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WATCH: Killer whales surround woman, swim with her off coast of New Zealand

Drone video captured an unusual incident off the coast of New Zealand on Monday. 

>> Read more trending news 

A group of three killer whales seemed to make a lone female swimmer part of their pod, swimming with her in the waters off Coromondel at Hahei Beach, New Zealand’s 1 News reported

The video shows the orcas playfully splashing alongside the swimmer and almost nipping at her toes.

Judie Johnson said at first, she was frightened when she saw the whales under her and quickly swam back to shore.

"I was also thinking they eat seals, and I’m in a black wetsuit," Johnson told 1 News.

Then she said she decided to return to the water to complete a training swim, and the whales -- an adult, a juvenile and a calf -- returned to swim with her.

Johnson said her fear quickly disappeared after she gazed into the largest orca’s huge eyes.

"It was so different to anything that’s happened to me before, and I thought, no, this is a life-changing experience,” Johnson said.

>> Related: LISTEN: Talking killer whale verifies orcas’ ability to mimic human sounds

She told 1 News, "They were as interested and curious about me as I was about them.”

An orca expert told the news station that killer whales are “just big dolphins with a fancy paint job,” and in fact are the largest members of the dolphin family.

Killer whales are carnivores and eat sea lions, seals and sometime other whales, but according to National Geographic, they are not known to attack humans, and at least one whale website said there’s never been a report of an orca in the wild eating a human.

Cannibal Corpse guitarist attacks deputy as his ammo-filled home burns down

The guitarist for the popular death metal band Cannibal Corpse was arrested Monday near his home in Tampa after he broke into a home and attacked a deputy, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.

>> Read more trending news 

Deputies said Pat O'Brien, 53, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and burglary after he broke into a home next to the Northdale Golf and Tennis Club in Tampa and pushed a woman to the ground.

The Sheriff’s Office said in a release that O'Brien ran toward a responding deputy with a knife. The release said the deputy subdued O'Brien with a stun gun.

Authorities said O'Brien did not know the residents in the home.

Oddly, his nearby home on the 16000 block of Norwood Drive was on fire Monday night, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said. O’Brien’s home contained numerous weapons, ammunition and flame throwers, Fire Rescue said.

“Crews arrived at the one-story home in the 16000 block of Norwood Dr. to find flames coming through the roof of the structure,” Fire Rescue wrote in a Facebook post.

Officials said the ammunition was exploding due to the flames.

“It took us nearly an hour to bring this one under control. Thankfully, there were no injuries,” Fire Rescue said.

The HCSO bomb squad conducted a precautionary check of O’Brien’s home Tuesday morning.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

>> Trending: 50 Cent’s crew member killed on set of Starz series ‘Power’

O'Brien is being held on $50,000 bail.

Cannibal Corpse, which was formed in 1988 in Buffalo N.Y., has a large following around the world. The band is now Tampa-based and will be part of an upcoming leg of Slayer's farewell tour.

Mars lander sends back first selfie from Red Planet

NASA’s Mars InSight lander snapped its first selfie and sent it back to Earth.

>> Read more trending news  

The photo shows the first complete look at the lander’s workspace in an area on the Red Planet known as Elysium Planitia, where the probe successfully landed on Nov. 26. The picture shows InSight’s solar panels and deck. It also shows the rover’s science instruments, weather sensor booms and UHF antenna, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the InSight mission.

The selfie is actually composed of 11 images, which were taken by the lander’s Instrument Deployment Camera on the elbow of its robotic arm. The images were then stitched together into a type of mosaic photo, JPL officials said.

>> Related: NASA’s Mars InSight lander just days away from arrival on Red Planet

The $850 million InSight mission will study the deep interior of Mars and will help scientists understand the formation and early evolution of, not just Mars, but all rocky planets, including Earth.


Trump scrapping some Obama-era school lunch guidelines, allowing more salt, flavored milk

In an attempt to make school nutrition standards easier to attain, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced more “flexible” requirements. The final plan, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, goes into effect Feb. 11, 2019. It has brought cheers and jeers from school nutritionists and watchdog groups alike.

>> Read more trending news 

Supporters agree with Perdue that better nutrition is of no use if the students won’t eat the healthier options, which is already a problem for some schools. USDA data show the number of students eating meals at school peaked in 2010 and dropped by about 8 percent since: In 2010, 5.2 million students ate school lunch, but by 2017, it was 4.8 million.

Opponents of the changes argue that instead of scrapping the guidelines set in 2010, it would be better to stick with them and let children become accustomed to more nutritious foods. Most school systems had already met or were very close to meeting the sodium restriction by the deadline set previously and many are using technology to figure out what the kids want to eat and are making healthy adjustments based on feedback.

>> Trending: Why women having heart attacks wait longer to seek help than men

Opponents have called the rollback another attempt by President Donald Trump to undo gains that were made by the Obama administration. The stricter guidelines were part of former first lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , which Congress passed in 2010.

