the historical inaccuracies and stereotypes associated with their culture.

As part of Cut.com's One Word video series, a group of men and women from the Native American community have shared their thoughts on the words: Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus, reservation and redskins.

And while many of the men and women agree that the 'redskins' is an 'offensive' and 'racist' term, the group shared different opinions about what it means to celebrate Thanksgiving as a Native American.

Columbus, however, the reactions were across-the-board negative. Some branded the Italian explorer 'pure evil' or 'a murderer' and even 'the first terrorist in America'.

Some uttered expletives or raised their middle fingers in response to the man's name.

'It always was weird to me to have that day off in celebration of somebody, like, we don't have a day for Hitler, but it's the same thing,' said one man.

Others seemed simply bewildered at why he's considered an important figure in history at all, given he 'didn't discover anything, and instead got lost'.

The reactions to the word 'redskin' were similarly negative, save for one woman who declared she was 'proud' to call herself a redskin.

'Derogatory', 'racist' and 'offensive' were the most common responses to the word, with many comparing it to the n-word or various other racist terms used to belittle people of certain races.

Some told the disturbing story behind the word.

'Redskin is interesting, because we call ourselves the cinnamon people, but redskin turned very ugly,' explained one woman. 'It was settlers collecting basically scalps and skins of Indians.'

The participants' reaction to the idea of Thanksgiving in another one of the Cut.com videos was much more mixed, including quick word associations with everything from 'inaccurate' to 'slaughter'.

'Ugh, lies,' said one man, simply.

'Sadness. Total sadness,' said another. 'Thanksgiving is a time when my family gets together and tells stories about our creation myths and who we were and who we are and really what we lost.'

'Turkey and white pilgrims,' added one man. 'I don't know what the first Thanksgiving was, but I highly doubt it was a group of happy Pilgrims and a group of happy Indians cooking turkey together.'

For many, the feelings themselves were mixed, as they enjoyed celebrating the 'overall idea' of Thanksgiving, but 'not where it actually comes from'.

'I don't really celebrate the holiday for what it actually is, more of like just getting to have family over and eat,' said one interviewee.

'Thanksgiving to me just means a day of football and good eating - and trying not to think about what it really represents,' echoed another.

However, some glossed over the negativity, with three women in a row in the clip saying they associate Thanksgiving with 'family'.

Others were all negative, with some even becoming riled up over the idea.

'It was a massacre. Puritans came and slaughtered them,' one man explained. They didn't want to eat with a savage. They slaughtered millions of us. I don't know why they call themselves Puritans.'

Another video from the series sees the same interviewees respond to the word 'reservation', which had many of the men and women become emotional.

One man described the word as synonymous to 'damnation' while others compared it to 'prison' or 'concentration camp'.

'There are no good reservations,' added one woman, who herself grew up on a Navajo reservation. 'We were one of the few lucky peoples that got to remain where our homelands are, but there are other reservations where people were forced there, and they can't fend for themselves like they used to in the old days. You can't hunt anymore, you can't fish anymore.

'You're just stuck on this reservation with substandard housing, living in third country conditions. Youths killing themselves because there is no future, no hope!' she added, tearing up. 'That's a reservation to me.'





vladimir-putin-russia.jpgTurkey shooting down a Russian jet on Tuesday morning is just proof of the 'toxic cocktail' of dangers in the region which could erupt into crisis with devastating effect, an expert has warned.

Middle East expert Shashank Joshi, from the Royal United Services Institute, said the skies over Syria and Turkey are an 'incredibly crowded airspace', with planes from both nations and members of the US-led coalition against IS - including the UK - operating.

Turkey, a Nato member, has already complained about Russian incursions into its skies and last month the alliance condemned the 'unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace by Russian combat aircraft'.

Mr Joshi said: 'The situation is dangerous because Russia is quite probably deliberately probing Turkish airspace both for military reasons and political reasons.'

The Russians will be testing the military responses of the Nato member, but also carrying out the same 'psychological intimidation' tactics used in the Baltic and North Atlantic, he suggested.

The combination of the crowded airspace, Russian probing tactics and the diplomatic tensions create a 'real toxic cocktail that can easily erupt into crisis', he warned.

Ankara will be 'furious' at the incursion and Russia can expect Nato to strike a 'tough' note, but behind the scenes there will be intense diplomatic efforts to calm tensions.

But if Moscow responds in a provocative way, there is a risk of the crisis escalating.

Mr Joshi warned: 'These things always proceed in a very unpredictable fashion. We have seen how conflicts can begin when there are large alliances.'





Friend kills pregnant woman, rips baby from her womb

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crime-scene-7.jpgA woman in New York was fatally strangled and stabbed on Friday before the killer ripped her baby from her womb.

Police arrested a woman at the scene who they believe murdered the Bronx 22-year-old before taking the child in the bloody altercation and allegedly claiming it as her own.

The child survived the attack and investigators were working over the weekend to determine how far along in her pregnancy the victim was.

According to the Associated Press, police arrived to the scene on Friday afternoon to find the victim stabbed multiple times in the abdomen.

Authorities said the suspect, who is also 22, tried to claim the child was hers.

"When the cops arrived, the perp claimed it was her child and that she gave birth during the struggle," New York City Councilman Andy King told NBC New York.

The victim was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The suspect is now under arrest on a murder charge.





secret-service-officer-arrested-in-child-sexting-sting.jpgA US Secret Service officer assigned to the White House was arrested this week after he sent naked pictures of himself to someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, according to a criminal complaint.

Lee Robert Moore, 37, of Church Hill, Maryland, turned himself in to Maryland State Police on Monday and faces charges including solicitation of a minor, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware. Federal authorities say Moore, a Secret Service agent from Maryland, sent obscene images and texts to someone he thought was a young Delaware girl, sometimes doing it while on duty at the White House.

The complaint details a series of pornographic online chats starting in late August between Moore and a Delaware State Police detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. Moore sent naked photos of himself to the undercover officer and asked to meet in person to have sex, according to the complaint.

In an interview with police, Moore admitted to communicating with the person while he was working at the White House, the complaint said.

The Secret Service, the agency that protects the president, has placed Moore on administrative leave, according to the complaint. The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was not clear from the complaint whether Moore has retained an attorney.

Moore's arrest is the latest blow to the Secret Service after a series of scandals and security lapses.

In March, two senior agents, after a night of drinking, drove into a White House barricade inches away from a suspicious package that was being investigated as a possible bomb.

Last year, agents failed to stop a knife-carrying man from jumping a fence and running into the White House in one of the worst security breaches since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. (Caption: This booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Lee Robert Moore. Federal authorities say Moore, a Secret Service agent from Maryland, sent obscene images and texts to someone he thought was a young Delaware girl, sometimes doing it while on duty at the White House. (Delaware Department of Justice via AP)





Apple employee asks black students to leave store

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black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-1.jpgSix black students have been asked to leave a store over concerns they 'might steal something', in an incident which appears to have racist motivations.

The incident at an Apple store in Highpoint shopping centre, north-west Melbourne, was caught on video and uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday night.

The footage has since been viewed almost 47,000 times, sparking outrage at what most viewers are calling 'blatant racism'.

'These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store,' security at the Apple store is heard saying in the footage.

When the boys, taken aback, asked for what reason they were being asked to leave, security responded: 'They're just a bit worried you might steal something.'

'Guys, end of discussion, I need to ask you to leave our store.'

In the Facebook post, one of the boys said the argument between them lasted 15 minutes.

'He was circling us for 10 minutes while we were in the store,' one of the boys wrote on the Facebook post.

black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-2.jpg'These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store,' security at the Apple store is heard saying in the footage. When the boys asked for what reason, security responded: 'They're just a bit worried you might steal something'

The boys, who are Year 10 students at Maribyrnong College, in inner-west Melbourne, according to Sydney Morning Herald, later got an apology from the store.

'They called security but the guy ended up apologising to us,' one wrote, with Apple security calling security at Highpoint shopping centre.

'The Highpoint guards were nice as, it was just the Apple employees & security that were acting up,' another posted in the comment thread.

When many were understandably outraged at the video footage and suggested taking complaints further, the six boys appeared to be in good spirits.

'They apologised so we're chilling no need to take this further,' one commented.

Another joked: 'I'm not in the financial status to take Apple to court.'

'We just wanted to show people the prejudice we went through and the racial profiling of the Apple staff and security.'

black-boys-racism-apple-store-photo-3.jpgAccording to SMH, Maribyrnong College principal Nick Scott accompanied the six boys to the Apple store on Wednesday afternoon, and a senior manager apologised.

It was reportedly a private security guard hired by Apple who first raised concerns about the teenagers, and an Apple employee shown in the video speaking with the boys.

An Apple spokesperson told SMH they were committed to cultural diversity and inclusion, and said they were looking into the situation.





first-african-to-win-world-scrabble-champion.jpgA Nigerian in a cowboy hat beat an English opponent to become Africa's first World Scrabble champion.

Wellington Jighere crushed Lewis MacKay 4-0 in a best of seven final in Perth, Australia. Jighere, 32, used high-scoring words such as fahlores, avouched and mentored. Fahlores is another spelling of fahlerz, a grey crystalline mineral.

His victory over more than 120 rivals at the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association Championship won praise from Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari who said he had 'done the country proud'.

Mr Jighere won a L6,600 prize but now needs a job, having completed his national service after graduating from university.

He and the five other members of the Nigerian team arrived in Australia just a day before the tournament started. They had little chance to get over the 20-hour flight or the seven-hour time difference.

Mr Jighere said on his Facebook page that he felt he was playing with the 'whole continent' behind him.

He added that it 'still baffles' him that he managed to win, given how tired he felt as he had 'not slept well in about a week'.

New Zealander Nigel Richards stunned the francophone world in July when he won the game's French version. He doesn't speak the language and spent only nine weeks studying the official Scrabble dictionary.

Mr MacKay put down words including: yex, an old English word for sobbing; Wemb, an obsolete alternative spelling for womb and Onely, an obsolete alternative spelling of only.

In return Mr Jighere put down: dacoit, a member of a class of robbers in India and Burma; yow - Australian slang for keeping a look-out and Katti - an alternative spelling for a weight used in China.

Adam Kretschmer, one of the organisers of the event, said: 'He had to battle for four days to emerge on top but once he got there - maybe he was a little fresher, or got a bit of luck - everything fell into place for him and he won four-nil.'





us-rep-louie-gohmert.jpgRep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who previously compared the treatment of marriage equality opponents to how Nazis persecuted Jews during World War II, argued that even Americans who don't believe in God should be able to see that same-sex relationships aren't natural, Right Wing Watch reports.

He went on to suggest conducting a "totally secular" congressional study that would prove it, too.

"How about if we take four heterosexual couples, and put them on an island where they have everything they need to live and exist, and we take four couples of just men and put them on an island where they have all they need to survive," he said. "And then let's take four couples of just women and put them on an island, and then let's come back in 100 years and see which one nature favors."

It isn't the first time Gohmert has made the deserted island suggestion. In July, he slammed the Supreme Court's June 26 ruling on same-sex marriage, arguing that Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg "ought to be impeached" for participating in the case.

Outlining the deserted island plan in more detail, Gohmert suggested a 100- to 200-year waiting period to determine "which one nature says is the preferred marriage."





franklyn-graham-and-obama.jpgDuring a trip to Moscow last week where he participated in a forum on the persecution of Christians, Rev. Franklin Graham said that President Barack Obama supports abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage, which are "sins against God," and that Obama is "taking a stand against God."

