Review Category : National News

School District Fires Officer Who Allegedly Body-Slammed Student

ABC News(SAN ANTONIO) — A Texas school police officer who was caught on video appearing to body slam a female student has been fired, with school officials calling his alleged actions “absolutely unwarranted.”

Officer Joshua Kehm, of the San Antonio School District, was placed on paid administrative leave when the video of the incident, at Rhodes Middle School on March 29, was circulated online. The district spokesperson confirmed today that he had been terminated.

“We understand that situations can sometimes escalate to the point of requiring a physical response; however, in this situation we believe that the extent of the response was absolutely unwarranted,” superintendent Pedro Martinez said in a statement.

“Additionally, the officer’s report was inconsistent with the video and it was also delayed, which is not in accordance with the general operating procedures of the police department. We want to be clear that we will not tolerate this behavior,” Martinez said.

Kehm had been employed by the school district since February 2015, according to school district spokeswoman Leslie Price.

The administrative investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The Combined The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas reiterated that they will continue representing Kehm.

“It’s important to point out that Officer Kehm has promised to cooperate with the department’s investigation. However, CLEAT is concerned that the department acted before it has had time to fully evaluate all of the facts in the matter,” said CLEAT Executive Director Charley Wilkison.

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Coast Guard Rescues 17-Year-Old Drifting Off Florida Coast

U.S. Coast Guard(TARPON SPRINGS, Fla.) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a 17-year-old girl on Sunday night drifting in a kayak off the coast of Florida, officials said Monday.

Halfway through a 2-mile day trip from Fred Howard Park to the Anclote Keyes, the girl said her arms got tired and she decided to turn around while her father, mother and brother continued on, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson.

On the solo trip back, the girl told authorities, she was caught in the wake of a boat, lost her paddle and started to drift.

Luckily, she stayed with her kayak and donned her life vest, she told authorities. Both the boat and the life jacket make missing persons easier to spot, according to the Coast Guard, which also noted that many life jackets also have reflective tape.

When the girl’s family realized she hadn’t made it back to Fred Howard Park, they notified authorities. After a four-hour search, at 10:06 p.m., a Coast Guard chopper spotted her drifting off the coast of Tarpon Springs using an infrared camera.

When she realized authorities were on the scene, the girl — then suffering from a mild case of hypothermia — started waving her arms, an international signal of distress, the Coast Guard said.

A rescue crew recovered her and her kayak using a boat hook. She was reunited with her family and taken to a local hospital as a precaution, authorities said.

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The Reason North Carolina’s ‘Anti-LGBT’ Law is in the Spotlight Now

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — North Carolina’s controversial, so-called “bathroom law” has become a flashpoint in the state — PayPal announced last week that it is withdrawing plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro scheduled for last weekend, and protesters spoke out Monday both in support of and in opposition to the law, known as House Bill 2.

Critics call the law anti-LGBT, saying it discriminates against gay and transgender residents. But supporters argue the law defends religious liberty and protects girls in public restrooms.

But HB2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, has become a rallying point for both supporters and critics across the country, being one of the most visible of similar laws and proposals across states in the South.

HB2 was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March, and directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, be designated for use only by people based on their “biological sex” stated on their birth certificate. Transgender people can use the bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity only if they get the biological sex on their birth certificate changed.

The bill also declares that state law overrides all local ordinances concerning wages, employment and public accommodations. So, the law bars local municipalities from creating their own rules prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among the bill’s critics is Springsteen, who on Friday cancelled Sunday’s sold-out show in Greensboro, and is now refunding the concert tickets.

Springsteen explained on Facebook, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry … is one of them.”

“It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards,” Springsteen wrote.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley agreed, saying the NBA should move next year’s NBA All Star Game planned for Charlotte to somewhere else.

The issue extends beyond North Carolina — singer Bryan Adams is cancelling his concert in Mississippi scheduled for this Thursday after a similar law there passed.

“I find it incomprehensible that LGBT citizens are being discriminated against in the state of Mississippi,” Adams said in a statement on Instagram Monday. “I cannot in good conscience perform in a State where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation. … Using my voice I stand in solidarity with all my LGBT friends to repeal this extremely discriminatory bill.”

