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Photos: Notable deaths 2018

Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus dies at 94

Charles Lazarus, who founded what would become Toys R Us in 1948, has died, company officials confirmed Thursday. He was 94.

>> Read more trending news

The news came just days after officials with the toy store chain announced it would be closing its U.S. stores.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus,” Toys R Us officials wrote Thursday in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Michael Goldstein, a friend of Lazarus’ who formerly served as chairman of Toys R Us, told Bloomberg News that Lazarus died Thursday in Manhattan.

"He was the father of the toy business," Goldstein told CNN Money. "He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys."

>> Related: Toys R Us closings: What happens to 31,000 employees, your gift cards?

In a 1986 article, The Atlantic magazine credited Lazarus as “the person most responsible for loosening Santa’s grip” on the toy industry, expanding sales from a holiday-only to a year-round business.

Lazarus served as a cryptographer during World War II and took over his family’s bicycle shop in Washington D.C. after he returned to the U.S. in 1923, according to The Atlantic. He started to sell baby furniture, The Atlantic reported, but he noticed that he rarely got return customers because of the sturdiness of his stock.

>> Related: Amazon looking to buy abandoned Toys R Us storefronts

"Toys are a great kind of thing to sell, because they don't last that long," he told the magazine in 1986.

Lazarus served as head of Toys R Us through the company’s sale in 1966 to Interstate Department Stores Inc., and through Interstate’s bankruptcy in 1974, according to Bloomberg.

Toys R Us dominated the toy store business in the 1980s and early '90s, when it was one of the first of the category killers -- big stores that are so totally devoted to one thing and have such impressive selection that they drive smaller competitors out of business. Lazarus, who remained at the helm until 1994, stacked the merchandise high to give shoppers the feeling it had an infinite number of toys.

>> Related: Toys R Us closing sales: What you need to know when liquidation begins

He stepped down as chairman of the company in 1998, Bloomberg reported.

Officials with Toys R Us announced last week that the company planned to close or sell its 735 stores nationwide, including its Babies R Us stores. The superstore chain could no longer bear the weight of its heavy debt load and relentless trends that hurt its business, namely competition from the likes of Amazon, discounters like Walmart, and mobile games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

See Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s official wedding invitation

Kensington Palace has revealed the invitations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

People reported that the invitations for the ceremony were unveiled Thursday.

>> Read more trending news 

The intricate invitations were printed through the process of die stamping on a 1930s machine by Lottie Small, the palace said. Small recently completed an apprenticeship at Barnard and Westwood, a printing and bookbinding company in London. The company has made royal invitations since 1985.

“The invitations follow many years of royal tradition and have been made by @BarnardWestwood,” the palace said. “They feature the Three-Feathered Badge of the Prince of Wales printed in gold ink.”

The wedding of Markle, 36, and Prince Harry, 33, will be at St. George’s Chapel. The invitation is for the ceremony and the lunch reception at St. George’s Hall, the latter of which will being given by Queen Elizabeth. The palace said that later that evening the 200 guests will go to a reception by Prince Charles.

Prince Harry and Markle will be married May 19.

Add beets to your diet! Here’s why they could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

New research finds beets could help slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. 

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Researchers from the American Chemical Society recently conducted a study to explore foods that may slow the progress of the illness.

First they examined the possible cause of the condition. Although it’s unknown, doctors have previously pinpointed beta-amyloid, a sticky protein that can disrupt communication between the brain cells and neurons. When it clings to metals, such as copper or iron, the beta-amyloid peptides misfold and clump together, causing inflammation and oxidation. 

Therefore, the scientists targeted foods known to improve oxygen flow and cognitive functions, including beets. The purple veggie has a compound called betanin that binds to metals, which could prevent the misfold of the peptides. 

>> Related: Study: Diabetes drug ‘significantly reverses memory loss’ for mice with Alzheimer’s

o test their hypothesis, the scientists measured oxidation levels of the beta-amyloid when it was mixed with a betanin mixture, and they found that oxidation decreased by up to 90 percent exposed to the beet compound.

“Our data suggest that betanin, a compound in beet extract, shows some promise as an inhibitor of certain chemical reactions in the brain that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” coauthor Li-June Ming said in a statement. 

While they’re unsure if betanin can completely stop misfolding, they said it certainly reduces oxidation. With their results, they believe they can help develop medicine that will alleviate some of the long-term effects of Alzheimer’s.

