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Thursday
Aug172017

Candlelight vigil marches through Charlottesville

ABCNews.com(CHARLOTTESVILLE, N.C.) -- Hundreds of people flooded the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia on Wednesday night in a peaceful, candlelight vigil for the victims of Saturday's violence surrounding a white nationalist rally.


Heyer, 32, was killed on Saturday afternoon when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters who had come to Charlottesville to rally against the "Unite the Right" group. Nineteen others were injured in the car-ramming. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed while observing the violence on the ground.

Police arrested 20-year-old James Alex Fields and charged him with second-degree murder for the death of Heyer.

A memorial service was held Wednesday for Heyer, who worked as a paralegal in Charlottesville. Over a thousand attendees packed the Paramount Theater in town, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

There was also a rally held in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The march, dubbed "Philly is Charlottesville" by organizers according to ABC6 in Philadelphia, marched down Broad Street and into Center City. About 2,000 people attended the rally, according to ABC affiliate WPVI.

"It's shameful that our president hasn't denounced what happened, 100 percent," participant Kate Sunbeen told WPVI. "So we are here to say, we don't support that."

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug172017

No Powerball winner, jackpot now grows to $510 million

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The numbers for the $432.5 million Powerball jackpot were drawn Wednesday night -- but there was no winning ticket.

The estimated jackpot has now jumped to $510 million. The numbers will be drawn Saturday night.

The numbers drawn were 9, 15, 43, 60, 64. The Powerball is 4.


The odds of winning are only one in 292.2 million.

Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Border Patrol ranks have declined over the past year, despite Trump's hiring push

Phototreat/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has declined over the past year, despite President Donald Trump’s emphasis on increasing the ranks of the agency to carry out his border security agenda.

There are currently 19,407 agents, which is 335 fewer agents than 10 months ago, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

However, CBP, which oversees Border Patrol hiring, said it expects that it will hire more agents before the end of the fiscal year is over. And the agency expects it will hire more total agents this year compared to last year.

The numbers "don’t tell the whole story," said CBP Office of Human Resources Management Assistant Commissioner Linda Jacksta.

"We’re starting to see some momentum. We’re starting to see some traction. We’ve implemented a number of improvements over the past two years. Those are starting to mature and take root," she told ABC News.

She acknowledged those implementations "take time," but said that for the first time in the last two years, the agency was starting to see "real gains."

In January, Trump signed an executive order directing CBP to immediately begin the process of hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents. The order also called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire 10,000 federal agents and officers.

A recent Department of Homeland Security inspector general report found that both agencies are facing "significant challenges" in identifying, recruiting and hiring the number of law enforcement officers mandated in the executive orders.

The report also found that neither CBP nor ICE could provide "complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies" for the additional 15,000 agents and officers they were directed to hire.

“We know that the president wants us to hire 5,000 agents, so we look forward to seeing how Congress enacts the budget for ’18 and that will tell us what we’re funded to hire, recognizing that we want to meet or exceed those goals to the greatest extent that we can," said Jacksta.

Another inspector general report, released in August, found that CBP administered polygraph tests to applicants after they had already given information "disqualifying" them from being hired.

The testing cost CBP about $5.1 million on more than 2,300 polygraphs, between 2013 and 2016, for applicants with “significant pre-test admissions of wrongdoing," including illegal drug use, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and in once case an applicant who, during the pre-test interview, admitted to participating in the gang rape of an intoxicated and unconscious woman.

This "slows the process for qualified applicants; wastes polygraph resources on unsuitable applicants; and will make it more difficult for CBP to achieve its hiring goals,” read the report.

CBP agreed with the report's findings and said it was taking steps to "aggressively" fix the testing issues.

Even before the executive order was issued, the agency was authorized by Congress to employ 21,370 agents, a number it hasn’t reached since 2013, according to the agency's watchdog.

Trump’s budget request for next year includes the hiring of 500 agents.

