Review Category : Top Stories

Refugees Can Take Free Online Classes Through State Dept and Coursera Partnership

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of State and the online education provider Coursera have teamed up to provide displaced people around the world access to an education.

“Coursera for Refugees provides access to world-class, career-relevant education at no cost, to individual refugees and the nonprofits that serve them,” Rebecca Taber, head of government partnerships at Coursera, told ABC News.

The initiative will provide financial aid for more than 1,000 online classes to an unlimited number of nonprofit groups that work directly with refugees, Coursera said in a statement.

Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Edinburgh are among the schools that offer classes through Coursera for Refugees.

“Our mission is to transform lives by providing access to the world’s best education,” Lila Ibrahim, chief operations officer at Coursera, said in a statement. “We know that one of the best ways to reach the people who need education opportunities the most is by working with organizations that understand the local needs. We’re excited to partner with these organizations including the State Department to provide refugees with comprehensive support as they take Coursera courses — at no cost — on anything from English to Python programming.”

“We know we can’t do this on our own. Our theory of action is to support the organizations that are on the ground,” Taber said, citing the company’s partnership with the State Department.

The State Department will open up U.S. embassies and consulates for facilitated discussions for course participants, “targeted specifically at communities with significant refugee populations,” it announced in a statement. “The first program will be hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon and will focus on English language learning for a mixed group of refugees and local Lebanese students.”

The State Department will also help connect Coursera with eligible nonprofit organizations in its network.

“Starting with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the State Department will host in-person facilitation of online Coursera courses, targeted specifically at communities with significant refugee populations. These facilitated sessions will offer learners the support of an in-person community — which provides a deeper, richer learning experience,” Evan Ryan, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said in a statement. “We really feel this public/private partnership is one of the many ways we can make a difference in the lives of real people by bringing educational opportunities to them.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency emphasizes the significance of an education for refugees on its website, stating “In times of displacement, education is crucial. It can foster social cohesion, provide access to life-saving information, address psychosocial needs, and offer a stable and safe environment for those who need it most.”

In the coming months, Coursera for Refugees will launch with groups of displaced people in Kenya, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Taber told ABC News.

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NYPD Unveils Rainbow-Themed Vehicle Before City’s Gay Pride March

@NYPDnews/Twitter(NEW YORK) — A New York Police Department vehicle has gotten a rainbow-themed makeover before the city’s 2016 LGBT Pride March this Sunday.

The NYPD badge on the SUV’s hood is in rainbow colors, as are the words “pride,” “equality” and “peace” on the vehicle’s side. The car also reads “NYC pride 2016” on a heart-shaped rainbow and “Our [heart] goes out to Orlando.”

Some have praised the NYPD vehicle as a sign of the department’s solidarity with the LGBT community and Orlando.

Thank you @nypdnews for the support of #lgbt and #orlandohttps://t.co/PprpAVk2fV

— Doris Dear (@Doris_Dear) June 23, 2016

The fact that the NYPD are driving in rainbow colored police cars in honor of gay pride and the Orlando victims is just 😍.

— Marimar (@Mvrimvr) June 23, 2016

Some love from NYPD. Thank you All!. #OrlandoUnited pic.twitter.com/Agu8gyTkEi

— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 22, 2016

But others have criticized it, given the police’s troubled history with LGBT New Yorkers:

1969: Stonewall Riots take place and NYPD arrest members of the LGBT community

2016: https://t.co/xufS5r5Cby

— Michael Sullivan (@Mikey_Sul) June 23, 2016

When asked at a news conference Thursday if the NYPD owes the LGBT community an apology for the 1969 Stonewall raids, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said, “I don’t think so.”

He said that he thought a lot of “good” came out of the “terrible experience” and that the changes in the department since then, in effect, constituted an apology.

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Second Body Found in Search for Family Missing off Florida Coast

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) — A second body was recovered Thursday as the Coast Guard continued searching for four family members who disappeared Sunday in 6-foot seas off the western coast of Florida.

The first body was found Wednesday in the search area in the Gulf of Mexico. The two bodies were found 4 miles away from each other, but neither has been identified.

A bucket with a wallet and a GPS device was found 5 miles from the first body, the Coast Guard said.

A sailboat mast was also recovered Thursday, 101 miles offshore from Fort Myers, Florida, which was the family’s planned destination.

The Coast Guard began searching Tuesday for Ace Kimberly and his teenage children — Rebecca, Donald and Roger — after a concerned relative contacted authorities.

