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Step into Santa’s suit, help kids have a merry Christmas with ‘Operation Santa’

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 11:40 AM

Volunteers Needed for “Operation Santa”

‘Tis the season of giving, whether it’s gifts or just your time. 

The post office is looking for a few good elves to take part in its “Operation Santa.” 

It all starts with the letters kids write to Santa and send to the jolly guy via old-fashioned mail, WPIX reported

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Anonymous helpers take those letters and help bring a Christmas wish into reality.

“Operation Santa” has been going on for more than a century, and is now finally transferring into the digital age.

The USPS has started the website DeliverCheer.com to connect those who want to help with those who need it most. There are more than 50,000 letters on the site, WPIX reported

The agency is also making a priority to help those still living in the wreckage left over from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many kids are asking for presents that any child would want, like a Nintendo 3DS or a doll. But other letters were heart-breaking.

One child named Marco wrote, “I am a good child. Please santa this year I want you to visit my home since you skip us last year. Mom is sick and is not working now. We need some food and clothes. I live with mom and my big brother Many since we don’t have a dad. Please Santa come. I will save your cookies and milk.”

(USPS)

Not all post offices participate in “Operation Santa,” so you’ll have to contact your local post office.  Click here to see if you live  in an area that is taking part. 

Police: Man angry over chicken dinner puts wife’s hand in hot frying oil

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

Husband Arrested for Putting Wife’s Hand in Hot Fryer Oil, Police Said

An Oregon man is behind bars after sheriff’s deputies said he put his wife’s hand in hot frying oil.

Jeremiah Crothers is also accused of nearly suffocating his baby son, KATU reported.

Police said Crothers covered his 7-month-old son’s mouth and nose until the baby’s legs turned blue, Oregon Live reported.

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According to police, Crothers’ wife hit her husband in the head with a frying pan to get him to let go of their child, KATU reported.

Later, police said, Crothers complained that his wife didn’t season the chicken she was preparing for dinner and then grabbed her hand and put it in the oil she was using to fry the chicken, KATU reported.

When police arrived, they said Crothers was not there, but they saw what they said were burns on the victim and the baby had signs of strangulation and a bruise on his head, Oregon Live reported. Crothers was arrested the next day in St. Helens. Crothers has been charged with attempted murder, strangulation, assault, coercion and attempted assault.

A judge set bail at $217,750.

Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 7:17 PM

INDIO, CA - APRIL 28:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)
Frazer Harrison
INDIO, CA - APRIL 28: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white.) Musician Jim Rodford of The Zombies performs on the Palomino stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2017 in Indio, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)(Frazer Harrison)

Jim Rodford, bassist for popular rock band The Kinks from 1978 to 1996, has died at 76, according to the band.

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The Kinks, whose hits include “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “A Well-Respected Man,” “Victoria” and “Waterloo Sunset,” made the announcement Saturday on its official social media accounts.

“It is with deep sadness that we have learned that Jim Rodford passed away – he toured and recorded with the Kinks for many years and will be greatly missed. He was much loved by all of us #JimRodford,” the band said on Twitter.

Founding member Dave Davies also expressed his sorrow over Rodford’s “sudden loss.”

“I’m devastated Jim’s sudden loss I’m too broken up to put words together it’s such a shock I always thought Jim would live forever in true rock and roll fashion – strange – great friend great musician great man – he was an integral part of the Kinks later years RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.

Although Rodford did not play for the band when they burst onto the scene in the ’60s, he was credited by Davies as being an integral part of “The Kinks” in their later years. Rodford would later return to the band The Zombies.

Three people hit by train since its debut last week

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/AP
A group of boys trespass along railroad tracks next to a Brightline train station, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Brightline train will begin introductory service on Saturday, with round-trip fares starting at $20 between its Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

For the third time in the week since the Brightline train started its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, a person has been hit by the passenger train, according to Fort Lauderdale police.

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Detective Tracy Figone, public information officer for the police department, said a pedestrian attempted to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third Avenue and North Flagler Drive when the gates were down. The person’s injuries are not life-threatening, according to Figone.

Four people have been hit and killed by Brightline trains since it started testing service. 

Friday night, a Brightline spokesperson reiterated the message from a press conference earlier that day: Safety.

“Today, we joined with partners in South Florida to stress our top priority - safety. Incidents like these can be avoided and train warnings need to be treated exactly like red lights, stop signs and crosswalks,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, Brightline officials announced newly planned safety and public education initiatives in the wake of two fatal accidents in the last week.

On Wednesday, 51-year-old Jeffrey King was hit and killed by a northbound Brightline train when he pedaled his bicycle around the gates near the Florida East Coast Railway crossing about 4:30 p.m. on Ocean Avenue. Last Friday, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was hit and killed near the intersection of Northeast Sixth Avenue in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police she attempted to beat the train when the gates were down.

An 18-year-old who jumped in front of the train while it was making  a test run in July was ruled a suicide, officials said. The November death of a woman on the tracks was ruled an accident.

During the press conference, Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard said they plan to implement electronic signs as well as put employees at busy intersections as extra warnings of passing trains.

“We offer our deepest sympathy to those affected by the recent incidents,” Goddard said at a news conference to announce the new safety measures. “The fact that these incidents are completely avoidable is what makes them so tragic.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scientists worry brain-wasting 'zombie deer' disease could spread to humans

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 9:09 PM

‘Zombie Deer’ Brain-Wasting Disease Has Scientists Worried it Could Spread to Humans

Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animals’ nervous systems.

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And scientists are concerned that the infection could make its way to humans. 

Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.

“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported. “Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”

In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.

But direct contact isn’t the only way prions are transmitted. According to The New York Times, sick animals and cadavers can spread prions through plants and soil, which could be coated with deformed proteins for years, perhaps even decades.
An animal infected with the disease can live two years before signs of symptoms -- such as a vacant stare, thick saliva, exposed ribs or drooping heads -- become visible.

There have been no reported human illnesses due to the disease, and scientists don’t have conclusive evidence that infected meat has ever harmed people, suggesting there is a “species barrier” between humans and deer.

Researchers led by Mark Zabel, associate director at Colorado State University’s Prion Research Center, found that macaque monkeys who ate infected deer contracted the disease, the first time the disease was shown to spread to a primate through meat.

"While most research shows there's a robust species barrier, this recent study showed that barrier might not be quite as robust as we once thought," Matt Dunfee, head of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliancein Fort Collins, Colorado, told NPR.

Zabel and his team also found that the prions involved in the “zombie disease,” which scientists have only known about for 50 years, are probably still evolving, “which leads us to believe it's only a matter of time before a prion emerges that can spread to humans,” NPR reported.

A map where chronic wasting disease has been reported. (Photo: National Wildlife Health Center)

Mad cow disease, for example, is a prion disease that evolved from scrapie, a deadly disease that afflicts sheep. Once the prions were passed to cows, the cows developed a prion disease of their own (mad cow disease). And when humans ate the beef from those sick cows, they developed prions in their own brains. As of 2016, according to the Food and Drug Administration, 231 people had died from the condition.

Zabel believes the only way to get rid of CWD prions is to set controlled fires. But “there’s a lot that we still don’t know and don’t understand about the disease,” Zabel said in an interview with The New York Times.

According to Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, mule deer transmission more than tripled toward the end of 2017, and CWD continues to be prevalent in Colorado.

Public health officials in the area have been monitoring for CWD and human brain-wasting diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But over the past 21 years, rising rates of both diseases haven’t impacted human health.

Still, as a precaution, Dunfee told NPR, "if you are hunting in an area where CWD is found, have your animal tested. If it comes back positive, don't eat the meat."