"We’re hopeful that Congress will approve the president’s budget,” Jacksta said.

She said the agency is looking ahead to fiscal year 2018, saying that 2017 was a “ramp-up year” in order to implement the capability to hire the agents that Trump has requested. “We’re well positioned,” to hire the 500 agents next year, she said.

Jacksta said that she’s "optimistic" for future hiring because of certain human resource metrics.

For example, CBP said that the attrition rate has dropped by about a percentage point since 2015, as well as a reduction in the time it takes to hire an agent.

“This applicant pool, we’re competing with a lot of other state, local, federal law enforcement organizations, we need to maintain our competitive edge and have an efficient hiring process so we don’t have people dropping out and taking other jobs,” she said.

Jacksta said that the department has “shored up its recruiting efforts,” citing a 106 percent increase in applicants for Border Patrol over the past two quarters, as well as a 54 percent increase in the number of veterans applying.

She also said that the "pass rate" for Border Patrol applicants has more than doubled in the past two years.

Today, the department has to go through around 100 people to hire one agent, but two years ago, CBP needed 270 applicants to hire one person, according to the department. Jacksta attributed that to the agencies’ increased “transparency” about the requirements to complete the hiring process.

However, according to the inspector general, Border Patrol would need around 750,000 applicants to meet the president’s goals.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Stranger celebrating his birthday pulls kayaker to safety in Alaska

Popartic/iStock/Thinkstock(HOPE, Alaska) -- Daniel Hartung's very first kayaking trip on powerful whitewater rapids almost became his last, if it weren't for the heroics of a stranger.

On Saturday, Hartung, 64, of Indian, Alaska, attended a bluegrass and whitewater festival near Hope, Alaska, with his wife.

Hartung, who'd been kayaking on flat water for more than 10 years, said that as he and his wife surveyed the waters, she told him that she had a bad feeling about him getting into the churning waters.

But Hartung went anyway.

"There were other more experienced kayakers than me," he told ABC News today. "So I thought I would go there and felt a little bit safe on trying my first whitewater with experienced kayakers around."

He went over a set of falls and then hit a rock. Water flooded the kayak and Hartung was tossed into Six-Mile Creek. As he traveled down the river, he hit another rock and then became stuck on a tree.

Other kayakers tried to rescue him as he fought against the raging current.

"The water was so forceful that I could not get myself out of it. I could lift my head slightly above the water to breathe," he said. "The more I tried to extract myself, the lower my head went until I was not able to breathe anymore."

As minutes continued went by, Hartung eventually dipped underwater and found himself giving up.

"I kept trying and trying and after a while it just became apparent to me that it was not going, that I was not going to get myself out of this," he said. "It was very calming. Everything whited out and I blacked out. ... No fear, no other thoughts."

What Hartung didn't know was that a man named Obadiah Jenkins had appeared.

He pulled Hartung free from under the tree and got him to shore. A group of people, including Hartung's wife, helped get him up a hill in blankets, where they were met by emergency personnel.

"I just knew at that point there was no way I could let this man die," Jenkins said. "If I had 1 percent chance of saving his life, I was gonna try it."

Rescuers performed CPR to revive Hartung. Jenkins, who had turned 33 that day, said there was no better present than seeing Hartung live.

"I remember, first time he opened his eyes, that I could tell he was breathing on his own, I said to him, 'Nobody dies on my birthday,'" Jenkins said. "I could tell I got a little rise out of him because his eyes went to the side a little bit like, 'Yeah, OK.'"

Hartung, who is now home recovering from a broken rib, said he plans to stick to calmer waters and would like to buy Jenkins a big steak dinner.

"This guy is a true hero," he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

911 calls reveal Charlottesville car crash suspect allegedly abused mother

MattGush/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New and disturbing information has been released about James Alex Fields Jr., the man who allegedly drove into a group protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville,
Virginia, Saturday, killing a woman and injuring several others.

