Review Category : National News

Trans Teen Returns to Virginia School as Supreme Court Mulls Bathroom Access

iStock/Thinkstock(GLOUCESTER, Va.) — Students returned to school in Gloucester, Virginia on Tuesday under a cloud of uncertainty, as the state awaits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding transgender bathroom access.

Gloucester, in particular, faces scrutiny as Virginians await word from the Supreme Court, because of a protest from Gloucester High School senior Gavin Grimm.

Grimm, a female-to-male student, sued the school board over their policy that requires students to use the restroom associated with its biological gender at birth or a private, single-stall restroom. A series of appeals that followed eventually brought the issue to the highest court in the land.

Grimm will not be permitted to use the same restroom as his male classmates — although he started living his life as a boy several years ago, he said.

The Supreme Court agreed in August to allow the Gloucester County School board the right to stop Grimm from using the boy’s bathroom — at least until the justices decide whether or not to examine an appeals court ruling of the case. Of the eight justices currently serving on the Supreme Court, four of them must agree to review Grimm’s case against the School Board for it to go forward.

Should it go forward, it would help bring one of the most fiercely debated cultural issues of 2016 that much closer to settlement and affect the lives of many transgender students beyond Grimm.

Grimm first received permission to use the boys’ restroom at the high school in 2014 for several weeks, after informing the school about his transition.

Then the school board adopted its current policy in December of 2014 as a response to the complaints of parents. The board voted 6-1 in favor of the new policy, according to public meeting minutes posted online.

The Gloucester County School Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News regarding the case.

Claire Gastañaga, the Executive Director of the ACLU Virginia, the organization that represents Grimm, told ABC News that she is “disappointed” with the fight the school board has waged against her client, and suggested that they “caved to pressure from parents” without giving appropriate consideration to the feelings of their student.

“Gavin has a right to be free from discrimination,” Gastañaga told ABC News.

She said that the ACLU expects the Supreme Court to review the case this fall.

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Authorities Searching for Group Apparently Caught on Video Toppling Iconic Rock Formation in Oregon

iStock/Thinkstock(PACIFIC CITY, Ore.) — Authorities are searching for a group of people recently caught on video appearing to topple over an iconic natural sandstone formation along Oregon’s northwest coast.

The rock feature, known as “The Duckbill,” was first found in shambles last week in Pacific City, Oregon, according to Oregon Parks and Recreation’s associate director Chris Havel. The formation had been a part of Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.

State officials initially believed the rock had fallen naturally, but they later became aware of a video online apparently showing a group of people pushing down the formation, Havel told ABC News Tuesday.

The video was filmed by a man named David Kalas, ABC Portland affiliate KATU-TV reported.

Kalas had been helping a friend film the coast with a drone when he said he noticed a group of people trying to push the rock pedestal down, he told KATU.

At first, Kalas laughed to himself because he “thought there was no way that they could knock it down,” but then he saw the formation start “wobbling,” he said.

Kalas managed to get his phone out just in time to catch the moment the group apparently toppled over the sandstone feature.

“I asked them, you know, why they knocked the rock down, and the reply I got was their buddy broke their leg earlier because of that rock,” Kalas told KATU. “They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard and that they did the world or Oregon a favor.”

The group also stood on top of the crumbled sandstone and snapped a few pictures before leaving, Kalas said. He added that he did not know who the alleged vandals were or catch their names, but he hopes his video will help catch them.

“I just want them to learn a lesson,” he said, “because if they do this here, they will probably do it elsewhere.”

ABC News was unable to reach Kalas.

Director Havel said Oregon State Parks, along with State Police, has now launched an investigation into the video.

He explained that the sandstone in the area has been around for over 18 million years and that the formation was possibly “thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands years old.”

“I also think the bigger message here is that everyone who has ever crossed the safety fence and walked on the rock played a role in advancing the demise of this natural feature,” Havel said.

“We hope that this story will remind everyone to be more mindful when visiting any park, not just this one.”

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Six-Year-Old Girl Shot in Head Begins 1st Day of School Less Than 1 Month After Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A determined 6-year-old girl from Chicago is starting her first day of school Tuesday morning, less than one month after she was shot in the head while playing outside with water balloons.

