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1990 basketball card appears to show Menendez brothers in background 

A sports card that has been practically worthless for more than 25 years has suddenly become a sensation in the collectibles hobby.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s because the two men in the background of a 1990-91 Hoops basketball card of Mark Jackson look like the infamous Menendez brothers, the New York Daily News reported.

While there has been no confirmation that the two men pictured are indeed Lyle and Erik Menendez, it is possible that the brothers, convicted in 1996 for their parents' murders in 1989, could have been sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Neither the brothers nor Jackson have commented about the card.

Twitter user John Rosenberger tweeted Friday that a poster on the Reddit website named Pirate_Redbeard wrote that Lyle and Erik Menendez appear to have been sitting in front-row seats when Jackson's card photo was taken during the 1989-90 NBA season.

Which game was it? The Knicks played 28 home games before the brothers were arrested in March 1990, and no opposing players are included in the photo, so it’s difficult to say.

The Reddit entry echoed an Aug. 9 Instagram post by jgold50, a self-described “collector of random things, mostly mortality subject matter.”

Lyle Menendez, now 50, and Erik Menendez, who turned 48 on Nov. 27, are now serving life sentences without parole after fatally shooting Jose and Mary “Kitty” Menendez on Aug. 20, 1989. Both men are currently serving time at the R.J. Correctional Facility in San Diego, according to CBS News.Before the brothers were arrested in Beverly Hills, California, on March 8, 1990, they spent a large amount of their parents’ money, according to court records. The brothers took trips and bought cars. Lyle Menendez bought a chicken wing restaurant in New Jersey, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1994.

Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter for The Action Network, tweeted that the Jackson card was selling on eBay for as much as $30

“This checks out,” Rovell wrote in a different tweet. “Menendez murder happened Aug. 20, 1989. Brothers were apprehended March 1990. Photo was taken at MSG in 1989-90 season and set came out before 1990-91 season.”

Jackson played seven of his 17 seasons in the NBA for the Knicks and coached the Golden State Warriors from 2011 to 2014. He is currently a commentator for ESPN.

By Sunday night, Amazon had eight cards for sale. One seller jokingly referred to it as the “Menendez Brothers rookie card.”

Rob Veres, the owner of Burbank Sportscards in Southern California, told Sports Collectors Daily he sold 130 of the Jackson cards recently. 

“We knew about it a few months ago and bought up a few hundred of them thinking it could be something special if the general public discovered it,” Veres told the collectibles website. “Those cards, along with 100 cards we had in regular stock, gave us a nice quantity. We started selling them at $7.99 months ago and they moved all right, but when the Reddit post went viral and it hit Bleacher Report as well as the hobby sites, things got crazy.” 

Even after raising prices, Veres told Sports Collectors Daily said he was able to sell the cards for as much as $24.99 apiece.

“The mind-blowing stat is the 8,349 page views for this single listing, 7,000 of which have been in the past 36 hours,” Veres said. “I can’t recall ever seeing anything like that.”

It’s not the first time infamous persons have appeared in the background of a photograph. A photograph exists of John Wilkes Booth in attendance at the second presidential inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1865, History.com reported in 2015. Six weeks later, Booth would assassinate Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

The Jackson card now becomes an oddity among sports cards, to be placed next to the 1989 Fleer baseball card of Billy Ripken with an obscenity written on the bat knob and the 1994-95 Pinnacle hockey card of Sylvain Turgeon, which featured future Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane watching from the stands as a child.

 

5 children, including 1-year-old twins, killed in Ohio house fire

Five children are dead after a fire broke out at a home in Youngstown, Ohio, late Sunday, multiple news outlets are reporting.

According to WFMJ, firefighters responded to 434 Parkcliffe Ave. after a neighbor reported the fire about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. The children’s mother, who jumped from a window to escape the blaze, said five children were trapped inside, authorities said. 

>> Read more trending news 

Three children were removed from the home but later died at a nearby hospital, rescuers said. The two other children died inside the house, WKBN reported.

Fire officials said the children ranged from 1 to 9 years old. The two youngest were twins, according to WKBN.