Kimberly’s brother told the Coast Guard that the four family members had at least seven life jackets on their 29-foot sailboat, on which they live. They were towing two kayaks when they left Sarasota, Florida, at 7 a.m. Sunday, en route to Fort Myers for boat repairs.

At about 3 p.m. Sunday, the now-missing man called his brother to say the boat was in 6-foot seas near Englewood, 30 miles from Sarasota, and the family was trying to survive.

Items — including six life jackets, two kayaks and a flare — believed to belong to the family have been found during the search.

At about 2:30 a.m. Thursday, helicopter and boat crews saw something in the search area that looked like a flare rising into the air for three seconds. But when the area was further searched, no flare was found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

“We still have hope,” a Coast Guard official said Thursday, calling it a “dire” situation, but adding, “We want to get out there and save them.”

The father has full custody of the children and is separated from their mother, said her sister, Sadie Dilts. She told ABC News on Wednesday that her sister lives in Indiana and was on her way to Florida.

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Possible Flare Spotted in Search for Family Missing off Florida Coast

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SARASOTA, Fla.) — Searchers briefly saw what looked like a flare in the water early Thursday morning as they continued searching for a family who disappeared Sunday in 6-foot seas off the western coast of Florida.

Around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, helicopter and boat crews saw something in the search area that looked like it could be a flare rising into the air, for three seconds. But when the area was further searched, no dflare was found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

One body with a life jacket on was found Wednesday in the Gulf of Mexico. The body has not been identified.

The Coast Guard said Thursday a bucket with a wallet and a GPS was found 5 miles away from the body.

“We still have hope,” a Coast Guard official said Thursday, calling it a “dire” situation, but added, “We want to get out there and save them.”

The Coast Guard began searching Tuesday for Ace Kimberly and his teenage children, Rebecca, Donald and Roger, after a concerned relative contacted authorities.

Kimberly’s brother told the Coast Guard that the four family members had at least seven life jackets on their 29-foot sailboat, which they live on. They were towing two kayaks when they left Sarasota, Florida, at 7 a.m. Sunday en route to Fort Myers for boat repairs.

At about 3 p.m. Sunday, the now-missing man called his brother to say the boat was in 6-foot seas near Englewood, 30 miles from Sarasota, and the family was trying to survive.

Items including six life jackets, two kayaks and a flare were found Wednesday off the coast of Florida’s Sanibel Island.

The father has full custody of the children and is separated from their mother, the children’s aunt, Sadie Dilts, told ABC News. Dilts said her sister — the children’s mother — lives in Indiana and was on her way to Florida Wednesday.

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Fighter Jets Escort Diverted Delta Flight to Arizona

Ryan Healy(TUCSON, Ariz.) — A Los Angeles-bound Compass Airlines aircraft operating on behalf of Delta Airlines was diverted to Arizona’s Tucson International Airport Wednesday afternoon, following an onboard “verbal disturbance” involving a passenger, the FBI and Tucson Airport Authority confirmed. Specifics about the disturbance were not made available.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed to ABC News that it scrambled two F-16 fighters to intercept the jet, which was carrying 80 people, including passengers and flight crew. The plane’s flight crew notified the captain and copilot of the disturbance, leading to the F-16 fighter escort.

The NORAD spokesman did not have details on the disturbance itself but said whatever it was met the criteria to launch the fighters, which monitored the plane until it landed in Tucson. Citing “operational security,” NORAD won’t say where the F-16s launched from.

The Embraer 170 aircraft was was en route to Los Angeles International Airport from San Antonio, Texas, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Tucson Airport Authority Police confirmed that one of its uniformed officers escorted and handcuffed the suspect along with an FBI agent, who took the individual into federal custody because of the “verbal disturbance,” a spokesperson told ABC News. All passengers were taken off the plane and re-screened by the Transportation Security Administration.

The FBI’s Phoenix office said it was investigating the incident, but said there was no threat to public safety.

The FAA identified the aircraft as Compass flight 5720; it landed without incident at 4:35 p.m. PT.

One the passengers on the plane, Ryan Healy, tweeted a series of photos, video and posts detailing how FBI agents entered the plane’s cabin and removed the individual, and how the plane was escorted by fighter jets.

Tucson Airport sent out a series of tweets, beginning at 5:37 p.m., the first of which read, “There was an incident on a flight was a diverted to @tucsonairport. 1 suspect detained at this time. Aircraft deemed safe.”

Two minutes later, Tucscon Airport tweeted, “Passengers on diverted flight @tucsonairport and are being transported to terminal for rescreening.”

