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Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 2:52 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — First lady Melania Trump, along with second lady Karen Pence, traveled to Texas on Wednesday to visit with first responders and check on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And if there’s anything politicians (or in this case, politicians’ spouses) love to do when they’re on a visit, it’s make a stop at a purveyor of local cuisine. Trump and Pence flew through Corpus Christi, which means Whataburger.
According to social media reports (including tweets from reporters along for the trip, as well as a White House official), the first and second lady stopped by the venerable Texas burger chain and walked out with at least some of those famous fries. The rest of their order is unknown (so far), but the tweets about the pit stop are quite a journey.
Reporters in the press pool said the first and second lady treated them to fries.
... yes! fries for the press van tho 🍟 pic.twitter.com/ENUyEiN0cf— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) December 6, 2017
Officials in Texas approved. The orange and the white, as ever, proved to be a unifying force.
Looks like @FLOTUS is Texas savvy. She & Karen Pence dined at @Whataburger today with my wife the First Lady of Texas. They are here for ongoing help for #HurricaneHarvey. @TexasFLCA #txlege #TexasStrong. https://t.co/QjnDgxbTdD— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 6, 2017
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 3:56 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Family, friends and the Sacramento community are demanding answers in the death of an unarmed black man killed by police in his own backyard Sunday night, holding nothing but a cellphone in his hand.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn told Fox40 that officers fired on Stephon Alonzo “Zoe” Clark a total of 20 times. Clark, 23, died at the scene, leaving behind two young sons.
Hahn was on hand Tuesday night at a City Council meeting, where several residents of the community protested the officer-involved shooting.
“To hell with Sac PD,” resident Rebecca Person said, according to the news station. “I’m sick of them always murdering black youth.”
“What is the police’s job to do? To shoot people that are unarmed in their own backyard?” another resident, Robert Copeland, asked.
Fox40 reported that the Sacramento Police Department is under fire for its morphing story of what Clark was carrying.
“They put one story out that he may have been armed. They put out another that he had a toolbar, whatever that is,” Tanya Faison, a member of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter, told the news station. “Then they put out that he had a wrench and then they put out that he just had a cellphone.
“They need to get it together.”
The two officers involved in the shooting are being criticized for waiting five minutes, until additional officers came to the scene, to handcuff Clark and begin rendering first aid.
Department officials are also facing criticism for not promptly informing Clark’s family, including the grandparents and siblings he lived with, that he was the one gunned down in their yard.
Fox40 reported that Clark’s family called 911 for help after hearing gunshots right outside their window.
Sequita Thompson, Clark’s grandmother, told the Sacramento Bee that she was sitting in her dining room when she heard the shots.
“The only thing that I heard was, ‘pow, pow, pow, pow,’ and I got to the ground,” Thompson told the newspaper.
Thompson described crawling to where her 7-year-old granddaughter slept on a couch in an adjacent den, where she got the girl onto the floor. She then made her way to her husband, who uses a wheelchair, and he dialed 911.
Thompson said neither she nor her husband heard officers issue any commands prior to firing the fatal gunshots.
The grieving grandmother told the Bee that investigators interviewed her for hours about what she heard, but never told her it was her grandson who had been killed. She finally looked out a window and saw his body.
“I opened that curtain and he was dead. I started screaming,” Thompson said.
Hahn said he and his investigators initially had no idea Clark was related to the homeowners.
“We found out they were related because the family told us so,” the chief told Fox40.
Hahn said in a news release Monday that officers were called to the family’s neighborhood around 9:15 p.m. Sunday on a report of a man breaking several car windows. The suspect was described as a thin man, just over 6 feet in height and wearing a black hoodie and dark pants. The caller said the man was hiding in a backyard.
Dispatchers sent officers to the scene, where the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department also had a helicopter searching for the suspect from the air, the news release said. About 12 minutes after the 911 call was made, the crew in the helicopter told officers on the ground they saw the alleged suspect in a backyard, where he picked up what looked like a toolbar and broke the sliding glass door of the home before running south toward the front of the house.
That house was next door to the Thompsons’ home.
The officers on the ground, directed to his location by the helicopter crew, confronted Clark as he came up along the side of his grandparents’ home, the news release said. When they ordered him to show his hands, he fled to the backyard, officials said.
“Officers pursued the suspect and located him in the backyard of the residence,” the news release said. “The suspect turned and advanced towards the officers while holding an object which was extended in front of him.”
Believing the object was a gun, the officers opened fire, the news release said. Clark was struck multiple times, though the exact number of gunshot wounds was not immediately known.
A follow-up news release issued later Monday stated that no weapon was found near Clark’s body.
“After an exhaustive search, scene investigators did not locate any firearms,” the news release stated. “The only item found near the suspect was a cellphone.”
Homicide investigators and crime scene technicians said they found three vehicles with damage they believe Clark caused, as well as the shattered sliding glass door that the helicopter crew said they witnessed him break, the news release said.
The only items investigators found that could have been the toolbar described by the helicopter crew included a cinder block and a piece of aluminum that may have come from a gutter. Both were found near the broken sliding glass door, the Bee reported.
Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, the newspaper said. One of the officers has eight years of law enforcement experience, half of it with the Sacramento department.
The other officer has six years total experience, two of those in Sacramento.
Sacramento city policy requires any body-camera footage of an officer-involved shooting to be made public within 30 days, the Bee reported.
