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Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge dead at 60

Published: Sunday, March 12, 2017 @ 8:06 AM
Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2017 @ 8:06 AM


            Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge dead at 60

Joni Sledge of the music group Sister Sledge has died at age 60.

According to The Associated Press, Biff Warren, publicist for the band best known for its 1979 hit "We Are Family," said a friend found Sledge dead in her Phoenix home Friday. Her cause of death is not yet known.   

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2017

Warren told the AP and CNN that Sledge had not been sick.

In a Facebook post Saturday, the group, formed by Sledge and her sisters in 1971, announced the news and asked for prayers.

>> Read more trending news

"Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin, Joni, passed away yesterday. Please pray for us as we weep for this loss. We do know that she is now eternally with Our Lord," the post read.

"We thank you in advance for allowing us the privacy to mourn quietly as a family. We miss her and hurt for her presence, her radiance, and the sincerity with which she loved and embraced life."

>> See the post here



Important Announcement

Posted by Sister Sledge on Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sledge leaves behind a son and her sisters, the AP reported.

Read more here or here.

'Little People, Big World' star Matt Roloff makes announcement about his love life

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

'Little People, Big World' star Matt Roloff makes announcement about his love life

Matt Roloff is dating again.

On Sunday, the “Little People, Big World” patriarch shared a photo confirming he has a new woman in his life.

>> Read more trending news 

“Broke away for a day of relaxing at the beautiful Oregon coast. Is anybody else doing something special this spring break? Love love to you all,” he shared alongside the post of himself with his new lady love.

In the comments section, Roloff even replied to a fan, confirming he is now dating again.

“Yes. Caryn and I are now dating. It’s very exciting to such a wonderful persons [sic] be a positive companion in my life,” he wrote.

RELATED: Ahead of Mother’s Day in the U.K., Duchess Catherine shared a powerful message all moms can relate to

Caryn reportedly helped manage the Roloff farm at one point, which means Roloff’s ex-wife, Amy Roloff, knows her, too. Amy Roloff has also moved on since splitting from Matt and recently confirmed she has been dating a real estate agent named Chris.

“We’re officially dating, yes. It’s been fun! Amy and I are getting along great,” Chris told Radar Online in January.

The Roloffs were married for nearly 27 years before deciding to end their marriage in 2015. Despite the demise of their relationship, they continue to work together on their family farm and film their reality series.

(H/T Inquistr)

Missing Washington, D.C., teens: What to know

Published: Friday, March 24, 2017 @ 11:17 PM
Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 5:12 PM

Missing Washington, D.C., teens: What to know

On March 24, a surge of photos posted by everyday people and celebrities such as Taraji P. Henson and LL Cool J on social media show images with text claiming that 14 girls have disappeared in the last 24 hours in Washington, D.C., and the images have continued to pick up steam.  

>> Read more trending news

WRC reported however, that the information in those images is not entirely true. 

🗣🗣🗣🗣#Repost @fabulouslyfaithful_ ・・・ #missing #amberalert #missingblackgirls #dc #reportourownnews

A post shared by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson) on

Here are things to know about the missing teens in Washington:

Police say that 14 teen girls have not disappeared from Washington in one day.

The girls pictured in the viral image went missing at different times. Relisha Tenau Rudd, pictured on the far left of the image, was last seen in Washington on March 1, 2014. Pheonix Coldon was last seen December 18, 2011 in St. Louis. Shaniah Boyd was last seen in Washington. Makayla Randall, pictured on the far right, has been missing since October 1, 2012 and was last seen in Oak Park, Missouri.

WRC reported that police have changed their method of communicating information about missing persons. There has been no increase in the number of missing people. 

The Metropolitan Police Department has changed how it shares information on missing persons.

“We've just been posting them on social media more often,” Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Reid said.

Chanel Dickerson, commander of the Washington police’s Youth and Family Services Division, told The Washington Post that the 211 people reported missing in January reflected  better reporting by families, not an increase in missing teens.

Many of the missing teens are black or Latino.

Outrage over the missing persons comes from a perception that people of color who are missing are not covered in the media as often as white missing persons.

Derrica Wilson, the co-founder and chief executive of the Black and Missing Foundation, which works to raise awareness of missing people of color, told The Huffington Post 40 percent of missing persons in the U.S. are people of color.

Police say there is not a known link between the missing persons and human trafficking.

Police spokeswoman Karimah Bilal told WRC the teens reported missing so far in 2017 left voluntarily. WUSA reported that since many teens left on their own, Amber Alerts have not been issued for them.

“Because of the number of releases, there have been concerns that young girls in the District of Columbia are victims of human trafficking or have been kidnapped,” Bilal said.

“We look at every case closely to make sure that doesn't happen, but to my knowledge, that hasn't been a factor in any of our missing person cases,” Bilal said. 

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Washington police told WUSA they confirmed that there is no link between the missing persons and human trafficking.

Although there is no reported  link, human trafficking is an issue in D.C. The D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force was formed in 2004 to find victims of trafficking and prosecute those who are trafficking victims. Other nongovernmental organizations have also been established to combat the issue.

Those who run away or leave voluntarily may still be in danger.

“We need to find out the underlying reasons that so many young people in the District of Columbia have chosen to leave home voluntarily because they feel they have no other alternatives,” Dickerson told WRC.

The National Conference of State Legislatures said that runaway youths face a higher likelihood and risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, and engaging in survival sex, human trafficking and dealing drugs to meet basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter. The also have an increased likelihood of participating in drug use.