In a May 1, 2017 press release on the impending changes, the headline proclaimed: “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again.”

Public comment on the changes was overwhelmingly in favor, with most categories seeing less than 1 percent opposition.

The most notable changes are:

  • Allowing flavored, low-fat milk to children in school meal programs, and to participants age six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program;
  • Requiring that only half, instead of all, of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich, permitting more white flour and other refined grains; and
  • Providing more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

Perdue said, “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

School nutritionists in Georgia are among the supporters of the new standards.

>> Trending: Man impersonating Walmart employee steals TVs, pinatas, police say

“Here in metro Atlanta we don’t have the same challenges as some poorer rural communities in meeting the standards,” Cindy Culver, director of school nutrition for Marietta City Schools, said. Access to a variety of foodstuffs and fresh produce year-round make it easier to adhere to the 2010 rules. Some districts do less “scratch” cooking and rely heavily on processed or manufactured foods. Until the food industry develops palatable products with less sodium it will be harder for those schools to comply, she said.

Even so, it wasn’t easy for Marietta to meet the sodium and whole-grain requirements.

“Let’s face it, there are three things that make food taste good: salt, fat and sugar,” Culver said, adding that reconfiguring recipes and requiring vendors to supply lower-sodium options were difficult.

“And whole-grain pasta doesn’t hold up well on the line,” she said. “That was another big challenge that was hard to meet.”

Culver, the past chair for the School Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, understands the importance of the stricter guidelines, but said students consume less sodium through school meals than other sources, which statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm.

>> Trending: Uncle accused of slashing throat of sleeping 3-year-old niece, now facing murder charges

Meeting those old guidelines was exponentially more challenging for Gwinnett County, the state’s largest school district.

“We had to step outside the guidelines and had a few waivers in for the whole-grain requirement over the past couple of years,” said Karen Hallford, assistant director of school nutrition for Gwinnett County Schools.

Biscuits, pastas and saltines made from whole grains were items students just weren’t eating.

“We are currently meeting target one for sodium levels and now have more time to reach target two,” Hallford added, referring to the two-phase sodium-reduction plan.

All public schools in the federal School Nutrition Program were required to meet target one by 2014. The new rules give them ten years to meet the next target.

Gwinnett, like many other school systems, has devised ways to make sure kids are actually consuming the healthier foods put before them. With an app called Nutrislice, students and parents can get nutrition information, menus and updates on changes. They may also give feedback and rate the fare. The school system also conducts focus groups and seeks comments through student surveys.

“We’re constantly making adjustments to menus,” said Hallford who oversees 20.5 million lunches and 10.25 million breakfasts each year. “Students have much more sophisticated palates and they want food that’s more in line with what they eat outside school. We work to do that while maintaining nutrition standards.”

Margo G. Wootan, vice president for nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, “Virtually all school districts have met the first sodium-reduction targets” and fewer than 15 percent sought waivers from the whole-grain rule. “Instead of building on that progress, the (Trump) Administration has chosen to jeopardize children’s health in the name of deregulation,” she said.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black applauded the guidelines for giving more local control and said they would help the state reach a goal of “having at least 20 percent of every meal in every Georgia public school comprised of Georgia products by the start of the 2020 school year.”

>> Trending: Texas firefighters rescue over 100 snakes from burning house, including pythons, boas

As students at Gwinnett’s Corley Elementary School tucked into slices of pizza with whole wheat crusts and burgers topped with whole grain buns on Wednesday, it didn’t seem the changes affected their appetites. When asked if they noticed a difference, several shrugged and continued eating. Others said the pizza crust was chewier, but they didn’t mind it.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison, Trump responds on Twitter

A federal judge in New York sentenced President Donald Trump’s former long-time attorney Michael Cohen to 36 months in prison on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to several charges earlier this year.

>> Read more trending news

Cohen, 52, admitted to lying last year to Congress in connection to a Trump Tower deal in Moscow after prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team charged him with making false statements.

>> Michael Cohen pleads guilty to making false statements to Congress

He also pleaded guilty in August to eight charges including multiple counts of tax evasion and arranging illicit payments to silence women who posed a risk to Trump's presidential campaign.

>> Trump was implicated in two felonies: What does that mean?

Update 9:00 a.m. EST: President Donald Trump broke his silence Thursday morning and responded via Twitter, maintaining he had nothing to do with Cohen breaking the law. 

Update 6:00 p.m. EST: President Donald Trump refused to answers questions about his former attorney Michael Cohen Wednesday after signing an executive order in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

CNN is reporting Trump ignored reporters’ questions about Cohen’s three year prison sentence handed down Wednesday in New York.

CNN also reported, citing inside sources, that Trump is “seething” over the Cohen case and, again, called him “a liar.”