>> Related: Inability to smell peppermint linked to dementia, study says 

“This is just a first step,” Ming said, “but we hope that our findings will encourage other scientists to look for structures similar to betanin that could be used to synthesize drugs that could make life a bit easier for those who suffer from this disease.”

The researchers plan to present their study at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society this week.

Woman claims hospital left needle in her spine for 14 years

A woman says she’s suffered chronic nerve pain for 14 years -- because Naval Hospital Jacksonville employees left a piece of a needle in her spine during an epidural. 

Amy Bright is now suing in federal court

>> Read more trending news 

Bright says she expected the birth of her son to be one of the happiest moments of her life -- but she says back pain has been constant since her son's birth.

“Sleeping is hard, just because it burns constantly," Bright said. 

Bright says Naval Hospital Jacksonville initially diagnosed her with sciatica, but a CT scan 14 years later revealed something else -- a needle embedded in her spine.

Bright says Naval Hospital Jacksonville knew about it the whole time. The needle remains lodged in Bright's back. 

“I was so mad that they hid this from me," Bright said. 

In her claim, Bright says Naval Hospital Jacksonville failed to properly install the needle -- and broke it off in her spine. They also failed to inform her or put it on medical records, she claims

Bright's attorney says a judge will decide if she is entitled to any damages. 

A cure for blindness? Stem cell therapy shows promising results

Scientists in the United Kingdom believe a cure for the most common cause of blindness could be ready within just five years.

>> Read more trending news 

A revolutionary new stem cell therapy has helped two patients regain enough of their sight to be able to read. The results of the trial were published this week in the academic journal Nature.

The two patients, a man and a woman, had advanced age-related macular degeneration (or AMD), a problem that destroys the central vision. Before the procedure, neither was able to even see a book, according to their surgeon. After the procedure, their sight has improved dramatically.

>> Related: Florida man going blind sees beach for last time

"The first patient has got six lines improvement, which is astounding, and the second has five lines and he seems to be getting better as the months go by. They are both really reading,” Pete Coffey of the University College London, one of the scientists behind the medical breakthrough, told The Guardian.

“At best [the woman] could read about one word a minute with magnification. She is now reading 80 words a minute and [the man] is reading 50.”

Coffey said that the results were even better than what he and his colleague, Lyndon Da Cruz, a retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, initially hoped for.

"We said we'd get three [out of the proposed 10] patients with vision recovery of three lines. They probably wouldn't get reading vision back," he said.

>> Related: Possible autism breakthrough using children’s own stem cells 

"In the months before the operation my sight was really poor and I couldn't see anything out of my right eye," 86-year-old Douglas Waters, a patient involved in the study, told the BBC. "It's brilliant what the team have done and I feel so lucky to have been given my sight back.”

According to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, AMD is the most common cause of blindness in developed countries. Across the United States, more than 10 million people suffer from the disease. Individuals with AMD experience loss of vision due to the death of a thin layer of light-sensing retinal cells at the back of the eye, located in a region called the macular.

The individuals involved in this trial had a severe form of the disease referred to as "wet" AMD. This can cause sight loss to occur rapidly, often within a matter of days or weeks.

>> Related: How to help blind, visually impaired Twitter users ‘see’ your images

"What's exciting about this study is that the patients recorded an increase in vision. Patients with very poor vision are chosen for phase 1 trials because of their 'untested' nature," Dr. Carmel Toomes, associate professor at the Leeds Institutes of Molecular Medicine, who was not involved in the research, told The Independent. "To see an improvement is a good sign that this therapy may help patients in the future, although further studies are needed before real conclusions can be drawn."

"We've restored vision where there was none," Da Cruz said. "As you get older, parts of you stop working and for the first time we've been able to take a cell and make it into a specific part of the eye that's failing and put it back in the eye and get vision back."

>> Related: Can these specialized stem cells help aging hearts turn back the clock? 

The researchers hope their trials will lead to an affordable 'off-the-shelf' therapy within as little as five years.

As for the patients involved with the trial, they're just grateful to see again. "I can now read the newspaper and help my wife out with the gardening," Waters said.

Austin bomb victim's father thanks authorities in letter, questions son's death

The father of the first Austin bombing victim, 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, thanked local and federal law enforcement officers for their handling of the investigation in a letter released Thursday that also questioned the meaning behind the attacks.