A subsequent tweet, only a minute later, classified the diversion to Tucson Airport as a result of “interference with flight crew.”

Less than half an hour after its first tweet, Tucson Airport said “Passengers are currently being re-screened. They will then continue on to their final destination.”

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Supreme Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling on Affirmative Action

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a major ruling on affirmative action, one centered on a program at the University of Texas that takes race into consideration as one factor of admissions.

The justices upheld the judgment of the court of appeals and the affirmative action case survives.

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Judge to Issue Verdict in Third Freddie Gray Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Officer Caesar Goodson, the van driver was charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, will learn his fate later Thursday morning.

Goodson, the third of the six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial for their alleged role in the arrest and death of Gray, faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of the most serious charge, second-degree depraved-heart murder.

He chose to leave his fate up to Judge Barry Williams instead of a jury. Williams announced Monday his verdict will come Thursday at 10 a.m., three days after arguments wrapped in the case. He will have to decide when, over the course of the ride, Gray sustained the fatal injury that led to his death, as well as whether that injury was a result of actions taken, or not taken, by Goodson.

Goodson also faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors had to prove that Goodson acted with such wanton and reckless disregard for human life that it amounted to malice. During closing remarks Monday, Judge Williams seemed confused by the state’s argument that the wide right turn was a “rough ride,” asking, “Can we not agree that taking a turn wide is less dangerous?”

Williams also questioned prosecutors as to why Goodson stopped to check on Gray if it was his intent to give him a “rough ride.” Surveillance footage obtained from CCTV at the time of the ride shows Goodson stopping the van following the wide right turn, walking to the back, looking in, returning to the front, and getting back behind the wheel before calling dispatch to ask for backup to check on his prisoner.

Gray died following a severe neck and spinal cord injury. During the trial the defense argued that the neck and spinal cord injury occurred simultaneously in a “catastrophic” moments before arriving at the police station. The prosecution argued that the neck injury resulted from the alleged “rough ride” and progressively worsened through the remaining stops, and that the officers neglected to get Gray medical care, which led to his death.

Williams also presided in the previous cases of Officers William Porter and Edward Nero. Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury in December and he will be retried in September. Nero, who also opted for a bench trial by Williams, was acquitted last month.

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Pedals, the Bear Who Walks Upright Like a Human, Spotted Again in New Jersey

Sabrina Pugsley(NEW YORK) — The elusive New Jersey bear who became an internet sensation after video emerged of him walking upright like a human has made an encore appearance on social media.

Oak Ridge resident Joey Esposito was taking a water break from mowing his neighbor’s front yard Monday afternoon when he saw the bear through his kitchen window.

“Who is on her property?” Esposito said he asked himself. He then realized, “That’s the bear,” he said.

Esposito then ran into the house to grab his phone and started to record. At that point, Pedals had moseyed to the neighbor’s backyard and then “nonchalantly” walked toward him, he said.

A Facebook group called “Pedals The Injured Bipedal Bear” keeps its more like 11,000 subscribers updated on Pedals’ condition. The five-minute video Esposito posted to the page has garnered more than 116,000 views.

The video shows Pedals, who is missing his right front paw and has a left front paw that just dangles, walking briskly on his hind legs with ease as he explores the neighborhood. At one point, he even stands on all fours, like a normal bear, as he grazes on some grass.

Esposito said despite his injuries, Pedals seemed “pretty healthy,” calling the encounter “really funny” but “scary at first.”

“He didn’t seem like he was going to harm anyone,” Esposito said. “I didn’t want to get too close, but he actually looked pretty good.”

Esposito’s 11-year-old daughter, who was at school at the time, didn’t believe what her father recorded. Instead, she thought it was someone in a bear costume.

Pedals created a social media firestorm in 2014, after the first video of him and his human-like walk appeared on Facebook. A GoFundMe page raised more than $22,000 of the $15,000 goal for the bear to be transferred to the Orphaned Wildlife Center. Although the goal was met in October, the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife did not approve for Pedals to be transferred because it felt the bear didn’t need assistance and could make it on his own, the Orphaned Wildlife Center told ABC News.

A message posted to the Facebook page dedicated to Pedals said a report will be filed with the NJDFW if his condition deteriorates.

ABC News could not immediately reach NJDFW for comment.

The black bear was last seen in December, and there was concern that he wouldn’t make it through the winter, NJ.com reported.

Esposito said he didn’t expect the video of the local animal celebrity to warrant so much attention.

“It was nice to get to see him up close,” he said. “I’ve heard so much about him, so it was good to see him.”

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