Hahn said he plans to release the officers’ body camera footage, as well as footage from a camera aboard the helicopter, after it has been shared with Clark’s family, Fox40 reported. He anticipated having the footage released by week’s end.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, the city attorney’s office and the city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability are investigating the shooting, as is the department’s homicide and internal affairs units.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 4:17 PM
— A cold case could soon be solved if the skeletal remains found in the basement of a Long Island home turn out to be the woman who has been missing since 1966.
Police recently reviewed the case of Louise Pietrewicz, after The Suffolk Times published a special report in October that brought the case back into view.
Pietrewicz disappeared more than half a century ago, WPIX reported. At the time she was in a relationship with William Boken, a police officer in the area. She had recently left her husband, who was accused of physically and mentally abusing her, the Times reported, and had started seeing Boken, who was married at the time.
In October 1966, Pietrewicz took more than $1,000 from her bank account, and closed it. The next day, she “disappeared in the company of a man friend,” a court document filed 10 years later stated. Pietrewicz left behind an 11-year-old daughter, the Times reported.
Boken died in the 1980s, but his former wife told police investigating Pietrewicz’s case that there was a body buried in a burlap bag in the basement of the Bokens’ former home, WPIX reported.
The house was searched in 2013, but nothing was found.
Last week, spurred on by the paper’s report, another search of the home was conducted. After Suffolk County police homicide detectives, along with Southold Police, used ground-penetrating sonar, they found skeletal remains in the home, WPIX reported. The remains have been taken to the medical examiner’s office to determine whose remains they are and to find a cause of death.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 9:25 PM
— A high level of physical fitness during middle age may significantly reduce the risk of dementia, new research suggests.
The findings, which were published this month in the scientific journal Neurology, showed that women with a high level of cardiovascular fitness during middle age had a nearly 90 percent lower risk of dementia than women who were just moderately fit.
"[The results] indicate that negative cardiovascular processes may be happening in midlife that could increase the risk of dementia much later in life," lead study author Dr. Helena Hörder, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told Forbes.
"These findings are exciting because it's possible that improving people's cardiovascular fitness in middle age could delay or even prevent them from developing dementia," she said.
Researchers studied a group 191 women between 38 and 60 years old in Sweden over a 44-year period of time (1968-2012). The participants were initially asked to complete an ergometer cycling test to evaluate their cardiovascular fitness.
"The level that you are so exhausted that you have to interrupt the test is a measure, in watts, of your work capacity," Hörder told CNN. "Cardiovascular fitness or endurance can also be tested in a submaximal test where you don't push the person to maximal capacity."
Based on their performance in the initial testing, the women were divided into three groups: 59 were classified as "low fitness", 92 were "medium fitness" and 40 were "high fitness." The researchers then tracked the women until 2012, closely examining which groups developed symptoms of dementia and which did not.
In total, 23 percent developed some form of dementia in the proceeding decades. However, the percentage was significantly higher in the low and medium fitness groups when compared to those in the high fitness category.
"I was not surprised that there was an association, but I was surprised that it was such a strong association between the group with highest fitness and decreased dementia risk," Hörder said. "Many of those who interrupted the test at submax, very low watt level, probably had indications for a poor cardiovascular health status. This might indicate that processes in the cardiovascular system might be ongoing many decades before onset of dementia diagnosis."
Although the results are significant and appear to align with previous research, there were some limitations, such as the relatively small number of subjects, the fact that fitness level was only measured once, and the lack of filtering for other risk factors for dementia.
Future research, the scientists said, should look at a larger and more diverse sample, analyze physical fitness more often and also address other potential factors.
"One of the missing pieces of a study like this – and really the weakness in the literature to date – is that the kinds of studies that we have mostly seen are association studies. These are studies of correlations, and they can't necessarily talk about causality," Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, who was not involved in the new study, said.
"The picture that is really emerging from the literature is a picture about the importance of fitness in midlife, not just old age, when it comes to protecting your brain health and preventing or delaying Alzheimer's disease and other dementias,” he added.
Approximately 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is sixth leading cause of death among American adults.
Globally, the World Heath Organization estimates that nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia, with 10 million new cases every year.
The Alzheimers Association suggests people should quit smoking, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, stay socially engaged, challenge their minds by reading or playing games and take care of their heart health to reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 4:23 PM
After weeks of negotiations, Congress unveiled a $1.3 trillion funding measure for the federal government on Wednesday night, adding billions in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic spending programs, adding in a pair of bills dealing with school safety and gun violence, but including no deals on some politically difficult issues like the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”
The 2,232 pages of bill text were quietly posted by GOP leaders after yet another day of closed door negotiations, which included a trip down to the White House by House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said in a written statement, as he touted the extra money in the plan for the U.S. military.
“But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad,” Ryan added.
Among the items included in the Omnibus funding bill:
+ The bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would press states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers.
+ The “STOP School Violence Act,” which would send grant money to local governments to help schools better recognize possible violent threats in schools and their communities.
+ A series of corrections to the recent tax cut law.
Even before the text of the bill was unveiled, a number of Republicans were not pleased, arguing the GOP has done little to merit the support of voters back home, saying it will mean more spending and a bigger government.
“That is not in any way close to what the election was about,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who argued the President should veto the bill.
Also causing some irritation was the fact that the bill was negotiated with little input from most lawmakers, and sprung on them just hours before the House and Senate were due to head out of town on a two week Easter break.
“There is not a single member of Congress who can physically read it, unless they are a speed reader,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).
One of the many provisions in the bill included a $174,000 payment to the estate of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who died earlier this week.
Those type of payments are typical when a lawmaker dies while in office.
GOP leaders hope to vote on the Omnibus in the House on Thursday, as lawmakers are ready to go home for a two-week break for Easter.