Review Category : National News

Cartwheeling Motorcyclist ‘Shouldn’t Even Be Here’ After Crash

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) — A motorcyclist caught on video cartwheeling his way to safety after colliding with a car believes childhood gymnastics helped save his life.

“I didn’t know I rolled like that,” said Michael Smith. “I shouldn’t even be here right now but I’m here.”

Smith, 22, was headed to lunch in Clearwater, Florida, last month when he collided with a car making a left turn. Video shows him catapulting into the air – then flipping and rolling – and walking away.

“When I realized I was up in the air, I just thought to myself, ‘Okay, I could either land on my head or my feet,’ and the next thing I knew I hit my feet and I rolled and I get up,” he said.

Smith didn’t suffer any serious injuries. His friends only believed his story when the video was released.

The crash won’t stop Smith from riding again.

“I’m built tough. That’s all I can say. I’m built very tough,” he said.

He’s even considering a new career.

“I would be a stuntman. I would do all the things that they do and enjoy it,” Smith said. “I’d come in all day. For real.”

The driver of the car was ticketed for making an improper left turn and driving with a suspended license, according to Clearwater police. Smith received a summons for not having the required motorcycle endorsement on his license, which he’s addressing this week.

Smith continues to see a chiropractor a few times a week because of some lingering pain.

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Great White Shark Making Comeback in US Waters

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Nearly 39 years to the day since Jaws first terrified audiences, a new report shows that the real thing is making a comeback — the United States is seeing a boom of great white sharks.

According to a study by a team of scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 1997, the white shark population has increased by an estimated 42 percent.

“Our white sharks and all of our sharks are the real balance keepers,” said Chris Fischer, founding chairman and expedition leader of research firm Ocearch. “We need them in our oceans. … There’s just no robust path forward for the ocean without lots of sharks.”

For years, the number of great whites plummeted — around the time Jaws was made, their population had fallen by 70 percent — but now they’re back.

The report credited the comeback to an increase in seals, their favorite food; a federal ban on hunting great whites; and conservationists’ efforts to change their image.

Fischer and a team of scientists put a geotracker on a great white named Katharine last year to track her journey from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Gulf of Mexico, and understand how sharks spawn.

A dozen or so other sharks were also tagged and named and are swimming off the East Coast and the west coast of Florida, as well as throughout the world.

There are four tagged sharks off the coast of Georgia; one each off the coasts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia; and two off the coast of New York’s Montauk.

Katharine now has 12 fans following along online.

“People have fallen in love with her,” Fischer said. “I think that people are fascinated with the sharks for the first time ever. … I’m just thrilled the whole world is just jumping into the project.”

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Texas Day Care Investigated for Duct Taping Restless Children to Sleeping Mats

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CRESSON, Texas) — A Texas day care center is under fire after a staffer allegedly duct taped two children to their sleeping mats when they would not go to sleep during nap time.

Lorrie Almquist, of Cresson, Texas, said she was shocked when she received a call Wednesday from the owner of Heart2Heart Montessori Academy in Parker County and learned that her 3-year-old son and another boy had been duct taped to their sleeping mats.

Photos of a different boy wrapped in a blanket and bound to his sleeping pad by duct tape around the legs and chest had been circling among concerned parents Tuesday afternoon, Almquist said. The photos, which did not show the boy’s face, had been snapped by an employee at the school who quit her job shortly after, she said.

Though the boy in the photo was not Almquist’s son, she received a call a day later from the day care’s owner, Pam Decker, who Almquist said took responsibility for the incident, informing the mother that Almquist’s son had also been taped down.

“I felt violated and I was irate,” Almquist told ABC News today. “I couldn’t find any words to say to her. I was so hurt and saddened to think that my child had to go through that.”

Almquist said Decker had been complaining for weeks about her son not sleeping during nap time, and had even requested that Almquist buy a weighted blanket to help keep her son down during nap time.

Almquist and another parent reported the incident to Willow Park Police Department and contacted Child Protective Services.

The school also reported the incident to authorities, and in an email to parents, Heart2Heart’s director, Ashlea Pena, said the children were not harmed and described Decker’s actions as “thoughtless” and “foolish.”

Pena, however, defended the school, claiming that the situation had been “extremely exaggerated by a very upset parent.” She added that “the child involved was in no way harmed or caused any distress, in fact within 5 minutes he was sound asleep with his arms tucked under his chin. And woke up smiling.”

“I think that’s ridiculous,” Almquist said in response to Pena’s statement. “Ashlea Pena has a daughter that’s less than a year old and I know she would feel the same way if this happened to her daughter.”