ABC News has obtained transcripts of three 911 calls from 2010 and 2011, in which Fields was accused of terrorizing his mother, Samantha Bloom, who requires the use of a wheelchair.

In one call, according to dispatcher reports, Bloom told police that Fields "smacked [her] in the head" and "put his hands over her mouth."

Bloom had made the call after locking herself in the bathroom.

In another call, according to dispatcher reports, Fields allegedly stood behind Bloom with a 12-inch knife and "scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something."

Fields is charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count related to leaving the scene in connection with this weekend's violence.

Fields was denied bail Monday and his next scheduled court hearing is Aug. 25.

His appointed attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Officials broke ground in Boston Wednesday for a new park dedicated to Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Martin was 8 years old when he killed on April 15, 2013, as he watched the marathon from near the finish line with his family. His mother was gravely injured, and his sister, who was 7 at the time,
lost a leg.

Photos from Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking show children in hard hats using shovels to dig dirt. Martin's Park, located next to the Boston Children's Museum at the Smith Family Waterfront,
is expected to open in the fall of 2018, according to a press release from the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids," Baker wrote on Twitter.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote on Twitter that the park will remind its visitors of "hope, compassion & love."

"Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park," Walsh wrote.

Both Baker and Walsh spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Martin's family.

Martin's sister, Jane Richard, said she knows that her brother is happy that the community is coming together.

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Wednesday
Aug162017

Missouri police poke fun at 'jorts-wearing bandit' who robs Walgreens stores

mokee81/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Someone call the fashion police.

Missouri police poked fun at a "jorts-wearing bandit" who has burglarized multiple Walgreens stores in the St. Louis County area.

On Aug. 9, the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted a photo of the suspect, instructing the public to contact either them or the fashion police if they are able to identify the man.

On Monday, the police department tweeted that the man in the questionable garb was at it again.

"The jorts-wearing bandit is back," police wrote. "His disregard for the laugh is as offensive as his disregard for fashion trends."

In both instances, the man is seen wearing a baseball cap, short-sleeved shirt and "jorts," which are shorts made of denim.

It is unclear how many stores the unstylish suspect has robbed.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

University of Florida denies white nationalist's request to speak on campus

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- White nationalist Richard Spencer has been denied a request to rent space at the University of Florida to give a speech next month, according to a school statement.

The "likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action" to deny Spencer's request for a Sept. 12 speaking engagement at the Gainesville
campus, the school president W. Kent Fuchs said in the statement released today.

The denial comes after an eruption of violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, another college town, where a white nationalist rally Spencer attended and promoted on social media
collapsed into chaos and resulted in the death of woman protesting the gathering that included white supremacists.

Spencer has said he is neither a racist nor a white supremacist, which is someone who believes that white people are superior to other races. Instead, under the label of “alt-right,” which Spencer
is credited with coining, white nationalists like him espouse “white separatist ideologies,” as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal advocacy organization that monitors
extremist groups.

But it’s difficult for many critics, including the SPLC, to make a distinction.

“The term alt-right is really nothing more than a re-branding of white supremacy for the digital age,” Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen told ABC News in December. “I don’t think
anybody should be fooled by what it is at its core and that is white supremacy.”

Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, which says it is a white nationalist organization “dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United

States,” has become a lightning rod for criticism since the election of Donald Trump.

A December 2016 event he held at Texas A&M was swarmed with protesters.

“We triggered the world,” Spencer told ABC News at the time. “I think it’s good to trigger people a little bit. When you get triggered it means that you’re shocked, you thought something that you
haven’t thought before. It means that you have an open mind and you can start to see the world differently.”

Fuchs, the University of Florida president, addressed Spencer's ideology directly in his statement.

"I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for," he wrote.

Spencer did not immediately respond today to ABC News’ request for comment.

He came to national attention when video surfaced of him at a Washington, D.C., conference in November shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” as some members of the crowd raised
their hands in a Nazi salute.