>> Read more trending news

“I wish to express my deepest appreciation for the exhaustive efforts and work of the Austin Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agency, and other agencies that participated in this investigation of the series of explosive devices,” Elliot House, Anthony House’s father, wrote in a letter first reported by CBS News.

>> Related: Austin package bombings: Friends remember victims Draylen Mason, Anthony House

“Hopefully, the death of the bomb maker suspect ends the ring of fear and terror in the Austin area, although it leaves a few questions, shared with both the family of my son, Anthony House, and 17-year-old Draylen Mason, both being black and the only deaths in the series of bombings,” House continued. “We are plagued with how they were selected and why.”

Anthony House was the father of an 8-year-old girl and a Texas State University graduate.

Elliot House said he also appreciated the “personal condolence” from Christopher Combs, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the San Antonio Field Division, and Mayor Steve Adler. House noted that he especially appreciated that Adler “apologized for the initial investigation of the bombing involving my son by APD.”

>> Related: Austin bombings: How to help the victims

Many in the community have criticized the Austin Police Department for its handling and characterization of the first bombing. Several people in an East Austin town hall last week questioned whether Austin police would have more readily sounded the alarm and warned the community about the package bombs sooner had the first bombing killed a white person in a neighborhood west of Interstate 35.

>> Related: 55 hours of terror, and a final blast in Austin serial bombings

Elliot House expressed his grief, saying that the death of his son in the bombing left him childless, as his other son, Corey Alan House, was killed in 1994 at age 17.

“I have no more sons. I continue to mourn my losses,” House wrote in the letter to authorities. “But continue the good work.”

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Woman steals waiter's tip at Memphis restaurant

A Facebook post is going viral in Memphis, but the people featured in it likely wish it wasn’t.

The post, which has been shared more than 339,000 times, reads as follows:

It features two videos.

In the first video, you see two women getting ready to leave Casa Mexicana on Hacks Cross. One of them places money on the table – a tip for the waiter – and they walk away.

>> Read more trending news 

Once they leave, a woman in the neighboring booth points to the table with the money. She looks over her shoulder and around the restaurant and talks to the man she’s sitting with.

Eventually, she gets up and takes the money off the table. After hurrying back to her booth, the woman stuffs the money in her shirt and the couple continues looking around.

In the second video, the couple looks around a little more and keeps talking before finally leaving the restaurant.

A waiter quickly walks into frame and goes to the table where the money was left. He lifts up the chip basket and a plate, but the money is nowhere to be found. 

‘Gun! Gun! Gun!’ Body cam, aerial video shows police kill unarmed black man 

Sacramento police officials have released the harrowing audio and video, including footage from two officers’ body cameras, in the shooting death of an unarmed black man killed by police Sunday night

Stephon Alonzo Clark, 23, was shot multiple times in the backyard of his grandparents’ house, where he lived with several siblings. Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn previously said the two unnamed officers involved in the shooting, who are on administrative leave while the case remains under investigation, fired on Clark 20 times. 

The footage was made public after it was shared with Clark’s family, per department policy.

The body camera footage shows that the officers opened fire upon Clark seconds after encountering him on his patio. It also shows that, while the two officers involved ordered Clark to show them his hands, neither identified themselves as police officers. 

Clark’s aunt, Saquoia Durham, told The Sacramento Bee that her nephew did not stand a chance.

“As soon as they did the command, they started shooting,” Durham told the newspaper. “They said, ‘Put your hands up, gun’ and then they just let loose on my nephew. They didn’t give him a chance to put his hands up or anything, and then when they shot him down, they knew they messed up.”

Family members and local activists also wondered why one of the videos shows, about six minutes after the shooting, an officer saying, “Hey, mute.” Officers are then seen muting the microphones on their body cameras for the rest of the recording released to the public. 

A police spokesman told the Bee there are a number of reasons officers may choose to mute their microphones, but did not go into detail.

The officers who shot at Clark said they believed he was armed, but all that was found with his body was a cellphone. The killing has sparked protests and demands from Clark’s family and friends, as well as Sacramento officials, for answers about why an unarmed man was killed outside his own home. 

The Bee reported that the Rev. Al Sharpton has been in touch with Clark’s family and plans to travel to Sacramento to help ensure that Clark has a proper burial. The family has established a GoFundMe page to help fund his funeral arrangements, which include being buried next to a brother also cut down by gun violence, the Bee reported.