The mother and one firefighter were hospitalized for injuries, WKBN reported. Another firefighter was hurt and treated at the scene, officials said.

Officials don’t know yet what caused the blaze but said foul play is unlikely, WKBN reported.

Read more here or here.

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray apologizes for anti-gay tweets

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray issued an apology Sunday after coming under fire for years-old anti-gay tweets.

>> On Fox23.com: Kyler Murray becomes 7th Sooner to win Heisman

"I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15," Murray, 21, tweeted Sunday, just one day after the University of Oklahoma junior won the award. "I used a poor choice of word that doesn't reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group."

>> See the tweet here

CNN reported that Murray deleted "many, although not all" of the tweets, which were posted in 2011 and 2012.

>> Read more trending news 

Murray, who beat out Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State to win the Heisman, also excels at baseball and recently signed with the Oakland Athletics, The Associated Press reported.

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hilary Duff on 'Lizzie McGuire' reboot rumors: 'There's been some conversations'

Could "Lizzie McGuire" be heading back to TV? 

According to "Entertainment Tonight," actress Hilary Duff, who starred in the Disney Channel teen sitcom that aired from 2001 to 2004, said "there's been some conversations" about a possible reboot. 

"It could be a possibility, or it could be nothing, so we'll see," Duff, now 31, told "ET" last week, adding that "it's definitely not a go."

>> Read more trending news 

"I don't want to get everyone wild talking about it," she said.

But Duff said she's "excited" by the idea of a revival.

"I think she was so important to girls at an important time in their life," Duff told "ET." "If she could be important to them again at this age, I think that would be amazing."

The mother of two also said there have "been lots of conversations about" where her character would be today.

"I don't think she's a mom yet, but she might be getting there soon," Duff said.

Read more here.

Massachusetts firefighter dies after battling 5-alarm blaze

Massachusetts firefighter Christopher Roy, 36, died after battling a multi-alarm fire in Worcester on Sunday morning, the Worcester Fire Department announced. 

>> Watch the news report here

A multi-alarm blaze broke out Sunday morning on Lowell Street in Worcester, prompting responses from the city’s fire department, as well as the fire rescue teams from Auburn and Millbury. 

During the long attempt to put out the flames, Roy became trapped inside the building with four other firefighters after the situation deteriorated rapidly.

All five firefighters escaped the blaze through ladders, with Roy and one other being transported to the hospital. Roy later succumbed to his injuries. The other firefighter is in stable condition, according to Worcester FD. 

“On behalf of the entire city of Worcester, I want to offer condolences to the Roy family, Chief Lavoie and the entire Worcester Fire Department,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus. “I would ask the media to respect the privacy of the family and firefighters during this difficult time.”

>> On Boston25News.com: Support pours in for fallen Worcester firefighter

Roy was a member of the Webster Square Fire Station Ladder 4 Group 3. He had been a part of the fire department for two and a half years at the time of his death. He leaves behind a 9-year-old daughter, his parents and a brother. He was a resident of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. 

“This is a sad day for the Worcester Fire Department and the City of Worcester,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty.

Crews had been at the scene for several hours, with the fire breaking out around 4 a.m. and continuing well into the morning. 

"Fire crews were heroic in their efforts to rescue their colleagues under extreme conditions.’" Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said. "Every person on the fire-ground gave 110 percent to try to rescue the firefighters who were in danger."

The Red Cross was also on hand helping around a dozen victims of the fire who escaped the blaze. The cold weather made things additionally difficult for those on the scene, with the low temperatures causing water from the firetrucks to freeze on the street.

The building is a former house that was converted into apartments. The city assessor’s website lists the building at 10,000 square feet. 

The tragic incident comes seven years and one day after Worcester firefighter Jon Davies lost his life battling a structure fire on Arlington Street in 2011. The building Davies was searching collapsed on him while he was looking for a reported victim.

The Worcester Fire Department memorialized Davies in a tweet Saturday recognizing the anniversary.