Update 1:55 p.m. EST: Cohen prompted American Media Inc. to purchase the rights to Karen McDougal’s story about an affair she claims she had with Trump years before the 2016 presidential election, federal prosecutors with the Southern District of New York confirmed Wednesday.

McDougal claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007. The rights to her story were bought in August 2016 by American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, the Wall Street Journal reported in July, McDougal’s story was never published.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that officials previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with American Media Inc. Company officials admitted to making the $150,000 payment “in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen also paid adult film star $130,000 in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006. Prosecutors said Cohen was reimbursed for his payment to Daniels in monthly installments “disguised as payments for legal services pursuant to a retainer, when in fact no such retainer existed.”

“Cohen made or caused both of these payments in order to influence  the 2016 election and did so in coordination with one or more members of the campaign,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Update 12:45 p.m. EST: U.S. District Judge William Pauley said Wednesday that Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors "does not wipe the slate clean" of his crimes.

Pauley sentenced Cohen to serve three years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and arranging illicit payments to silence Daniels and McDougal.

Cohen’s former attorney, Lanny Davis, said in a statement released Wednesday that Cohen “continues to tell the truth about Donald Trump’s misconduct over the years.”

“Mr. Trump’s repeated lies cannot contradict stubborn facts,” Davis said. “Michael has owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller in his investigation over possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

Trump has accused Cohen of lying to authorities in order to get a lighter sentence and denied any wrongdoing.

>> Cohen pleads guilty to 8 charges, says Trump told him to pay off Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal

Update 12:15 p.m. EST: Cohen will be required to surrender to authorities on March 6 to serve the 36-month sentence handed down Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III also required Cohen forfeit $500,000 and pay $1.4 million in restitution and $50,000 in fines, the news site reported.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation 

Update 12:05 p.m EST: U.S. District Judge William Pauley III sentenced Cohen to 36 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to eight charges in New York over the summer, Newsday reported.

He was sentenced to two months for lying to Congress. The sentence will run concurrent with the New York sentence.

“Cohen pled guilt to a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct," Pauley said before handing down the sentence Wednesday, according to CNN

Pauley credited Cohen for his cooperation with Mueller's team, however, he added that as an attorney, "Mr. Cohen should have known better," Newsday reported.

Update 11:50 a.m. EST: Cohen said he takes “full responsibility” for the charges he's pleaded guilty to while addressing the court Wednesday.

“This may seem hard to believe but today is one of the most meaningful days of my life,” he said, according to CNN. “I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired."

Update 11:45 a.m. EST: Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Nicolas Roos said Wednesday that Cohen's crimes carried a "tremendous societal cost," CNN reported.

“In committing these crimes, Mr. Cohen has eroded faith in the electoral process and compromised the rule of law,” Roos said.

Update 11:35 a.m. EST: Jeannie Rhee, an attorney for special counsel Robert Mueller's team, said in brief comments in court Wednesday that Cohen provided investigators with "credible information" related to the investigation into Russian election meddling, Newsday reported.

"Mr. Cohen has sought to tell us the truth, and that is of utmost value to us," Rhee said.

Update 11:15 a.m. EST: Cohen's attorney, Guy Petrillo, said in court Wednesday that Cohen cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office "knowing that he'd face a barrage of attack by the president," according to the Courthouse News Service.

Petrillo said Cohen “offered evidence against the most powerful person in our country,” CNN reported.

Update 10:55 a.m. EST: Cohen arrived at the federal courthouse in Manhattan early Wednesday ahead of an 11 a.m. sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge William Pauley III.

Original report: Federal prosecutors in New York have asked that Cohen receive a “substantial prison term” of around four years, saying in a court filing last week that he'd failed to fully cooperate with investigators and overstated his helpfulness. Cohen’s attorneys have argued for leniency, arguing that some of Cohen's crimes were motivated by overenthusiasm for Trump, rather than any nefarious intent.

>> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Feds: Manafort lied to prosecutors, Cohen should get jail time 

The president has denied that he had affairs with either McDougal or Daniels, but prosecutors said Cohen orchestrated payments to the women at Trump’s direction. On Monday, the president wrote in a tweet that the payments were “a simple private transaction,” and not a campaign contribution.

Trump said that “even if it was” a campaign contribution, Cohen should be held responsible.

“Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump wrote. “Cohen (is) just trying to get his sentenced reduced. WITCH HUNT!”

 >> From Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree: Denouncing Cohen, Trump disputes campaign link to payoff of women

A sentence of hard time would leave Cohen with little to show for his decision to plead guilty, though experts told The Associated Press that Wednesday's hearing might not be the last word on his punishment.

Cohen could have his sentence revisited if he strikes a deal with prosecutors in which he provides additional cooperation within a year of his sentence, said Michael J. Stern, a former federal prosecutor in Detroit and Los Angeles.

