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Deadly king cobra captured after massive 5-week search in Florida

Published: Thursday, October 08, 2015 @ 6:41 AM
Updated: Thursday, October 08, 2015 @ 6:41 AM

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A king cobra that escaped from an Orlando, Florida, home in early September and was the subject of a massive search effort has been found.

The snake, which escaped its cage at a home on North Apopka Vineland Road, was discovered at a nearby home late Wednesday night.

A woman called Orange County Animal Control after she said she was in her garage putting items in her clothes dryer when she heard a hissing sound.

>> PHOTOS: Missing king cobra captured in Florida

Animal control officers and police responded and found the snake under the dryer.

The snake was captured and returned to owner Mike Kennedy. Kennedy's wife confirmed that it was their king cobra.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: FWC: King cobra sighting false alarm

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Traps set with dead snakes in search for escaped king cobra in Orlando

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Still no sign of king cobra that escaped from Orlando man's home

The non-native, venomous snake escaped from Kennedy's home, which is used as a rescue facility for exotic animals.

Kennedy was fined $366 after authorities said he admitted to waiting 24 hours to report the escape.

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The snake's escape led to a massive search effort, which included setting traps to capture the animal.

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Semi-trucks line interstate to help stop man from jumping off overpass

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 1:05 PM

Semi-Trucks Help Stop Man From Jumping Off Overpass

More than a dozen tractor-trailers formed a line under an overpass on Interstate 696 in Detroit early Tuesday to help stop a man who was contemplating jumping from the overpass, according to multiple reports.

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Authorities were called to I-696 near the Coolidge exit just before 1 a.m., WJBK reported. Negotiators worked for several hours to convince the man not to jump as authorities directed several tractor-trailers to park under the overpass, according to the news station.

Michigan State Police shared an image of 13 tractor-trailers that were lined up side-by-side on the interstate, in case the man jumped.

“This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public,” police said Tuesday on Twitter. “But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life.”

The unidentified man came down from the edge of the overpass through the combined efforts of police and the truck drivers, The Detroit Free-Press reported.

“Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255,” state police wrote on Twitter. “You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911. There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again.”

Huntington Woods police took the man to Beaumont Hospital for an evaluation, WJBK reported.

Officials reopened I-696 to traffic around 4 a.m.

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Atlanta a hot spot for sugar daddies willing to pay college tuition

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:51 PM

Hot Spot For Sugar Daddies Willing To Pay For College

We’ve known for some time that Atlanta is considered a hub for sex trafficking.

But who knew metro Atlanta is also known for having an abundant number of, ahem, sugar daddies — older men seeking the companionship of college-age women?

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According to SeekingArrangement.com, Georgia ranks sixth in the country, behind places like Arizona, Philadelphia and New York. Over the past few years, the website has touted its growing numbers to news publications around the country.

In Georgia, according to folks at the website, the vast majority of these young women providing companionship to older men attend big state colleges such as Georgia State, the University of Georgia and Georgia Southern (in that precise order), with a few at Spelman College and elsewhere.

“Students are tired of being told by the government that secondary education is important, and then being slapped with outrageous student loans and staggering interest rates,” said Brandon Wade, founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement.com. “The value of a degree is undeniable, but students can’t leave their futures in the hands of officials any longer.”

Today more than 2 million students across the country — 3 million worldwide — have signed up to find wealthy benefactors who can help offset college costs, said Wade.

RELATED | Many Georgia students feel overburdened by rising college costs

Each year, almost 44 million Americans rack up student loan debt or they graduate with no full-time jobs in their chosen careers.

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Among them are Jessica and Stephanie, local college students introduced to me through an email exchange arranged by SeekingArrangement.com. Both agreed to talk about their experience, but neither wanted to use her last name because their parents are not aware of the arrangement. I met Jessica in person. Stephanie and I spoke by phone.

I found them both to be articulate, ambitious young women. Neither saw their arrangement as anything out of the ordinary — just an agreement between two consenting adults. There was a line, however, that both said they were unwilling to cross: marital infidelity.

Stephanie, 21, was working at a popular sports bar when a colleague told her about Seeking Arrangement, and they posted their profiles to the site.

“I really didn’t think I was going to follow through, but I actually met someone,” said Stephanie, who is enrolled in an online program at the University of South Carolina. She eventually matched with a 46-year-old cybersecurity expert, who takes her on vacation trips and shopping sprees and makes weekly deposits to her bank account.

“I know a lot of people think it’s prostitution, but it’s totally different,” she said. “This is a real relationship. We communicate every single day. I care about him. He takes care of me like men are supposed to. He thinks I’m funny. He tells me I’m beautiful. What girl wouldn’t want that?

“I’m going to college, and I’m making money,” she added.

RELATED | Why Women’s March hat moniker strikes me wrong

Ironically, Jessica, a 22-year-old theater major who had her pick of six colleges, including the University of Pennsylvania, Florida A&M, and Spelman, first heard about the site while overhearing her mom tell a friend about a magazine article she’d read about Seeking Arrangement. But the concept itself, Jessica said, came to her in a song titled “Suga Mama” by R&B singer Beyonce.

When she isn’t studying or in class, Jessica makes time for her sugar daddy, a 45-year-old Atlanta business consultant, who pays her tuition and gives her a biweekly allowance.(GRACIE BONDS STAPLES / GSTAPLES@AJC.COM)

“That you could have a mutually beneficial relationship with someone of high status that would help with expenses intrigued me,” Jessica said.