Last Monday was the 19-year anniversary of the death of six Worcester firefighters, who died battling flames in a cold storage warehouse on Dec. 3, 1999. The six men were Lt. Thomas Spencer and Lt. James Lyons, and firefighters Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey and Joseph McGuirk.

"This is a difficult day for the Worcester Fire Department and particularly painful as this is the week we remember and mourn the passing of Worcester Firefighter Jon Davies and the six who perished in the Cold Storage Warehouse fire," Lavoie said.

Congressman Jim McGovern, who represents Massachusetts’ 2nd District – which includes Worcester – issued a statement shortly after the announcement of Roy's death:

>> Read more trending news 

"I am deeply saddened to learn that Firefighter Christopher Roy passed away this morning. December is already a difficult month for the Worcester Fire Department, and this tragedy only adds to the grief we feel for heroes like Christopher who have been taken from us too soon. His family, friends, and fellow firefighters are all in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Gov. Charlie Baker shared his sentiments as well, sending his thoughts and prayers to Roy's family and friends via Twitter. 

Investigators were working late into the evening on Sunday, where a part of Lowell Street was still blocked off by 9 p.m. as the investigation continued.

Oscar Moquete, who lives on the first floor of the apartment building, says the fire started in the basement at around 4 a.m., but it quickly escalated to five alarms.

"Everybody got out safely, we lost everything, you know," said Moquete. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

WATCH: Swimsuit-clad North Carolina family frolics in snow in hilarious viral video

When a winter storm hits, many people just want to stay warm, curl up by a crackling fire and drink some hot cocoa. 

>> PHOTOS: Winter storm blankets South in snow, ice

Apparently, the Gilliam family of Alamance County, North Carolina, had other ideas, according to WGHP.

>> #Snowmageddon2018: Photos, videos show winter wonderland

After snow and ice blanketed much of the South this weekend, the family, clad only in swimsuits, bravely headed outside to show off their dance moves in a hilarious video.

>> Read more trending news 

The clip, which the Gilliams posted on Facebook and shared with WGHP, quickly went viral, racking up more than 165,000 views and 2,000 shares in just 10 hours.

"SWIMSUIT SNOW CHALLENGE! Crazy!" the High Point TV station captioned the clip.

>> Click here to watch

Tara Grinstead case: Leaked confession reveals motive behind killing, investigators say

The man accused of killing a former beauty queen and teacher in south Georgia in 2005 confessed to investigators in 2017, according to newly leaked documents

>> Watch the news report here

WSB-TV's Tony Thomas obtained a summary of the reported confession Ryan Duke gave to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents last year after it was anonymously leaked online.

Duke is accused of killing Tara Grinstead, who vanished from her home in Ocilla in 2005. Her body has never been recovered. Duke was not arrested until 2017.

Thomas worked for two days to confirm with sources familiar with the investigation that the 11-page summary of the confession, which was written by a GBI agent, is legitimate. 

>> On WSBTV.com: Murder trial in Tara Grinstead case set for April

Before Duke appeared in court for the first time last year, GBI agents said he spent nearly four hours confessing. 

In the documents, an agent wrote that Duke told investigators he was looking for drug money when he broke into a random house and tried to steal Grinstead's purse and keys. When she caught him in the act, he punched her, which led to her death, Duke reportedly said.

"I was involved with it, man," Duke apparently told investigators. "I was alone that night. I killed her."

In the confession documents, Duke told investigators he had been bothered for years by what he did.

In the documents, he is quoted as saying, "I was a coward or I would have told this a long time ago. I am ashamed of my behavior and hiding a lie."

Duke said he called Grinstead's home from a pay phone hours after the attack to see if she would answer. Agents wrote in the report they had known for years about a phone call from that phone. 

"The fact that Duke knew about the telephone call was knowledge only known by the GBI and guilty persons," agents wrote.

After he called and she didn't answer, Duke said he went back to the house and removed her body. 

He claimed he came back to the home a few hours later, wrapped Grinstead's body in a blanket and placed it in the back of a truck that belonged to his friend, Bo Dukes. He said he then took the body to a pecan orchard and dumped it.