"Few things spark a defendant's renewed interest in cooperating faster than trading in a pair of custom Italian trousers for an off-the-rack orange jump suit," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Man impersonating Walmart employee steals TVs, pinatas, police say

Authorities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are searching for a man accused of impersonating a Walmart employee and stealing televisions and other items, according to news reports.

>> Read more trending news 

The man dressed as an employee and walked into a city Walmart on Nov. 24, KRQE-TV reported.

He went into an employee-only area, grabbed a six-wheeler cart and proceeded to load it up with two TVs and two pinatas, according to KRQE.

He then left the store without paying.

Police are asking for the public’s help in catching the thief.


10-year-old boy brings loaded gun to school

A 10-year-old boy has been charged after authorities say he brought a loaded gun to his Detroit school.

The fourth-grade student brought the gun Wednesday, Dec. 5 to Spain Elementary-Middle School in his book bag, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told WXYZ-TV. Another student saw the gun and reported it to school officials. The gun was confiscated and no one was hurt.

The boy has been charged in juvenile court with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon in a weapon-free school zone.

A preliminary hearing was held Thursday for the boy, and he was given a $5,000 personal bond. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7.

The school district notified parents of the incident with a robocall.

The boy was expelled from the school, reported WDIV-TV.

Texas theater allows owners to take their dog to the movies

A theater in Texas is making the movies a furry family affair.

Plano Profile reported that K9 Cinemas in Plano, Texas, opened Friday. The business is from Erik Lankford, who was frustrated that he couldn’t bring his dog to any theater. 

>> Read more trending news 

The idea is for owners to relax with their dogs while watching a movie just as they would at home, but there are some rules.

“We’ve got some guidelines in place to make sure that it is safe, fun, friendly and clean when people show up,” Lankford told KXAS. “We do have three doggone rules. Clean up after your pet. Bring the papers showing that your dog is up to date and there are only two dogs per human allowed.”

Dogs also need to stay on leashes at all times, unless they are in an area that plainly states otherwise.

The theater also offers concessions for $2, which include candy, popcorn and drinks for humans and dog treats for pups.

K9 Cinemas is only open on weekends and select weekdays for now. Traditional and classics will be shown. Some titles include “Home Alone” and “Elf.” More information on the theater is at K9Cinemas.com.

U.S. priest charged with sexually abusing 10 boys in Philippines

An American Catholic priest has been charged with soliciting sex with underage boys while in the Philippines, according to federal prosecutors. 

Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks, 77, of Cincinnati, is charged with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio. Hendricks was arrested Dec. 5 in the Philippines, where he was serving as a missionary priest. 

At least 10 alleged victims have been identified, according to NBC News. Hendricks is being held in a Manila jail. 

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati said in a statement following Hendricks’ arrest that the priest was ordained while overseas and has never been a priest under the archdiocese’s purview.

“Although not a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Fr. Hendricks is listed on our website as a Catholic missionary serving in Asia,” the statement from the Archdiocese said. “He is one of around 75 missionaries from Southwest Ohio who receive some financial support from the Mission Office of the Archdiocese. None of these individuals work for, or take direction from, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.”

Archdiocese officials said they are cooperating fully with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security investigators. They urged anyone with information about the rogue priest to call Homeland Security at 513-246-1461.

“The abuse of children or any vulnerable person is abhorrent and needs to be prosecuted,” the statement said.

Hendricks came under suspicion Nov. 13, when Homeland Security officials received information regarding the sexual exploitation of several minor Filipino boys, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman. The information alleged that a Catholic priest, later identified as Hendricks, had been sexually assaulting the boys, several of whom had been identified and were cooperating with police in the Philippines. 

According to the boys, the abuse included anal and oral sex, as well as mutual masturbation, the news release said. The alleged abuse occurred dozens of times and involved boys as young as 7 years old. 

“Hendricks allegedly had a number of minor boys residing with him,” the news release said. “It is alleged he insisted they take baths together and would molest the victims alone or with other boys. The priest allegedly warned the victims that if they told anyone they would all go to prison.”

>> Read more trending news

Glassman said one conversation between Hendricks and a victim was recorded. 

“This will probably be the scenario is, there will be a meeting and then it will be decided, you know, what your parents want to do about anything,” Hendricks said in the recording. “Do they want to try … want to press charges, uh, whatever see, but that’s between them and the Bishop. I have nothing to do with that. I just get the fallout afterwards.”

He further said in the conversation that the boy’s parents would ask him if he wanted a case to move forward of if he preferred a settlement. 

“But as far as after that, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really will have to probably really resign, retire now,” Hendricks said, according to the news release

Read the affidavit in support of charges against Cincinnati priest Kenneth Hendricks below. Warning: Details of the allegations against the 77-year-old are graphic.

