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Nebraska High School OKs Guns In Senior Portraits

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(BROKEN BOW, Neb.) — A Nebraska school district changed its policy to allow seniors to pose with guns for their yearbook photos, and the school’s superintendent says he’s just catching up with the rest of the Midwest.

Students can pose with any type of prop, from rifles to basketballs, as long as what they’re wearing meets the school’s dress code and the photo is “tasteful and appropriate,” according to the new policy introduced this week.

“We are a very rural community right in the center of Nebraska where hunting and other shooting sports are very popular,” Broken Bow Public Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering said. “We have something that is known as the One Box Pheasant Hunt that is a hunt attended by people all over the nation.”

While hunting is huge, the city of Broken Bow is small. In fact, the district only has one high school, so the new policy doesn’t affect many students.

“We’re a town of about 3,500 people,” Sievering said. “On any given year, we might have 60 to 70 seniors. We’re not talking about hundreds of kids or several schools in a district.”

Still, when news of the new rule broke in the Omaha World-Herald, Sievering said he got calls from people across the nation who pictured “a fourth-grader coming into school and having their picture taken with a gun.”

“That is not what this is about,” he said, adding that students take the senior photos off campus. Sievering said he realizes that it could be easy for people who live in other parts of the country, where yearbook photos are taken at school, to “misconstrue” his policy.


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There was never a ban on weapons in senior photos at Broken Bow High School, but the district generally didn’t allow it, the superintendent said. Last year when a yearbook adviser asked about the policy, Sievering realized there wasn’t one, and he and the school board decided hunting was an important hobby to many students, and should be represented in the yearbook if students choose.

“I’m confident that students across the country are already taking photos like this. This is not a new thing,” he said.

Photographer Brian Baer said he takes yearbook photos for students throughout the state of Nebraska, including in Broken Bow, and has never heard of anyone banning weapons in photos.

“I’ve been in business for 20 years doing senior portraits, and this is the first time it’s been called to attention,” he said. “And I think it was addressed because of some sensitivity of school shootings that are becoming more common across the country, unfortunately.”

“When we do senior portraits, we ask our students to consider an activity that they’re interested in, that they’re passionate about,” Baer added. “Sometimes it’s dancing, sometimes it’s basketball, sometimes hunting is the activity they’re interested in.”


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Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Putting New Football Helmets to the Test: What’s Safest?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Preventing concussions has become a top priority for elite players and anyone with a child sporting a football jersey, and new technology and research is racing to try to make the game safer for all.

Virginia Tech University, which has tracked more than 300,000 impacts on its football team, is the epicenter for research into safer helmets. Their method uses a simple but critical test: lifting a football helmet rimmed with sensors six feet into the air, then dropping it onto a rubber-coated concrete and steel block.

The test mimics what players can face on the field, researchers told ABC News. Then a one- to five-star safety rating is assigned for each helmet tested. Helmets with more stars provide a reduction in concussion risk compared to helmets with fewer stars.

“If you don’t make a five-star helmet, a lot of times you can’t even bid on the sale of helmets. If a school puts out a call for proposals, it’ll say we are only taking bids for 5-star Virginia Tech rated helmets,” Stefan Duma, the director of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech, told ABC News. “I think if you are a manufacturer, you can’t be in the business unless you are making 5-star helmets.”

ABC News got an exclusive look inside the Virginia Tech lab, where engineers are doing something not unlike crash testing for automobiles.

“When you go buy a car it’s very clear this is a 4-star car, it’s a 5-star car. A lot of work goes into that. We basically wanted to develop a system analogous for helmets,” Duma said. “So when you go buy a helmet you can look at our website and see an independent way to see which perform better than others.”

Researchers took ABC News into the lab as they tested three new helmets on the market, each boasting new technologies — two from manufacturer SG and one from Riddell. The SG helmets are lighter, weighing half as much as other helmets.

“The interesting thing about this helmet,” Duma said in reference to the Simpson or SG helmet, “is that the shell is carbon fiber or Kevlar, so it’s super light and they use a different padding on the inside.”

And one from Riddell — the Speed Flex helmet, just released this fall.

“For the first time you’ve got a company making a non-ridged shell so you see this part right here, it actually deforms, that’s very unusual,” Duma said.

“You can push on that and see how easy it bends in,” Duma explained, noting that the flexibility is expected to be an additional safety feature. “That’s their claim.”

After two straight days of testing, all three helmets tested received a 5-star rating. The helmets they are testing are for kids 14 years and older.

Virginia Tech found Riddell’s new flex design reduced head acceleration better than any helmet they’ve tested.

Click here for a full list of their tested helmets and ratings.

The 5-star rating for both SG helmets came with two significant points: cracking was found in the helmet padding, or liner, in both helmets tested.