In an Oct. 30 interview with the Moskoviskij Komsomolets newspaper, Rev. Graham was asked, "I heard that you called Barack Obama 'the leader of the anti-Christ movement.' Is that true? What do you think about the current president of the United States?"

Rev. Graham, the son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said, "I have met the president on several occasions. He's a very nice person. But he supports and promotes policies that contradict the teachings of God."

"As a Christian, I believe that abortion is murder -- he supports it," said Graham. "Homosexuality and same-sex marriage - those are sins against God, and the president is promoting them."

"I'm not against homosexuals as people," said the reverend. "But God commanded that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda, if only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people's children."

"I believe that President Obama (and I'll repeat, he's a very nice person) is leading America down the wrong road," said Rev. Graham. "He's taking a stand against God."

In response to a question about religious freedom in America, Graham said, "[T]he situation in the United States regarding religion is in decline. Secularism, which is almost no different from communism, is an atheistic movement."

"Our country is becoming more and more secular, more atheist, taking God out of government, taking God out of schools," said the reverend. "We are witnessing America losing many religious freedoms. In your country over the past 30 years, we have seen positive changes. But over this same period of time in the United States, the changes have been negative."

Franklin Graham, 62, is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and he also runs the international Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse. He is married and has five children. Franklin Graham regularly preaches in the United States and overseas.





student-arrest.jpgCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A girl who refused to surrender her phone after texting in math class was flipped backward and tossed across the classroom floor by a sheriff's deputy, prompting a federal civil rights probe on Tuesday.

The sheriff said the girl "may have had a rug burn" but was not injured, and said the teacher and vice principal felt the officer acted appropriately. Still, videos of the confrontation between a white officer and black girl stirred such outrage that he called the FBI and Justice Department for help.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott suspended Senior Deputy Ben Fields without pay, and said what he did at Spring Valley High School in Columbia made him want to "throw up."

"Literally, it just makes you sick to your stomach when you see that initial video. But again, that's a snapshot," he said.

Videos taken by students and posted online show Fields warning the girl to leave her seat or be forcibly removed on Monday. The officer then wraps a forearm around her neck, flips her and the desk backward onto the floor, tosses her toward the front of the classroom and handcuffs her.

Lott pointed out at a news conference that the girl can also be seen trying to strike the officer as she was being taken down, but said he's focused on the deputy's actions as he decides within 24 hours whether Fields should remain on the force.

"I think sometimes our officers are put in uncomfortable positions when a teacher can't control a student," the sheriff said, promising to be fair.

Email, phone and text messages for Fields were not returned.

The deputy also arrested a second student who verbally objected to his actions. Both girls were charged with disturbing schools and released to their parents. Their names were not officially released.

The second student, Niya Kenny, told WLTX-TV that she felt she had to say something. Doris Kenny said she's proud her daughter was "brave enough to speak out against what was going on."

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night, Niya Kenny said an administrator told her to sit down, be quiet and to put her cellphone away. She refused.

"'This is not right. This is not right,'" Kenny recalled saying in the classroom. "'I can't believe y'all are doing this to her.'"

Kenny said Fields arrested her and handcuffed her inside the classroom.

Lt. Curtis Wilson told The Associated Press in an email to "keep in mind this is not a race issue."

"Race is indeed a factor," countered South Carolina's NAACP president, Lonnie Randolph Jr., who praised the Justice Department for agreeing to investigate.

"To be thrown out of her seat as she was thrown, and dumped on the floor ... I don't ever recall a female student who is not of color (being treated this way). It doesn't affect white students," Randolph said.

The sheriff, for his part, said race won't factor into his evaluation: "It really doesn't matter to me whether that child had been purple," Lott said.

Tony Robinson Jr., who recorded the final moments, said it all began when the teacher asked the girl to hand over her phone during class. She refused, so he called an administrator, who summoned the officer.

"The administrator tried to get her to move and pleaded with her to get out of her seat," Robinson told WLTX. "She said she really hadn't done anything wrong. She said she took her phone out, but it was only for a quick second, you know, please, she was begging, apologetic."

"Next, the administrator called Deputy Fields in. ... He asked, 'Will you move?' and she said 'No, I haven't done anything wrong,'" Robinson said.

"When I saw what was going to happen, my immediate first thing to think was, let me get this on camera. This was going to be something ... that everyone else needs to see, something that we can't just let this pass by."

Districts across the country put officers in schools after teenagers massacred fellow students at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. Schools now routinely summon police to discipline students, experts say.

"Kids are not criminals, by the way. When they won't get up, when they won't put up the phone, they're silly, disobedient kids - not criminals," said John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.

Police should guard doors to "stop the crazies from getting in these schools," Whitehead said, but "when you have police in the schools, you're going to run into this - having police do what teachers and parents should do."

The National Association of School Resource Officers recommends that schools and police agree to prohibit officers "from becoming involved in formal school discipline situations that are the responsibility of school administrators."

At a school board meeting Tuesday night, parents spoke out about the arrest.

"This is not a race issue," said Rebekah Woodford, a white mother of two Spring Valley graduates and one current student. "This is, 'I want to be defiant and not do what I'm told.' ... The child is the one who can choose what to do."

School Superintendent Debbie Hamm said "the district will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students." School Board Chairman Jim Manning called the deputy's actions "shamefully shocking."

Fields, who also coaches football at the high school, has prevailed against accusations of excessive force and racial bias before.

Trial is set for January in the case of an expelled student who claims Fields targeted blacks and falsely accused him of being a gang member in 2013. In another case, a federal jury sided with Fields after a black couple accused him of excessive force and battery during a noise complaint arrest in 2005. A third lawsuit, dismissed in 2009, involved a woman who accused him of battery and violating her rights during a 2006 arrest.





south-carolina-student-arrest-officer-assault.jpgFootage of a female student being dragged from her desk in a South Carolina classroom by a school resource officer went viral on Monday. The disturbing video should serve as a stark reminder that schools aren't always the safe places they should be, especially for black girls.

Cell phone video captured by several of the high school student's peers show officer Ben Fields of the Richland County Sheriff's Office standing over her desk asking her to stand up. When she remains seated, Fields puts his forearm around her neck, flips her desk over, and drags her toward the front of the classroom before handcuffing her.

The deputy, who has been placed on administrative leave, has previously faced accusations of excessive force and racial bias, according to The Post and Courier. Fields is white; the student is black.

Students say the girl had her cell phone out in math class and refused to hand it over to her teacher. Niya Kenny, another student, was also arrested for crying and yelling at the officer during the incident and charged under South Carolina's disturbing schools law. The law, which has been in place since the 1970s, allows school resource officers to arrest students who disrupt, disturb, or interfere with school classes or functions.

"The horrific incident is not about one bad officer, but also about larger policies that criminalize students in schools in South Carolina and across the country," Mishi Faruqee, the national field director for juvenile justice reform group Youth First Initiative, told TakePart. "Under South Carolina's Disturbing Schools law, even routine disciplinary problems are treated as crimes."

Students of color in particular bear the brunt of the criminalization Faruqee describes. Nationally, black boys are the most harshly punished group of students in U.S. schools, and black girls are suspended at six times the rate of their white female peers, according to a study released last year by the African American Policy Forum.

They are also at increased risk of expulsion, making it less likely for black girls to graduate from high school on time or ultimately attend college. Expulsion can set students on a path to criminal justice system that advocates call the school-to-prison pipeline.

Police have been present in schools for decades-particularly in low-income communities of color-but some experts also tie their increased presence to the rise in school shootings. After Columbine, the Department of Justice invested $876 million to fund the presence of nearly 7,000 school resource officers like Fields. During the 2013-2014 school year, there were more than 82,000 officers working in public schools.

The increased presence of these officers in schools has proved counterproductive in terms of public safety, and increases the likelihood that normal teenage behavior will be classified as criminal and reported to the police, according to The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.

Tony Robinson Jr., one of the students who filmed the incident, described it to local news channel WLTX19.

"That [officer is] supposed to be somebody that's going to protect us," Robinson said. "Not somebody that we need to be scared of, or afraid."

On Tuesday, following the request of the Richland County Sheriff, federal authorities announced they had opened a civil rights investigation into the incident at Spring Valley High School.





lewis-hamilton-wins-world-championship.jpgNewly crowned three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton basked in the glory of emulating childhood hero Ayrton Senna on Sunday, describing his United States Grand Prix triumph as his "greatest moment".

As his Mercedes team celebrated all around him, soaking him in champagne, the 30-year-old Briton reflected on his role-model status and his hopes and inspirations in the aftermath of an astonishing race and achievement.

"This is the greatest moment of my life," Hamilton told his team in the emotional moments after he crossed the line to add the 2015 title to those of 2008 and 2014.

Later, he said he felt moved to have realised a dream in matching Senna's achievement in winning three championships.

"For me, that was the target," he said. "I wanted to get the three that Ayrton had. He wasn't from the same country as me, but he was the guy who inspired me as a youngster.

"Now, I don't know what is going to come next. There is nobody else I look to who I want to emulate, and I feel like I've got the baton for myself and Ayrton, and I will carry that on and see how far I can take it."

After feeling deeply emotional after the race, he told a news conference: "I'm so overwhelmed right now. I remember my first British Championship and when my dad drove me home.

"We were singing 'We Are The Champions' in the car as we drove home. I owe so much to them -- my mum, my dad, my family -- for all that they sacrificed for me."

Hamilton's father Anthony and family were not in Austin to see him win the race and take his third title, an absence that the champion addressed by sending messages to them at every opportunity.

Asked about his dreams and his role, he said: "I want to encourage young kids. It is about the self-belief they have.

"Hopefully this will inspire parents. I wanted to be Ayrton Senna or Superman when I was younger, and I hope that they feel the same and don't give up on their dreams.

"I can't believe I am here now, and I thank my fans for supporting me all over the world and I know that this is a platform to inspire people, young people -- never give up on your dreams hopes and desires."

Hamilton snatched victory when Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg ran wide on lap 49 to open the door to his third title.

"Today, so many times, I thought I'd lost the race. With the Safety Car and Nico was so quick, but I just never gave up," said Hamilton.

The champion said the crazy nature of the race was emotionally draining.

"The last 10-15 laps were the tough ones," he said.

"Those last laps, the world championship is right there, and I'm thinking 'am I going to get it?'

"Everything I have got from these years, everything I have built up, I was so close, I could smell it, so I was pushing.

"I'm just overwhelmed. It's difficult to find the words. It's crazy to think I'm a three-time Formula One world champion, but I am."





A radical call for governments around the world to decriminalise the use and possession of 'all drugs' has been foiled, after at least one country has blocked the move.

The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had called for governments to legalise all drugs for 'personal consumption', according to Sir Richard Branson.

The Virgin boss claimed the 'shift' in policy from the UN could 'end the needless criminalistion of millions of drug users'.

But it is not to be, as the paper has been withdrawn.

According to a statement released by the UNODC the document was 'neither final nor formal', but it added that the topic is still under review.

The statement continued: 'There has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper.'

It added, however, that the office is still investigating an alternative to a jail sentence in cases of drug use.

Sir Richard, who sits on the Global Commission on Drug Policy, revealed in a blog that he had seen a copy of an unreleased document from the agency, describing its contents as 'refreshing'.

He wrote: 'In an as-yet unreleased statement... the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, call on governments around the world to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs.

'This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world.

