Panthers' Thomas Davis donates $15K for high school state championship rings

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:41 AM

Panther’s Thomas Davis Donates $15K to High School for State Championship Rings

Carolina Panthers defensive linebacker Thomas Davis has made a huge donation to help the Harding University High School football team get its players and coaches championship rings.

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Davis confirmed he donated $15,000 to the team in a tweet to WSOC-TV anchor John Paul.

The football team finished its 14-1 season with a 30-22 win over Scotland County in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A State Championship game in Winston-Salem. It’s the first state championship for the team since 1953.

Head football coach Sam Greiner was on the radio Friday morning when Davis called in and said he would help. The football program was trying to figure out ways to purchase rings for its players who couldn't afford them.

The rings cost about $400 apiece, so the school was trying to raise about $20,000. A GoFundMe page was set up to help the team buy rings, which had raised nearly $7,000 by Friday morning.

When Greiner accepted the head coach position two years ago, the football program was one of the worst in the state -- winning just one game in both 2014 and 2015. The players didn't have uniforms until the coach’s church bought them. They still practice on a beat-up baseball field and have to dress behind the stands.

"If someone wrote a movie script about everything that's happened, they would think it's a fairy tale,” Greiner said. “They wouldn't think it's real life.”

WSOC-TV asked what expenses Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cover and was told it provides for game officials, security and coaching stipends.

Everything else is up to the school, families or a booster club.

Harding doesn't have a booster club, and a majority of the students’ families don't have the money.

"We have kids on our rosters that don't really have homes,” Greiner said. “They really don't know what they're going to eat (from) day to day.”

Greiner and his church created a family before building a state championship-caliber team. The church provides meals before games and Greiner let his quarterback, Braheam Murphy, who was homeless, live with him.

"I have two daughters because I think the good Lord knew I had enough sons, coaching football," Greiner said.

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‘Losing Streak Lois,’ killer grandma wanted in 2 slayings nabbed near U.S.-Mexico border

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:05 PM
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 1:24 AM

New Footage Released Of Killer Grandma, $6,000 Reward Offered For Capture

U.S. marshals caught the woman dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday after a multi-state crime spree, authorities said Thursday.

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Lois Riess, 56, was alone when she was captured in a restaurant on South Padre Island around 8:30 p.m. local time, the Lee County Sheriff's Office told CNN.

Reiss was wanted in connection with as many as three murders in three different states, including the murder of her husband in Minnesota.

"I promised all along that Lois Riess would end up in a pair of handcuffs," Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno said in a statement. "Tonight, she sits in a jail cell in Texas. We are working as expeditiously as possible to bring her back to Lee County to face murder charges."

Riess was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She was sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, Florida, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. 

Riess, who got her nickname from Minnesota law enforcement officers  for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie. 

In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases. 

U.S. marshals are placing billboards in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona in the nationwide search for Lois Riess, 56, who is suspected of murders in Florida and Minnesota. She is described as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair, standing about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 165 pounds. The white Acura she is accused of stealing from a victim has Florida license plate number Y37TAA.(U.S. Marshals Service)

>> Related story: Minnesota grandma sought in deaths of husband, Florida ‘lookalike’ killed for ID

The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday had updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money was made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.  

Florida investigators said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another. 

Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’s condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson. 

Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage. 

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot. 

Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL.

Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found.

The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account. 

See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below. 

Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.  

Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.  

“She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.”

>> Related story: New footage released of ‘killer grandma’ suspected in 2 homicides; $6,000 reward offered for capture

The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said

Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana. 

“She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.”

The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, described her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds. 

Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.  

Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying. 

Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week. 

Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported

Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later. 

Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources. 

“She smiles and looks like anyone’s mother or grandmother,” Marceno said. “And yet she’s calculated, she’s targeted and an absolute cold-blooded killer.”

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New NASA head Rep. Jim Bridenstine narrowly wins confirmation, says he’s ‘tickled,’ ‘excited’ 

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:01 PM

The NASA logo is displayed at the agency's booth during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The NASA logo is displayed at the agency's booth during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine as NASA’s new chief in a narrow 50-49 vote Thursday afternoon after a lengthy six-month nomination process.

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While that may not be a resounding mandate, Bridenstine told KRMG in an exclusive interview that he’ll focus on doing the best job he can - and he’s confident that even those who voted “no” will support him in his new role. 