North Carolina’s governor and his supporters are fighting back, saying their critics were fine with similar laws in other places. “They demonized our state for political gain,” McCrory has said.

So why is this all coming to the forefront now?

Mara Keisling, founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she believes McCrory’s seeking re-election this year played a role in the timing of the passage of the North Carolina law. Keisling called it an “effort by the governor to beef up his extremist right-wing base for the gubernatorial election.”

“This guy is using it for political gain and it blew up in his face,” Keisling told ABC News, adding that her organization is non-partisan.

Keisling said that “before North Carolina passed its bill, we never had lost a state legislative battle specifically on a trans issue.”

“Sometimes it’s not the governor’s fault, but in this case, he’s the one that called for it,” Keisling said.

“He’s hurting himself, clearly, and the entire state,” she said, noting that it should become clear during the election in November how the law impacted the governor’s approval rating.

McCrory defended the law last week, saying it “was to ensure that that expectation of privacy would remain in our high schools and our universities and our community colleges.”

McCrory’s office did not immediately respond to a request from ABC News for additional comment.

But Kami Mueller of the North Carolina Values Coalition said to a cheering crowd Monday that she’s thankful for the governor and the leaders of the state for “standing up.”

The coalition is a non-partisan group that works to “preserve and promote faith, family and freedom,” according to its website.

“These men and women are standing firm on the side of truth,” Mueller said Monday during the rally, referring to the state lawmakers who supported HB2. “No one should be punished for what they believe.”

Keisling also noted that many states have short legislative sessions early in the year. There have been 50 anti-trans bills introduced this year, part of 200 anti-LGBT bills introduced this year, Keisling said, noting that out of the 50 anti-trans bills introduced, 33 have either been voted down or vetoed.

In North Carolina, Keisling predicted a repeal.

“There is no problem that needs to be solved, and every state that has taken a serious look at it has decided not to do anything,” she said.

“If trans leaders like me have something to be faulted for, it’s that we’ve been doing a lot of education … but we haven’t done it enough,” Keisling added. “Apparently more Americans think they have seen a ghost than they know a trans person. That’s why Gov. McCrory thought he could use us this way. That’s why he thought he could call us predators.”

Keisling said, “If there’s any silver lining here … [the North Carolina law] is causing thousands of trans North Carolinians to step up … and finish the education that we know we have to be doing.”

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Texas Teacher Arrested for Allegedly Hitting Student

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office(BEAUMONT, Texas) — A Texas school district placed a teacher on administrative leave after a video surfaced appearing to show her hitting a student in class, resulting in her arrest.

“The Beaumont Independent School District can confirm that an Ozen High School teacher was arrested today for physically assaulting a student,” district officials said in a statement Friday. “The conduct was substantiated by video footage viewed by BISD police and administration.”

The allegation is against geometry teacher Mary A. Hastings, the special assistant to the district superintendent, Nakisha Burns, told ABC News Monday.

The Beaumont Independent School District Police Department, which made the arrest, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but Hastings, 63, was, “immediately removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave pending action on her contract,” according to the school district.

In the video recorded Friday, Hastings appears to hit the student repeatedly saying, “Because you’re stopping him from graduating, you idiot a–.”

The student responds, “Why’d you did that?” before Hastings appears to mimic him, while the rest of the class starts laughing and yelling. The student then goes back to looking at his cellphone.

Hastings was booked into the Jefferson County Jail Friday on an assault charge, and released on $2,500 bond the same day, a jail spokesman said Monday.

It’s unclear whether she has a lawyer or has entered a plea.

In Friday’s statement, Burns said that, “The District is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students. BISD does not condone employees abusing any child and will not tolerate such conduct.”

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US Navy Officer Accused of Spying for China and Taiwan

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — United States Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin is accused of spying for both China and Taiwan, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News Monday.

Lin, a Taiwanese-born flight officer assigned to a Naval reconnaissance unit, was arrested eight months ago and has been charged with espionage, officials said.

His case did not become public until a pre-trial hearing this past Friday that will determine whether he will face a court martial.