'My colleagues on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and I could not be more delighted.

'Together with countless other tireless advocates, I've for years argued that we should treat drug use as a health issue, not as a crime.

'While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell.'

The 65-year-old tycoon said it was 'exciting' that UNODC had now 'unequivocally stated that criminalisation is harmful, unnecessary and disproportionate'.

He said that countries like Portugal where decriminalisation had been tried had seen a 'significant reduction in drug-related deaths.

People who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell

'I hope this groundbreaking news will empower and embolden governments everywhere, including the UK, to do the right thing and consider a different course in drug policy,' he added.

In an update, after it was confirmed that the call would not go ahead, the tycoon added: 'Drugs should be treated as a health issue. My great hope is that today's actions bring that day a little bit closer to reality, so that the millions who continue to be harmed by current policies can be helped instead.'

According to the Daily Telegraph the billionaire businessman said that the document had originally been earmarked for release on Sunday at the International Harm Reduction conference in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

But without naming the nation involved, he said that 'at least one government is putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the UNODC.'

Ending his statement, Sir Richard called for an end to the war on drugs adding that it 'has done too much damage to too many people already.'

A UNODC spokesman described the paper as 'neither a final nor formal document from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and cannot be read as a statement of UNODC policy'.

The statement added: 'It remains under review and UNODC regrets that, on this occasion, there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper.

'UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document. But, it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready.

'Overall, UNODC remains committed to the balanced approach that, in particular, promotes alternatives to incarceration in line with international human rights standards.'





racist-white-man-little-black-boy.jpgSome of the Facebook commenters who posted racist remarks about a three-year-old Black child have released apologies after being terminated from their jobs.

The story of the trending hashtag #HisNameIsCayden began last week, when Facebook user Gerod Roth (Geris Hilton on the site) posted a photo of himself with Cayden Jenkins, the son of his co-worker, Sydney Shelton.

After making the photo his profile picture, many of his friends wrote racist comments about the child, calling him "Kunta Kinte" and using slave jokes. Roth did little to extinguish the raced-based jokes, adding himself that the child "was feral."

"A person said, 'Oh, you mean to tell me that you just have wild kids running through your office building?' And that's when I said 'he was feral.' That was interpreted as racist and that, honestly, was not my intention whatsoever," Roth told Fox 5 Atlanta.

Earlier this week, Roth was fired from his position at Polaris Marketing Group in Atlanta. In addition to Roth's firing, another commenter who goes by the name Emily Irene Red was reportedly terminated from her position at The Conch Republic restaurant.

@tyriquex Just spoke to the manager of The Conch Republic Grill. Emily Irene was fired today. He says they were "appalled" by her remarks.

- DavidGrapeJuice (@DavidGrapeJuice) October 1, 2015

Tim Zheng, the Facebook user who called the toddler "Kunta Kinte" in Roth's comments, also apologized for his actions. Sharing a story about his immigrant parents and the racism they faced, Zheng now claims he's learned from his actions. But Cayden's supporters weren't buying his apology, especially after old posts of Zheng's mocking the Black Lives Matter movement were uncovered.

Shelton is grateful for the support she's received since the hashtag's inception. Speaking with Fox 5 Atlanta, the mother stated Roth never mentioned the comments to her, or even asked to take a photo with her son weeks before it caught attention online.

"He is not a deaf child. He is not mute. He has never been abandoned. He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old," Shelton said in response to comments made on the post.

Roth emailed Shelton an apology, but she doesn't believe it's sincere.





Twitter to cut up to 8 percent of global workforce

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Twitter Inc said it would lay off up to 336 employees, or cut about 8 percent of its global workforce, as part of an overall plan to streamline operations.

The layoffs come about a week after the microblogging service provider appointed its co-founder Jack Dorsey its permanent CEO. (http://1.usa.gov/1Gbb31A)

Twitter shares rose 2.3 percent to US$29.41 in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Twitter said it expected to incur about US$10 million-US$20 million in severance costs and US$5 million-US$15 million in restructuring costs.

The company said it expected to record most of these pretax restructuring charges in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

Twitter is working to rekindle growth after its latest quarterly results in July revealed the slowest rise in monthly average users since it went public in 2013.

The company will report its third-quarter results on Oct. 27 after the market closes.





12-year-old-black-boy-suspended-for-staring-at-classmate.jpgLast week, an Ohio judge refused to erase the suspension of a 12-year-old black boy who was punished for staring at his classmate last year.

The boy was suspended several days after participating in a staring contest with a white female classmate at St. Gabriel Consolidated School, and allegedly made her feel "fearful." School officials were notified by the girl's parents the day after the contest, claiming she felt intimidated by the boy. But the boy, who was forced to write an apology letter and subsequently suspended for a day, maintained he was unaware that his classmate was feeling uncomfortable.

"I never knew she was scared because she was laughing," he wrote. "I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation."

The 12-year-old's mother, Candice Tolbert, said her son was suspended because of a "perception [that] he intimidated her." The family filed a lawsuit to have the punishment dismissed from his record, but Judge Patrick Dinkelacker declined the request. The ruling could be appealed in the future.

Studies show that black children are far more likely to be suspended than their white peers. According to the ACLU, 31 percent of school arrests involve black youth. Roughly one-third of all black boys in middle school and high school are suspended.

Zero-tolerance school policies that lead to student suspensions or entry into the justice system have long-term consequences. They pave the way for future arrests or stints in juvenile detention - known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Suspended students are also more likely to drop out of school.

While cops were not involved in this particular case, the boy's suspension highlights how students of color are slapped with egregious punishments for minor offenses by school administrators. In the past, students have been arrested for violating dress codes, being late to school, initiating food fights, swearing and throwing skittles, and throwing peanuts. Others like Ahmed Mohamed and Kiera Wilmot are disciplined for their intellectual curiosity. Oftentimes, those students are denied due process.

Under former Attorney General Eric Holder, the DOJ issued guidance to reduce harsh school punishments in schools.

"Too often, so-called "zero-tolerance" policies - however well-intentioned - make students feel unwelcome in their own schools. They disrupt the learning process. And they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people - increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice systems," he said.

The DOJ guidance emphasized additional staff training, specific methods to create a positive school climate with multiple avenues for student support, and how to establish a clear set of disciplinary guidelines with the help of community stakeholders.





missing-cargo-ship.jpgJACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The captain of the 790-foot El Faro planned to bypass Hurricane Joaquin, but some kind of mechanical failure left the U.S. container ship with 33 people aboard helplessly - and tragically - adrift in the path of the powerful storm, the vessel's owners say.

On Monday, four days after the ship vanished, the Coast Guard concluded it sank near the Bahamas in about 15,000 feet of water. One unidentified body in a survival suit was spotted, and the search went on for any trace of the other crew members. Survival suits help mariners float and stay warm. But even with the water temperature at 85 degrees, hypothermia can set in quickly, Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said. He noted that the hurricane had winds of about 140 mph and waves topping 50 feet.

"These are trained mariners. They know how to abandon ship," Fedor said. But "those are challenging conditions to survive."

The ship, carrying cars and other products, had 28 crew members from the U.S. and five from Poland. Coast Guard and Navy planes, helicopters, cutters and tugboats searched across a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas, where the ship was last heard from while on its way from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.

A heavily damaged lifeboat from the El Faro was discovered, no one aboard, Fedor said. The ship had two lifeboats capable of holding 43 people each.

"We are still looking for survivors or any sign of life," he said.

Also spotted were an oil sheen, cargo containers, a partly submerged life raft - the ship carried five rafts, each capable of holding 17 people - life jackets and life rings, authorities said.

Phil Greene, president and CEO of ship owner Tote Services Inc., said the captain had a plan to sail ahead of the hurricane with room to spare. Greene said the captain, whose name has not been released, had conferred with the El Faro's sister ship - which was returning to Jacksonville along a similar route - and determined the weather was good enough to go forward.

"Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm," Greene said. "We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems."

The last message from the ship came Thursday morning, when the captain reported the El Faro was listing slightly at 15 degrees in strong winds and heavy seas. Some water had entered through a hatch that popped open. The captain, who has 20 years' experience on cargo ships, calmly told company officials the crew was removing the water.

The Coast Guard was unable to fly into the ship's last known position until Sunday, because of the fierce hurricane winds. Steven Werse, a ship captain with 31 years' experience on the seas, said merchant vessels have access to up-to-date weather forecasting and technology that allow them to avoid most storms. If the El Faro had not lost engine power, he added, it would probably still have been powerful enough to make it through Joaquin. Without power, it was a sitting duck.

"The ship really is at the mercy of the sea. You have no means of maneuvering the ship. You would be rolling with the seas," said Werse, secretary-treasurer of the Master Mates and Pilots Union in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. The union has no connection to the El Faro or its crew.

Abandoning ship would be difficult, he added, because the lifeboats might not be accessible on a listing ship and life rafts could be torn apart or blown away.

"Sometimes circumstances overwhelm you. You can do all the planning you want," Werse said.

Bernard Ferguson, a commercial fisherman who was at his home on Crooked Island during the hurricane, said it must have been a nightmare for the crew.

"It's impossible for any kind of vessel to take that kind of beating for that length of time, maybe an hour or two, yes," Ferguson said. "But taking 36 hours of beating, there's no way."

Anxious family members, gathered at the Seafarers union hall in Jacksonville, tried to remain optimistic, but some wondered why the ship sailed into such a potent storm.

"What we've all questioned from the very start is why the captain would take them through a hurricane of this magnitude, or any hurricane," said Barry Young, uncle of crew member Shaun Riviera.

Terrence Meadows, a junior engineer and union member, said the captain and company made a poor decision to go to sea. He added there is often pressure for captains to stay on schedule.

"I personally believe that should not have happened," Meadows said. "We are the most important cargo on that vessel, not the cars" and other cargo.

Fedor said the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard will investigate the sinking. The Coast Guard did not immediately release safety records requested by The Associated Press for the ship and its compa





Air France execs beaten by staff; forced to flee

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air-france-execs-beaten-up-by staff.jpgManagers of the French airline, Air France, were forced to flee an angry mob of staffers on Monday, after announcing plans to slash the size of the workforce.

Pictures from the protest show senior managers with their shirts torn off climbing over a fence to escape.

Security officials were forced to usher the managers to safety.

According to a Sky News report, the airline's parent company, Air France-KLM, said it planned to take legal action over what it described as "aggravated violence" towards its senior staff.

"This violence was carried out by particularly violent, isolated individuals, whereas the protest by striking personnel was taking place calmly up until then," a spokesman said.

Hundreds of staff took part in the protest at the company's headquarters near Paris.

Air France managers had been outlining plans to cut 2,900 jobs, after failing to convince the airline's pilots to work longer hours.The company also intends to reduce its long-haul business by 10%, and cut 14 planes from its long-haul fleet.





racist-white-man-little-black-boy.jpgA white US marketing whizz was fired after posting selfie with the son of his black co-worker on Facebook with 'hurtful, racist' caption calling the little boy his 'slave' - and his friends just joined in the abuse

Gerod Roth, who goes by Geris Hilton on Facebook, posted the photo to Facebook (left) and wrote hurtful and bigoted comments with his friends that referred to the little boy that was pictured as 'starving' and 'feral', among other things. After the photo went viral, Roth was fired from Polaris Marketing Group in Altanta, who described his behavior as disgusting and slanderous. Roth's colleague Sydney then came forward identifying her son as Cayden Jace (together-right), and said they are 'above this nonsense'.