KRMG spoke with him by phone about an hour after the Senate’s narrow confirmation vote.

“We are in a very exciting time when it comes to space in the United States of America,” he said, “and I am just tickled, I’m thrilled, I’m grateful that I have this opportunity to lead the world’s best space agency.”

Asked about the narrow margin of victory, he admitted he was a bit nervous at times, but now he’s ready to get to work.

>> Related: SpaceX launches NASA’s newest planet-hunting spacecraft

“While I didn’t earn all the votes in the Senate, my number one objective is to serve this country in a way that makes all of them proud,” Bridenstine told KRMG. “and certainly to get to know all of those senators very well, and to convince them that while some of them may not have voted for me, I want them to understand my passion, my desire for our country, and earn their support. And I think that’s going to happen. I think people are going to say OK, now that he’s in there, we’re going to support him and we’re going to get this country headed in the right direction as it comes to space.’”

He did get a little emotional toward the end of the discussion, talking about the people of the 1st Congressional District who sent him to office in 2012.

>> Related: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gets up close and personal with Saturn’s rings

“This opportunity’s available to me because the constituents in the 1st District of Oklahoma trusted me with an office in Congress,” he said, “and I did the absolute best I could to be as effective as possible on behalf of our entire country. And I want to express - just, just ultimate gratitude for having that opportunity, which ultimately resulted in this opportunity. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, to all of my constituents.”

As soon as President Donald Trump signs what’s called a “warrant” confirming the Senate vote, Bridenstine will officially end his term in Congress.

His office will remain open, however, and his staff will continue to be available to constituents who have issues with which they need help or have concerns.

>> Related: NASA launching probe for deep dive into sun’s atmosphere

His successor will be chosen during the general election in November, and will take office immediately upon being elected.

Space Enthusiast Says NASA Photographed ‘Alien Skeleton’ on Mars

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Boston, D.C. top contenders for Amazon's second headquarters, report says 

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:31 PM

It was formerly called Cadabra, Inc. The company has half a million employees. Its revenue exceeds $135 billion. Amazon's current logo depicts a smile that goes from A to Z. Its warehouses have more square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens.

A new report says Boston is one of the top two finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters.

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Twenty cities have been competing to become the location for the company’s second headquarters, and one study predicts two cities are better suited than the rest – and Boston is one of them.

The new study was conducted by an organization called The Conference Board.

It believes Washington, D.C., and Boston are most likely to beat out the competition.

The company analyzed the 20 cities vying to land HQ2.

The group studied the four job types most common in Amazon’s existing headquarters in Seattle, then looked at “real-time labor demand” and “online job vacancies” in all 20 cities vying for the headquarters.

>> Related: Boston among 20 cities in running for Amazon's second headquarters

It found Boston and Washington, D.C. were most compatible.

Something else that was in the report but needs to be considered – Amazon already likes Boston.

The company is seeking up to 1 million square feet of office space in the Seaport. Amazon could hire up to 4,000 workers for two future offices separate from the second headquarters.

Landing HQ2 could mean 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment in the city, but that doesn’t appear to have people in Boston too excited.

>> Related: Robot predicts Boston will win Amazon HQ2

According to a recent poll by Elon University, only 34 percent of Bostonians strongly support the bid for the new headquarters. That’s the lowest among the finalist cities.

Amazon expects to make a decision sometime this year.

An Amazon sign in Seattle outside the company’s grocery store in Seattle.(David Ryder/Getty Images)

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Instant leaks as feds deliver Comey memos to Congress

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:36 PM

Bowing to demands from Republicans in the House, the Justice Department on Thursday night gave lawmakers memos written by former FBI Director James Comey after meetings and phone calls with President Donald Trump, with the resulting leaks only amplifying Comey’s story that Mr. Trump had pressed him repeatedly about the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

And in classic Washington fashion – the memos were leaked almost immediately to news organizations.

You can read the set of memos from Comey – written soon after meetings directly with the President, or after phone calls with Mr. Trump.

There had been concerns that sharing the memos with Congress might cause problems for the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller – but press reports on Thursday night indicated otherwise, and a reading of the materials did not reveal a new treasure trove of information.

And more than anything, they only seemed to bring the focus more on President Trump.

Here are ten things we learned from the memos written by the former FBI Director.