>> Read more trending news 

Later, Duke said he and Dukes came back, moved Grinstead's body deeper into the woods and burned it.

"The burning of Grinstead's body took several days, and they returned to the burn pile only once to re-burn the body and throw trash into the burn pile," agents said Duke told them. 

"I know I'm going to prison," Duke also apparently said. 

At the end of the confession, agents wrote that Duke expressed remorse.

"I'm sorry for the pain I've caused. I took her life. She didn't deserve that," Duke apparently said. 

It's unclear who leaked the report on the internet. Two sources connected with the case told Thomas the documents appear to be copies of those in the GBI case file given to prosecutors and the defense team. 

Investigators are still searching for Grinstead's remains. 

Photos: Winter storm blankets South in snow, ice

A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday — causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.

Parents of murdered Auburn University student furious killer wants new trial

The parents of a Georgia teenager murdered at Auburn University a decade ago are furious that the man convicted of killing her has asked for a new trial.

>> Read more trending news 

Lauren Burk, from Marietta in metro Atlanta, was a freshman at Auburn University and a graduate of Walton High School. 

Investigators say Courtney L. Lockhart kidnapped Burk from her campus apartment, forced her to undress as he drove her around and then shot her in the back as she tried to escape from a moving car. 

Lockhart was arrested for Burk’s murder in 2008 and sentenced to death in an Alabama courtroom in 2011.

Now, Lockhart is claiming his defense attorneys were so bad he deserves a new trial. 

Burk's parents think it is unfair that he keeps getting appeals. 

Jim and Vivian Burk are still haunted by their daughter's death 10 years after it happened. They recently received a letter from the Alabama attorney general's office alerting them that Lockhart will appeal his death sentence.

This latest appeal infuriates the Burks, who must now endure seeing him back in the same courtroom in which he was convicted. 

The Cobb County couple say they just want to see Lockhart pay for what he did to their daughter. 

>> Trending: Man coughs up blood clot shaped like lung tree, doctors ‘astonished’

"For him to be able to sit in that cell every day and think about one day his life ending like my daughter's, it gives me some sort of comfort," Jim Burk said. 

Vivian Burk said they are both still haunted by the details of the crime that took their daughter's life. 

"He shot her in the back like a coward," Vivian Burk said. "She was trying to escape from a moving car and he made her undress. She was, you know, totally helpless."

Lockhart’s latest hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17 in Alabama. Depending on the outcome, it mark the end of his appeals. 

But the Burks are angry that their daughter's killer gets the chance to appeal at all.

"I just don't understand why a murderer, as heinous as this crime was, as far as how he abducted my daughter, is able to have all these options and Lauren has no options," Jim Burk said. 

Vivian Burk feels like Lockhart is being given chances her daughter never had. 

"So why should he have any more rights than my daughter did?" Vivian Burk asked. "He took her rights away, and he took her life away."

Jim Burk said his grief is more manageable than it was 10 years ago, but it is still there, and so is his anger at Lockhart. 

>> Trending: Operation Grinch Pinch: Texas police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers

"You know, Lauren's not breathing anymore, and there's no reason that he should be," Jim Burk said. "That's just the way I feel."

How to watch the spectacular Geminid meteor shower

 

The Geminid meteor shower is one of the most spectacular light shows of the year.

>> Read more trending news 

The Geminids are visible every December when the Earth passes through a massive trail of dusty debris from a rocky object named 3200 Phaethon, long thought to be an asteroid or an extinct comet. The particle debris burns up when it strikes Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a heavenly display of shooting stars.

The celestial spectacle peaks in the early morning hours of Dec. 13 and 14.

The best viewing time is around 2 a.m. and no special equipment is needed to see the show, but the darker the viewing area the better with as little light pollution as possible, and clear skies are mandatory. Also give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness and make sure you’re looking up.

Dark skies are the most important aspect for viewing the Geminids or any meteor shower, for that matter.