An American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Boston was forced to make an emergency landing in Syracuse, New York after the pilot suddenly died mid-flight, though the exact nature of the pilot's illness has not been confirmed. The pilot, whose name and age is currently being withheld, was reportedly treated in the air by a flight attendant with a nursing background but all such efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful.

American Airlines says they are "incredibly saddened" by the pilot's passing and are currently focusing on "taking are of the family members and crew," according to ABC News. Cockpit recordings reveal at least one member crew confirming that the captain was "incapacitated," before eventually stating that he has become "unresponsive [and is] not breathing."

The flight, an Airbus A320 which reportedly housed 147 passengers, landed safely in Syracuse shortly after 7 a.m., thanks to the flight's co-pilot. Per a requirement in the United States, all airlines must have two pilots aboard any given flight. "We're certainly well qualified to handle situations like these," a spokesperson tells BBC News. "That's why you've got more than one pilot in a cockpit."





Check out Kanya the lingerie model born without legs

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lingerie-model-without-legs-kanya.jpgKanya Sesser, of Los Angeles, is breaking through the boundaries of the modelling industry by posing in bras and underwear in revealing photos that display her missing legs, but not a disability.

The aspiring model, who is of mixed origin, was abandoned on the steps of a Buddhist temple in Thailand when she was just one week old and brought to Portland, Oregon at age five by her adoptive parents, is hoping to use her career to show that different is sexy.

Kanya shared: 'It's something fun and it shows my story - I'm different and that is sexy. I don't need legs to feel sexy.'

The beauty said she has modeled for big brands like Nike and many others in her budding career.

After beginning her modelling career at age 15 by posing for a number of sports brands, Kanya said she was then scouted by underwear brands.

She revealed: 'I enjoy making money from it and I love showing people what beauty can look like.'

And she isn't lying. Despite her missing limbs, she is not missing out on any money. As a lingerie model, Kanya is averaging about $1,000 a day doing shoots for magazines, online web portals and print

"These images show my strength," Kanya said of her modelling shots, which show her posing in lace thongs and bras in range of seductive positions.

Kanya, who loves extreme sports and hopes to compete in mono-ski competition at the 2018 Winter Paralympics South Korea, said she never intended to be a model, but 'it just happened' for her.





whos-the-boss.jpgOn Saturday night's episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?", former child star Danny Pintauro revealed that he has been living with a big secret for more than a decade: He is HIV-positive.

Everyone remembers the young, blond-haired Pintauro as Jonathan on the family sitcom "Who's the Boss?" For eight years, Pintauro played the son of a driven single mother, winning over audiences with his nerdy charm. But, in the years after "Who's the Boss?" ended, the once-lighthearted little boy grew into a complicated young man trying to live a private life in the public eye.

In his sit-down with Oprah, Pintauro -- who goes by "Daniel" now -- begins the interview by sharing his long-held secret.

"I wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but I wasn't ready. I'm ready now," Pintauro says. "I'm HIV-positive, and I have been for 12 years."

Part of why Pintauro hadn't spoken publicly about his health before, he says, is because he wasn't sure if people were ready for a conversation of this magnitude. "It's just a big deal, you know? It's not something that people are really talking about right now," Pintauro says.

This isn't the first time Pintauro has revealed a private detail about his personal life. In 1997, when he was a college student, Pintauro came out as gay -- but he hadn't exactly planned to. "I was outed," Pintauro says. "It wasn't by choice."

The actor says that a tabloid reporter called him back then saying the paper was going to out him whether he cooperated or not. His former "Who's the Boss?" co-star, Judith Light, encouraged Pintauro to participate as a way of controlling the conversation. "It was the best thing," Pintauro says now. "'They can't misquote you,' she said. 'And as long as you give really responsible and mature answers, it can't be a bad article.'"

And, as Pintauro realized, it wasn't. "Believe it or not, the 'National Enquirer' actually did a really fantastic, heartwarming article about it," he says. "I was shocked."

Pintauro says he regularly underwent routine HIV testing every six months. Then, in March of 2003, his whole world changed.

"I was living in New York at the time and completely clueless to the idea that I was positive. I went in for a regular checkup," Pintauro says. "It was just regular blood work. You go in, and you sort of waited two weeks on pins and needles -- or at least I did, because I was just terrified of the idea of getting HIV."

Having come out of a two-year relationship, Pintauro admits later in the interview that he had been looking to explore more sexually and began using crystal meth as a means to that end. "I was doing crystal meth, which completely ruins your immune system. I'd been doing it at that point very briefly, but it was three weeks or so, off and on," he explains. "I had just come out of a two-year relationship, and I discovered in that relationship that there was more I wanted to explore sexually. Crystal meth takes away your inhibitions... And if you want to explore that adventurous side, taking the drug is going to put you there.

"I was experimenting," he continues. "And believe it or not, I thought that I was being safe in that encounter. I know exactly when it happened."

Though Pintauro doesn't go into those details, he does say that he doesn't remember the man's name. "I regret not knowing that, because that person has completely changed my life," he says.





congressman-steals-pope-water.jpgA congressman stole the water glass Pope Francis was drinking out of during his address at the White House on Thursday.

Representative Bob Brady, a devout Catholic and Democrat from Pennsylvania immediately made his way to the podium after Pope Francis finished speaking and grabbed the glass that was still filled with water.

He then drank the water, gave some of the water to his wife Debra, and saved the rest for his grandchildren.

Representative Brady took photos as well, and had his staff send them out to the press.

He also shared some of the water with members of his staff and assistant, also a devout Catholic.

As for the saved water, he plans to sprinkle it on his grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Representative Brady may also get the chance to nab another one of Pope Francis' water glasses too, as he will be heading to Brady's district of Philadelphia over the weekend.

The congressman plans to attend Holy Mass and hear the Pope Francis speak in the city.

This is not the first time Brady has pulled a stunt like this, with the Philadelphia Daily News reporting he did the same thing after President Obama's inauguration, though he just saved that glass and did not drink from it.

They also spoke to Representative Brady who said he had saved the cup and would have police dust it for fingerprints to prove it was used by Pope Francis.

He also had police dust President Obama's glass as well.





us-cops-kill-wheelchair-man.jpg

This is the shocking moment a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot dead in a street by Delaware police

Shocking moment US cops shoot and kill wheelchair-bound black man

This is the shocking moment a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot dead in the street by Delaware police.

Officers had been responding to a 911 call that someone had attempted to shoot themselves, when they arrived to find Jeremy McDole 'still armed with a handgun.'

Cops opened fire on McDole, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a friend aged 18, after repeated requests for him to 'drop the gun.'

McDole's mother, Phyllis, has criticized the shooting as 'unjust' during a police news conference.

The incident, which took place in a Wilmington street, Delaware on Wednesday afternoon was caught on camera by stunned witnesses who uploaded it to You Tube.

The 1-minute-and-19-second-long clip opened with an officer, armed with a shotgun, shouting for the wheelchair-bound McDole to 'show his hands.'

A shot is fired just seconds later, before more cops move in shouting at the 28-year-old: 'Show me your hands! Drop the gun! Drop the gun!'

McDole appeared to be bleeding although the footage does not make clear if this was from the officer's first shot or if he had been previously injured in the alleged suicide attempt. His handgun is not easily identifiable in the video.

He is then seen putting his hands into his pockets at which point he in gunned down in a flurry of bullets with around ten shots fired.

McDole slumps over and falls to ground, dead. Cops said a .38-caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.

Police Chief Bobby Cummings said during a news conference that none of the officers involved 'intended to take anyone's life that day.'

He said that police had told him repeatedly to put his gun down but had 'engaged him' after he went to remove the weapon from his waist.

But Mrs McDole disputed the cops' version of events and interrupted the conference to demand answers.

'He was in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. There's video showing that he didn't pull a weapon, she said.

McDole's sister Letesha Green also criticized the cops for not attempting to use non-lethal force before opening fire.

'Why couldn't you taser this man out of his wheelchair,' she asked, reported NBC Philadelphia. 'Why couldn't you use rubber bullets to get him out of the wheelchair?'

However, Cummings said he had also viewed the video and believed the four officers involved - who have all been placed on administrative duty - acted correctly.

'The officers perceived what was a threat and they responded and they engaged,' he said, adding that only a 'thorough investigation' would reveal if they should have taken a different course of action.

Wilmington Police Department's criminal investigation and professional standards unit is now investigating the incident as is the Delaware Department of Justice's Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust which investigates all police fatal shootings.

The findings will determine whether the officers involved are to be charged.

Witnesses claim that McDole may have been trying to kill himself.





david-cameron-and-lord-ashcroft.jpgBritish Prime Minster David Cameron is trending on Twitter, but not for a good reason.

The hashtag #piggate has gone viral because of a new biography about Cameron, which says he once put his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig.

The inflammatory book titled Call Me Dave, was written by Lord Anthony Ashcroft, a former friend and treasurer of David Cameron's ruling Conservative Party.

The book says while Cameron, 48, was a student at the prestigious Oxford University, he took part in an "outrageous" initiation ceremony to join a debauched group called the Piers Gaveston Society which required him to place his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig.

The book says the severed head of the dead pig was sitting on a club member's lap and Mr Cameron "inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal's mouth".

The book also alleges among other things,that Mr. Cameron smoked cannabis as a student, joining a "dope smoking group" called the Flam Club, and cocaine was allowed to circulate at the London home of him and wife Samantha.

The author, Lord Ashcroft, who is also the 37th richest man in the UK, made it clear in the book that he has "beef" with Cameron because he did not receive a top job in Cameron's government back in 2010 though he was promised that he would.

The biography is therefore seen as revenge by many Brits including Cameron's spokeswoman who said she's "not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment or any PM reaction to it."

She added that the author "has set out his reasons for writing it."





clock-boy-ahmed.jpgPresident Barack Obama has extended a personal White House invitation to a 14-year-old Muslim boy from Texas who was detained by police after bringing in a homemade, beeping clock, which teachers had mistaken for a bomb.

No charges were filed. The story of the student, Ahmed Mohamed, spurred accusations of Islamophobia and the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to trend on Twitter, while his older sisters set up an account for him, @istandwithahmed, which has collected more than 26,000 followers within hours.

"Cool clock, Ahmed," Obama said on Twitter on Wednesday. "Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

According to The Dallas Morning News, Ahmed, who likes to invent things, brought a homemade digital clock, made out of a circuit board covered by a pencil case that resembles a metal briefcase, to MacArthur High School in Irving on Monday. He showed it to his engineering teacher and kept the clock inside his bag in another class, but his clock's alarm started beeping, the newspaper said. He then showed it to its teacher, who told him "Well it looks like a bomb. Don't show it to anyone else," and took it from him, NBCFW.com reported.

"I closed it with a cable, 'cause I didn't want to lock it to make it seem like a threat, so I just used a simple cable so it won't look that much suspicious." Ahmed said in a video posted by the outlet.

The school phoned police. Ahmed was suspended for three days. Irving police said in a report on Tuesday that cited three complaints from MacArthur High School teachers against the teen on the charge of bringing a "hoax bomb" and said Ahmed said it was a clock but offered no further explanation.

Ahmed told The Dallas Morning News that he was "interrogated" by several officers, who searched through his belongings, confiscated his tablet and took his fingerprints and mug shots before releasing him, after which he was able to talk to his parents. They believe race played a factor in their son being detained, while school officials say the reaction to the clock would have been the same regardless of his religion, NBCFD.com reported.