Zariah Muhammad and her uncle were shot Aug. 11 when a gunman walked up to them in the street and opened fire, according to ABC station WLS in Chicago.

A bullet fractured Zariah’s skull, leaving her in the hospital for several days. Her uncle, 22, died from the shooting, WLS reported.

Less than a month after the shooting, Zariah headed off to her first day of first grade Tuesday.

“She’s excited, but she’s nervous at the same time,” her mother, Gloria Muhammad, told ABC News after dropping Zariah off.

Muhammad said Zariah’s planning to focus on improving her reading and getting ahead in math in anticipation of second grade.

“I’m excited,” Muhammad added. “Because a couple of weeks ago it could’ve been totally different.”

Muhammad, who braided her daughter’s hair to cover the bandage on her head, told WLS the shooting has enhanced the fears of the children in their family.

“The only way they feel confident is when everybody in the family is around,” she said. “If we walk around on the street, they want to hurry up and get home. It was never like that before.”

Zariah, meanwhile, now has a career in mind as a result of her injury.

“She wants to be a doctor,” Muhammad told ABC News. “Before [the shooting] she had never been hospitalized.” But while recovering in the hospital “she was able to sit up and see everything the doctors were doing helping her,” she said.

Zariah told WLS she wants to be a doctor “because they help people get better.”

The Chicago Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. As of last month, the shooter remained at large, according to WLS.

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Labor Day Marks End of Bloody Summer in Chicago

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — From Memorial Day weekend, when 25-year-old Mark Lindsey was repeatedly shot while he was sitting in a car near his home, to Labor Day weekend, when two men walked up to a 17-year-old gang member and shot him several times in the back, it has been a long and bloody summer in Chicago.

Thirteen people were fatally shot over Labor Day weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported. It has propelled the total number of homicides so far this year to more than 500.

The three summer months made up almost half of all 2016 homicides to date. Between June 1 and Aug. 31, a total of 227 people were killed in the city, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The summer of violence peaked in August, which became Chicago’s bloodiest month in 20 years. There were 472 shooting victims in August’s 31 days.

Ninety people were killed in August, higher than every other month of the year.

The Summer Spike

When this summer began, “police chiefs around the country were bracing for an increase in violent crime,” said John Cohen, an ABC News contributor who is a former U.S. counter-terrorism official. According to Cohen, urban areas usually have an increase in violent crime in the summer because more people are outside. And this summer specifically, he said major U.S. cities were predicting an uptick in violent crime based on increases seen at the end of last year and early this year.

Cohen said police departments use data to help determine where to expect crime surges, from identifying neighborhoods where past shootings occurred to tracking “relationships between street gangs and drug trafficking organizations.”

Cohen said data can break potential crimes down to the time of day or day of the week, which enables police to take action: they can “increase stops, work probation and parole to look at repeat offenders … [or] identify where illegal guns may be.”

Targeting Repeat Offenders

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson attributes the city’s violence to repeat gun offenders.

According to the Chicago Police Department, a majority of the people involved in violence in the city are either members of gangs, affiliated with gangs or previously had contact with the police department. The Chicago PD said in August that data analysis from the University of Chicago showed them that “nearly 40 percent of those arrested for homicide in 2015 had prior arrests for gun crimes.”

Summer Strategies

Police forces across the country implement summer-specific strategies, like larger patrols, to combat summer violence, according to Cohen.

This June, Chicago police announced initiatives in its “summer strategy,” which included adding more than 150 officers to the streets, expanding bike and foot patrols to enhance community interactions, conducting raids targeting gang members, partnering with the state police on expressways, and even “refining the Department’s overtime system so officers who work overtime do so in their normally assigned beats — allowing them to build on their relationships with residents.”

June: Chicago Cracks the 300’s

But by the end of June, in which 72 murders occurred, the total number of murders for the year climbed to over 300 in the Midwest’s largest city.

No other city came even close to Chicago. The Los Angeles area recorded 244 homicides from January through June. New York — which has a population about three times Chicago’s — had 161 homicides in those six months.