Spencer said he yelled out “Hail Trump” in the “spirit of irony and exuberance.” He added that he saw the then-president-elect as someone who “sling-shotted our movement into fame.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Charlottesville teachers sing 'Lean on Me' after violence

garytog/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- More than 700 teachers and staff members from Charlottesville, Virginia, public schools broke into song Tuesday at a back-to-school convocation just days after protests
and deadly violence shook their city.

The school officials sang “Lean On Me” and held glow sticks to symbolize light coming from darkness during the convocation at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville
High School.

“It was emotional,” Rachel Wilson, a photography teacher at the high school who posted video of the moment on Facebook, told ABC News. “We’re all still kind of processing what happened here and
figuring out how to help our students process it and also continue on with what we need to do as educators.”

The convocation was planned before the protests at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday, according to Beth Cheuk, the community relations liaison for Charlottesville City
Schools.

The tone of the event -- which was held on teachers’ first day back for the new school year -- was changed on Monday after a meeting among district officials and school principals.

“They were very emotional as they came together for the first time after the news [and] realized they needed an event where they could meet people where they were,” Cheuk told ABC News.

One woman was killed in the protests -- local resident Heather Heyer -- while two officers -- Virginia State Police Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates -- died in a helicopter
crash while responding to the violence. The three were honored at the convocation by a display of three heart shapes made out of glow sticks on seats in the auditorium.

Charlottesville City Schools will hold its first day of classes on Aug. 23.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug162017

Total solar eclipse 2017: What is it and what will happen?

dreamnikon/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You've probably heard by now to watch out for a total solar eclipse in the United States on Aug. 21. But do you know exactly what it is and what will happen when it occurs?

Here's what you need to know:

What is a total solar eclipse?

To truly understand a total solar eclipse, you must be familiar with the different types of eclipses.

An eclipse is when one astronomical body, such as a moon or planet, moves into the shadow of another astronomical body. There are two types of eclipses on Earth: a lunar eclipse and a solar
eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth moves between the sun and the moon, with its shadow blocking the sunlight that causes the moon to shine. This can only occur when the moon is full, according to
NASA.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, blocking the sunlight and casting a shadow onto Earth. There are four main types of solar eclipses: partial, annular, total and
hybrid, according to NASA.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, lasting for up to about three hours from beginning to end.

Total solar eclipses occur once every 12 to 18 months while partial solar eclipses, when the moon blocks only part of the sun, occur more frequently, though visibility varies, according to NASA.

You must be in the path of totality to witness a total solar eclipse. The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse is a 70-mile-wide ribbon that will arc across the continental United States from
west to east. This stretches from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT to Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT.

From there, the moon's shadow leaves the country at 4:09 EDT.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

During a total solar eclipse, the lunar shadow will darken the sky and temperatures will drop while bright stars and planets will appear at a time that is normally broad daylight.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak said the experience usually lasts for just a couple minutes, but it's truly out of this world.

"It is unlike any other experience you've ever had," Espenak, popularly known as Mr. Eclipse, told ABC News. "It's a visceral experience; you feel it. The hair on your arms, on the back of your
neck, stand up. You get goosebumps.

"You have to be there," he added.

Espenak said the rare and striking astronomical event can last as long as seven minutes. For the Aug. 21 eclipse, NASA anticipates the longest period when the moon obscures the sun's entire surface
from any given location along its path will last about two minutes and 40 seconds.

Some animals may react strangely to the celestial phenomenon. Rick Schwartz, an animal behavior expert with the San Diego Zoo, said there have been observations of animals going to sleep during
total solar eclipses.

"The animals take the visual cues of the light dimming, and the temperature cues," Schwartz told ABC News.

"You hear the increase of bird calls and insects that you usually associate with nightfall," he added. "Farmers have said that the cows lay down on the field or the chickens go back into the coop."

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