"It made me feel like I wasn't human," Ahmed told the newspaper. "It made me feel like a criminal."

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said in a press conference that the student was handcuffed "for his safety and for the safety of the officers," taken to a juvenile detention center and then released. He said a follow-up investigation revealed the device was a homemade experiment and there's no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm.

"No charges will be filed and the case is considered closed," he said.

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also expressed their support for Ahmed.

"Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe-they hold us back," Clinton tweeted. "Ahmed, stay curious and keep building."

"Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest," Zuckerberg said on Facebook. "The future belongs to people like Ahmed. Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I'd love to meet you. Keep building."

"Thank you for your support!" Ahmed wrote on Twitter. "I really didn't think people would care about a Muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme #IStandWithAhmed."

"We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again," he added.





mosque-deaths-moment-fatal-crane-struck-by-lightning.jpgAt least 87 people were killed and more than 180 injured when a crane crashed through the ceiling of the Grand Mosque of Mecca amid high winds and thunderstorms today.

Dramatic footage shows the moment the crane toppled in heavy rain, with another video capturing the chaos and confusion inside the building after impact.

Upsetting photos posted on social media shows the polished tiled floor of the mosque covered in rubble, bodies and pools of blood, and people fleeing the area bleeding and covered in soot.

The tragic incident in Saudi Arabia occurred shortly before the 6:30pm Friday evening prayer session - one of the busiest times of the week - causing devastation to what is the largest mosque in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are gathering at the holy site from all over the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage set to begin later this month.

A massive project is currently under way to increase the area of the mosque by 4.3million sq ft - so that it can accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.

Pictures taken before today's disaster show the fatal crane being struck by a bolt of lightning and authorities are in little doubt that extreme weather was to blame.

Earlier, the Civil Defense had issued thunderstorm, heavy rain and wind warnings in the area. Authorities say search and rescue teams and medical workers from the Saudi Red Crescent are now working at the scene.

The Grand Mosque, or Great Mosque of Mecca, surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba, in the city of Mecca.

The mosque is usually at its most crowded on Fridays as it is the Muslim weekly day of prayer, when Muslims face in the direction of the Kaaba while performing their obligatory daily prayers.

One of the five pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

Muslim faithful from about 160 countries converge on the Islamic city and other locations in western Saudi Arabia to complete the holy journey.





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Brothers Accused of Trying to Kill Parents at Georgia Home (ABC News)

Two brothers are in jail after they were accused of trying to kill their parents at the family's Georgia home, police said.

Just before 8 a.m. Saturday, a woman called 911 "stating her children were trying to kill her and her husband," the Gwinnett County Police Department said in a news release.

"She told the 911 operator that it was their two sons, one 17 and the other 22 years old, trying to kill them both. She stated that her husband was distracting them so she was able to call for help. The call eventually went silent," the police said.

Officers responded to the Snellville, Georgia, home, about 30 miles outside of Atlanta, where they found the father bleeding and seriously injured, police said.

The mother was also seriously injured, police said. Both parents were hospitalized.

"A strong odor of natural gas" was also detected in the house, police said. The sons were arrested and taken to the Gwinnett County Detention Center, police said.

The brothers were identified as Cameron Ervin, 17, and Christopher Ervin, 22, the Gwinnett County Police told ABC News.

"You would never even expect that," neighbor Clint Miller said, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta. "They're just an everyday normal family in the neighborhood."

Both brothers were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and arson in the first degree to endanger human life, the police told ABC News. In Georgia, 17 is considered an adult for prosecution of criminal offenses.

Possible motives have not been fully determined, the police said.

Police said it was not clear whether the brothers had lawyers.





katrina-girl-found.jpgAir Force Pararescue Jumper Mike Maroney had just returned from a devastating rescue mission in Afghanistan when he was called to New Orleans in September 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Maroney and his team spent seven days descending on rooftop after rooftop, rescuing stranded residents around the city, a grim task that left him wondering how many would actually survive.

One of the few bright spots was an adorable, pigtailed three-year-old girl, who greeted the soldier with a big, joyous hug after she and her family landed in his helicopter.

That hug "recharged me and gave me a little bit of a silver lining and some hope...that kept me going through rough times," Maroney, 40, now an Air Force Reservist who teaches people how to become pararescue jumpers in San Antonio, Texas, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "It couldn't have come at a more important moment."

Maroney, who never got the little girl or her family's names, has been searching for her ever since - and he's finally found her, he tells PEOPLE.

Her name is LeShay Brown, she's now 13 years old and she lives with her family in Waveland, Mississipi. The two will reunite in New Orleans later this month.

"I can't wait to meet her to tell her how important she is," he says.

"In my line of work, it doesn't usually turn out happily," he says. "This hug, this moment, was like - everybody I've ever saved, that was the thank you."

The Hunt Begins

The hug soon became an iconic image of the rescue efforts in the hurricane-ravaged town, thanks to a military photographer who snapped a photo of the heartwarming moment captured when Maroney dropped them off at the New Orleans airport.

"It was everywhere, on Burger King placemats and AT&T phone cards," Maroney told the Air Force Times, which first broke the story of his hunt for the little girl in March 2015. "A foundation for fallen rescue airmen - That Others May Live - used it on their brochures."

While LeShay doesn't remember the hug herself (she was too little), her mom remembers every moment of that meeting - as ironically, LeShay was comforting her as well.

"I was crying because I was scared...that was the first time I was on a helicopter, the first time I was on a plane and the first time I ever left New Orleans" Shawntrell Brown, who works at a local Dollar Store in Mississippi, tells PEOPLE.

"The helicopter had open doors, so I looked out and you could just see all the water over everything," she says, "and it was just too much for me, so she was comforting me."

Shawntrell, who says her three-year-old was "so smart, and always talking" knew the hug had been captured on film, but never found out what happened with it.

"They told me the picture might be in a magazine, but after all that time, I forgot about it," she explains. She had other things on her mind.

After Maroney brought the Browns to the airport, they were transferred to Tennessee.

"We didn't even know where we were going, but at that point, it didn't matter," she says. "Someone was there to help us."

Neither of them were aware of Maroney's search until recently - which was not surprising to Maroney, who said he knew the chances of finding her were slim.

"I figured one in a trillion," he says. "I thought it never would have happened."

And it almost didn't.

Through the years, Maroney kept posting about his efforts to find the little girl on his personal Facebook and Instagram pages.

But it wasn't until a high school student in Waterford, Michigan got involved that his search gained traction.

16-year-old Andrew Goard - whose grandfather was in the military police in Vietnam - has a fascination with pararescue jumpers and even launched an Instagram page to honor them.

After being alerted to Maroney's search by other jumpers on his page, Goard decided to take on the cause himself "because Mike had 18 years of service and he had never really been thanked for his service," he tells PEOPLE.

The high schooler used his page (which at the time had roughly 3,000 followers) to launch the #FindKatrinaGirl campaign in February 2015, which was then seen and written about by the Air Force Times, and picked up by hundreds of news outlets.

One of those was near where LeShay now lives - and so the #FindKatrinaGirl campaign finally made its way to the little girl herself.

"The whole neighborhood told us they saw LeShay on the news and everybody told us someone was looking for her," Shawntrell says.

After she saw the picture herself, "I knew that it was her," she says. "I didn't know he still remembered it, that he was that moved by her."

She reached out to Maroney and, later this month, he will finally meet up with the little girl who started it all.

And LeShay (who plans to be a lawyer or basketball player when she grows up), is ready for the big reunion herself.

"I was excited that he was looking for me for such a long time," she tells PEOPLE. After all, she exclaims, "I've barely seen any of the pictures!"





couple-replace-alcohol-with-marry-juana.jpgFor their recent wedding in Oregon, California-based marijuana grower John Ellege and his bride-to-be Whitney Alexander made a decision - the big day would be all about the bud, and not the beer.

Eschewing the free-for-all liquor custom - and the drunken guests that come with it - the teetotaler couple, who were married on a Christmas tree farm in West Linn, south of Portland, on August 8, instead set up a tent with an open weed bar - or 'cannibar' - complete with a 'budtender' to serve up the stash to those who cared to toke.

On the menu? A selection of 13 strands of 'marry-juana', and a very chill time.

'The tent was set well away from the rest of the reception, and facing away from the crowd to control where the smoke went,' the bride told The Huffington Post.

'There were actually guests that had no idea it was there until after the fact.'

Besides keeping the weed bar separate from the actual reception, the couple researched the legalities of serving marijuana.

According to the state's Oregon Measure 91, such an event was legal so long as they were on private property and there was no alcohol being served.

They also could not have more than the legal limit of eight ounces of pot on the premises.

Both were doable, they determined, and well worth it.

'The oldest person in the tent was an 81-year-old woman who hadn't smoked weed since the '60s,' Ellidge told The Huff Post.

'She loved it.'

But extra measures also had to be taken. It was the responsibility of the 'budtender' to ensure guests didn't smoke too much, and transportation to and from the wedding was provided for all guests.

Wedding planners Nora Sheils and Elizabeth Corr of Bridal Bliss said it was the first green wedding they had ever been involved with.

"We were worried that the tent might take away from the reception but it did the exact opposite,' Sheils told The Huff Post.

'Guests had a fun time and ended up dancing the night away, just like any other wedding.'

As the reception drew to a close, trays of french fries and pastries were brought out for people who suddenly found themselves hungry.

For more photos, visit the website of the wedding photographer, Jessica Hill Photography.





A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge was freed yesterday from a Missouri prison after being behind bars for two decades - a period in which the nation's attitudes towards pot have steadily softened.

Family, friends, supporters, and reporters flocked to meet Jeff Mizanskey as he stepped out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center into a sunny morning, wearing a new pair of white tennis shoes and a shirt that read 'I'm Jeff & I'm free'.

"I spent a third of my life in prison," said Mizanskey, now 62, who was greeted by his infant great-granddaughter. "It's a shame."

After a breakfast of steak and eggs with family, Mizanskey said he planned to spend his post-prison life seeking a job and advocating for the legalisation of marijuana. He criticised sentencing for some drug-related crimes as unfair and described his time behind bars as "hell".

His release followed years of lobbying by relatives, lawmakers and others, who argued that the sentence was too stiff and that marijuana should not be forbidden.

Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 - the same year California became the first state to legalise marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational marijuana has been legalised in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, DC.

"The reason he's getting out is because the public clearly has changed its opinion about marijuana, and it's just one of many ways in which that has been reflected in recent years," said Mizankey's attorney, Dan Viets.





reporters-killer.jpgA disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment this morning is in very critical condition after attempting to kill himself.

It was previously reported that Lester Lee Flanigan had died after shooting himself, but authorities are now saying that they have found him in Fauquier County, Virginia and he still has a pulse.

Viewers of WDBJ, a small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as the employee shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, as the two were filming a light-hearted live segment just before 7am.

Flanigan fled the scene after the shooting and then took to Twitter to explain his reasons for killing his former coworkers, all while being pursued closely by police.

Via his Twitter account, Lester Lee Flanigan posted a chilling video of the moment he first approached Ward and Parker as they filmed a segment. Then a gun is drawn and two WDBJ7 were left dead, while their interview subject, local chamber of commerce chief Vicki Gardner, was rushed to surgery.

WDBJ viewers watched in horror this morning as gun shots rang out during the interview, which was being broadcast live.