As June ended the Chicago Police Department called the level of crime in the first six months of the year “unacceptable” and cited the violence as “consistently fueled by repeat offenders with ties to gangs and committed with illegal guns.”

The department said at the time it was working “to stem the flow of illegal guns, identify and hold accountable the offenders who are driving the crime, and rebuild public trust in the process.”

After June, the homicide rate dropped slightly in July to 65.

August: The Boiling Point

But in August, the murder rate skyrocketed to 90, making August the bloodiest month in Chicago in two decades.

One of the 90 August victims was Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, who was caught in crossfire as she walked her newborn child on Chicago’s South Side. Two brothers, both convicted felons who served time in prison, were arrested.

Johnson called Aldridge’s death “an example of why we need to change the way we treat habitual offenders in the city of Chicago.”

She “was just another mother who wanted her children to get an education just like any good parent would,” said Johnson. “Instead her life was cut short by gunfire from two convicted felons who were both out on parole.”

“These two offenders are the prime example of the challenge we face here in Chicago with repeat gun offenders,” he said. They “don’t care who they shoot, don’t care whose life they take and clearly, clearly, don’t fear the consequences of their actions,” he said.

“I’m frustrated, you should be frustrated, all Chicagoans should be frustrated,” Johnson said. “When will enough be enough?”

As August ended, Johnson stressed that laws need to be changed to ensure that repeat offenders, like the brothers arrested for Aldridge’s death, aren’t “on our streets … in the first place.”

“The historical cycle of violence … must come to an end,” Johnson said.

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Ex-Stanford Swimmer Brock Turner Registers as Sex Offender in Ohio

Stanford Univ Dept of Public Safety(DAYTON, Ohio) — Former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, registered as a sex offender Tuesday morning in his home state of Ohio.

Turner, 21, was released from jail in California Friday morning after serving half of his six-month sentence.

This story is developing. Check back for more updates.

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Video Shows Vandals Destroying Famous Oregon Sandstone Formation

David Kalas(CLOVERDALE, Ore.) — A famous rock formation was reduced to rubble when hikers appeared to topple it intentionally in a new video.

The sandstone formation, once standing overlooking the coast in Cloverdale, Oregon, is now in pieces.

Park officials at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area originally believed it had collapsed naturally until drone video surfaced showing a group of people trying to knock down the famous formation.

David Kalas, one of the men who flew the drone, said the hikers believed the formation was “a safety hazard” despite it being protected behind a fence with warning signs.

“They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard and that they did the world or Oregon a favor, that they knocked it down,” he said.

Park officials and state police said they are investigating the incident and the accused vandals have not yet been found.

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Cruise Ship Anthem of the Seas Rocked by Waves from Hermine

Robert McHugh(NEW YORK) — Post Tropical Cyclone Hermine rocked Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship on its way to Bermuda — sending dishes flying and creating a rough ride for those on board, passengers said.

Robert McHugh recorded video of the waves hitting the ship Sunday as he interviewed another passenger, his brother-in-law Derek Biederman.

It was early Sunday morning when the ship started swaying, Biederman said, and in the restaurant, dishes “were going all over the place” amid large swells.

The rocky ride was “exciting for me,” Biederman said, though he said that other passengers became seasick.

“I’m having a good time,” Biedmeran said.

After their “exciting” Sunday, Monday morning appeared to be smooth sailing, according to this photo from McHugh.

Much better this morning

— Robert McHugh (@Robert_J_McHugh) September 5, 2016

Owen Torres, spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, said the ship, which departed from New Jersey, arrived in Bermuda on time Monday morning.

“While sailing yesterday, our captain informed guests that we had experienced higher winds and gusts for a 2-3 hour period,” Torres said. “We’ll continue to share weather information with our guests throughout their trip.”

Torres did not immediately comment about passenger illnesses.

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6-Month-Old Boy Shows Off Impressive Water-Skiing Skills

Rob Absher(FALLS LAKE, N.C.) — Six-month-old Auburn Absher can’t quite crawl, but that’s not stopping him from taking part in one of his family’s favorite pastimes: Water-skiing.

