Day: April 28, 2017


Father of baby born with terminal illness: 'No changing the fact she would die'

In a moving essay on the blogging platform Medium, the father of a baby born without a brain whose story went viral explained the devastating moment he and his wife discovered she would be stillborn.

“We felt cheated,” Royce Young wrote. “What a total rip-off. The word I still have circling in my head is disappointment. That doesn’t really do it justice, because it’s profound disappointment. Like the kind that is going to haunt me forever.”


Young and his wife, Keri, had shared their story about their unborn daughter Eva, who at 19 weeks was diagnosed with anencephaly. Eva’s brain was missing the frontal lobe and the top part of her skull. Within minutes, Keri asked her doctor whether carrying Eva to term would mean that her organs could be donated.

“We decided to continue, and chose the name Eva for our girl, which means ‘giver of life,’” Young wrote in his latest post. “The mission was simple: Get Eva to full-term, welcome her into this world to die, and let her give the gift of life to some other hurting family. It was a practical approach, with an objective for an already settled ending point.”

The Youngs consulted with LifeShare, and Oklahoma-based organ procurement organization, and arranged for Eva’s organs to be donated, but she would have to be born with a heartbeat for them to be viable. Keri was scheduled to hit full term on April 16, so doctors scheduled a May 2 caesarian-section birth.

“Part of the difficulty of the decision to carry on was in the physical pregnancy, and the mental burden of carrying a baby for 20 more weeks knowing she would die,” Young wrote. “The kicks and punches to Keri’s bladder serving as a constant reminder of what was inside.”

Still, Young wrote that they found joy in Eva’s pregnancy as they began talking to her and telling their son, Harrison, about his baby sister. Along the way, Young said he allowed himself to fantasize about the potential lives that Eva would be saving with her organs. He envisioned attending graduations and weddings of the recipients.

“We had to make concessions with the transplant doctor, things like agreeing to intubate Eva shortly after delivery. But we were willing, because regardless of our parental instincts to want to love and hold her for as long as we could, we also very clearly understood the inevitable,” he wrote. “There was no changing the fact that she would die. And we didn’t want to let five extra minutes with us get in the way of what could be a lifetime for someone else.”

However, on April 16, Keri stopped feeling Eva’s movements. An ultrasound revealed that her heart had stopped beating, and Eva was stillborn.

“We had tried to do everything right, tried to think of others, tried to take every possible step to make this work, and it didn’t,” Young wrote in his post. “No organ donation. Not even for the failsafe, research.”

Keri was induced on April 17, and Eva was born minutes later. Though the Youngs were grieving for the potential hope they had found in Eva’s organ donations, a coordinator at LifeShare was trying to contact them at the exact moment of her birth to let them know she had found a match for her eyes. The occasion marked the first time in the state of Oklahoma that a donor would give two full eyes to a recipient.

When nurses handed the Youngs their “superhero,” her eyes stayed closed, and they fought the urge to take a peek at what color they might be. Young said that while he grieves not having had the chance to meet Eva as her father even just for a few seconds, his new fantasies about his daughter involve imaging what her eyes will see. 

“In some ways, though, I’m more excited about her eyes being her living legacy,” Young wrote. “I keep thinking about looking into them some day, but more than anything, about her eyes seeing her mom, dad and brother.”

In addition to donating her eyes, LifeSpan is creating a newborn protocol for organ donation with other organizations, and are calling it the Eva Protocol. 

Young’s post appears in full here. 

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Tennessee Amber Alert: Kidnapped teen ate flowers out of hunger, lawyer says

One thing seems to have overshadowed Elizabeth Thomas’ 38 days spent with her former teacher: hunger. The 15-year-old had resorted to eating wildflowers at times and had lost a significant amount of weight, the family lawyer tells People.

“I was so shocked when I saw her,” says Jason Whatley, who added that she appeared unshowered as well. The caretaker of the remote cabin in Cecilville, California, where she and Tad Cummins were found by police said the single time he heard the teen talk was when she thanked him for rice and clementines he brought the pair in exchange for manual labor.


“She got excited over some food,” he said.

Police say Cummins, who awaits extradition to Tennessee on kidnapping charges, and Thomas spent 10 days at a nearby remote commune prior to moving into the cabin, which had no electricity or running water.

Officials at the commune, Black Bear Ranch, say they’re appalled they were duped by Cummins’ lies but say they have no access to the internet or newspapers and had seen no stories about the missing teen, reports the Redding Record Searchlight

Click for more from Newser.

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Murder case cracked by Fitbit: Connecticut suspect enters plea – Tennessee man changes plea in shooting that killed police officer

A Connecticut man appeared in court on Friday to face charges in a murder case cops say they cracked with the help of a Fitbit fitness tracker.