WDBJ viewers watched in horror this morning as gun shots rang out during the interview, which was being broadcast live. Above, a grab from the station's live video.

After cameraman Ward dropped to the ground, his camera kept rolling and the shooter is seen in the background leveling a gun at him.

Flanigan, who is African American, wrote that Parker made 'racist comments' and that a complaint was filed against her through the equal employment opportunity commission, but his station chose to hire her anyway.

As for Ward, Flanigan says that after working with the cameraman once, Ward complained to HR about the former general assignment reporter. It's unclear what exactly happened between the two men.

The station manager of WDBJ says that Flanigan left the station about two years ago, but that he still lived in the community. He did not go into detail about whether Flanigan was fired or quit on his own accord.

But the most shocking post of all was a video Flanigan took of the attack, which he shared on his Twitter.The chilling clip is taken from Flanigan's point of view and shows him approaching the two journalists as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the local chamber of commerce.

He opens fire first on Ward and then turns to kill Parker. Parker and Ward died at the scene while Gardner was rushed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery.

After posting the graphic video of the attack, Flanigan's Twitter account was suspended.

Police tracked down Flanigan to Fauquier County, Virginia where he attempted to shoot himself. However, he did not die and is in critical condition.





reporters-killed.jpgA gunman killed two members of a news crew and injured one more in Moneta, Virginia, in a shooting that was partially captured on video on Wednesday morning.

Police are investigating the shooting at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake that took place at about 6.45am ET. A news crew from WDBJ7 local news was on the scene to film a segment for the morning news when several shots rang out. Screams followed and the camera recording the feature fell, as producers cut to the shocked studio news team.

The station later announced that two of their team, Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, had been shot dead.

reporter-killed-photo-1.jpg

"Today was just like any other day," anchor Kim McBroom said on the morning broadcast. "They did great work every day and put their all into everything they did. "They were special people. They would lighten up a room."

With crying on the set of the studio audible, another anchor, Jean Jadhon, described Parker as "a rock star. She was a professional, so much fun and so kind".

Jeff Marks, general manager, recounted what police had told the station. "Someone with a gun, we believe it was a man, barged into where they were and fired several shots, six or seven, it sounded like. We heard screaming, and then we heard nothing, the camera fell.

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"The scene was described to us as chaos."

He expressed disbelief at the shooting: "How can this individual have robbed these families of Adam and Alison of their happiness and their love, for whatever reason."

Parker originally joined the station as an intern, and had graduated from James Madison University in 2012. According to her profile on the site, she enjoyed kayaking and local theater.

Ward was described as a gregarious, hardworking photojournalist, an avid fan of Virginia Tech and longtime employee of the station. He was engaged to Melissa Ott, a producer on the station who was celebrating her last day on Wednesday before going to a new job in Charlotte. He had planned to join her there and find a new job with her.

Parker had recently celebrated a birthday and was dating WDBJ7 reporter Chris Hurst.The station chief said the news team would hold a memorial on Wednesday afternoon.

Police from Franklin and Bedford counties as well as Virginia state police are searching for a suspect at the scene. They have not described the extent of the third victim's injuries.

Schools in the area have been locked down until further notice, the Bedford County superintendent announced.





Medical marijuana industry grows

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ganja-licence.jpgNearly a year after the state's six medical-marijuana dispensaries opened, patients are changing their habits.

For quick relief, they are smoking marijuana less and inhaling its vapours and therapeutic oils more, those in the industry say. Others are eating cookies or placing strips with the various active ingredients into their mouths to alleviate pain, nausea and seizures associated with the growing list of ailments.

Prices that a year ago were markedly more expensive than the underground market have dropped sharply and are now competitive, according to dispensaries, state officials and market analysts.

"When I started having success, I took the oil," said William McDonald, 42, of Monroe, referring to CBD extract, which does not induce a high.

McDonald has had cancer as well as complications from a 2008 bite of a brown recluse spider that included a staph infection and heart failure. His daily regimen starts with a strip of marijuana oil under his tongue first thing in the morning. He will inhale the vapours of a Cannabis Sativa strain during the day to elevate his mood, then the Cannabis Indica strain to relax and help bring on sleep in the evening.

"I was giving up because none of the medicine was working," McDonald said, noting marijuana has helped him. "My depression stopped," he said. "My anxiety about death has stopped."

Angela D'Amico, owner of the Compassionate Care of Connecticut dispensary in Bethel, said the shift away from smoking is the result of a widening array of treatment options.

"The absorption is that much greater when you vaporise rather than burn with a match, with the puff of a joint or smoking a pipe," D'Amico said.

A pharmacist at the dispensary recommends treatment depending on the patient's condition.

Cancer patients vaporise marijuana with high percentages of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant, for quick relief of the nausea that accompanies motherapy.





human-trafficking.jpgA third staff member at Cayman Airways has been arrested for human smuggling.

Police say the 30 year-old woman, from Georgetown, was taken into custody on Monday, and is being questioned by detectives.

Last week, two other employees of the airline were arrested, in a joint operation, involving police, immigration and international agencies.

The allegations concern foreign nationals, legitimately living in Cayman, using false documents to leave the country.

On Friday, Cayman Airways said it was fully cooperating with the authorities, adding operations were not affected in anyway.





frank-gifford-and-wife-kathy-lee.jpgLegendary Monday Night Football broadcaster Frank Gifford, the husband of Today co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 84.

"It is with deepest sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father and friend Frank Gifford," said the Gifford Family in a statement. "Frank died suddenly on this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."

Before launching his sport casting career, Gifford spent 12 seasons with the New York Giants, making eight pro Bowl appearances and winning the MVP award in 1956.

Gifford earned an Emmy nod in 1976 (for Outstanding Sports Personality), and in '97 was a recipient of the Sports Emmys' Lifetime Achievement Award.

He played himself in a number of sports-themed sitcoms, including Spin City and Coach.





texas-man-shoots-8-dead-murderer.jpgA Texas man has been charged with capital murder after a family of six children, one of them his own son, and two adults were found shot to death in a house in Houston, officials said on Sunday.

The children ranged in age from 6 to 13. The bodies of all eight victims, some of them handcuffed, were found in three bedrooms of the house, Craig Clopton, a homicide detective with the Harris County Sheriff's office, told a news conference.

David Conley, 48, surrendered to police after a standoff at the house on Saturday night that lasted several hours, said Harris County Chief Deputy Sheriff Tim Cannon.

The dead included married couple, Valerie and Dwayne Jackson, and six children, one of them Conley's 13 year-old son Nathaniel. Conley had a prior relationship with the dead woman, and the shootings are believed to have stemmed from a domestic dispute, Cannon said.

"The mass killing and the taking of the entire family are tragic realities our community has been forced to confront all too often," Cannon said. "We do not and cannot fully comprehend the motivation of an individual that would take the lives of so many innocent people, especially the lives of the young people."

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Sheriff's deputies went to the house after a relative of one of the victims asked for a check on the family's welfare, Cannon said. They called for backup after learning that there was a man inside the home wanted for a prior aggravated assault.

When the deputies spotted the body of child through a window, they tried to force their way inside the home and were shot at before pulling back and calling for help.

Conley is being held without bond on three counts of capital murder, but each count can cover multiple offenses, officials said.

Authorities identified the children as Nathaniel Conley, 13, Honesty Jackson, 11, Dwayne Jackson, 10, Caleb Jackson, 9,

Trinity Jackson, 7, and Jonah Jackson, 6.





bride.jpgHe may have agreed to t ake her for better and for worse, but for one Algerian groom, seeing his new wife without make-up was a step too far.

The husband was so shocked after seeing his bride's face the morning after their wedding that he failed to even recognise her.

He even accused her of being a thief that had broken into his house.

After realising it was in fact the woman he had married only yesterday, he decided to take her to court - accusing her inflicting 'psychological suffering' by 'cheating' him with her make-up.

The groom is now seeking $20,000 (L13,000) damages.

Newspapers in the North African Arab country said the groom swore in court that he even mistook his wife for a 'thief who came to steal his apartment', Emirates 24/7 reports.

'He said he was deceived by her as she used to fill up her face with make up before their marriage,' the papers said, quoting a court source.

'He said she looked very beautiful and attractive before marriage, but when he woke up in the morning and found that she had washed the make-up off her face, he was frightened as he thought she was a thief.





stop-human-trafficking.jpgThe top Republican and top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are raising questions about the integrity of the State Department's annual report on human trafficking, pointing to the upgraded status of Cuba and Malaysia as cause for concern.

The report...lifted both Cuba and Malaysia from Tier 3, considered the worst offenders, to the Tier 2 Watch List. It said both countries are making progress in battling sex trafficking and various forms of forced labor...But the upgrade for Cuba comes as the Obama administration has renewed diplomatic ties and is pursuing more cooperation with the communist-led island nation.

The upgrade for Malaysia, where mass graves of migrant workers have recently spurred alarm, also makes it legally easier to include the country in a massive Asia-Pacific trade pact...The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but officials have previously insisted political considerations were not a factor in ranking the countries in the report. The TIP rankings can have tangible effects on the countries named by leading to a reduction in certain forms of U.S. assistance for the poor performers.





human-trafficking-awareness-training.jpgThe Malaysian Bar is perturbed by recent news reports suggesting that Malaysia will be upgraded from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List status in the rankings in the...2015 Trafficking in Persons ("TIP") report...It is inconceivable that Malaysia should receive an upgrade in 2015 based on the recent amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which, in any event, have yet to come into force.

If there is any lesson to be learnt from recent experience, it must be that the Government has an excellent record of drafting written plans, but a less than satisfactory record of implementing them. As such, the upgrade of Malaysia, if it were to occur, would be premature and undeserved. Further, the gruesome discovery of the "death camps" and mass graves of victims of human trafficking in May 2015 must necessarily be taken into consideration in the decision concerning Malaysia's current ranking, despite the cut-off date of March 2015 for the report. Such a discovery is irrefutable proof that human trafficking has been ongoing, on a large scale and for a considerable period of time, on Malaysian soil.

The Malaysian Government's alleged ignorance of this atrocity, which is incredulous, must not be disregarded or rewarded.





california-college-will-now-ask-students-to-pick-from-6-genders.jpgStudents at a California college weighed in on a change in the application process, and a decision has been made.

Beginning this fall, students at UC Irvine will have the option to self-identify about their sexual orientation on all university admissions forms, reports CBS Los Angeles.

The new form will ask students to pick one gender from six different choices. Prospective students will be asked to choose between male, female, trans male, trans female, gender queer/gender non-conforming and different identity.

CBS Los Angeles spoke to students at UC Irvine about the change.

"I feel like this is just a way of including everyone," said Augustine Pimentel.

"I don't mind; everybody do what they want. I don't want to judge people," says Nizar Hakim.

"I feel like people should have their freedom to be called what they want to be called," said Donna Taqawi.

Beyond the political or social reasons, some saw the financial reasons too.

"A lot of those questions when you're applying to graduate school or any sort of school are important for financial aid opportunities you can have," said Joanna Laird to CBS Los Angeles.

In a statement, Janet Napolitano, the president of the UC system said: "UC is working hard to ensure our campuses model inclusiveness and understanding. I'm proud of the work we've done so far, but it doesn't stop there. We must continue to look at where we can improve so everyone at UC feels respected and supported."

It wasn't the question itself that concerned one UC Irvine mom, but the reason why it was being asked.

"I don't know why they're asking it. I'd like to know their reason for asking it," said Elane Streets.