SG told ABC News: “The helmets are safe to use through the season” even with some cracking of the liner. “Annual reconditioning of helmets includes replacing liners,” a cost SG estimates around $16 per foam liner.

Virginia Tech also noted that SG indicates their helmets have a two-year lifespan — much shorter than the 10-year lifespan most other helmet companies claim. The company offers the possibility of re-certifying the helmet after two years.

Regarding the two-year lifespan, SG said “the helmets are new technology…and they haven’t been available long enough to know if they will last beyond two years.”

Virginia Tech researchers said they hope the work done inside the lab to rate and improve helmets will make football a safer sport.

“We want parents to learn that getting out of the old helmets, getting into the new better helmets, that’s gonna reduce [your kid’s] risk,” Duma said.


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Murder Suspect Back in Custody After Accidental Release

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

DPSCS(BALTIMORE) — A murder suspect who was mistakenly released from a Baltimore detention center is back in custody, authorities said.

Baltimore police captured Rodriguez Purnell about 6 p.m. He was accidentally allowed to walk free from the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center on Friday, police said.

Purnell, 30, has been in and out of jail for drugs and robbery over the years. He was recently incarcerated on a first-degree murder charge, accused of fatally shooting T.J. Rheubottom, 27, last year.

Purnell was in custody waiting to be retried for Rheubottom’s murder after his first trial ended in a hung jury, but after corrections officers confused his current case with the old charges, they let him go. Authorities didn’t realize the mistake until two days later when the victim’s family said they called the jail after Purnell was spotted hanging out in the neighborhood.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections said in a statement Wednesday that it placed an employee on paid administrative leave for mistakenly releasing Purnell.

“Preliminary results indicate a lapse in release procedures that would otherwise have identified the pending charges at the time of release,” the statement said.

Rheubottom’s mother, Jackie Davis, was stunned by Purnell’s release and worried for the safety of her family and witnesses in the murder case.

“This should have never happened,” Davis told ABC News.

The incident remains under investigation.


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Loyal Listeners Club

Former Blackwater Security Guards Guilty in Shooting Deaths of Iraqis

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Four former guards of a U.S. security company hired to protect diplomats were found guilty Wednesday in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 17 others.

The men, who were on trial for a second time after their case was dismissed in 2009, claimed their convoy came under attack in Baghdad and were returning fire.

However, federal prosecutors successfully argued that the former Blackwater guards were the aggressors in the incident and showed “grave indifference” to bystanders who were killed or injured by their actions.

A jury convicted Nicholas Slatten of first-degree murder, punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of lesser charges, including multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter.

Following the verdicts, all the defendants were ordered jailed while their lawyers said they would appeal.

Meanwhile, even after deliberating for a month, the jury still has to decide on the remaining counts in the case.

Blackwater has since been renamed Academia and bills itself as a private military company.


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Metal Depot

Huge Academic Scandal at UNC Involved Athletes

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — The University of North Carolina admitted Wednesday that about 3,100 students took so-called “paper classes” with no faculty oversight and no actual class attendance from 1993 through 2011.

The school estimates that half of the students were athletes, mostly from the UNC’s basketball and football teams.

Wednesday’s report goes much further than when the scandal first came to light in 2011, which initially stated that it was only about academics.

This revelation, however, drags the UNC’s vaunted athletic program into the morass.

According to the investigation conducted by the college, two employees in the African and Afro-American Studies department organized fake classes that doled out As and Bs to students who never showed up, presumably to maintain eligibility for sports.

The employees were Julius Nyang’oro, the department’s chairman, and Deborah Crowder, the department’s administrator. It was up to Crowder, the report alleged, to give out grades on single papers turned in by students, hence the term “paper classes.”

The investigation does not directly implicate any high level administrators at the school. However, it does suggest they missed obvious signs of improprieties and “failed to conduct any meaningful oversight.”


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Song of The Day

Eric Frein Lookalike Stopped by Cops 20 Times in Manhunt

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(CANADENSIS, Pa.) — A Pennsylvania man says he’s been stopped by police more than 20 times as authorities continue to search the area where he lives for accused cop killer Eric Frein.

James Tully’s walk to work crosses right through the manhunt area near Canadensis, where police have been searching the woods for Frein for more than five weeks.

Once, he said he was even ambushed at gunpoint by authorities who thought he was the suspect, Tully recalled.

“Because I’m walking and I’m carrying a book bag, and for some reason people seem to think I’m the one they’re looking for,” Tully told ABC News affiliate WNEP, adding that he’s been stopped by police too many times to remember.

“I’ve lost count after 20 in total,” he said. “The most on one round trip stretch was about seven times.”