>> Related: 20 bullets fired: Police kill unarmed black man holding cellphone in own backyard

Clark’s grandparents and other family members were inside the house as the shooting took place. His grandfather called 911 after hearing the gunshots, and his grandmother, Sequita Thompson, said she only learned the dead man was her grandson when she looked out the window after hours of police questioning on what she heard that night. 

“I opened that curtain and he was dead. I started screaming,” Thompson told the Bee

The shooting and the events surrounding it are laid out in the audio and video released Wednesday night, beginning with a 911 call from a resident in Clark’s neighborhood. The caller tells a dispatcher that there is a man going through the neighborhood and breaking vehicle windows, including those on the caller’s truck. 

“What did he use to break the windows?” the dispatcher asks.

“I have no idea,” the man responds. “I heard the noise and I came outside and he was standing right there on the side of my truck, and I grabbed my ball bat … (unintelligible) … I didn’t hit him, or nothing like that.”

The caller tells the dispatcher that the man is now in another yard, trying to get over a fence, but that he is trapped because of a neighbor’s dogs. 

The dispatcher asks for a description of the man, and the caller tells her he could not determine the man’s race because of the dark hoodie he was wearing. The suspect was wearing pants that appeared to have white stripes or dots on them, he says. 

During silent periods in the call, at least one dog can be heard barking in the background. The dispatcher continues to get the scant details of the vandal’s appearance: he’s tall, at more than 6 feet, and thin. 

The dispatcher tells the caller that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is sending a helicopter to search for the man and keep an eye on him until city police officers arrive. The weekend was a busy one because of St. Patrick’s Day, she says. 

The caller, a mechanic, tells the dispatcher that he keeps his tools in his truck, so the sound of his windows being broken alarmed him. 

“He’s lucky to be alive, if I would have gotten a hold of him,” the caller says, laughing. 

At that point in the 911 call, the officers who would shoot and kill Clark were about a block and a half away, according to the dispatcher. 

Audio from the dispatch office gives a glance into the same time frame from the viewpoint of law enforcement officers. The dispatcher relays a description of the accused vandal, and a male voice from the helicopter overhead mentions two large dogs as the only heat sources he can see on the infrared camera. 

A few minutes later, the deputy in the helicopter comes back on, telling the responding officers below he sees a man looking in the window of a home. 

“Two yards to the south of you, I’ve got a guy in a backyard looking into their window,” the deputy says. “He’s picking up a -- looks like a toolbar, or some sort of thing. He might be trying to break the window. Stand by.”

A moment later, the deputy says, “Okay, he’s breaking the window! Running south! Running to the south!”

The footage from the circling helicopter does not show Clark smashing the window, but picks up immediately afterward. The deputy is relaying his movements as Clark, seen only as a white figure in the camera’s infrared vision, jumps onto what appears to be a shed and vaults over the fence into his grandparents’ yard. 

At that point, he stops running and walks up to a vehicle between the fence and his grandparents’ home, briefly looking inside. 

As the helicopter continues to circle, the two police officers on the ground can be seen on the road in front of Clark’s grandparents’ home. One of the officers spots Clark and begins to run toward him, gun drawn. 

His partner follows and, as both officers run in his direction, Clark goes around the corner into the backyard of the house. Both officers follow, with one running into the open for a second before grabbing his partner and taking cover at the corner of the house. 

The officers huddle there and, as the helicopter’s camera gets a full view of the backyard, shots can be seen fired from the officers’ guns. 

Clark falls to the ground on his grandparents’ patio as the bullets ricochet off the pavement around him. He appears to try crawling away before becoming still. 

“Shots fired! Shots fired!” the deputy in the helicopter says. 

“Copy, shots fired,” the dispatcher responds. 

One of the officers on the ground, sounding out of breath, tells the dispatcher that the man is down, with no movement. He requests that backup officers arrive from a specific direction and asks that fire medics be en route. 

The officers have been criticized for waiting five minutes, until backup arrived, before rendering aid to Clark. Fire medics pronounced him dead at the scene. 

At one point, the dispatcher asks the officers if they also need medics. 

“Negative,” an officer responds. “Neither one of us are hit, we’re okay. Suspect’s down.”