School officials told CBS Los Angeles the answers will be voluntary and not impact on the decision-making process for admissions.





nfl-player.jpgOver the weekend, Brandon Marshall found himself in a bit of a hazy situation. In Jamaica for his sister's wedding, Marshall wasn't necessarily partaking in any sort of activities that could get him suspended, but that didn't stop him from worrying about his next drug test.

According to Marshall, Jamaica smells like Denver, where smoking marijuana is legal. Naturally, Marshall got worried about being in the presence of all that marijuana, because if it were to show up in his next drug test, he'd most likely be facing a suspension. And let's face it, Geno Smith and the Jets are kind of in need of Marshall's services.

So, of course, Marshall tweeted about it to keep us all in the loop.

And then, perhaps getting paranoid, Marshall decided he didn't want to hide anything from the NFL. So, he then tweeted at the league and asked for its help in dealing with his situation.

The NFL did not, however, reply to Marshall's tweet, leaving Marshall's situation hazier than ever.





Man hid under ex-girlfriend's bed for 3 days

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A man who police say sneaked into a central New Jersey home and hid under a bed for three days before he was found was the ex-boyfriend of the homeowners' daughter.

Spotswood police announced late Tuesday that Jason Hubbard was charged with burglary in the incident, which occurred in May. He also was charged with theft of services because he allegedly charged his four cellphones in an electrical outlet under the bed.

Margaret Adamcewicz told WABC-TV (http://7ny.tv/1GHd4fa) on Wednesday that Hubbard was hiding upstairs underneath the bed in her daughter's bedroom. She said the two had dated five years ago.

"It didn't end well," Adamcewicz said. "He didn't say why he came back. He just picked our house to hide out in. He didn't have a home to live in.

"I haven't heard from him in five years," Adamcewicz said. "I wasn't scared, I was just angry."

Hubbard entered the home May 7, when the homeowner took out the garbage, authorities said. He remained jailed on $50,000 bail. It's not known if he has an attorney.





Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies say they have arrested a man on bestiality charges.

Deputies say 68-year-old Michael Crawford posted an ad on a popular website that caught the attention of a detective from the MCSO Animal Crimes unit.

The detective and Crawford communicated several times via telephone and e-mail. During those taped recordings and e-mail exchanges, deputies say that Crawford admitted to traveling the country to find horse owners willing to allow him to commit sexual acts with the animals.

"In one conversation, Crawford asked the detective what kind of horses and ponies he had, how large they were and if they are used to human sexual play. He later told the deputy that he purchased a non-refundable plane ticket to Phoenix adding, 'If you can really help with what I am seeking, I am definitely interested in traveling out to meet you.' Crawford said he would be bringing five shirts on which he wanted the horse to urinate. He told detectives he would mail them back to his home in Pennsylvania where he will wear them for arousal purposes."

According to MCSO, Crawford purchased a round-trip ticket to Phoenix with the intent to commit bestiality. Deputies say Crawford arrived at an airport in the Valley on Friday evening, July 10th. Video footage that was secretly recorded by MCSO detectives shows Crawford meeting with the planned horses.

"Perversion has reached a new level," said Sheriff Joe Arpaio in response to this latest bestiality investigation conducted by his animal crimes unit.

Deputies also say the suspect told them he's been performing sex acts on animals since the 1970s and he allegedly told them he is now retired after having worked for the government for more than 40 years.

The Sheriff said, "When he was arrested, he was shocked. He said I didn't do anything. Well, he did. He committed conspiracy. We are not going to let him go through the act.. of course, that's what he's thinking. He didn't do it, but we sure have enough to charge him."

Deputies arrested Crawford, who is now facing charges of bestiality, which is a class 6 felony. He has been booked into the Fourth Avenue jail.

"I take this crime seriously," stated Arpaio. "It is part of my office's fight against animal abuse. These animals are not meant to be sex toys for the perverted."

Arpaio says in the past five years, his deputies have made eight arrests for bestiality.





No weed at weed church

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no-weed-at-weed-church.jpgThe First Church of Cannabis announced that its first service Wednesday will not include marijuana due to an advanced warning from police.Church founder Bill Levin, who anointed himself the Grand Pooh-bah and Minister of Love, asked his followers on Facebook to refrain from bringing pot, which they intended to smoke as a sacrament, to their inaugural meeting.

"The Police dept has wagged [sic] a display of shameless misconceptions and voluntary ignorance. We will do our first service without the use of any cannabis," he wrote.

Levin, a 59-year-old carpenter, said that his Indianapolis-based house of worship would have a better chance securing its right to get high for spiritual purposes if his congregants were not dragged to criminal court.

"We will meet them in a civil court where the laws are clear about religious persecution," he continued. "We do not start fights. We Finish Them!"

In May, the First Church of Cannabis, which Levin had founded two months earlier, was designated a nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

Cannabis is currently illegal in Indiana for both recreational and medicinal use. But Levin argues that the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act should protect them from legal consequences for smoking the plant for religious purposes.

Several supporters expressed disappointment with the church's decision not to proceed with using the drug at its inaugural service as an act of civil disobedience.

"Make them arrest everyone/anyone, and make the state waste tax dollars blatantly in the open to see how much cannabis prohibition really costs," one supporter posted to the group's Facebook wall.

The church responded to many of these complaints with a quote from attorney Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who thinks the decision is a brilliant move from a "tactical perspective."

"You avoid the hassle of criminal charges, but instead you go to civil court to challenge the law. For standing to sue, generally speaking, you need an injury or threat of injury, causation and redress. The ... threat of arrest and prosecution is enough to get you there. Bill Levin is not stupid."





The white supremacist Ku Klux Klan has received approval from South Carolina officials to hold a pro-Confederate flag rally at the state capitol, a newspaper reported on Monday, less than two weeks after a white man shot dead nine people in a black church.

The suspect in the church shooting, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has confessed to the killing. He had previously posted a racist manifesto online as well as photos of him posing with a Confederate flag, a Civil-War era banner associated with slavery and seen by many as a symbol of racist oppression.

The shootings on June 17, in which all nine victims were black, unleashed shockwaves across the United States and triggered calls for South Carolina to stop displaying the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag's removal, and told the Post and Courier that she did not endorse the Klan's planned rally.

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the "Loyal White Knights" chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

The state capitol is located in South Carolina's capital, Columbia, about 115 miles (185 km) northwest of Charleston, home to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shootings occurred.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist organizations, lists the Loyal White Knights as an active group within the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

With roots reaching back to the Civil War, the Klan is known for its white robes and pointed hoods and for its acts of violence and intimidation against African-Americans, including cross burnings and killings.

An answering machine for the South Carolina chapter referred to Roof as a "warrior," according to the Post and Courier.

Federal authorities said on Monday they are investigating a spate of fires at predominantly black churches across the southern United States, though so far no link between the incidents has been established.

In past year, race relations have been increasingly under the spotlight in the United States amid growing anger over frequent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement, leading to demonstrations and occasional unrest.





A Connecticut man convicted of breaking his four-month-old daughter's arms, legs and ribs was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday, and ordered to take anger management classes and undergo a complete mental evaluation.

"You are either evil and a monster or very, very ill," Judge Maria Kahn told the man, Morice Wilkerson, 26, during a hearing in Superior Court in Bridgeport. Wilkerson broke down in tears as he was removed from the courtroom, and relatives also wailed and sobbed.

Wilkerson was convicted last month of third degree assault and risk of injury to a minor, after bringing the infant to a hospital in 2012 with all four limbs and two ribs broken.

He and his wife, Stephanie Kearney, had attempted to explain their daughter's multiple injuries by saying they were the results of various accidents, like rolling over while asleep, and genetic fragility.

Kearney, 25, was found not guilty of any crimes.

Before he was sentenced, Wilkerson pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying "I love my family and I would never do anything to hurt them."

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Kelley urged a significant sentence, arguing the girl's injuries could cause a crooked leg and stunted growth.

"This is one of the most troubling cases the state has ever prosecuted because of the severity of the injuries to such a young child," Kelley told the judge.

The judge sentenced Wilkerson to 10 years, with two years suspended.





Charleston shooting suspect confesses

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charleston-church-shooting-dylann-roof-court.jpgThe 21-year-old white man suspected of gunning down nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina has confessed to the crime, US media reported Friday, citing unnamed officials.

One law enforcement official told CNN that alleged shooter Dylann Roof told investigators that he "wanted to start a race war" when he walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday night and opened fire on a Bible study class.

All of the victims were black.

Roof -- who was arrested in North Carolina on Thursday and brought back to South Carolina after he opted not to fight extradition -- was due in court later Friday for a bond hearing.

"We are getting cooperation at this point," another official told local ABC affiliate WCIV.

Two sources also confirmed to NBC News that Roof -- whose Facebook page includes a picture of him wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia -- has confessed.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said Friday she believed Roof should face the death penalty if convicted. Capital punishment is legal in the southern state.

"This is an absolute hate crime," she told NBC's "Today" show.

"We will absolutely will want him to have the death penalty. This is the worst hate that I've seen and the country has seen in a long time," she said.

"We will fight this and we will fight this as hard as we can."

The carnage was the worst at a US place of worship in decades and recalled the darkest periods of US history, in a church once burned to the ground after a failed slave revolt.





rachel-dolezal.jpgRachel Dolezal stepped down from her position as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington State on Monday - days after her ethnic identity became a national controversy.

The civil rights activist made the announcement in an open letter - posted on Facebook - to the organization's executive committee and members.

"It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley," she wrote.

Dolezal vowed to always fight for "what is right and good in this world" and thanked everyone who had supported her throughout the media firestorm that erupted over her ethnicity.





shocked.jpgA Finnish court on Monday sentenced a 36-year-old woman to life in prison for killing her five newborns between 2005 and 2013 and hiding them in a freezer.

The Oulu district court in western Finland found the woman guilty of five counts of murder and five counts of disturbing the peace of the dead for failing to give the babies proper burials.

"The homicides took place by leaving the newborns without care and warmth... Clearly this measure... caused particular agony to the babies," the court said in its ruling.

The woman, who has a 14-year-old son, had pleaded innocent and said the babies were all stillborn. But the court ruled on the basis of dental examinations that at least some of the babies had lived for up to four days before dying in a bucket where she had left them.

The horrific crimes were discovered in June 2014 when neighbours began to complain of a bad smell in the apartment building where a new couple had moved in. It was soon discovered that the woman had dumped the babies' bodies in garbage bags in the building's cellar. Previously she had managed to hide the bodies by keeping them in a freezer in her old apartment but there was no longer room for a freezer in the new apartment.

Court documents showed she had hid her pregnancies under loose clothing, and gave birth to the babies at home without anyone's knowledge.District prosecutor Sari Kemppainen told AFP that all of the babies were born full-term or nearly full-term.

The fathers of the first two babies were not identified, but in 2010 she married a man and got pregnant a third time. She later told him she had suffered a miscarriage. The husband went on to father two more babies, but was unaware of his wife's pregnancies or crimes. He petitioned for divorce immediately after the bodies were discovered.

When questioned by police, the mother was unable to explain why she had opted to keep, and not bury, the bodies.





naacp-rachel-dolezal.jpgRachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP, is being accused of falsely portraying herself as a black woman, CBS News' Adriana Diaz reports.

Her biological parents claim she is misrepresenting "major portions of her life," including being born white. As the city's mayor says it has opened an investigation and is gathering facts to determine if any city policies were violated, Dolezal is denying these accusations.