>> Related: North Taurid meteor shower puts on show in midnight sky for stargazers with patience

The Geminids are visible around the world, but the best viewing areas are in the northern hemisphere away from city lights.

The Geminids first appeared in the early 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, according to NASA.

 

Operation Grinch Pinch: Texas police going after porch thieves with GPS trackers

As more and more Americans turn to online shopping for everything from gifts to groceries, package theft from porches is a growing problem, especially during the holiday season.

>> Read more trending news 

One Texas police department is taking a different approach in trying to catch porch thieves.

Operation Grinch Pinch is a partnership between the police department and the community in Fort Worth, Texas, according to KTVT-TV.

The police have outfitted packages with tracking devices and recruited volunteers with video home surveillance systems, KTVT reported. Packages are placed on porches and visible from the street. Once the package is snatched, officers begin monitoring its movements and once it stops moving, they hope to move in and make an arrest.

>> Related: Man arrested in porch theft of kidney donor test supplies, police say

The program is scheduled to run through the end of the year, with a decision in the future on whether to continue the program.

Tom Brady sets record for most overall touchdown passes in NFL

Another day, another record for Tom Brady's illustrious career as he set the record for the most overall touchdown passes in NFL history during the Patriots' loss to the Dolphins Sunday.

>> Read more trending news 

Brady's touchdown pass to Julian Edelman put him at 580 overall career touchdown passes, etching his name in history as the new leader in combined touchdown passes in the regular season and postseason.

Brady had previously tied the record held by Peyton Manning when the Patriots beat the Vikings, as he reached 579 touchdown passes when he connected with Josh Gordon last week. The Patriots quarterback also reached another milestone in that game when he reached 1,000 career rushing yards.

The record-breaking touchdown also threw Brady into second place in the record books for career regular-season touchdown passes, as he passed Brett Favre's number of 508. Manning is first on the list, with 539 career regular season touchdown passes.

Now, Brady needs just 30 more touchdown passes in the regular season to tie Manning's record, with 31 putting him as the leader in every category when it comes to career touchdown passes.

Traveler's good deed: Stranger gives first-class seat to Florida mom with baby

Kelsey Rae Zwick has been overwhelmed the past few years. 

She and her husband have twin daughters, Lucy and Eva, who had complications at birth and were born at 29 weeks, Yahoo News reported. The infants spent their first few months in the neonatal intensive care unit, followed by months of treatments.

Lucy and Eva suffer chronic lung disease from the intubation period. Because she had other complications, Lucy had also started treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Zwick was on an American Airlines flight from Orlando to Philadelphia on Thursday with Lucy, who was yelling and yakking away, when a flight attendant came over and told her a man in first class wanted to switch seats with her, Yahoo News reported.

Zwick was stunned. She was not able to thank the stranger when they arrived, so she posted on social media, hoping to pay the act of kindness forward.

“I guess it was his birthday, and he did reach out to us,” Zwick told Yahoo News. “He was thanking me for a birthday to remember. It was the best day. He said it made him and his wife cry, and he said, ‘I am so glad we were on the same flight.’”

Zwick appreciated not only the additional space for Lucy’s oxygen machine and the first class accoutrements, like the cheese plate, but also the gesture.

“Sooo... thank you. Not just for the seat itself but for noticing. For seeing us and realizing that maybe things are not always easy,” she wrote. “For deciding you wanted to show a random act of kindness to US. It reminded me how much good there is in this world. I can’t wait to tell Lucy someday. In the meantime... we will pay it forward.”

YMCA workers help resuscitate woman who collapsed while working out

young woman is alive thanks to quick-thinking workers at a local YMCA.

Stacie Logan was going about her normal workout routine when the unexpected happened.

>> Read more trending news 

Logan had been running on the treadmill when she suddenly went into cardiac arrest. As she collapsed, the treadmill, which kept running, sent her flying onto the floor.

"I guess I collapsed on the treadmill, and the treadmill actually shot me off of it, and I hit my face on some kind of workout equipment, and nobody really knew what was wrong with me until someone flipped me over and saw I was unconscious," said Logan.