The criminal complaint has been sealed by a federal judge, but a redacted affidavit in support of the complaint provides further detail of the allegations against Hendricks, who was the parish priest in Naval, the capital of the province of Biliran. 

The affidavit, which often grows graphic with details of repeated sexual assaults, states that two of Hendricks’ alleged victims gave sworn statements Nov. 6 to the Philippine National Police. One young man said the abuse began in 2009, when he was 12 and serving as a sacristan at the church. 

The victim, who is now 22, said the abuse began when Hendricks kissed him on the lips one day as he cleaned the church. He said he also witnessed Hendricks inappropriately touching other young boys who lived with the priest. 

The man, who said he felt he had no choice, ended up moving in with the priest, who financed his education and helped his family. All the while, Hendricks was secretly molesting him, both alone and with other boys, the affidavit says. 

Hendricks often insisted the boy take a bath with him, the document reads. 

The young man told investigators that, at 15, he contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Hendricks. After being treated for it, he refused to have any additional sexual contact with the priest, the affidavit says. 

The affidavit goes over statements made by multiple other victims, whose names are redacted. It also reveals that the recorded conversation mentioned in Glassman’s news release was between Hendricks and the man whose abuse began in 2009.

The recording was made in November, once the allegations against Hendricks were taken to law enforcement.  

During that conversation, Hendricks admitted sexually abusing several boys, the affidavit says. At one point, he tells his alleged victim that “happy days are gone, it’s all over.”

“But the kids, but the kids Father is telling the truth? They are telling everything about you, Father?” the man says. 

“Well, that’s, it’s true. I’m not saying it’s not. Did I say it’s not? It happened,” Hendricks says. 

The alleged victim again asks Hendricks if he admits to having sex with boys.

“It’s already blottered, you put it on a blotter,” Hendricks responds. “Will I lie? It was a mistake on my part. Should have known better than trying to just have a life.

“That’s why you make mistakes. You have to learn from them, so I have to learn.”

NBC News reported that, along with the U.S. charges, Hendricks is also being charged by authorities in the Philippines.

“Our reach in this case is global,” Glassman told the news network. “If someone commits a crime with any connection to the Southern District of Ohio, we can work with other agents for a global reach.”

Hendricks faces 30 years in prison if convicted of the U.S. charges. 

DA: Police overlooked evidence linking Hania Aguilar murder suspect to 2016 rape

A North Carolina prosecutor says police overlooked evidence linking a 2016 rape to a released felon now accused of raping and killing a 13-year-old girl.

>> Read more trending news

Michael McLellan, 34, was charged Saturday with kidnapping, raping and murdering Hania Aguilar, who was taken Nov. 5 from her front yard in Lumberton while she was waiting to go to school, according to media reports.

Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt told The News & Observer of Raleigh Tuesday that, “while using a federal database in 2017, the North Carolina state crime lab discovered that a 2016 rape kit sent from Robeson County matched McLellan's DNA, which was already in the system due to an earlier felony conviction.”

However, Britt said the Sheriff's Office didn't follow up on the case. That "hit" on McLellan's DNA should have caused investigators to take another DNA sample to confirm the test, Britt said, but that didn't happen.

“At some point, it obviously fell through the cracks,” he said. “You hate it. You punch yourself.”

Investigators said Monday that DNA was essential in leading to an arrest in Hania's death, as officials were able to match DNA samples from a stolen SUV, located not far from where Hania's body was found, to McLellan.

After his arrest for Hania's death, McLellan was also charged in the 2016 rape.

Earthquake, aftershock rattle Southeast overnight

People in the Southeast were woken up by an earthquake early Wednesday. 

>> Visit WSBTV.com for complete coverage of this developing story

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake happened about 4:15 a.m. near Decatur, Tennessee. It had a magnitude of 4.4. A 3.3-magnitude aftershock followed happened about 15 minutes later. At least two other aftershocks were later reported.

Atlanta’s WSB-TV received dozens of phone calls in the minutes following the quake.

>> Read more trending news 

The earthquake happened along the New Madrid Fault Line, which is along the Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi state lines. 

The earthquake was the second strongest on record in east Tennessee, according to the USGS. The strongest was a magnitude 4.7 near Maryville in 1973.

There have been several small earthquakes in northwest Georgia over the past few years, including a 1.9-magnitude quake near Villanow, in Walker County, in August. 

A 2.7-magnitude quake was reported in Catoosa County, near Fort Oglethorpe, in January, and a 2.3 hit Trion, in Chattooga County, in November 2017. In July 2017, a 2.2-magnitude quake was registered just north of LaFayette in Walker County.

‘Cousin Eddie,’ ‘Ralphie’ bring Christmas cheer to Wisconsin town

Instead of ho-ho-ho, a Wisconsin family is bringing ha, ha, ha this holiday season.

