Review Category : National News

More than 60 threats to Jewish Centers across the US, authorities investigating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of 11 new threats Monday against Jewish centers, from New York to New Mexico, the FBI said it is investigating, along with the Department of Justice, bomb threats to the centers across the country.

Federal authorities are looking into threats communicated to at least 60 Jewish centers around the country this year. The threats started in January and the FBI began investigating later that same month. The threats have come in “different waves,” with more threats phoned in to centers Monday, according to one source familiar with the matter.

The FBI said they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers.”

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the FBI said in a statement. “As this is matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

This year, a total of 69 threats to 54 JCCs have spanned 27 states and one Canadian province and came in four waves: Jan. 9, Jan. 18, Jan. 31 and then Monday, the JCC Association of North America said.

In Monday’s wave of threats 11 JCCs received bomb threats over the phone, the JCC Association of North America said. All threats were determined to be hoaxes and all JCCs returned to normal operations, they said.

The threats Monday included a JCC in St. Paul, Minnesota, a JCC in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and two Jewish centers around Buffalo, New York.

The Department of Homeland Security has also been working on this matter. Almost immediately after the threats are reported to federal authorities, the DHS is informed and disseminates the information nationwide through the Homeland Security Information Network channel “so that others can see that these calls are going on and respond accordingly,” one source said.

David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, said that while the JCCs that received the threats have all resumed operations “with a heightened level of security,” he added, “we will not be cowed by threats intended to disrupt people’s lives.”

“While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Posner said. “Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a statement Monday that the threats are “alarming, disruptive, and must always been taken seriously.”

“We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.

At a press conference last week, when a Jewish reporter started to ask President Trump about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., he said it wasn’t a fair question and told the reporter to sit down. Trump then said he is “the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

He later responded to questions about possible anti-Semitic activity saying, “As far as people, Jewish people … I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday, in response to the threats, “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individuals freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”

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Fifth-grader seeks math problem-solving help from local Ohio police department

Molly Draper(MARION, Ohio) — Police across the country are used to solving puzzles, but one Ohio police department recently got a plea for help from a local girl seeking to solve a puzzle of a more mathematical bent.

Ten-year-old Lena Draper, 10, decided she needed some help with her fifth-grade math homework, so she took to the Marion, Ohio, Police Department’s Facebook page on Friday and messaged them a few problems that she felt needed answering.

The police department came to her rescue, messaging the little girl back after she posted the math problem, (8 + 29) X 15. The police department responded with “do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 X 15.”

Lena followed up with another problem: “(90+27)+(29+15)x2”

To which the police department replied: “Take the answer from the first parenthesis plus the answer from the second parenthesis and multiply that answer by two.”

Though they were going above and beyond their duties, in a math faux pas, the answer given to Lena ended up being incorrect, as pointed out by a friend of Lena’s mother. (The correct answer is to add the numbers in the second parenthesis and multiply only that by two, and then add it to the numbers in the first parenthesis.)

Lena’s mom, Molly Draper, said she was tickled that the local police department tried to help her daughter with her homework. “I didn’t believe her and asked for a screenshot. I thought it was pretty funny. And I love that they went ahead with it,” she told ABC News.

In response to the incident, the Marion Police Department posted on its Facebook page that it is a full-service police department that makes every emergency a cause to be answered.

When asked if Lena’s math problem ever got answered correctly, her mom said, “I hope so. But we’ll see when she gets her paper back.”

For those in need of math equation help, remember the acronym, PEMDAS, which stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction — the order in which mathematical operations should be performed in an equation.

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Two officers shot, one killed, after responding to traffic accident in California

KABC-TV(WHITTIER, Calif.) — One police officer was killed and another injured after they were shot while responding to a traffic accident earlier Monday in California.

The officers had responded to the crash where a driver, who police said was driving a stolen car, rear-ended multiple other vehicles in Whittier, California around 8 a.m.

Lt. John Corina, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, said that the unnamed suspect moved his car around the corner after the accident. When officers arrived on scene, the other drivers indicated that the suspect had moved his car.

“When they got the call, it was just a traffic accident and they didn’t know what they had,” Corina told reporters. “When they went to contact him that’s when the shooting happened.”

Corina said that suspect, a “known gang member,” was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire first on the officers, striking them. The officers then returned fire, wounding the suspect, officials said.

Both officers and the suspect were hospitalized after the shooting and one officer died at the hospital. The surviving officer and suspect are currently in stable condition, according to Corina.