Tully, who works for a metal manufacturing factory, has started wearing his employer ID card around his neck and a reflective vest on his walks.

“The one they’re hunting for, he’s not going to stand out,” Tully said. “He’s going to try and blend in. I want to stand out so I can let them know; look, I’m not the one they’re looking for. Just let me go on my way.”

Pennsylvania State Police did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Increased police presence has hurt businesses in the Pocono Mountains and put locals on edge, residents have said. In press conferences about the manhunt, Lt. Col George Bivens has repeatedly thanked people who live in the area for their support.

Pocono Mountain Schools were closed on Tuesday after a reported sighting of Frein near the school campus, but reopened on Wednesday.

Frein, a self-trained survivalist, is accused of shooting two troopers, killing one and injuring another, at the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12, and then fleeing into the woods.


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Passenger Arriving at Newark Evaluated for Possible Ebola

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEWARK, N.J.) — A passenger who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from Brussels on United flight 998 Tuesday was being evaluated for possible symptoms of Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The passenger was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Newark, N.J., which was designated as the facility for any passengers flagged by health screeners at the airport, the CDC said.

“During the enhanced screening process for individuals arriving to the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, an individual was identified as reporting symptoms or having a potential exposure to Ebola,” the CDC said in a statement Tuesday night. “The passenger is being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.”

The CDC said that if it is determined that the other passengers were in any risk of exposure they will be contacted by CDC or state or local health officials.

United said in a statement: “Health officials examined a passenger. The other customers were cleared and deplaned normally.”

Additionally Tuesday, an adult and a child, both of whom began their trips in Liberia, were taken from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to hospitals to be evaluated for Ebola, although in both cases the CDC decided not to test for Ebola.

Enhanced screening measures for passengers arriving from the three West African countries went into effect just this week. According to those measures, passengers arriving in the U.S. from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia can only disembark at five airports, including Newark and O’Hare.


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Nugget of Knowldege

Samantha Greenlee, Pregnant 22-Year-Old, Found Dead in Ohio

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Columbus Division of Police(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The body of a missing pregnant 22-year-old Ohio woman was found and her boyfriend is under arrest, charged with her murder, authorities told ABC News.

Samantha Greenlee had been missing since Oct. 8.

Her boyfriend, Jacob Ferrero, 22, who’s also the father of her unborn child, was arrested by the Columbus Police Department Wednesday morning. He’s charged with murder and aggravated arson, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, according to the arrest report.

Ferrero gave a full confession to a fire investigator before leading police to the location of Greenlee’s body, authorities told ABC News.

Greenlee was last seen working her waitressing shift at a local restaurant before heading home, police said. Two days later, she missed a doctor’s appointment –- and a fire broke out in the apartment, with Ferrero telling police that their dog kicked over a candle, igniting the fire.

He later confessed to starting the fire as a way to cover up Greenlee’s death, authorities said.

The developments in the case come hours after family and friends held a vigil, hoping for Greenlee’s safe return.

“She was a caring person. She always thought about other people,” her father Douglas Greenlee told ABC News on Tuesday. “She would do stuff for others before she would think about herself.”

Greenlee’s mother Winnie Chutes said it was uncommon for her daughter to go so long without contact.

“Samantha would have contacted us by now. There’s a reason why she’s not contacting us,” Chutes said.


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Wireless Store Robbed of $100K Worth of Phones and Computers

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Apple(GARDEN GROVE, Calif.) — In what could be described as the modern day equivalent of a jewelry store heist, thieves in Garden Grove, California, broke into a wireless store early Tuesday morning and made off with what cops say was about a $100,000 worth of phones and computers.

The robbers apparently knew what they were looking for because Oztec Wireless said that around 100 Apple iPhone6s were taken along with 20 iPads and a bunch of laptops.

A surveillance video spotted three hooded men, assumed to be in their 20s, breaking into the store and then using bolt cutters to shatter glass cases containing their ill-gotten gain.

Store owner Vu Bui first learned what happened when he was awakened by security company ADT and then viewed the video of the heist on his phone.

By the time he arrived, the crooks were long gone but left a trail of electronics around the back of the store that led to their escape route.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Pet of the Week

Dallas Ebola Nurse Nina Pham Upgraded to Good Condition

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by

Posted in National News

The Pham Family(BETHESDA, Md.) — Nina Pham, the first nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was upgraded from fair condition to good condition on Tuesday.

Pham was transferred to the National Institute of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda on Oct. 16. Prior to departing the Dallas hosital, Pham had been listed in good condition, but was downgraded upon arrival in Maryland. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, declined to say why she was listed in fair condition following the trip, but said she had endured a long trip from Dallas.

According to an NIH statement, Pham “has expressed her gratitude for everyone’s concerns and well wishes.”


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