Richard Dabate, 40, pleaded not guilty through his attorney during the brief court appearance. He is charged with killing his 39-year-old wife Connie Dabate in December 2015.


Dabate was arrested two weeks ago and posted $1 million bail.

He declined comment Friday as he left court.


Friends of his wife showed up for the arraignment, The Hartford Courant reported.

“She was the most carefree person, who always thought of others first,” Kim Phillips, one of Connie Dabate’s friends, told the paper.

Dabate told cops a masked intruder shot and killed his wife and that he burned the intruder with a torch.

Cops said they questioned the alibi after examining his wife’s Fitbit. The device showed she logged steps after the time he told them she was killed.

Days after the killing, Dabate put in a claim for his wife’s $475,000 life insurance policy, the paper reported. He also withdrew $93,000 from an investment account in her name.

Cops said Dabate also had a pregnant girlfriend, and told the woman he and his wife were divorcing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Steel industry making comeback after years of decline

The steel industry in the U.S. was hoping for a comeback after years of decline.

Following the election of President Donald Trump, industry insiders thought his “America First” focus and pro-steel mantra would give a major boost to the sluggish industry.

But on Wednesday, bad news came: U.S. Steel, one of the largest steel companies in the world, got hammered by investors, who slashed 27 percent of its market value, after the company that built Pittsburgh posted a surprising first-quarter loss. The company had seen its stock prices jump after Trump was elected and announced major expansion plans – but the losses rattled investors.

But that’s one company. Look beyond those numbers and you see a bright spot: Minimills are seeing their businesses bounce back.

“I think the focus this administration has put on manufacturing and on industry as important as steel in particular, creates a bump for us also,” said John Ferriola, president and CEO of Nucor, the country’s largest minimill steelmaker, which is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Charles Bradford of Bradford Research, a New York-based research and investment firm, said profits for minimills are up 50 percent to 100 percent compared to this time a year ago.

“The minimill part of the industry is doing quite well, from a financial standpoint,” Bradford said. “They were nicely profitable.”

Amid complaints that foreign governments were subsidizing their steel manufacturing and manipulating prices by dumping cheap steel into the market, Trump invited the heads of the steel industry to The White House recently.

Trump launched a trade probe into China and other exporters of cheap steel. He raised the possibility of new tariffs and launched an investigation into dependence on foreign steel for defense.

“This investigation will look at how steel imports are impacting the United States’ national security – taking into account foreign practices such as steel dumping,” Trump said. “It’s a tremendous problem in this country.  They’re really hurting not only our country, but our companies.”


Ferriola, Nucor’s CEO, said all steel manufacturers want is a level playing field to compete against countries like China, which produces half of the world’s steel.  

The company has beefed up production and moving more steel out the door. Since the company has a pay incentive program – that trickles down all the way to the guys on the production line – that has a direct impact on the check they bring home.

“So the more we produce, the greater the bonus,” said Lee Huckstep, a strand tender at Nucor. “It makes a huge deal to me.”

Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.

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France's Le Pen says she 'abhors' Holocaust doubters amid scandal over party official

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Friday she “abhors” Holocaust doubters as the temporary leader of her far-right party stepped down over allegations he expressed doubt that the Nazi used gas chambers to kill Jews.

Jean-Francois Jalkh, the just-appointed interim leader of the National Front, resigned Friday over the gas chamber comments reported in a 2000 interview.


Le Pen has worked to clean up the image of her National Front party to make it an acceptable alternative, and noted in an interview on BFM-TV that in 2015 she forced her father out of the party he founded and led for 40 years after he repeated a statement diminishing the Holocaust, for which he had been convicted.

Le Pen said that today “there is no one in the direction of the National Front who defend these theses.”


Le Pen announced Monday she was stepping down as party leader after reaching the second round of the French elections. Her opponent, the independent centrist Emmanuel Macron is the favorite.

Seven decades after the end of World War II, emotions around France’s history of collaborating with the Nazis remain raw in the country. France has never undergone a national atonement; instead, many people still view the actions of the collaborationist Vichy regime as a historical anomaly instead of atrocities committed by the French state.

Seeking the moral high ground, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel sought to bring the horrors of the Holocaust home to voters with a visit Friday to Oradour-sur-Glane, site of the largest massacre in Nazi-occupied France. The town is today a phantom village, with burned-out cars and abandoned buildings left as testimony to its history.

On June 10, 1944, four days after the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, an SS armored division herded villagers into barns and a church, blocked the doors, and set Oradour-sur-Glane ablaze. A total of 642 men, women and children died.

Only six people survived.

Macron wants to send a message to voters that Le Pen isn’t a candidate like any other, but the heir of a party stained by anti-Semitism, racism and an outdated worldview.

Meantime, soccer great Zinedine Zidane joined the list of prominent figures urging voters to keep Le Pen out of the presidency.

