Las Vegas gunman once owned home in Florida

Published: Monday, October 02, 2017 @ 12:12 PM

What You Need to Know: Stephen Paddock, Las Vegas Shooter

The man police say sprayed deadly gunfire into a country music concert in Las Vegas late Sunday owned a home on the Space Coast as recently as 2015, records show.

Stephen Paddock, 64, owned a home in Heritage Isle, a 55-plus community off Wickham Road in Viera, a neighborhood of Melbourne in Brevard County, according to real estate records.The neighborhood is about 120 miles north of West Palm Beach.

>> Read more trending news

Records show Paddock bought a two-bedroom house on a quarter-acre lot on Sansome Circle in April 2013 and sold it in May 2015. It was unclear how much time he spent in Florida while owning the property.

Paddock most recently was living in a Sun City retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, near the Arizona and Utah borders.

Stephen Paddock's home when he lived in Viera, Florida. (Photo: Julius Whigham II/Palm Beach Post)

A check of online court records showed no arrests or lawsuits involving Paddock in Brevard County between 2013 and 2015.

His brother, Eric Paddock, broke down in tears talking with reporters Monday.

“There’s nothing I can say. My brother did this. It’s like he shot us," Paddock said. "I couldn’t be more dumbfounded."

What it’s like decorating a Tournament of Roses Parade float

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 8:08 AM

Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.
Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.
Florist K. Mike Whittle helped create this rolling botanical wonderland.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Sports fans watching the 2018 Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 will be eager to see if No. 3 Georgia can get past No. 2 Oklahoma when the teams meet at the College Football Playoff semifinal in Pasadena, Calif.

One local florist will be watching the preceding Tournament of Roses Parade with a trained and appreciative eye.

>> Read more trending news

“It was one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done,” said K. Mike Whittle, who helped decorate a parade float years ago. “You learn so much.”

As operator of K. Mike Whittle Unique Floral Designs just off the Marietta Square, he doesn’t have a lot of free time at any point in the year. Certainly not during the holiday season. But with the University of Georgia heading to the Rose Bowl for just the second time ever, he let us tag along the other day while he set up for a party at the the Hilton Atlanta Marietta Hotel & Conference Center so we could press him for intel.

The main takeway: you just cannot believe how many flowers go into all those floats.

(Photo: Jennifer Brett)

“We used 35,000 roses,” he said, his voice still full of awe at the memory. “I was a kid in a candy store with all those flowers. They didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat but they turned me loose.”

A Marietta native who got his start as an entrepreneurial kid who would dig cattails from a ditch and sell them to an area flower shop, Whittle was working in Carrollton when he got the call to go west.

“It really steamed up my career,” he said. He didn’t love getting up on scaffolding to attend to the top of the float, but otherwise enjoyed learning floral problem-solving skills on that big a stage. “We worked 29 hours straight. It just showed me yeah, it can be done.”

The annual parade, older than the football contest, dates back to Jan. 1, 1890. That first year, horse-drawn buggies festooned with blooms were meant to echo a festival of roses in Nice, France. Two years later, winter weather threatened the supply of roses and nearly turned the event into the “Orange Tournament,” but the fledgling tradition held.

Automobiles showed up in 1901 and were shoved to the back of the parade, so they wouldn’t spook the horses. The following year saw the first merger of flora and football, when the University of Michigan rolled over Stanford University, 49-0. One year, 1913, organizers thought a camel vs. elephant road race would be fun. The elephant won, and the species’ record remains unbroken as there have been no similar matchups since.

Famed zookeeper Jack Hanna rode on the float Whittle worked on in 2002, accompanied by giant botanical tigers, monkeys and exotic birds. If your Rose Bowl party plans call for slightly less elaborate floral decor, Whittle likes roses (of course) as well as red ginger and anthurium.

“Carnations are not bad, either. It’s a sturdy football kind of rose,” said Whittle, who has created displays incorporating football helmets.

Proper hydration is key – he’ll give newly arrived blooms a couple of days to drink up before placing them in arrangements – and he uses a sharp knife, not scissors, to ensure a clean, angled cut.

Then again, he mused, there’s one major flub people make when setting out to arrange flowers.

“That is the mistake,” he said with a twinkle, “doing it yourself.”

The float Mike Whittle helped create in 2002 was an award-winning beauty.(Photo: Courtesy of Rain Bird Corp.)

Three sisters, three Ivy League colleges

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 7:39 AM

FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: Harvard University students walk through the campus.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Community college probably won’t cut the mustard when two sisters get accepted into the Ivy Leagues.

Xaviera Rowan found out this week where she was going to school and it was met with cheers from her fellow classmates from Democracy Prep Harlem High School, WNBC reported.

Xaviera’s oldest sister, Chris, was accepted to Dartmouth College two years ago. Last year it was Ella and Yale. 