With his mother, Heather, by his side, Auburn rode his custom-built trainer ski as his dad towed it at full sprint on Falls Lake in North Carolina. Baby Auburn, donning a mini life jacket, held on to a special railing that his dad says he built from PVC piping. Dad says the baby had no extra help.

“He’s got himself a death grip on that thing,” Rob said. “His hands were not taped at all, he’s actually holding on, he’s got a real strong grip.”

Rob says that the family are “really enthusiastic water sports people,” and he claims that Auburn — who was 6 months and 10 days old on Sunday — now holds the record of world’s youngest water skier. (ABC News is unable to independently verify the record claim.)

“I’ve always dreamed of doing it even before he was born,” he said. “My wife was not too for it — it seems worrisome for a kid to do it that young.”

When Auburn was born eight weeks early on Feb. 25, the couple decided that water-skiing was out of the question.

But in recent weeks when Auburn began attempting to stand on his own, the parents reconsidered.

Like any serious athlete, Auburn had to follow an intense training regimen.

“He started in the living room, and then a couple of days ago, we pulled him around the yard,” Rob explained.

When family came into town this weekend, Rob and Heather realize it was time to show off Auburn’s skills.

Employing his training, Auburn was able to maintain his grip and stone-faced composure for 150 feet over a period of about 30 seconds before his mom had to step in.

Looking ahead, Rob says that the family will “keep on progressing him,” but their main priority at the moment is teaching him to crawl, walk and talk.

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‘Armed and Dangerous’ Homicide Suspect Who Escaped Custody Still at Large

iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — A homicide suspect who broke free from his handcuffs and escaped police custody on Friday is still on the loose, North Las Vegas police confirmed to ABC News.

Police described the man, Alonso Perez, 25, who is suspected to have been involved in a shooting on North Las Vegas Boulevard on Aug. 27, as “armed and dangerous.”

North Las Vegas Police said Monday that they are still actively looking for Perez.

Perez apparently escaped from custody in remarkable fashion after being apprehended on Friday.

“As part of the ongoing investigation, Perez was transported to the NLVPD Detective Bureau where he was placed in an interview room in handcuffs,” a police press release said. “After the detective stepped out of the room, Perez turned the handcuffs until he broke free and escaped the building. Moments later, Perez stole a white 2016 Ford F-250 pickup truck with Nevada license plate #26C819. No one was injured in the incident.”

On Saturday, the Ford F-250 truck described by police was recovered.

Police issued photos to help identify Perez. They show a thin man with olive skin, a shaved head, mustache, and small beard on his chin. Perez, they noted, has the Nike Air Jordan logo tattooed under his left ear.

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What You Need to Know About Hermine as Storm Tracks Up East Coast on Labor Day

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Post Tropical Cyclone Hermine moved up the East Coast Sunday, stalling out at sea further east than expected, but was still predicted to affect Labor Day plans with dangerous surf and possible tropical storm conditions for some areas of the northeast.

The storm made a northward turn and is forecast to make a gradual turn northwest later Monday.

It will meander off the mid-Atlantic coast for the next day or two, and after that, the storm is expected to move in a northeast direction again and head out to sea.

As you begin your Labor Day celebrations, here is everything to know about Hermine’s impact Monday and for the rest of this week.

The most notable impacts the next few days will be coastal flooding and high surf in the Northeast.

The flooding is expected to be minor to moderate.

Because the storm tracked further east than expected, the coastal flooding threat has diminished greatly across the New York City area as well as in New Jersey and Delaware.

However, coastal flood warnings remain in place this morning for areas that typically flood during coastal storms, like in New Jersey.

The only tropical storm warnings that remain in effect are the eastern portions of Long Island, the eastern Connecticut coastline and the southern coastlines of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

But residents are still urged to mindful of the water.

The rough surf and large waves — especially on Long Island and the southern shores of New England — will continue to cause beach erosion for the next few days.

New York City beaches remain closed to swimming due to a threat of rip currents. Beach season was extended through Sept. 11 for the city.

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