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Bao Bao the panda to leave DC Tuesday

Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Thousands of well-wishers are heading to the Smithsonian National Zoo and tuning in online to say “Bye-bye, Bao Bao.” The beloved giant panda departs Washington, D.C., Tuesday for her new home in China.

“Everyone here at the zoo, the millions of people at the zoo and the millions more on the webcams around the world are all going to miss her tremendously,” Associate Director of Animal Care Sciences Brandie Smith told ABC News.

In the days before her departure, the zoo has hosted a number of activities and educational livestreams, including a dumpling ceremony and an ice cake party.

🐼❤️🌏Bao Bao’s last ice 🎂 created by our Dept. of Nutrition Sciences was inspired by a Chinese pagoda in honor of her new home #ByeByeBaoBao pic.twitter.com/7V1Ua0gei9

— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) February 20, 2017

Crowds of visitors lined up at the panda house, some waiting upwards of an hour, to wish the bear bon voyage.

“I have been watching this bear since she was born and it’s actually the first adult animal I have seen from birth until adulthood,” visitor Heather Heckel told ABC News. “So I’ve just kind of loved her all of her life and I wanted to say goodbye.”

Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo Aug. 23, 2013, to China-born parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Now older than 3, Bao Bao has to be sent to China as part of a cooperative breeding program between the zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). As defined by terms of the program, all giant pandas born at the zoo must be sent to live in China before the age of 4.

“We like to send them back about this age because in a couple of years she’ll actually reach breeding age,” one of Bao Bao’s keepers, Marty Dearie, told ABC News. “It’s good to get them back a little early so they have time to settle into their new environment.”

Bao Bao begins her long trek to Chengdu, China, Tuesday morning, when she will travel from the zoo to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. From there, she will take a 19-hour direct flight on a personalized FedEx plane, accompanied by Dearie, a vet, and close to 60 pounds of bamboo and other treats.

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Rainy start to the year in Northern California continues

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Following years of drought, parts of Northern California have experienced a deluge of rain so far in 2017.

Rain, heavy at times, is expected throughout Monday in the region, before tapering to scattered showers overnight, according to ABC News meteorologists.

Around the area of the Oroville Dam, where residents were forced to evacuate last week following concerns that the structure could falter, 1 to 2 inches of rain were expected, and the area surrounding nearby mountains could get as much as 5 inches or more, meteorologists said.

Following the rain, wind gusts Monday evening and overnight could create downed trees, power lines, and power outages in some areas.

This has been the wettest start to the year ever recorded in the Sacramento area — which has now exceeded a foot above normal for rainfall since Oct. 1, 2016, according to ABC News’ analysis.

Some residents of the region are preparing for the possibility of another evacuation of the region surrounding Oroville, according to the Sacramento Bee, but the water has nevertheless been lowered to a safe level.

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Deadline approaching for Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

ABCNews.com(Cannon Ball, N.D.) — Dakota Access Pipeline protestors that are still camped out in North Dakota could be arrested Wednesday if they do not leave.

Protesters have been at the campsite since August as they fight the construction of a pipeline that will carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. They feel the pipeline threatens the sanctity of the land, and Native American tribes argue the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

Weather serves as another threat to protests. Protesters may have to move to higher ground amid the possibility of spring flooding.

Some protesters tell Bloomberg News they are prepared to be arrested, but will remain peaceful.

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Study: Los Angeles is world’s most traffic-clogged city

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Low fuel prices and economic stability are straining the country’s roadways, leading to congestion that cost U.S. drivers nearly $300 billion in wasted gas and time last year, according to a new report released Monday.

Los Angeles had the worst traffic in the world among 1,064 cities studied by traffic analytics firm INRIX. L.A. also topped the Kirkland, Washington, firm’s list the year before.

On average, Los Angeles motorists spent about 104 hours stuck in traffic during the peak commuting hours of 2016, contributing to a loss of $2,408 per driver, or about $9.7 billion collectively, in wasted fuel and productivity, according to the firm’s Global Traffic Scorecard report.

That topped Moscow and New York, where drivers spent an average of 91 hours and 89 hours, respectively, sitting in gridlocked traffic.

Overall, U.S. cities accounted for half of the firm’s list of the top 10 most-congested areas worldwide, helped by cheaper U.S. gas prices and a buoyant economy, the report said.

“A stable U.S. economy, continued urbanization of major cities, and factors such as employment growth and low gas prices have all contributed to increased traffic in 2016,” INRIX senior economist Bob Pishue said in a statement.