>> Read more trending news

This year, Xaviera found out she is going to be a freshman at Harvard University, WNBC reported.

The family’s story is a true American Dream tale.

They immigrated from Cameroon and didn’t speak much English when they arrived in the United States, except for phrases they picked up watching television.

“We started learning English, going to the library, reading books and using dictionaries,” Xaviera told WNBC.

“We essentially had to learn English within a period of six months before standardized exams,” Chris said.

The girls said their parents made education a priority at all times and credit the school Democracy Prep for their success, WNBC reported.

Police: Drug dealers left mother of 9 to die from overdose

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 10:49 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

Authorities in Ohio are searching for two drug dealers who allegedly left a mother of nine to die from a drug overdose, according to Middletown Police.

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators were called to a home Wednesday night where they found a woman dead from a fatal overdose of heroin, according to the department’s Facebook page.

The woman was with “friends” who let her die in front of her nine children, police officials said on Facebook. The two men also stole money from the dying woman.

Police are looking for two white males, possibly a father/son team.

“It has disturbed us so much that it’s time for us to make a difference,” the police department’s social media post said. “Their father is a hard worker. He has tried to make ends meet, but it’s a vicious cycle.”

Middletown police are accepting donations of clothes, coats, blankets, food, a stove, a refrigerator, and toys for the children.

The kids range in age from 1-14, according to the police department. The girls are ages 14, 5, 3 and 1. The boys are ages 13, 11, 10, 6 and 2.

Donations have started to come, according to Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.

>> Related: Drunk man steals taxi, crashes through gates of Trump’s Florida golf  course, police say

Muterspaw said one donor gave $9,000 — $1,000 for each child.

Another 8-planet solar system? 7 things about Kepler’s ‘sizzling’ discovery

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 9:54 PM

The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.
NASA Ames/W. Stenzel
The Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, will spend three years observing a ribbon of the sky (blue line) as it orbits the sun. Roughly every 80 days, the spacecraft will pan to a new field of view (blue stamp) aligned with the plane of the solar system.(NASA Ames/W. Stenzel)

Looks like our solar system isn’t the only one out there with eight planets circling around a single star.

>> Read more trending news 

NASA scientists, along with Google engineers, used artificial intelligence to discover a new, scorching hot planet in the Kepler-90 solar system, bringing the total number of planets circling the Sun-like star to eight, the agency announced Thursday.

>> Related: Breathtaking NASA time-lapse shows how much Earth has changed over 20 years

Scientists used Google machine learning to teach computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

Here’s what you should know about the new discovery, according to Thursday’s live teleconference:

What exactly is the Kepler mission?

The Kepler mission, NASA Discovery’s tenth mission, first launched in March 2009 with a goal to survey the Milky Way and hunt for Earth-size and smaller planets near the galaxy or “habitable” regions of planets’ parent stars.

In 2014, the Kepler space telescope began a new extended mission called K2, which continues the hunt for planets outside our solar system along with its other cosmic tasks.

>> Related: Follow NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions 

According to Space.com, “Kepler spots alien worlds by noticing the tiny brightness dips they cause when they cross the face of their host star from the spacecraft's perspective.”

Since 2009, Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets ranging between Earth-size and Neptune-size (four times the size of Earth).

As of Dec. 14, Kepler has confirmed 2,341 exoplanets.

How did NASA find the planet?

Researchers Christopher Shallue (Google AI software engineer) and Andrew Vanderburg (NASA astronomer) were inspired by the way neurons in the human brain connect and adapted the “neural network” concept to machine learning.

They taught computers how to identify planets in the light readings recorded by the Kepler telescope by first training them to search for the weaker signals in 670 star systems that already had multiple planets.

This image zooms into a small portion of Kepler's full field of view - an expansive, 100-square-degree patch of sky in our Milky Way galaxy. An eight-billion-year-old cluster of stars 13,000 light-years from Earth, called NGC 6791, can be seen in the image.(NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

>> Related: Amazing NASA photos through the years 

“Their assumption was that multiple-planet systems would be the best places to look for more exoplanets,” researchers wrote in the press release.

Using this concept, the network “found weak transit signals from a previously-missed eighth planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation Draco.”

Their findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal.

Would humans have found the planet without machine learning?

Without machine learning, it would have taken humans much longer to scan the recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system (exoplanets), Shallue said. Kepler’s four-year dataset consists of 35,000 possible planetary signals. 

>> Related: 15,000 scientists warn it will soon be 'too late' to save Earth

Additionally, people are likely to miss the weaker signals that machine learning was able to identify.

Won’t this form of automation put astronomers out of work?

"This will absolutely work alongside astronomers," Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, said in a press briefing. "You're never going to take that piece out."

Researchers hope astronomers will use this form of automation via machine learning as a tool to help astronomers make more of an impact, increase their productivity and inspire more people become astronomers.