Research from the National Runaway Safeline says family conflict and being thrown out of the house -- sometimes because of a child’s sexual orientation -- are reasons why youths may run away.

“One person missing is one person too many, especially when you’re talking about our young people,” Dickerson said at a Wednesday town hall.

Lawmakers are calling on the FBI to investigate many of the missing persons cases.

The Associated Press reported that Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, sent a letter Tuesday that called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to devote time to investigating the number of missing children in Washington and “determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”

“Ten children of color went missing in our nation's capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention. That's deeply disturbing,” the letter sent to the Justice Department said.

Members of the Washington community are demanding answers.

Community members in Washington and across the country are demanding answers and action from officials and media out of frustration over lack of media coverage of missing black women and girls. A 2010 study from Pace University found black missing children and missing girls were “significantly underrepresented” in TV news coverage. A 2015 study from West Virginia University replicated those findings and showed that those groups were underrepresented compared to the 2014 FBI-reported proportions in which black people and females are reported as missing. That FBI report on missing-person entries showed 37 percent of those reported missing under the age of 21 were black. It found that white children who are missing are underrepresented in TV news.

Members of the community met at a town hall Wednesday and WUSA9 reported that many were frustrated and disappointing with the city’s response.

“Why are we just finding out?” a person asked. 

“I was astounded when I looked at the number of missing African-American females,” Dickerson told WTTG Thursday. “I'm not trying to minimize that other people aren’t missing, but they looked like me and so I just wanted to make sure that every investigation focused on every child thesame way and we get the same exposure to everyone regardless of your race or where you live.”

The number of missing persons in Washington changes daily.

The Metropolitan Police Department reports the number of open and closed missing person cases and has them broken down by year, critical and non-critical, and juvenile and adult. Recent data from the department shows a decrease in reported missing person cases from 2,433 in 2015 to 2,242 in 2016. 

The regularly updated list of missing persons, including flyers of missing persons, are on the Metropolitan Police Department website

Gator pit searched for remains of missing high school student in cold case

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 5:47 PM

Gator pit searched for remains of missing high school student in cold case

A federal investigation into the 2009 disappearance of a New York teenager has led FBI agents to gator-infested woods in South Carolina.

According to the Post and Courier, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel sneaked away from her home in Rochester, New York, to spend spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Drexel was last seen in security footage at a Myrtle Beach hotel on April 25, 2009. 

>> Read more trending news

In 2012, Drexel’s mother told a TV reporter she had learned her daughter had been “miserable” on the trip and had planned to leave anyway on the day she went missing.

After years of minimal progress in the investigation, authorities received a tip from an inmate identified as Taquan Brown, alleging that he learned what happened to Drexel while visiting a so-called “stash house” in McClellanville, according to the Post and Courier. 

Brown told investigators in August that Drexel was abducted, gang-raped, shot and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp. Brown also implicated then-16-year-old Timothy Taylor and his father, Shaun Taylor, in the crime, according to authorities.

The FBI told the Post and Courier that “several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators.”

The FBI is searching an area in Georgetown County, S.C., using an excavator to search a wooded area in Foxfire Court. Authorities have not provided any information on what they hope to find in the woods.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

No charges have been filed against Taylor, who maintains his innocence. 

Investigators said Sunday that they are closer to making an arrest in the case, and are offering a $25,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

 

What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 @ 4:21 PM

What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

According to British press reports, the assailant involved in last week’s London terror attack that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead — and dozens more wounded — used WhatsApp just minutes before the rampage.

>> Read more trending news

But because the messages sent by and to attacker Khalid Masood are encrypted by the popular messaging app, officials are unable to access them.

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in multiple interviews Sunday.

>> Related: London terror attack: What we know

Whether you use the app or not, here are some things to know about WhatsApp and the encryption debate:

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app with end-to-end encrypted instant messaging that can be used on various platforms, including Android, iPhone and Windows smartphones, and Mac or Windows PCs.

Created in 2009 and later acquired by Facebook in 2014, the app uses your phone's internet connection to send messages so you can avoid texting fees.

What can you do with the app?

In addition to making calls, sending messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages to individuals or groups, WhatsApp rolled out some new features in 2017.

Now, the app includes a Snapchat story-like feature, which allows users to update their “status” using pictures, GIFs and videos.

You can also swipe up to reply to your friends’ statuses.

Who uses it?

According to Facebook’s earnings call on Feb 2, 2017, WhatsApp had 1.2 billion monthly active users, Statista reported.

The popular messaging app is used by people in more than 180 countries around the world.

What is end-to-end encryption?

End-to-end encryption is a security system in which only the sender and the recipient can read their own messages. In fact, even WhatsApp can’t access user messages.

Apple’s iMessage also uses end-to-end encryption.

What is the debate around ending end-to-end encryption?

Following the London terror attack, Home Secretary Amber Rudd called for WhatsApp and other encrypted services to offer a "back door" system for officials, AP reported.

In 2015, following the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, the FBI requested Apple for the passcodes needed to unlock an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators.

But Apple and other tech industry giants, as well as privacy advocates, say creating security loopholes would be dangerous as it opens the door to cybercriminals, too.

>> Related: Apple CEO Tim Cook: We oppose this order 

While tech companies should help officials when possible, the help should be requested through warrants where the process is both properly regulated and monitored, Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, told Newsweek.

“Compelling companies to put backdoors into encrypted services would make millions of ordinary people less secure online. We all rely on encryption to protect our ability to communicate, shop and bank safely,” he said.