"Actually, I don't like the term African-American; I prefer black. So, if asked, I would say, yes, I consider myself to be black," Dolezal said to Spokane affiliate KREM.

But Dolezal's biological parents say that's just not true.

"Our daughter is primarily German and Czech and of European descent," her mother said.

Her parents, Ruthanne and Larry, live in a rural home in Troy, Montana.

Her father described a young Dolezal as blonde, blue-eyed and freckled-face.

"No way to get around it," he said.

The couple say their daughter is pretending to be someone she's not.

"Rachel has wanted to be somebody she's not. She's chosen not to just be herself but to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person," Ruthanne said.

Dolezal's biography at Eastern Washington University says she received her master's degree from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.

KREM-TV obtained police reports in which Dolezal claims to be the victim of several hate crimes. They found that police responded but no suspects were identified and no arrests were ever made.

She said the only ones questioning her identity are Larry and Ruthanne.

"I don't give two (expletive) what they think," Dolezal said.

"It's more important for me to clarify that with the black community and my executive board than with people who don't understand," she said.

In the past, Dolezal has identified herself as a mix of black, white and Native American.

Dolezal dismisses the controversy as little more than an ugly byproduct of family dysfunction.





malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-1.jpgFour Western tourists were ordered deported from Malaysia on Friday after pleading guilty to obscenity charges for taking nude photos on a popular climbing peak, an act some in the country blamed for causing a deadly earthquake.

The defendants -- Eleanor Hawkins of Britain, 24, Dutchman Dylan Snel, 23, and Canadian brother and sister Lindsey, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22 -- were arrested earlier this week in the wake of the deadly June 5 quake which killed 18 people on Mount Kinabalu.

A court in Kota Kinabalu, capital of the state of Sabah on Borneo island, sentenced them to three days' jail time starting from when they were arrested on Tuesday, meaning their term had been served.

They also were fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit ($1,330) and ordered deported for committing an "obscene act in a public place," which can carry a three-month jail term.

It was not immediately clear when they would be deported.





malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-1.jpgA group of Western tourists who sparked anger in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain could be sentenced to three months in prison - or face a traditional Malay tribunal and pay a fine of 10 buffalo.

Eleanor Hawkins, a 24-year-old from Derby, was arrested on Tuesday after a photograph appeared showing her and nine others posing naked on top of Mount Kinabalu.

Of the ten tourists, five have been arrested, including a Canadian brother and sister, Lindsey, 22, and 23-year-old Danielle Peterson; another Candadian, 33-year-old Emil Kaminski, and a Dutch man, Dylan Snel, 23.

Authorities are currently searching for the other five people involved.

The detained group are being held in at Karamunsing police station in Kota Kinabalu, the main town near Mount Kimbalu.

According to Malaysian law, the punishment for such an offence is a fine of 400 ringgit ($106).

Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage Site and popular climbing destination, is considered sacred by Sabah's Kadazan Dusun tribal group, who believe it is a resting place for spirits. The pictures infuriated many in Malaysia.

On Friday a 6.0-magnitude quake struck near the mountain, sending landslides crashing down from its summit just as more than 150 hikers were at the peak enjoying sunrise views.

Sixteen people have been confirmed killed on the mountain and two remain missing.

In the wake of the disaster, Malaysian social media users and some Sabah officials have focused on the nudists, suggesting that their actions angered the spirits and led to the earthquake.

"This will certainly bring misfortune... we can't play with the spirit of the sacred mountain," deputy state chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan had told reporters on Saturday.malaysia-mount-kinabalu-naked-tourists-photo-2.jpg





creflo-dollar.jpgThe Gulfstream G650 isn't just any private jet. The billionaires lining up these luxury jets, which sell for upwards of $65 million each, are willing to put their names on a waiting list for years just for the pleasure. It is the "Holy Grail" of luxury private jets, Bloomberg once wrote. And now, televangelist Creflo Dollar's ministry has announced that it will also buy a G650, a purchase the ministry says is "necessary" to spread God's word.

The announcement comes months after Dollar's ministries abandoned an earlier campaign to raise funds from his faithful followers for the same plane, following considerable backlash.

The board of World Changers Church International - which also operates as Creflo Dollar Ministries - said in a statement that the ministry will now go ahead and buy a Gulfstream G650 jet anyway, "at a time, place and price of our choosing."

"We wholeheartedly reject the notion that the ministry's airplane project is an imposition on our community or that it somehow takes advantage of our people," WCCI said in a lengthy statement. "We plan to acquire a Gulfstream G650 because it is the best, and it is a reflection of the level of excellence at which this organization chooses to operate."

Dollar's first fundraising effort for the plane, "Project G650," was dropped in March, just days after it was announced. A video outlining the campaign encouraged Dollar's followers to donate at least $300 each towards the purchase of a luxury jet. In the video, the ministry explained that the televangelist's current jet was more than 30 years old and was damaged in November.

In its most recent statement, the ministry described the luxury jet campaign as "standard operating procedure for people of faith" in "our community."

Dollar, the founder of the 30,000-member World Changers Church International in Georgia, preaches prosperity gospel, or that God will send earthly rewards (including wealth) to those who are properly faithful. In Dollar's ministry, that often includes "Honor Giving," a name Dollar sometimes uses for a practice akin to tithing, or giving 10 percent of your income to the church.

Although Dollar is a pretty high-profile evangelist, it's worth noting that most Christians, evangelical or otherwise, do not consider prosperity gospel to be a mainstream interpretation of Scripture.





maggi-noodles-india.jpgIndian shopkeepers withdrew a popular brand of Nestle instant noodles from their shelves Wednesday after tests revealed the snack contained unsafe levels of lead.

India's states have either ordered the withdrawal of Maggi noodles from shops or are carrying out further tests on noodle samples before taking action in conjunction with the federal government.

Maggi sales have plunged in India since laboratory tests showed the noodles contained lead at levels far higher than the legal maximum. The tests also detected the chemical flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is not mentioned in the product's list of ingredients.

On Tuesday, the Delhi city government said it had conducted tests on 13 samples of Maggi noodles and 10 were found to be unsafe with lead exceeding the allowable level. Earlier tests, performed by food safety authorities in Uttar Pradesh state, showed that samples contained 17.2 parts per million of lead, many times the allowable limits which range between 0.01 and 2.5 ppm.

The Delhi government said it will take legal action against Nestle India, which is a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA, and was meeting Wednesday with company officials. It banned the sale of Maggi noodles in all state-run stores in the Indian capital. Several major grocery chains in the city have also announced that they are taking the noodles off shelves.

Maggi noodles are a hot favorite with school and college students and Nestle's "two-minute" advertising campaign stressing the ease of making the snack have made it a household name in India. The noodles are Nestle's fastest selling food item in India, clocking around 15 billion rupees ($240 million) in sales annually.

Some of India's biggest film stars have appeared in television commercials aimed at mothers and young children to promote Maggi noodles. A court in Bihar state on Tuesday ordered that a complaint be filed against three of Bollywood's biggest stars, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta, for acting as brand ambassadors for Maggi.

Spurred by the Maggi noodle scare, India's federal government was readying a new law to deal with cases in which consumers of essential commodities and foods were misled through wrong information.





A South Florida judge has refused to release the teenage son of a prominent Canadian diplomat on bail pending trial on murder charges.

Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled Wednesday that 15-year-old Marc Wabafiyebazu was too great of a flight risk and would be difficult to extradite if he fled to Canada. He is the son of Roxanne Dube, Canada's consul general in Miami.

Wabafiyebazu faces felony murder and other charges as an adult in a March 30 shootout that killed his older brother and another teenager. Police say the slayings happened after the Wabafiyebazu brothers tried to rob marijuana dealers.

Marc Wabafiyebazu has pleaded not guilty. His mother says she is convinced he is innocent and had insisted she would ensure he remained in the US if released.





spelling-bee-champions-jody-anne-maxwell.jpgFor seven years in a row, and for 11 of the past 15 years, the $30,000 Scripps National Spelling Bee championship has been won by American youngsters of Indian heritage. They make up one in five of the 285 spellers, aged nine through 15, from all 50 states and seven foreign countries, who ran a gauntlet of local and regional contests to qualify for the big event.

One of them, Vanya Shivashankar, 13, who lives in Kansas, is back for a fifth time -- inspired no doubt by her sister Kavya, the 2009 champion. Last year ended in a tie between Sriran Hathwar of upstate New York and Ansun Sujoe from Texas after they failed to knock each other out after five rounds.

But on social media, the reaction from some of the nearly one million people viewing the finals live on cable television veered towards the xenophobic.

"One year I wish an American kid could win," read one of several dubious Twitter posts curated on Storify.com by tech journalist Jeff Chu.

"Not to be offensive...but how do kids from India dominate the American spelling bee?!?" read another tweet.

"The kids in the spelling bee should only be AMERICAN," declared a third.

Such sentiments clearly rankle the organizers of the National Spelling Bee, whose longtime core sponsor is the Scripps media group.

"I look forward to the day, as do I think many of our South Asian participants, when they are called what they want to be called -- Americans," bee director Paige Kimble, the 1981 champion, said Wednesday.

"The bee is one of the truest forms of meritocracy, and we support every kid no matter where they come from," Kimble added.

"It's unfortunate that people have some not very nice things to say on social media."

Americans of South Asian heritage make up just one percent of the US population, but only a few are really into competitive spelling, said Northwestern University anthropology professor Shalini Shankar. More often than not, those families hail from southern India and emigrated to America as highly educated professionals, notably in the tech sector.

"The kids that do make it are extremely talented by any standard, but even among Indian Americans they are really gifted," she said.

They also keep in practice, thanks to a network of regular competitive spelling events on the margins of the usual scholastic fixtures, Shankar told AFP.

And it's not just in spelling, either. Seven of the 10 finalists in the National Geographic Bee earlier this month were Indian American, including the winner, Karan Menon, from New Jersey.

Last year Swapnil Garg, from California, clinched the national Mathcounts challenge, which is more often won by high school students of Chinese ethnicity.

Only once has the National Spelling Bee actually been won by a non-American: Jody-Anne Maxwell, whose 1998 victory made her a celebrity in her native Jamaica. CAPTION: Jody-Anne Maxwell, whose 1998 victory made her person outside of the US to ever win the competition.





6 dead in Amtrack train crash

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philly-train-wreck.jpgAt least five persons are dead, following the derailment of an Amtrak train headed to New York City on Tuesday evening.

The derailment took place in Philadelphia, as train 188, a Northeast Regional, traveling from Washington, D.C., was going into a deep turn.

The front of the train has been described by eyewitnesses as "mangled."

Many of the injured passengers have been taken to area hospitals.

The area where the derailment occurred is known as Frankford Junction and has a big curve.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.





94-year-old man finally finishes college

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diploma.jpgA 94-year-old man will be one of the oldest graduates in the history of West Virginia University when he receives his diploma Sunday.

The school says in a press release that Anthony Brutto, who studied on and off for 75 years, will be awarded his Regents Bachelor of Arts degree during commencement.

Brutto first entered the university in 1939 when tuition was $50. He was drafted in 1942, serving in the Army Air Corps until the end of World War II.

Brutto re-enrolled at the school in 1946, but could not finish because he had to care for his sick wife.

A machinist by trade, Brutto says graduating from college was always important to him. He jokingly says he'll take a break before pursuing a master's degree.