Logan says a few workers at the gym rushed over to help her, along with a couple of bystanders who knew CPR.

She tells Boston 25 News she was out for about six minutes and had to be shocked back to life twice with an automated external defibrillator.

Logan's father says they were shocked to get the call about their daughter's episode, saying she's a healthy 29-year-old woman who has six marathons under her belt, including one in New York just a few weeks ago.

"That was the furthest thing from our minds," said Tom Logan. 

Doctors say they still don't know exactly how this happened, but they did find scarring on one of the chambers of her heart, which could be a genetic condition.

"It was just kinda like a freak thing that happened," said Stacie Logan. "And it was just one of the circuits of my heart bounced off the scarring and caused it to short circuit."

She spent a week in the hospital, undergoing two surgeries to insert a pacemaker and a defibrillator in her chest. According to her doctors, this was an extremely close call.

"They said if I was home I would have been dead. If I was by myself, or they said if I was somewhere else and they didn’t have an AED or somebody didn’t know CPR, I would have been dead," said Stacie Logan.

Now, the family says they are forever thankful for the strangers who jumped in to help Stacie Logan. They also hope her story will inspire others to get trained in these lifesaving skills.

"If it means people learning about CPR and how to use AEDs, that’s our mission is to get it out there. We will both become certified immediately so that we can pass that on," said Tom Logan.

The Logan family now wants to find the other people who helped Stacie Logan that day in the YMCA so they can thank them in person.

Mike Pence’s top aid Nick Ayers won’t replace John Kelly as Trump’s Chief of Staff

Chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Nick Ayers, is headed back to Atlanta soon after he declined Sunday to take the job as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.

>> Read more trending news 

Ayers, 36, was long rumored to be Trump’s top choice to replace outgoing chief of staff John Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who the president said will leave the job by year’s end, but the two couldn’t agree on a time frame for the job, with Ayers unwilling to commit to the role deep into next year, according to an Ayers’ associate familiar with the talks.

Ayers did not return messages seeking comment, but said in a Sunday tweet that he will be departing his job with the administration at the end of the year but will work with the Trump campaign “to advance the cause.” He ended the tweet with a Georgia hashtag.

It’s not clear now who will take Kelly’s job as the top West Wing adviser as Trump prepares for his 2020 re-election bid at a precarious time.

>> Related: John Kelly expected to resign as White House chief of staff, reports say 

Whoever takes the job will have to contend with an intensifying probe into Russian election interference and emboldened Democrats who will take control of the U.S. House in January. Kelly’s successor will also have to grapple with a mercurial president loath to take counsel from his advisers.

“Nick has three little kids and that chief of staff job is a nightmare - no matter who the president is,” said Alec Poitevint, a longtime Ayers confidant and influential Georgia GOP donor.

It’s not immediately certain what Ayers will do next in Georgia, but he will have plenty of options.

>> Related: Who is in President Trump's cabinet?

He and his former boss, Sonny Perdue, were the driving forces behind Trump’s surprise endorsement of Brian Kemp, and Ayers helped organize Pence and Trump’s recent visits to Georgia. And he’s built a reputation as a wealthy and well-connected strategist after getting his start in Perdue’s 2002 campaign.

He was still a student at Kennesaw State University then, where he went to school with dreams of being a banker, but got swept up in Perdue’s underdog bid to become the first Republican governor in Georgia since Reconstruction.

“I had no interest in joining the campaign. I had my career planned out. I truly did not believe Governor Roy Barnes could be beat at the time, ” Ayers said at the time. “After 10 minutes of talking to Sonny, I was one hundred percent confident he was the right person to run this state.”

>> Related: Who is Gen. John Kelly, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff?

He soon became the Republican’s right-hand man – part assistant, part adviser, part protégé – and got hooked on politics. He also became a part of the family: He married Perdue’s second-cousin, Jamie, in May 2005 and the couple are now raising 6-year-old triplets in metro Atlanta.

Four years after his upset victory, Perdue tapped Ayers to serve as his campaign manager for re-election against Democrat Mark Taylor.