The display actually started about a year ago, when the family put up a mannequin dressed as Uncle Eddie, complete with hunting cap and robe, from “Christmas Vacation,” WISC reported.

>> Read more trending news 

This year, a trailer was added to the scene. 

But he’s not alone. 

Eddie brought along Ralphie from “A Christmas Story.” And Ralphie is dressed like the deranged Easter Bunny in his pink rabbit onesie and a crate marked Fragile. 

The family, who didn’t want to be identified, told WISC the displays weren’t for the attention, rather it was just funny.

The local police are using the display to help pass along a serious message this year, reminding residents that “porch pirates” could be lurking, WISC reported

Colorado police recover couple's puppy, stolen vehicle

A puppy inside a stolen vehicle was found safe Wednesday morning in Colorado, and two suspects were arrested, KDVR reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Ciri, a 10-month-old puppy, was found and returned to its owners by Westminster police. The animal was inside the vehicle at 5 a.m. Sunday when it was stolen, KDVR reported. 

Cheliesa Anderson said her family was moving from Texas to Oregon and stopped at a relative’s house in Arvada, Colorado, KMGH reported. As the family packed to leave Sunday, the fob to operate the push-to-start vehicle was left inside the car, and someone jumped into the car and drove away, the television station reported.

"A lot of the stuff in there was expensive and irreplaceable, like my mom's ashes and her jewelry, her pearls and stuff like that," Anderson told KMGH.

Early Wednesday, Arvada police said the vehicle was spotted and a chase ensued, KDVR reported. The vehicle was stopped and the suspects were arrested, the television station reported.

“Around 4 a.m. is when they called us. It was involved in a high-speed chase," Anderson told KDVR.

Police did not release any information about the suspects, the television station reported.

Source of radar blips above Kentucky, Illinois remains unclear

A series of radar blips that appeared over Kentucky and Illinois from an unknown origin have people scratching their heads.

>> Read more trending news 

Large, storm-like blips first appeared on radar Monday evening above Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, reported the Courier and Press of Evansville, Indiana. But it wasn't raining in the region, confusing the National Weather Service.

People took to social media to theorize what the activity could be, with guesses ranging from debris from passing meteors to a flock of birds.

Then, meteorologist Wayne Hart of WEHT-TV attempted to clear the confusion with a tweet Tuesday saying an unnamed pilot confirmed the blip was caused by chaff - radar-jamming material sometimes used during training exercises - from a military C-130 airplane.

There are two military bases in the area: Fort Campbell in Kentucky and Scott Air Force Base in Western Illinois. Neither are claiming responsibility for possible chaff.

“Whatever aircraft it was, it was not a Scott Air Force Base craft,” Master Sgt. Thomas Doscher, of Scott Air Force Base, told the Courier and Press.

A spokesman for Fort Campbell wasn't as unequivocal, the newspaper reported, but said he wasn't aware of any such operation -- unless it was involved in a secret special forces exercise.

The Federal Aviation Administration couldn't be reached by Fox News for comment Wednesday.

Police say people posed as Toys for Tots volunteers, stole thousands of toys

Police are investigating an incident in which thieves posed as volunteers and stole thousands of toys from Toys for Tots.

Traci Higgenbottom-Williams, director of Summit County Toys for Tots in Akron, Ohio, told WJW the organization opened up the drive to volunteers for the first time this year.

 >> Read more trending news 

“It’s usually just a staff of two that does this,” she said. “About 10:40 (Monday night), I noticed some things were gone that shouldn’t have been gone.”

A toy drive was held Monday night. Surveillance camera footage shows men stealing bags and boxes of toys through the back door of the First Faith Development Corporation, where the toy drive was held. Williams said there were two people inside and two cars sitting outside, where the suspected thieves took the stolen toys.

“It tears me up because this process just doesn’t start in December. I start in January planning to make sure that the kids get the best,” Williams said. “I don’t give them anything I wouldn’t give my kids when they were small. So when you take from them, it hurts me. It makes me angry.”

According to Williams, this is the first time something like this happened in the 20 years she’s run the program.

Police estimate the loss is about $5,000 worth of toys, WJW reported.

Donations can be made to Summit County Toys for Tots at the organization’s website.

School where 13-year-old with autism died after being restrained violated state rules

As a grieving California couple shares photos of their 13-year-old son with autism, who died last month after being restrained by teachers, other parents have begun pulling their children from the inclusive private K-12 school where it took place. 

The parents of Max Benson, a student at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills, shared photos of their son with Fox 40 in Sacramento to show his sweet demeanor, the news station said. The family, from Davis, is also fighting back at Guiding Hands, which a preliminary investigation by the state shows violated multiple rules in its handling of the boy. 

Max was allegedly placed in a prone restraint, face-down on the floor, Nov. 28 after school officials said he became violent. The El Dorado Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident, said in a news release that Max was 6 feet tall and weighed about 280 pounds. 