The Real Madrid coach and former France international said that he is “far from all these ideas, from this National Front. So we need to do everything to avoid this.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Congress approves stopgap spending bill to avert shutdown

Congress on Friday approved a one-week, stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown this weekend, giving lawmakers more time to negotiate a broader budget deal – as lawmakers also pushed off talks on a new health care package.

The spending measure passed the Senate by voice vote after clearing the House on a bipartisan 382-30 vote. It now goes to President Trump’s desk. 

Lawmakers had been facing a midnight deadline to pass a new funding bill. They will now continue to work on a bigger, $1 trillion budget package, under a new deadline of next Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said earlier that bargainers were “very close” to an agreement. But underscoring lingering battles over environmental and financial regulations, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continued to object to what he called “poison pill riders.” 

But the bipartisan budget talks had progressed more smoothly after the White House dropped a threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills and President Trump abandoned a demand for money for a border wall with Mexico.

On the separate health care bill, House Republican leaders are still scrounging for votes from their own rank-and-file.

There is no vote planned for Friday, meaning Trump will finish his first 100 days without a major legislative accomplishment.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said it’s possible they could entertain a health care bill next week. “A definite maybe,” he said.

Republicans have revised an earlier version to let states escape a requirement under President Barack Obama’s 2010 law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. They could also be exempted from Obama’s mandate that insurers cover a list of services like hospitalization and substance abuse treatment and from its prohibition against charging older customers more than triple their rates for younger ones.

The overall legislation would cut the Medicaid program for low-income people, eliminate Obama’s fines for people who don’t buy insurance and provide generally lower subsidies. 

More than a dozen Republicans, mostly moderates, said they were opposing the legislation. Many others remained publicly uncommitted, putting party elders in a tough spot. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wants to avoid an encore of last month’s embarrassment, when he abruptly canceled a vote because of opposition from moderates and conservatives alike.

On Wednesday, conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus announced their support for the revised health legislation. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Yale grad students' 'hunger strike' apparently involves eating when hungry

A group of Yale University graduate students announced Tuesday evening that they would be undertaking a hunger strike to pressure the administration into granting them better union benefits. The strike is taking place in front of University President Peter Salovey’s home.

“Yale wants to make us wait and wait and wait … until we give up and go away,” the eight members of the graduate student union Local 33 announced. “We have committed ourselves to waiting without eating.”


Yale doctoral students currently earn a stipend $30,000 a year, receive free health care, and have their $40,000 tuition paid in full, according to Yale News.  The university administration said in a statement that they understood the students concerns, but “strongly [urge] that students not put their health at risk or encourage others to do so.”

As it turns out, the hunger strike might not put anyone’s health in peril. According to a pamphlet posted on Twitter by a  former Yale student, the hunger strike is “symbolic” and protesters can leave and get food when they can no longer go on.

Local 33 posted a video about the strike on their Facebook page, including quotes endorsing their fast from co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association Dolores Huerta and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee Maria Elena Durazo.

Click for more from the Washington Free Beacon.

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Obama reportedly pulls in another $400G for speech – Judge Jeanine: Obama's big-money Wall St. speech is the 'ultimate in hypocrisy'

Barack Obama, the former president, who has been criticized for taking in $400,000 for a Wall Street-sponsored speech, has reportedly pulled in the exact same amount for another speech in New York.

The former president appeared at the A&E Networks advertising upfront at The Pierre Hotel in New York City where he was interviewed by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin for more than 90 minutes in front of the cable network’s advertisers, The New York Post reported.

Earlier this week, the 44th president came under strong scrutiny after it was learned that he agreed to speak at a health care event in September sponsored by Wall Street Bank Cantor Fitzgerald, a speech that would earn him $400,000.

Surprisingly, Democratic Party leaders have come out to the media to harshly criticized Obama.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said she “was troubled by that,” when asked her opinion on Sirius XM’s “Alter Family Politics” radio show Thursday morning but held back from criticizing the president directly.

Obama spokesman Ed Schulz insisted the former president remains true to his progressive values, and said taking money from Wall Street is not the same as being bought by Wall Street.

“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” Schulz said.

Obama will have an opportunity to reconcile his evolving position on money and politics in his next memoir, for which he has already signed a $60 million deal.

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Inmates picking up highway trash find woman's body

Tennessee female prisoners on a highway cleanup detail found the badly decomposed body of a female jogger on Thursday, according to a report.


The remains were found just after noon on the southbound side of State Route 111, Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock told WTVC.

“Still under investigation,” Hitchcock told the station. “We won’t know anything for some time. Right now, all we know is we don’t have anyone reported missing in the area.”


The sheriff believes the body may have been dumped there a few weeks ago. The inmate cleanup crew passed through the area on March 1.

According to the station, the inmate who found the body described it as a “female in jogging pants.”