1. Trump praises Comey at first meeting at Trump Tower. Before the former FBI Director could get to the subject of the Steele Dossier, the two men had some chit chat one-on-one. Comey said the President-Elect complimented the FBI chief on how he had handled the difficult situation involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “He said I was repeatedly put in impossible positions,” Comey recounted, quoting Trump as saying, “they hated you for what you did later, but what choice did you have?” Comey said the President-Elect said ‘he hoped I planned to stay on.’

2. Comey moves into the Steele Dossier. With other top officials out of the room at Trump Tower, Comey then described briefing the President-Elect on the contents of the Steele Dossier, expressing concerns that it could soon leak in the media. “I said, the Russians allegedly had tapes of him and prostitutes,” Comey wrote, saying that Mr. Trump said, “there were no prostitutes.” Comey said he told the President-Elect that the FBI was not investigating these stories, but that “our job was to protect the President from efforts to coerce him.”

3. The late January “loyalty” dinner. After President Trump had been sworn into office, he invited Comey to the White House for dinner – just the two of them – telling Comey that even Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did not know of their sit down. Comey said he told Trump, “I was not on anybody’s side politically.” After a detailed discussion of the impact of the Clinton email investigation on the campaign – in which they disagreed on whether there was a case against Hillary Clinton, Comey said the President made a clear point. “He replied that he needed loyalty and expected loyalty.”

4. Comey relates Trump displeasure with Flynn. One interesting side story from the late January dinner was when Comey related how the President had been angry with his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for evidently not informing the President that another world leader had called after the inauguration. “In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said “the guy has serious judgment issues.”” Comey then notes that he never gave Mr. Trump any indication of the FBI interest in Flynn – or the fact that agents had interviewed Flynn just a day before about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

5. A meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. One memo from Comey detailed a meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff, who asked the FBI Director if there was an investigation going on into the President’s National Security Adviser. “Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?” Comey quoted Priebus as asking. Later, their conversation went over the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and Comey’s late announcement which roiled the campaign. “At some point I added that it also wasn’t my fault that Huma Abedin forwarded emails to Anthony Weiner.”

6. Golden showers, hookers, and Putin. After meeting with Priebus, Comey was taken by the Oval Office for a quick visit with the President. There, Mr. Trump complained about leaks of his phone calls with foreign leaders, and again vented his frustration about details from the Steele Dossier. “The President brought up the “Golden Showers thing” and said it really bothered him,” Comey recounted. “The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that Putin had told ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'”

7. Trump presses Comey on Michael Flynn. In portions of the memos which had already been leaked, Comey describes how a broader meeting on homeland security ended, and then others left him one-on-one with Mr. Trump. “He began by saying he wanted to ‘talk about Mike Flynn,'” Comey recounts, adding later that the President said he had ‘other concerns’ about Flynn, but was aggravated about the leaks concerning his former National Security Adviser. But the President then returned to Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” was how Comey remembered what the President had said in this February 14, 2017 meeting.

8. Trump urges Comey to ‘lift the cloud.’ Again, these details had been leaked previously, as Comey recounted a phone conversation in which the President complained about the Russia investigation, saying at one point that he would have won a health care vote in the House if not for the controversy over the Trump-Russia probe about the 2016 elections. Comey noted the President again returned to an issue that clearly aggravated him – “can you imagine me, hookers?” Comey’s memo also seems to say that the President was going to file a lawsuit against former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who had assembled the dossier. No such suit was ever filed.

9. More about loyalty to the President. In an April 2017 phone call, Comey says the President pressed him to publicly confirm that he (Mr. Trump) is not under investigation related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. “He spoke for a bit about why it was so important,” Comey recounted, saying the President feared it was overshadowing the work of his new administration. “They keep bringing up the Russia thing as an excuse for losing the election,” Comey wrote. Then Comey said the President pressed him again. “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing you know,” Comey quoted Mr. Trump. In a footnote to his own memo, Comey seems perplexed as to what the President was referring to.

10. The release may on spur more questions. Republicans in the House had been pressing for the release of these memos from Comey for months, convinced that they would show wrongdoing by the former FBI Director. Instead, the full memos added more context to what was going on during the first few months of the Trump Administration with regards to the Russia investigation, and seemed to give more hints about what the FBI knew of the Steele Dossier, and how Trump officials were worried about who was being investigated.

 

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