An attorney for Max’s family, Seth Goldstein, disputed the claims of the boy’s height and weight, saying that Max was 5 feet, 4 inches tall. At most, he weighed 230 pounds, Goldstein said.

“He was not an unmanageable child in any sense of that term, in terms of that size,” Goldstein told The Sacramento Bee

The Bee previously reported that sources said Max was held in the prone restraint position for about an hour before he became unresponsive. 

“A teacher began CPR until medical aid arrived,” a news release from the Sheriff’s Office said. “The student was transported to Mercy Folsom in critical condition and later to UC Davis (Medical Center).”

Max died two days later. 

“At this time, there appears to be no evidence of foul play or criminal intent,” investigators said in the release.

Cherilyn Caler, whose own 13-year-old son witnessed the restraint used on Max, said the teacher and an aide restrained the boy, who had been a student there for just a few months, because he kicked a wall, the Bee reported. A second parent who asked to remain anonymous backed Caler’s account. 

Caler told the newspaper her son, who is also on the autism spectrum, told her Max became unresponsive, at which point those restraining him told him to stop pretending to be asleep. After about 30 minutes, they realized he wasn’t pretending, she said.

Caler has since removed her son from the school, the Bee reported

>> Related story: Teen with autism dies after being restrained at school

A Dec. 5 letter from the California Department of Education states that staff members at Guiding Hills violated multiple state rules when trying to get Max under control. The Department of Education’s own preliminary investigation found that the staff used an emergency intervention to stop predictable, or non-emergency, behavior.

It also found that an emergency intervention was used as a substitute for Max’s behavioral intervention plan, or BIP, which is designed to change, replace, modify or eliminate a targeted behavior. The intervention was also used for longer than necessary and it was used with an amount of force that was “not reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.”

The school staff’s actions also failed to take into account Max’s individualized education program, or IEP, which required specific intervention strategies that were not used, the letter says. 

Guiding Hands School’s certification has been suspended until the end of 2019, according to the letter. The school can continue to serve current students but cannot accept new pupils. 

“The (California Department of Education) is continuing to conduct its investigation into the actions of (Guiding Hands),” the letter reads. It is likely required corrective actions will be issued by the CDE resulting from this investigation.”

All corrective actions would have to be completed for the school to regain its certification.

Caler is not the only parent who has pulled their child out of Guiding Hands, which had an enrollment of 137 this school year, according to state records

Melissa Lasater told Fox 40 that she was appalled at how the school handled Max’s death. 

“When they were bringing the chaplains from class to class, instead of just letting the chaplains say, ‘We’re here for you,’ the staff also shared their message: ‘Just so you know, we didn’t kill anyone,’” Lasater told the news station

Lasater said her own 13-year-old son, who knew Max, did not realize his classmate died until his death made the news about a week later. 

“He immediately started to, like, cry and started to process, like, ‘Who’s been missing the last few days, who could it be?’” Lasater said. “And then his face just dropped and he’s, like, ‘Mom, mom, it was Max. They killed Max.’ And then he was petrified.”

Lasater said the school had used restraints on her son in the past, sometimes leaving him with bruises. In the wake of Max’s death, she initially revoked her permission for the school to use any force on her son. 

Ultimately, she chose to pull him from the school.

“They’re all still there with the same staff, who are trained in the same techniques, who are going to use them the same way. They use them as punishment,” Lasater told Fox 40.

Other parents and students tell stories of physical restraint being used as punishment. 

Josh Greenfield, 23, was a student at Guiding Hands until 2013, the Bee reported. Greenfield told the newspaper he was restrained twice during his time there and found the experiences frightening. 

The restraints were excessive and were done for dubious reasons, according to the former student. He told the Bee he was once placed in a prone restraint because he ignored a teacher calling his name in a hallway. 

Melanie Stark, of Elk Grove, pulled her 9-year-old son from Guiding Hands Thursday, the Bee reported. She also has a pending complaint with the Department of Education regarding the use of restraints in the school. 

Stark said her son was restrained on his first day at the school in September. She said a teacher’s aide wrapped her arms and legs around the boy so he could not get up from his desk. 

The reasoning was to keep him seated and guide him through the activity he was working on, she said. 

“That was too aggressive and it was happening about four times a week,” Stark told the Bee

Rebecca St. Clair, of Folsom, told the newspaper her son was put in a prone restraint two years ago. In that incident, staff members rolled him inside a gym mat and put their weight on the mat to keep him still. 

Despite being upset by the incident, it was not until the week before Max’s death, when she personally witnessed a student being rolled inside a mat that she realized how “alarming and unsettling” the practice is, the Bee reported

“I tried to assure myself that this was based on trust. I really trusted the teachers,” St. Clair told the newspaper. “That trust has been broken. I thought they were so careful. I feel so wrong about that now.”