Almquist said she has taken her son out of the day care center.

While CPS does not investigate day care centers, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Child Licensing Division has launched an investigation, which could last up to thirty days, agency officials said.

Agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said she could not release details about the investigation, except that the department is investigating claims of “prohibited punishment.”

Agents were at the school Thursday interviewing parents, employees and administrators, Gonzales said. Once the DFPS has concluded its investigation, police will launch its own criminal investigation regarding Pam Decker, said Willow Park Police Chief Brad Johnson.

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Minnesota Governor Declares State of Emergency After Flash Flooding

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(SAINT PAUL, Minn.) — Back-to-back storms in Minnesota prompted evacuations and an emergency declaration from Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday.

Torrential rain caused flash flooding, damaging an estimated 1,000 homes in Mankato, south of Minneapolis.

“Insurance isn’t going to even scratch the surface,” said area resident Brian Fowler.

In other neighborhoods, officials ordered floodwater to be pumped into a nearby lake. At the University of Minnesota Medical Center, a mudslide caused a chunk of the land nearby to give way, threatening the facilities.

Dayton declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, making state resources available for citizens. In addition to financial aid, the governor directed Minnesota’s National Guard to send 100 soldiers to Koochiching County to assist in affected areas.

“We’ve shown that we know how to respond to these disasters and learned from them, in ways that will reduce the severity of the next crises,” Dayton said.

Still, there is concern that the state’s emergency fund of $3 million may dry up depending on flooding damage.

“We’ll deal with it and we have great response teams in the city and the county and then the state, and we’ll do what we can to the very best of our abilities,” the governor added.

Some roads reopened Friday, but flooding problems continue in areas like St. Paul, where residents are scrambling to find an alternative site for the Taste of Minnesota, one of the state’s biggest festivals.

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White House Adding Manpower to Deal with Flood of Migrant Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House is promising to hire more judges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys and asylum officers to process deportations amid a surge of unaccompanied minor children, and adults with children, being apprehended at the Southwest border.

Approximately 52,000 unaccompanied children, largely from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, have been taken into custody near America’s southern border between Oct. 1 and June 15 — a 92 percent increase compared to the same time last year.

During a similar period, from Oct. 1 through May, roughly 39,000 adults with children were apprehended.

The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department announced during a White House Press call that they will be teaming up to bolster their enforcement and removal proceedings.

“Showing up at the border illegally is not a ticket into this country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday during the daily White House news briefing. “Those individuals are not eligible for deferred action. …We are mobilizing additional resources to try to deal with this problem more.”

“So much of what we’re seeing on the southern border is the result of a deliberate misinformation campaign that is propagated by criminal syndicates in Central America,” he said. “That misinformation is causing some people who are in a rather desperate situation to risk their lives to come to the U.S. border expecting they will be able to stay in this country. That is simply not true, and it’s important for people all across this country and others to understand facts.”

However, on the ground at the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis there is some reason for doubt. Just this week, when ABC News traveled to McAllen, Texas, women with children apprehended by the border patrol were then released at a local bus stop to purchase tickets and travel into the U.S. after providing only a promise to appear at court within 30 days.

The administration was unable to say how many people were given notices to appear in court and released to join family members currently living in the United States. Nor were officials able to say how many of those previously given notice actually appeared for their court dates.

There was also no information readily available on how many of the unaccompanied minor children will eventually be returned to their country or be allowed to stay in the United States with relatives or in foster care.

When judges decide minor cases, they base their decision on what is in the best interest of the child.

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said officials are “actively seeking additional capacity to house adults with children.”

The administration is also working to stem the flood of misinformation in Central America that they say is often planted by smuggling networks.

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden is in Guatemala to discuss the urgent humanitarian issue with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as representatives from the governments of Mexico and Honduras.

The administration announced the U.S. government will be providing $9.6 million to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras so they may invest in their repatriation centers to process those deported from the United States. They will also be spending around $80 million to create new programs within each country to help stem violence and offer services to at-risk youth.

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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Texas Men on Terrorism-Related Charges

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Two Texas men arrested earlier this week on terrorism charges were officially indicted by a federal grand jury Friday, according to the Department of Justice.

Rahatul Khan and Michael Wolfe were separately indicted with attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Khan, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, allegedly wanted to join al-Shabab, a Somalia-based terror group linked to al Qaeda, while Wolfe sought to learn to fight in Syria.

An undercover FBI agent met with Wolfe and his wife during an investigation and learned of the suspect’s desire to travel to Syria and train. According to charging documents, Khan communicated with informants in an online chat room in an attempt to “spot and assess potential recruits for committing violent jihad overseas.”

