UPDATE:


‘Katrina Girl’ rescued by Air Force para-rescuer to follow him into military service

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.
U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce
Lashay Brown, 3, hugs Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney, as she is relocated to the New Orleans International Airport on Sept. 7, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina flooded her family's home.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce)

When then-Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney received a tight hug and brilliant smile from a 3-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor whom he plucked from a rooftop with her family, he expected that he would never see her again. 

Nearly 12 years after the sweltering September 2005 day that he said goodbye to the grateful child, they have forged a bond so strong that the girl, LaShay Brown, plans to follow Maroney’s footsteps into the military. 

LaShay, 14, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, also had Maroney escort her to her JROTC ball Saturday night at Bay High School. 

“It would be nobody else that could bring me here, and it would be more special to him,” LaShay told WLOX in Biloxi

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Maroney credits that long-ago hug from LaShay with “rescuing him.” The para-rescuer, who was battling PTSD at the time, was a week into his rescue mission in New Orleans when he was lowered from a helicopter onto a roof where two parents and five children, including LaShay, had been stranded for days. 

Maroney, now a staff sergeant, recalled the rescue in 2015 for the Air Force Times, which was among dozens of publications that helped him find the little girl whose grin had stayed with him for a decade. The girl, whose name he never got, seemed fearless that day, he told the Times. 

As her mother cried on the helicopter, LaShay rubbed her back to comfort her. 

“It’s OK,” Maroney recalled her telling her mother. “We’re safe. Don’t worry.”

When the helicopter dropped off the family at the airport, which was being used as a staging area for evacuees to be moved out of the broken city, LaShay wrapped her arms around Maroney’s neck and hugged him in a moment captured by an Air Force photographer. 

That photo, which ended up on everything from military coins to Burger King place mats, represented for many the strength and resilience of Katrina survivors. It made its way into Mahoney’s heart, and it accompanied him on subsequent tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said it gave him hope during difficult moments. 

“If not for her hug and smile that day, my life would probably be a lot different,” Mahoney told WLOX

As the 10th anniversary of the deadly storm approached in 2015, Mahoney, who had since become a master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, began trying to find the little girl. Thanks to a viral campaign people called #FindKatrinaGirl, he and LaShay were reunited on an episode of the television show “The Real.” 

Since then, Mahoney has become close to LaShay and her family. His encouragement led her to join the JROTC at school, so it was natural for her to ask him to escort her to the ball. 

“I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family,” Mahoney told People last week. “They mean as much to me as my own.”

His guidance also led to LaShay’s decision to join the military after graduation. Maroney supports that decision, he told People. 

“I am proud of her no matter what she does and will support her in everything she does,” Maroney said. “I think she understands service, and I believe that she will do great things no matter what she chooses.”

Can you find the camouflaged soldier hidden in this viral photo?

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 2:53 AM

VIDEO: Can You Find the Camouflaged Soldier?

The British Army wants you to test its woodland camouflage. Do you see a soldier in this image?

>> See the tweet here

The British Army asked Twitter users to scan the photo — which reportedly was shot in Wales on the Section Commander’s Battle Course — to find the soldier in the scene.

>> Read more trending news 

A hint, in case you’re having any difficulty: The soldier is not standing up.

To make things a bit difficult, the soldier is wearing a woodland camouflage pattern designed to blend in with the misty forest terrain.

>> This coffee riddle has baffled the internet – can you solve it?

Is the British uniform good enough for you? If you haven’t found the answer yet, it’s here — the soldier lying prone, enveloped in mist, with just the perfectly round helmet giving any indication that it’s not all forest floor.

>> Click here or scroll down to see the answer
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Explosion reported near Port Authority in New York

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 9:22 AM

Explosion Reported At New York City Port Authority Bus Station

An explosion has been reported near the Port Authority in New York, police said Monday morning.

>> Read more trending news 

>> Click here or scroll down for more

Bullied boy's confessional video resonating across the globe

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 6:47 PM

How to Talk to Kids About Bullying

Holding back tears, a Tennessee boy asked a simple question. 

"Just out of curiosity -- why do they bully? What's the point of it," said Keaton Jones. 

>> Read more trending news

Keaton's confessional video about bullying has been watched more than 17 million times. His mother posted it on Facebook after Keaton asked to make a video about bullying. She was picking him up early because he was afraid to go to lunch. 

"They make fun of my nose, they call me ugly, they say I have no friends," he said. 

He said that the bullies poured milk on him during lunch. 

At the end of the video, which is not even 90 seconds, Keaton shared a message that has been resonating with people around the world. 

"People that are different don't need to be criticized about it, It's not their fault," he said. "If you are made fun, don't let it bother you. They suck."

Tears were streaming down the 11-year-old's face. 

The video was shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook. It's all over Twitter. People are demanding change and celebrities are tweeting in support of the middle school student, including members of the Tennessee football team. 

Along with messages of support, the video has also resulted in memes, shared to Keaton's mom's Facebook page.

The family said they have been overwhelmed with the response, and his sister said on Twitter that the messages have brought joy to Keaton.

Members of the Tennessee football team are working to organize a meeting at his school to stop the bullying and raise Keaton's spirits. 

Even with all the attention, Keaton's mom said there's still a lot of work to be done. 

"I'm humbled by the voice my boy has been given, but he's still just a little boy, and he's a little boy who desperately wants acceptance, that I have to try to find a way to navigate him through the difference in true acceptance and attention," Kimberly wrote on Facebook. 

Haunting video of starving polar bear goes viral, breaks hearts

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 5:39 AM

Heartbreaking Video of Starving Polar Bear Goes Viral

heartbreaking video of a skeletal polar bear scavenging for food in a desolate landscape is going viral online. The clip of the bear, which was released by the National Geographic channel, is gut-wrenching.

>> See the clip here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Photographer Paul Nicklen, who has been with National Geographic for 17 years, says recording the video was even more heartbreaking. He’s spent his life filming bears and estimates that he’s come across about 3,000 of them, but the animal in his latest video was unlike the rest. In an article about the clip, Nicklen recalled, “We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks.”

>> Read more trending news 

Nicklen says he’s often asked why he didn’t do something, but he explains, “Of course, that crossed my mind. But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” He added, “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”

The internet has definitely felt the gut-punch of the video, which sparked an outcry. Actor Kumail Nanjiani offered one off-hand solution to the problem:

Unfortunately, animals seem to have a very bleak future in front of them. The No. 1 threat to the world’s 22,000 polar bears is climate change, according to a World Wildlife Foundation report. The bears spend the winter months on the ice, where they do a lot of laying around and a whole lot of eating seals; they fast during the summer. But as the winter months have become warmer, it takes longer for the ice to reappear each season, meaning that the animals have less time to eat, and they have to fast for a longer stretch of time. In short, no ice means no seals, which could soon mean no polar bears.

Buzzfeed News also uploaded a video of the tear-jerking scene that has made the rounds online.

Government agencies monitoring about climate change are also warning that we could possibly lose polar bears as early as 2050, per a Washington Post report.