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Sen. Charles Schumer Wants Feds to Reward Social Media Terrorism Tips

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York Sen. Charles Schumer wants the government to offer rewards to people who turn in suspicious information they see online that could help thwart a terror attack.

The U.S. Department of State has a “Rewards for Justice” program that has paid out $125 million to over 80 people “who provided credible information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide,” according to its website.

As social media has morphed into a breeding ground for extremism over the past few years, Schumer said he wants those rewards to also cover future tips generated through social media.

“There is no doubt about it, ISIS actively uses social media as one of their main weapons,” Schumer said in a statement. “We are in a time when a terrorist a world away can corrupt a disaffected youth — and with just a few posts or tweets, can push them to plan or carry out acts of terror. We need the public’s eyes to alert authorities if they see someone they know writing things they know spell trouble. And we need to offer a minimum reward for this information if it actually does prevent an attack.”

Schumer’s bill calls for a minimum $25,000 reward for any information generated through social media “that helps law enforcement thwart terror attacks in the United States.”

He pointed to high-profile, recent examples of how social media has been used to communicate extremist messages. Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino shooters, was revealed to have sent private messages to a small group expressing her support for jihad.

Mufid Elfgeeh, a New York pizzeria owner who last year pleaded guilty to providing material support to ISIS, was revealed to have been active on social media and used Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to spread messages about ISIS and other foreign terrorist groups, authorities said.

Popular social media destinations have also been vigilant of extremist activity and have urged users to flag any inappropriate content.

“Our global community is growing every day and we strive to welcome people to an environment free from abusive content. To do this, we rely on people like you. If you see something on Facebook that you believe violates our terms, please report it to us,” Facebook’s Community Standards page reads. “We have dedicated teams working around the world to review things you report to help make sure Facebook remains safe.”

Facebook does not allow terrorist activity or organized crime groups to have a presence on the social network and will also remove content expressing support for these groups, according to the guidelines.

“Supporting or praising leaders of those same organizations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed. We welcome broad discussion and social commentary on these general subjects, but ask that people show sensitivity towards victims of violence and discrimination,” the policy states.

Since the middle of 2015, Twitter said it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts, many of which were supporting ISIS, according to a blog post in February from the company.

Twitter increased the size of its teams tasked with reviewing reports of potentially terror-related threats. The company said it has also taken a proactive approach by using its “proprietary spam-fighting tools” that are capable of surfacing accounts that could potentially be in violation.

The results have paid off with Twitter reporting “an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off Twitter.”

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Largest Human Mattress Domino Tumbles into Record Books

Guinness World Records(NEW YORK) — What do you do when you have over 1,000 people, 1,200 mattresses, and 70,000 square feet of space? You break a Guinness World Record.

Aaron’s Inc., an appliance and electronics store, broke the world record for largest human mattress domino. The feat took place on March 22 as part of the company’s annual manager’s meeting at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in Maryland. The domino chain was successful on the first attempt and took 13 and a half minutes to finish, beating the 2012 record by 50 mattresses.

This was no small task.

“Mass participation records like these are pretty complicated,” Kristen Ott, public relations manager for Guinness World Records North America, told ABC News. There are specific rules regarding the mattress size, distance apart, and general set up. For every 50 people, there has to be a steward to monitor and ensure that the rules are being followed.

Aaron’s began planning for the event last November.

“We were trying to think of a team-building event that would involve a large number of [managers],” Garet Hayes, director of public relations, told ABC News. The company worked with its manufacturer to make and ship all of the mattresses and hired “Domino Wizard” Robert Speca to design the chain.

Although World Record winners don’t receive any monetary prize for their accomplishments, they do get a certificate and bragging rights. In this case, the record breakers weren’t the only winners — Aaron’s donated all of the mattresses to organizations helping those in need.

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SpaceX to Test Fire Recycled Rocket 10 Times to Determine If It’s Fit to Fly Again

SpaceX/Facebook(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — SpaceX has now successfully landed a rocket on a drone ship but the company’s next test will be sending a recycled rocket on another trip to space.