U.S. drivers spent an average of 42 hours a year in traffic during the busiest commuting hours of the year, costing them about $300 billion collectively, or about $1,400 per driver, in squandered gas and time last year, according to the report.

“Traffic truly is a double-edged sword,” Pishue said, adding that he doesn’t expect the global traffic situation to improve soon any time soon.

“The demand for driving is expected to continue to rise, while the supply of roadway will remain flat,” Pishue said.

He recommends that governments use traffic data and technology to improve traffic flow as they explore new road projects and investments.

Separately, in a blog post Friday, INRIX Chief Economist Graham Cookson noted that the causes of congestion are specific to the city and road structures, but he also laid out a few ways that cities could address the problem.

“Congestion is bad for our wallets and our health, but in one sense it is a good problem to have,” Cookson said. “Roads are the arteries of the economy pumping people and goods around the country. Congestion is the symptom of a rich and prosperous economy.”

Avoiding peak hour trips through remote working and encouraging the efficient use of our roads through wider adoption of road user pricing could help cities to better manage road demand, Cookson said.

He pointed to places like London as an example of a city that is using technology to improve traffic flow.

London invested nearly $4.3 billion to improve the roads there, according to the city’s website.

As part of that initiative, the city placed sensors in 80 percent of the city’s roads to detect real-time traffic conditions at junctions and optimize traffic light timings to reduce delays, Cookson noted in his blog post.

INRIX said it used anonymous and real-time GPS data to track traffic flows across 38 countries. It also utilized “market-specific criteria that affect traffic,” including construction and road closures, real-time incidents, sporting and entertainment events, weather forecasts and school schedules.

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‘Everyone is calling from everywhere’ to help in Indiana teens’ murder probe

Indiana State Police(DELPHI, Ind.) — A tip line set up by investigators in the murder of two Indiana teens who disappeared while hiking is filling up with calls from across the country after a man photographed on a nature trail was named a primary suspect in the killings, police said.

“Everyone is calling us from everywhere,” a spokesperson for the Delphi Police told ABC News.

The bodies of the two girls — Liberty Rose Lynn German, 14, and Abigail Jay Williams, 13, both of Carroll County — were found last Tuesday near a creek, roughly three-quarters of a mile from an abandoned railroad bridge, near Delphi, Indiana, where they were dropped off Monday to go hiking.

Indiana State Police named a man in a photograph as the primary suspect in the double homicide investigation Sunday afternoon, but nothing is known about him at this time outside of a single image.

Previously, he had been labeled a person of interest, and police said he might only be a witness to the crime.

That changed Sunday afternoon.

“Since Wednesday February 15th, law enforcement officers have distributed a photo of a person observed on the Delphi Historic Trail. The photo appears to depict a white male wearing blue jeans, a blue coat/jacket, and a hoodie,” a statement from the Indiana State Police read.

Investigators told ABC News that a search warrant was executed at a home in Delphi on Thursday night, but it did not yield anything of value to the investigation.

State police referred to “preliminary evidence” that led their attention to the man in the picture, without detailing what it was.

“During the course of the investigation, preliminary evidence has led investigators to believe the person, in the distributed photo, is suspected of having participated in the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” the statement added.

The case has garnered great attention in the otherwise peaceful area of rural Indiana from which the girls disappeared.

On Monday, police told ABC News that people in the small city of Delphi bonded together following the tragedy and have been extremely helpful to the investigation.

“The people of Delphi are being very helpful,” the spokesman said. “They are helping in any way that they can.”

Thousands gathered in Delphi this weekend to take part in a motorcycle memorial ride to commemorate the lives of the two girls.

Organizers for the motorcycle rally estimated that more than 3,000 people took part in the ride on Saturday, while hundreds of spectators watched, according to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, a local paper.

The paper said that the downtown area of the small city overflowed with motorcycles and cars, who registered for $20 per driver and $5 per passenger to ride from Office Tavern Bar in Delphi to Whiskey and Wine Saloon in Monticello, and that the funds were split between the families of the two victims.

ABC affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis reported that residents of Delphi were applying purple ribbons to their homes and storefronts show their support for the victims and their families.

The affiliate also reported that several local businesses in Delphi are hosting fundraisers for the families.

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Meet the woman who broke barriers as a ‘hidden figure’ at the US Navy

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures celebrates the true story of three African-American women who helped propel the U.S. space program to new heights.

While Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson were breaking barriers at NASA, another hidden figure, Raye Montague, was making history at the U.S. Navy.