That inmate told a state Transportation Department staffer that the body was nothing more than bones, WTVC reported.

Two southbound lanes of  State Route 111 were closed as sheriff deputies removed the body.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation, and the body was taken to a crime lab in Nashville, WDEF reported.

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Arkansas inmate convulses during execution, prompting calls for investigations

The fourth death row inmate executed in Arkansas in eight days lurched and convulsed before he died, witnesses said, prompting critics and the man’s legal team to demand an investigation Friday.

The state had sought to carry out as many lethal injections as possible before one of its drugs expires Sunday.


About three minutes into the execution Thursday night, Kenneth Williams’ body jerked 15 times in quick succession — lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest — then the rate slowed for a final five movements, according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed it.

Williams’ attorneys released a statement calling witness accounts “horrifying” and demanding an investigation into what they called the “problematic execution.”

J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson who did not witness the execution, called the movements “an involuntary muscular reaction” that he said was a widely known effect of the surgical sedative midazolam, the first of three drugs administered.


Davis said later that he was sure Hutchinson would follow up “as he does with every execution,” but that the governor was confident the Department of Correction “did what it was supposed to do.” The spokesman stood by his previous description of the state’s executions as “flawless.”

“Midazolam’s well-documented risks and role in numerous botched executions should have given Governor Asa Hutchinson pause. Instead, he ignored the dangers and undermined our state’s moral standing – all to beat the expiration date on a failed drug,” Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, responded. 

Williams was sentenced to death for murdering a former deputy warden, Cecil Boren, after he escaped from prison in 1999. At the time of his escape in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop, Williams was less than three weeks into a life sentence for killing a college cheerleader.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period. That would have been the most in such a short time since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, but courts issued stays for four of the inmates. The four lethal injections that were carried out included Monday’s first double execution in the United States since 2000.

Williams read a prepared final statement before the execution began, apologizing to the families he “senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones.” He also spoke in tongues, the unintelligible but language-like speech used in some religions. But his prayer faded off as the midazolam took effect. He said, “The words that I speak will forever be, will forever …” before he fell silent.

The inmate breathed heavily through his nose until just after three minutes into his execution, when his chest leaped forward in a series of what seemed like involuntary movements. His right hand never clenched and his face remained what one media witness called “serene.”

After the jerking, Williams breathed through his mouth and moaned or groaned once — during a consciousness check — until falling still seven minutes into the lethal injection.

A Friday morning tweet from the account of a Republican state Sen. Trent Garner, who witnessed the execution, said Williams did not “seem in pain. … It was not cruel, unusual, botched or torture.”

“Any amount of movement he might have had was far less than any of his victims,” said Jodie Efird, one of Boren’s daughters, who witnessed the execution.

State officials have called Arkansas’ string of executions a success, declaring justice served and “closure” for victims’ families. Some concerns had been raised about Monday’s execution of Jack Jones, whose mouth moved after attorneys said he should have been unconscious, though a federal judge determined it did not appear to be “torturous and inhumane.”

All of the Arkansas inmates — including Williams — have died within 20 minutes of their executions beginning, a contrast from troubled midazolam-related executions in other states that took anywhere from 43 minutes to two hours. Though witnesses to those lengthier executions also described hearing inmates breathe heavily, snore or snort or seeing them struggle against their restraints.

“The long path of justice ended tonight and Arkansans can reflect on the last two weeks with confidence that our system of laws in this state has worked,” Hutchinson said in a statement issued after Williams’ execution.

Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who witnessed a flawed 2014 Arizona execution that took two hours, said in an email early Friday that after reading media reports, “It appears from witness accounts that Mr. Williams was not fully sedated when the paralytic was administered.

“At a minimum, this was a deviation from the protocol.”

Williams’ lawyers had said he had sickle cell trait, lupus and brain damage, and argued the combined maladies could subject him to an exceptionally painful execution in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They argued Arkansas’ “one size fits all” execution protocol could have left him in pain after a paralytic agent rendered him unable to move. State and federal courts rejected the claims.

Williams was sentenced to death for killing Boren after escaping from the Cummins Unit prison in a barrel holding a mishmash of kitchen scraps. He left the prison — where the execution chamber is located in another part of the facility — less than three weeks into a life prison term for killing University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd in 1998. At the conclusion of that trial, he had taunted the young woman’s family by turning to them after the sentence was announced and saying “You thought I was going to die, didn’t you?”

After jumping from the barrel, he sneaked along a tree line until reaching Boren’s house. He killed Boren, stole guns and Boren’s truck and then drove away to Missouri. There, he crashed into a water-delivery truck, killing the driver. While in prison, he confessed to killing another person in 1998.

At the time of Boren’s death, investigators said it did not appear Boren was targeted because of his former employment by the Arkansas Department of Correction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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