Ayers went on to become the youngest-ever head of the Republican Governors Association during a period of rapid state-level expansion for the GOP. In that role, he and then-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour helped transform the organization from a bit player to an influential political network.

He later built a consulting business that successfully boosted Republican candidates and made him fabulously wealthy: His federal financial disclosure pegged his worth between $12 million and $54 million. But they also raised questions about how he amassed his fortune in a short period of time, including recent complaints of running afoul of ethics laws.

>> Related: Trump to nominate William Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general 

Trump’s rapid rise in the Republican world opened up new opportunities for Ayers.

He became a top Pence counselor during the presidential campaign and, last year, briefly flirted with a run for Georgia governor. But he abruptly ruled out that bid moments before news broke that Pence offered him the chance to be his top staffer.

Since arriving in Washington, Ayers won Trump’s admiration for insulating Mike Pence from the chaos that’s frequently engulfed the West Wing and cultivated the support of key Trump family members, including Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

He’ll surely lean on those connections with national figures, as well as his ties to a universe of wealthy GOP donors, as he builds his next venture.

>> Related: Who is William Pelham Barr: 5 things to know

Brandon Phillips, a Georgia GOP consultant who was Trump’s state campaign chair, called him a “role model for political operatives who think nice guys can’t finish first.”

“His future in Georgia and national politics is only limited by his imagination,” said Phillips.

Man coughs up blood clot shaped like lung tree, doctors ‘astonished’

Familiar with the phrase “cough up a lung”? It’s not actually possible, but one man stunned doctors when he coughed up a blood clot in the shape of one.

>> Read more trending news  

Researchers published the shocking findings in the New England Journal of Medicine recently. In the report, they shared the story of a 36-year-old man admitted to an intensive-care unit with aggressive end-stage heart failure. 

The patient’s heart was immediately connected to a pump designed to help blood flow through the body, co-author Georg Wieselthaler described in the assessment. However, the machine can cause coagulation, so they used heparin, a blood thinner medication, to prevent them from forming. 

The heparin created another issue though. Thicker blood is needed to prevent blood vessels from developing tiny tears that can cause internal bleeding. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to the patient.

>> Related: Study: This common household chore is as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes a day

Blood leaked from his pulmonary network into his right lung then into his bronchial tree. He began coughing up smaller clots and eventually coughed up a large, oddly shaped, folded one. When doctors unfurled the glob, it was in the exact shape of the right bronchial tree

“We were astonished,” Wieselthaler told The Atlantic. “It’s a curiosity you can’t imagine—I mean, this is very, very, very rare.”

Few similar cases have been documented, including a 34-year-old woman who coughed up a large piece of membrane in the 1920s and a 25-year-old pregnant woman who hacked up a smaller bronchial tree cast in 2005.

So why don’t the casts break apart?

>> Related: Risks of smoking-related lung disease lowered by fruits

As for Wieselthaler’s patient, he believes the answer is related to fibrinogen, a protein in the blood plasma that causes cell fragments to form a mass. The patient’s infection and heart failure possibly led to a very high concentration of fibrinogen, which made his blood rubbery and capable of staying intact as he coughed. 

“Because it was so large, he was able to generate enough force from an entire right side of his thorax to push this up and out,” co-author Gavitt Woodard added. If the pieces were smaller, she said, “he might not have been able to generate the force.”

Although the patient felt immediately better after the clot was out of his system, he died about a week later from complications of heart failure. 

>> Related: Apples, tomatoes could help ex-smokers repair their lungs

Despite the grim ending, the doctors wanted to show a part of the human body. Woodard said, “recognizing the beautiful anatomy of the human body is the main point of it.”

Teen accidentally shoots self in leg with AK-47 she stole hours earlier, police say

A Texas teen shot herself in the leg Tuesday with a gun that was stolen from a home hours earlier, investigators said.

>> Read more trending news 

A 17-year-old girl was with another 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy when she accidentally shot herself in the foot with an AK-47, KTRK reported.