After a cargo re-supply launch to the International Space Station on Friday, the Falcon 9 rocket landed upright on a drone ship parked in relatively calm waters — a stark difference from previous attempts that have resulted in fiery crash landings.

With the rocket back at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX engineers will re-fire the rocket’s engines ten times in a row to determine re-usability, according to the process Musk explained on Friday.

If the rocket is qualified for re-use, Musk said the first relaunch using the same rocket could be as early as June, though the way that he answered suggested that was still up in the air. “We think it will be a paying customer,” Musk said, rather than just a test flight.

In the future, Musk said he hopes the turnaround time for a relaunch would be down to a few weeks.

Onboard view of landing in high winds pic.twitter.com/FedRzjYYyQ

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2016

Mastering a drone ship landing is necessary when it is “just not physically possible to return to launch site,” Musk previously explained. The drone ship landings are especially needed for “high velocity missions,” which would allow payloads such as satellites to reach a higher orbit, such as geostationary orbits, he said.

SpaceX successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket in December on land after launching a satellite into orbit. Having the ability to recycle rockets is something Musk has said will “revolutionize access to space,” reducing costs by as much as a factor of one hundred, he said.

Despite being in working condition, Musk said he doesn’t have plans to fly the rocket it recycled in December and will instead to keep it on the ground since it’s the first one the company successfully returned.

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Small Plane Crashes on Long Island Street, Two Hurt

iStock/Thinkstock(BAYPORT, N.Y.) — Two men were lucky to have escaped with their lives after a plane they were flying in crash-landed in a Long Island neighborhood Sunday evening.

Small plane crash in Bayport. Lost power and clipped light pole. Two passengers airlifted to hospital. pic.twitter.com/dwv6toIzlB

— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) April 11, 2016

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. — officials say the pilot lost power shortly after take off from a nearby airport and was circling back when the engine went out and crashed at an intersection in Bayport.

Bayport Fire Department immediately arrived to the fiery scene.

“In an unbelievable display of heroism [they] were able to take the pilot and the passenger out of the plane,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.

35 year-old pilot: head injury, broken legs. 65 yo passenger: head injury. Miracle it hit no houses or people. pic.twitter.com/s5rLUGC5SD

— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) April 11, 2016

The pilot, 35-year-old Scott Clifford, suffered a head injury and two broken legs and was in serious condition. The passenger, 65-year-old Mike Rolm, suffered head injuries. Both were admitted to a local hospital. Rolm’s injuries are not considered serious, officials tell WABC in New York.

Miraculously, the mangled plane managed to avoid any of the surrounding homes.

“This is nothing short of a miracle — both that the airplane did not hit any houses and any other individuals,” said Commissioner Sini. “We’re talking about a Sunday evening at 7:00, clearly people could be out and about.”

Crashed plane in Bayport now flipped upright. About to be loaded onto flatbed. pic.twitter.com/B8VyFi3UEe

— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) April 11, 2016

Officials say the FAA is investigating, and the NTSB is working to determine the cause of the crash.

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Scoreboard Roundup — 4/10/16

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

INTERLEAGUE

Milwaukee 3, Houston 2

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Toronto 3, Boston 0
Baltimore 5, Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 4, Minnesota 3, 10 Innings
L.A. Angels 3, Texas 1
Oakland 2, Seattle 1, 10 Innings
Cleveland at Chi White Sox (postponed, rain)
N-Y Yankees at Detroit (postponed, rain)

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Philadelphia 5, N-Y Mets 2
Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 1
Washington 4, Miami 2
St. Louis 12, Atlanta 7
San Francisco 9, L.A. Dodgers 6
Chi Cubs 7, Arizona 3
Colorado 6, San Diego 3

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Washington 113, Charlotte 98
L-A Clippers 98, Dallas 91
Houston 130, L-A Lakers 110
OT Milwaukee 109, Philadelphia 108
Utah 100, Denver 84
Indiana 129, Brooklyn 105
Miami 118, Orlando 96
Golden State 92, San Antonio 86
Toronto 93, New York 89

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Philadelphia 5, N-Y Islanders 2
Anaheim 2, Washington 0

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