“I faced a lot of the same barriers that those ladies faced,” Montague said Monday on ABC News’ Good Morning America, recalling a time when a fellow employee asked her for a cup of coffee and she replied that she’d like one too, adding, “Be sure mine has cream and sugar.”

Montague, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, grew up in the segregated South. She never saw an engineer who looked like her but she would go on to shatter glass ceilings as a female, African-American civilian employee at the then-male-dominated Navy.

“I’m known as the first person to design a ship using the computer,” Montague, now 82, said in an interview that aired Monday on Good Morning America. “And I was the first female program manager of ships in the history of the Navy, which was the equivalent of being a CEO of a company.”

Montague credited her mother with providing the confidence to know she could achieve anything she wanted. She earned a bachelor of science degree in business at a historically black college, the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal School, which now goes by the name the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The school she wanted to attend, the engineering school at the University of Arkansas, did not accept minorities at the time.

“Growing up in a segregated South, you never dreamed that these options were available to you,” Montague said on GMA. “I can remember wondering, ‘Where am I going? What am I going to be?,’ and when I was 7 years old my grandfather took me — this is during World War II — to see a German mini-submarine that had been captured off of the coast of the Carolinas and they let me go inside.”

“I said to the guy, ‘What do you have to know to do this?,’ and he said, ‘Oh, you’d have to be an engineer but you don’t ever have to worry about that,'” she recalled. “I didn’t realize I’d been insulted.”

Despite not being able to earn an engineering degree during her college years, Montague is now registered as a professional engineer in the U.S. and Canada.

“My mother told me when I was a very little girl, ‘Raye, you’ll have three strikes against you. You’re female and you’re black and you’ll have a southern segregated school education,'” Montague recalled. “‘But you can be or do anything you want, provided you’re educated.'”

She began her career with the Navy in 1956 in Washington, D.C. Like the women in Hidden Figures, Montague entered service in what was then a traditional female role, as a “clerk typist,” and quickly proved her worth.

“She had to keep proving over and over that she could do the job and she was able to rise above those types of things,” said Trenita Russell, one of Montague’s former coworkers.

Montague would go on to spend 33 years as a civilian Navy employee. She learned engineering skills on the job and went to computer programming school at night.

Years later, during the Nixon administration, Montague’s bosses gave her department one month to use a system she developed to design a naval ship.

Montague famously completed the task in just under 19 hours.

“To think back to what she dealt with back then, especially with the gender variable, they thought that she was supposed to be getting them coffee,” said Montague’s son, David Montague. “And then she was the one actually there in charge.”

Montague said she always answers no when people ask her if she was the first woman or the first black woman to achieve what she did in the design of Navy ships.

“No, I was the first person and that’s important,” Montague said of her reply.

Montague was surprised Monday on GMA by Janelle Monae, who portrays Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures. Jackson played a crucial role in helping NASA send John Glenn to orbit the Earth in 1962.

“You all were beautiful, just beautiful, and I know what you were going through because I was going through the same thing,” Montague said to Monae.

Monae replied, “We thank you so much for your service. You are an American hero and you are hidden no more. Everybody sees you.”

Octavia Spencer, who is Oscar-nominated for her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughn in Hidden Figures, also delivered a message for Montague.

“I want to let you know that you are no longer hidden. We see you. We salute you. And we thank you,” Spencer said in the video clip that aired Monday on GMA.

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Three injured after sprint car flips into stands at Volusia Speedway Park

iStock/Thinkstock(DE LEON SPRINGS, Fla.) — Three people were injured on Sunday night after a race car crashed into the stands at Volusia Speedway Park in De Leon Springs, Florida.

According to ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV, the car entered the stands just before 9:30 p.m. during a DIRTcar World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series qualifying event.

Dale Blaney, the uncle of NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver Ryan Blaney, was heading into turn two of the half-mile oval track when his dirt car went airborne, flipped upside down and crashed through a fence and into the stands, severely injuring three spectators.

All three were transported to Halifax Hospital in critical condition. According to DIRTcar Nationals race organizers, Gary Streek, who was visiting from the United Kingdom, is currently in stable condition and visiting with family and friends. The two others are still in the hospital and their condition is unknown.

While Blaney’s car became tangled up between two other cars, all drivers walked away without injuries.

This marks the second accident in four days where a car cleared a fence at Volusia Speedway. On Wednesday, Joey Saldana’s car flew over the catch fence into the stands, but no one was injured.

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