Lasater and others protested outside the California Department of Education Monday, demanding that Guiding Hands be shut down. One of those protesting was Katie Kaufman, a former student there. 

According to CBS Sacramento, Kaufman said she also was restrained multiple times at the school.

“They always use the one where you throw the person on the floor in a body slam,” Kaufman told the news station. “It was a matter of time. Someone dies, and they finally start listening.”

Quadriplegic student walks across stage for college diploma

A Florida International University student, a quadriplegic after a diving accident three years ago, walked across the stage Sunday to receive his diploma with the help of an exoskeleton, WLPG reported. 

>> Read more trending news 

Aldo Amenta, 28, an international student from Venezuela, severed his spinal cord in a diving accident when he jumped into the shallow end of a pool in November 2015, WTVJ reported. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and plans to pursue a master’s degree, WPLG reported.

"It was an amazing experience," said Amenta, who normally uses a wheelchair. "For me it was a milestone to accomplish. Being able to cross the stage walking is something that's really meaningful."

Amenta said his walk across the stage took many hours of practice with the exoskeleton, and was the culmination of taking classes while undergoing three years of aggressive therapy, WTVJ reported.

"Even if you find yourself in a really dark place, there's always a little light that will shine your way through to succeed,” Amenta told CBS News. “So just follow that."

‘Wing mom’ helps son find potential girlfriend

We know about the “wing man” but what about “wing mom?” She’s the mom who will stop at almost nothing to get a hookup and potential girlfriend for her son whether he wants her to or not.

Charisma Valdez, a student at the University of Texas San Antonio, reached out to a fellow student whose mom tried to get them connected. 

In the post Valdez wrote, “If your name is Cody, you’re 6’4, you go to UTSA, live at the Outpost, a sophomore, AND majoring in Global Affairs. Your mom truly is your wingman. She just showed my roomates and I your picture at HEB trying to find you a GF.”

>> Read more trending news 

Valdez told KTRK that she had misspelled his name in the post - it is actually Codey.

Valdez spoke with KTRK. She said that the roommates and Codey’s mother, Patricia, started talking about dogs. The conversation evolved into something different.

“We were pretty excited at first because we were talking about puppies, and then once she brought up her son and that whole conversation, we got pretty serious,” Valdez told KTRK.

Mom’s hopeful couple actually met at a shopping center and posted a photo of the two of them together.

Former 'RHOA' star Kenya Moore shares first photo of daughter Brooklyn Doris

More than a month after welcoming her first child, former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kenya Moore is sharing Brooklyn Doris Daly with the world.

Moore, 47, shared the first photo of her “miracle baby” in the latest issue of People, which she also posted on her Instagram page.

>> Read more trending news 

“I finally have everything I’ve dreamed of,” Moore told the magazine. “She’s so perfect in so many ways. This little angel … so beautiful. I feel so blessed. It’s all been so worth it.”

The journey to get pregnant was not an easy one for the former Miss USA, who married New York restaurateur Marc Daly, 48, in St. Lucia in June 2017.

“There were so many scares along the way,” Moore said. “We held our breath every time we went to the doctor.”

With Moore being over the age of 40, her pregnancy was high-risk. People reported that doctors worried she had a false pregnancy when they couldn’t see the baby’s skeleton at the first ultrasound. She had pre-eclampsia in late October, which caused her to have extreme fluid retention and high blood pressure. Her condition worsened, and she was induced for labor.

“They told me, ‘Your condition is worsening so get your bags and go straight to the hospital, you’re delivering today,’” Moore said.

Daly flew in from New York and was by his wife’s side. Twelve hours after being hospitalized, Brooklyn was delivered via cesarean section, but the process took three hours.

“They couldn’t get the baby out,” she said. “There were all these complications and they knew if they cut into a fibroid, I could potentially bleed out and die. So they ended up cutting me vertically, too, to just get the baby out and make sure I survived the surgery. They were so scared they were going to lose me.”

Though her daughter was born six weeks premature, Moore says it was all worth it.

“Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, but she’s such a tough baby; so determined,” Moore said. “And every step of the way, she kept surviving and getting stronger. She’s my miracle baby. There’s no other way to describe it. She’s my miracle baby.”

Brooklyn is the couple’s first child together.

Skydivers in Texas form '41' in tribute to George H.W. Bush

A group of skydivers in Texas took their tribute to former President George H.W. Bush to a higher level.

>> Read more trending news 

Twenty-two members of Skydive Spaceland San Marcos formed a “41” to honor the 41st president, who died Nov. 30 at age 94. 

"Farewell to George H.W. Bush, our 41st president," Skydive Spaceland officials wrote on Facebook. "Words cannot adequately express our appreciation of your service, character, and family focus. We hope your family will appreciate this tribute to a great man."

Bush, a Navy pilot during World War II, parachuted from planes to celebrate his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

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