The girl who was shot was taken to a hospital, where she is in critical condition, according to Constable Mark Herman, of Harris County Precinct 4

She and the teen boy are being charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon and burglary of a habitation, ABC News reported. The sheriff also filed charges against the teen boy for tampering with evidence because the gun was thrown down a storm drain, ABC News reported.

“There were two females. The other one, we're still investigating that aspect of it. But if she was involved in the burglary, she'll get filed on, too, eventually,” Herman told KTRK.

Giraffes facing threat of extinction, several species considered ‘critically endangered’ 

The world’s tallest land mammals may be slipping toward extinction, with three of the nine subspecies of giraffes now in serious trouble and considered “critically endangered.”

>> Read more trending news 

That’s according to a new report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While giraffe populations in southern Africa are doing fine, the animal “is under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa,” according to Dr. Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Fennessy said even some conservationists were surprised by the declining number of giraffes in some areas in Africa.

“I am absolutely amazed that no one has a clue,” Fennessy told the Telegraph.  “This silent extinction. Some populations less than 400. That is more endangered than any gorilla, or almost any large mammal in the world.”

The report also detailed a conservation success story.

Two giraffe subspecies (the West African and Rothchild’s giraffe) that were previously considered endangered have rebounded with efforts from African governments and conservation groups and have been downgraded to “vulnerable” and “near threatened,” respectively.

“This is a conservation success story and highlights the value of making proactive giraffe conservation management efforts in critical populations across the continent,” Arthu Muneza, the East Africa Coordinator of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said.

>> Trending: Mother giraffe dies 4 days after her calf

The IUCN said the northern giraffe and the reticulated giraffe are two of the most threatened species with fewer than 5,200 and 15,785, respectively, remaining in the wild.

The threats facing giraffes include illegal hunting and civil unrest in parts of Africa and habitat loss due to mining and agriculture.

Former Miss Kentucky charged with sending naked photos to student

A former Miss Kentucky was arrested Friday and charged with four felony counts in Kanawha County, West Virginia, after she was caught sending nude photos of herself to a former student, according to authorities.

>> Read more trending news 

Ramsey Bearse, 28, now a middle school science teacher outside Charleston, admitted to sending the photos to a 15-year-old ex-student after his parents found the photos on his phone and called authorities, according to The Associated Press. Bearse was the student’s teacher when he attended Andrew Jackson Middle School in Cross Lanes, West Virginia.

“She is currently suspended from her teaching position,” according to a Facebook post from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office.

After her arraignment on the felony counts, Bearse was released on a $10,000 bond.

The charges carry a maximum fine of 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, The Washington Post reported.

It’s unclear if Bearse may have sent explicit photos to other students. The sheriff’s office urged anyone with additional information on the Bearse case or similar cases to contact authorities.

>> Trending: Playboy playmate under fire for posing nude on sacred New Zealand volcano

The University of Kentucky graduate won the Miss Kentucky pageant and competed in the Miss America pageant in 2014 under her maiden name, Carpenter. Bearse, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, used her Miss America platform four years ago to raise awareness of the disease.

Volunteer knits 6,000 hats for newborn babies over past 28 years

For Betty Banks, crocheting has been a lifetime pleasure. So when a persistent friend continued to ask her to crochet for newborn babies at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, Ohio, Banks decided to give it a try.

>> Read more trending news 

Twenty-eight years later, Banks has reached a personal goal of creating 6,000 baby hats and 50 afghans for local newborns. 

Banks takes her volunteer work seriously, knowing the families enjoy receiving homemade gifts for their infants.

Once a month, she comes to the volunteer office at the hospital to turn in her baby hats as well as pick up a few skeins of yarn for the next batch. Banks has been crocheting for 72 years — since the age of 16 — and said she loves every minute of it.

“I love giving a baby its first bath and hand picking just the right hat,” said Amy Rader, a registered nurse at Atrium Medical Center. “The families love receiving a hat that was made with care by one of our beloved volunteers.”

>> Related: Atrium adds home birth experience in hospital setting 

Banks has volunteered at the hospital for almost 30 years and is one of more than 200 volunteers who work with the hospital. 

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