A detention hearing for Khan was originally scheduled for Friday but was reset to June 30. Wolfe waived his hearing and will remain in government custody. Both have entered not guilty pleas against the charges and face up to 15 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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Officials Investigate Apparent Suicide at Arlington Cemetery

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) — Officials are looking into an apparent suicide incident after a man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday morning.

Military Police, special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and Arlington County Police Department officers responded to reports of a single gunshot around 10 a.m. near Columbarium Courts.

Investigators do not suspect foul play, though they have not ruled such a cause out, according to Chris Grey, spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.

No other information was provided on the victim.

“All indications are this is a tragic and isolated incident and there is no threat to the public of those visiting Arlington National Cemetery,” Grey added.

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WATCH: Motorcyclist Flips, Lands on Feet After Being Hit by Car

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) — A video captured by a red light video camera in Clearwater, Florida, shows the moment a motorcyclist is hit by a car.

The impact brings the bike to an abrupt halt but sends the man, who appears to not be wearing a helmet, flying through the air. He does a complete flip while sailing over the car and lands feet first before tumbling to the road. He quickly gets up and seems to walk away from the accident unscathed.

Clearwater Police said the driver of the car was cited for an improper left turn and driving on a suspended license.

Authorities said the motorcyclist did not have the required motorcycle endorsement on his license.

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Kevlar Inventor Stephanie Kwolek Dead at 90

iStock/Thinkstock(WILMINGTON, Del.) — As one of the few pioneering female chemists in the 1960s, Stephanie Kwolek invented the flexible, tougher than steel fibers that were used to create life-saving body armor for law enforcement and soldiers.

Kwolek died this week at the age of 90, her co-workers at DuPont, the chemical company where Kwolek worked, confirmed to ABC News.

“She leaves a wonderful legacy of thousands of lives saved and countless injuries prevented by products made possible by her discovery,” DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman said in a statement.

In 1965, Kwolek devised a liquid crystal solution that could be cold-spun. Nearly half a century later, her discovery and legacy have endured through a variety of goods ranging from bulletproof vests to sports rackets and smartphones.

Earlier this week, the one millionth vest using the latest Kevlar technology was sold, according to DuPont, showing just how important Kwolek’s discovery remains, even half a century after she did what researchers had long struggled to do.

Kevlar has been used to make sporting goods “lighter, stronger and safer,” according to DuPont. It can be found in motorcycle components and clothing, as well as skis, racquets, canoes and kayaks.

The durable, flexible material has also been integrated into personal electronics, such as the Motorola DROID RAZR, which is made with Kevlar unibody design.

Kevlar’s resistance to chemicals and extreme temperatures makes it ideal for personal electronics, according to DuPont’s website.

Goodyear has used the material to create a tire with Kevlar reinforced sidewalls that DuPont said can increase puncture resistance by 35 percent.

Kwolek, who aspired to be a fashion designer before she discovered a love of chemistry, served as a mentor for other female scientists throughout her career. She also participated in programs aimed to introduce children to science.

Kullman remembered her as a “creative and determined chemist and a true pioneer for women in science.”

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Drones, Harmonicas Boost Search for Missing Firefighter

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Rescuers are turning to a high-tech tool to help in the search for a missing California firefighter.

Drones armed with infrared cameras — the hand-launched Puma and hovering Qube — are scouring the Los Padres National Forest in the search for Mike Herdman, 34.

Herdman vanished a week ago during a camping trip with his buddy, fellow firefighter Taylor Byars. Byars told authorities he last saw his friend chasing after his dog Duke, which had run into a creek.

Search crews from half-a-dozen agencies, including a Homeland Security Rapid Response team, have been combing the back country, a wilderness area twice the size of the Grand Canyon.

Eric Haney, who works for AeroVironment Inc., said the drones can cover terrain that’s difficult to reach for the ground crews.

“They’re basically a force multiplier, so instead of having 30 guys out in the field looking, beating the bush looking for this guy, we can launch this aircraft and cover a lot of ground,” Haney said.

For Reserve Chief Mike Leum of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, minute details could reveal Herdman’s whereabouts.

“Every footprint’s included, every broken branch,” Leum said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

Search crews spotted Herdman’s dog Wednesday and again Thursday, but Duke got away both times. So searchers are taking along a decidedly low-tech tool – harmonicas, hoping the music will put Duke at ease.

Herdman’s family and friends are convinced his fitness and training have kept him alive. They gathered at the trailhead, hoping he’ll come over the ridge.

“I have no doubt he can survive out there for weeks,” friend Mike MacGregor said. “He’s just an amazing person, very, very resourceful.”

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