In the scheme of things, that hardly matters. Language and naming have power and are symbolic.

“Even the terms sugar daddies and sugar babies have an incestuous and infantilizing echo,” said Deborah Cohan, a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. “Young women can try to convince themselves that they are calling the shots in these situations, but is this the way women want to become empowered?”

It’s unfortunate, Cohan said, when women perceive few options for economic freedom.

“The owners and operators of these sites and the participants want to make the case that this is a choice, and a viable one, but it strikes me as the epitome of a choiceless decision,” she said.

RELATED | Prosecutors: Backpage.com made millions in prostitution ads

As a professor at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, Cohan sees this firsthand. USC’s main campus is near Hilton Head, home to the annual Heritage golf tournament. “Every year I have students who tell me that as exotic dancers this is their big week to make money to pay for tuition and that as a result they want to be excused from classes,” she said. “Is this the way we want young women to have to exist in their earliest employment and earliest intimate relationships and connections?

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“And moreover, what does this mean for men, for how they think about power, control, and sexuality and women in general?”

Jessica went on a half-dozen dates before she settled on an arrangement with a 45-year-old Atlanta business consultant, who pays her tuition and gives her a biweekly allowance of $2,000.

She says they dated six months before they ever touched. One of those dates was to get the results of an HIV test before beginning a sexual relationship.

On average, Jessica sees her benefactor three times a week, mostly on weekends. In that time, she’s discovered she likes the fact that he grew up in a two-parent home like herself and attends church.

“He’s kind of an introvert,” Jessica said. “He really treats me like a lady.”

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.

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Disney offering hiring bonuses while unions prepare to return to the bargaining table

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:45 PM

The History of Disney

Walt Disney World is looking to hire more than 3,500 new workers, even offering “hiring bonuses” of up to $3,000 for some positions. 

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It all comes as the unions that represent 38,000 Disney workers get set to go back to the bargaining table next week. 

Unionized workers have been locked in contract talks since last summer -- and since then, they’ve staged demonstrations and gone back to the bargaining table several times, but still have no deal. 

"How can Disney justify giving $3,000 bonuses, when you have 19,000 plus workers making under $11 an hour?” asked Angie McKinnon, a representative of UNITE HERE LOCAL 737.

Union leaders were meeting Monday afternoon as they prepare to head back to the bargaining table one week from Tuesday. 

Union workers voted down Disney’s most recent offer of a 3 percent raise for most workers, with a minimum 50-cents-an-hour raise. 

And union bosses are upset that Disney won’t pay a $1,000 tax-cut bonus to union members -- unless they accept that deal. 

"A lot of them are still waiting on the tax, the money that Disney promised to give them from the tax cut,” said McKinnon. 

“As is the case with all aspects of an employee's compensation package, federal law requires that we negotiate the payment of that bonus with the unions, which we are in the process of doing,” a Disney spokeswoman said. 

As Disney now tries to hire thousands more full- and part-time cast members, the company is able to pay the hiring bonuses because the new cast members won’t be covered by the union contract until after they’re hired. 

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Waffle House shooting: How police captured Travis Reinking

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 3:17 AM

Waffle House Shooting: Who is Travis Reinking

Travis Reinking, the man suspected of killing four people during a shooting at a Waffle House outside Nashville, Tennessee, has been arrested.

>> Watch the news report here

>> On Fox13Memphis.com: Waffle House shooting victims identified

Reinking had been at the center of a statewide manhunt for 32 hours until he was caught Monday in the woods near his apartment. 

Nashville police confirmed the 29-year-old was taken into custody Monday afternoon. They tweeted these photos of him in the back of a cop car.

>> See the photos here

In a news conference, police said they received a call about a man matching Reinking's description going into a wooded area. When officers arrived, nearby workers pointed them in the direction where the man was seen walking.

>> Waffle House shooting: Man accused of killing 4 in Tennessee arrested

Officers entered the wooded area and walked along pathways.

One of the detectives came across a man. When that man turned around, the detective realized it was Reinking.

Police said the detective drew his gun and ordered Reinking to get on the ground. Other officers quickly surrounded the suspect and he was taken into custody.

>> Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter

The 29-year-old Reinking looked tired but had clothes, a backpack and identification when Nashville police caught him, authorities said. He surrendered without confrontation, police said.

“When they looked into the backpack they say a semi-automatic weapon with 45 caliber ammunition,” said Lt. Carlos Lara of the Nashville Police Department.

Reinking reportedly slipped through a law enforcement drag net of nearly 200 police, deputies and federal agents. He was able to walk back to his apartment to get clothes and other items, police said.

>> Who is James Shaw Jr., the man who disarmed the Waffle House shooter?

The reason why he allegedly opened fire at this Nashville area Waffle House is still under investigation

Reinking was wearing a backpack, which was cut off once he was handcuffed, authorities said. Inside, police said they found a Kimber semi-automatic handgun with .45 caliber ammunition.

A wallet was also inside the backpack, and police used the ID to confirm the man was Reinking, officers said.

“He immediately asked for a lawyer and refused to make a statement,” said Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron.

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For people who work and live near the mass shooting, the capture brought relief. 

Now begins the healing for a community caught in terror, the victims and their families. 

Acting Nashville Mayor David Briley said: “We need to move on as community and do what we can to curb this violence in the future.”

Reinking was taken to a hospital to be examined. From there, he will be taken to the Nashville jail to be booked on four murder charges, according to police.

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