The footage from the officers’ body cameras prior to the gunfire starts out quiet, as they make their way through the neighborhood, searching for the man suspected of vandalizing people’s vehicles. In the videos, the officers are seen asking a neighbor’s permission to search her backyard for the man. 

As they search, the dogs heard in the original 911 call are much closer. The officers clear a shed before heading back onto the street. 

A few moments later, the officers begin running toward the area where the deputy in the helicopter spotted Clark looking into the vehicle window next to his grandparents’ house. 

“Show me your hands! Show me your hands! Stop!” one officer screams at Clark when he spots him. He runs after Clark, who is heading around the corner toward the patio.

As the officer rounds the corner, he again screams, “Show me your hands!” and, “Gun!” before pushing his partner back.

As both officers huddle at the corner, the same officer yells, “Show me your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun!” 

They then both open fire.

See the body camera footage from both officers, beginning when they first spot Clark, below. Warning: The images and language may be disturbing for some readers.

Footage from the second officer’s body camera shows his hands holding his service weapon around the corner of the house as he and his partner unleash a barrage of bullets. It is not clear from the location of his body camera, which would be attached to his chest, if the second officer could see who he was shooting at. 

The second officer’s body camera captured the fiery blasts from his partner’s gun as the gunshots rang out. 

“Five seven, shots fired,” the first officer breathlessly tells the dispatcher. “Subject down.”

Over the next few minutes, the officers continue ordering Clark to show them his hands, with no response.

The second officer says that Clark was “still pointing” when he saw him prior to the shooting. They both spend a few moments quietly trying to catch their breath, during which time the officers determine that neither of them was shot.

The officers agree to do a “tactical reload,” a maneuver in which law enforcement officers reload recently-fired weapons with fresh, full magazines to ensure they don’t run out of ammunition. The second officer estimated that he fired his weapon about five times, though his body camera footage shows more.

Hahn has previously said that each officer fired 10 times. 

The second officer’s body camera footage shows that additional police officers began to show up about that time, with one officer asking if the suspect had a gun. 

“We haven’t secured it,” the second officer said. “We’re not moving in until we have more (backup).”

The first officer is also heard saying, “(Clark’s) still down, he’s not moving. We can’t see the gun.”

>> Read more trending news

The officers tell their colleagues that Clark walked toward them with his hands out in front of him and that he held something that looked like a gun. 

As the officers speak, their flashlights highlight Clark’s body, lying face-down on the patio. They continue to search from a distance for a gun.

They also continue to try to get a response from Clark. 

“Hey, can you hear us?” one officer yells. 

“We need to know if you’re okay,” a female officer says. “We need to get you medics, but we can’t go over there to get you help unless we know you don’t have your weapon.”

They continue trying to speak to the motionless Clark as sirens are heard in the background. 

“Sir, can you move?” the female officer asks. “Can you hear us?”

At least one officer keeps a gun trained on Clark the entire time and, for a few moments, the second of the first two officers on the scene suggests firing a non-lethal weapon at his body to ensure he isn’t faking unconsciousness, the footage shows. It does not appear that the officers did so.

A few minutes later, the footage shows the officers finally approaching Clark’s body. 

“Hey, if one of you guys want to go hands, cover him … oh, (expletive),” the second officer says as they get to Clark.

The body camera shows the edge of something flat and light-colored peeking out from underneath his body. As they handcuff his limp hands behind his back and turn him over to start CPR, their flashlights show what the item is.

It is the iPhone Clark was carrying.

Boy Scout with Down syndrome denied Eagle project, stripped of merit badges, father sues

It is one of the most prestigious awards a Boy Scout can earn, but a teen in Utah has had his hopes of becoming an Eagle Scout dashed after his merit badges were stripped and his Eagle project suspended.

Logan Blythe is a 15-year-old scout who has Down syndrome. The Boy Scouts of America, the national organization that oversees local troops, voided the merit badges Logan had earned, saying that modifications agreed to by the family, his troop and the district advancement committee would not be accepted by the national level organization. The family found out about the issues in November via email from the district’s advancement committee, The Beatrice Daily Sun reported

>> Read more trending news 

The Utah National Parks Chapter told Chad Blythe, Logan’s father, in the email, “I never should have allowed this to be approved. I sincerely apologize and regret any false hope we have given,” KSL reported.

Blythe was told that there are no alternatives to the steps his son needed to earn Star Life Eagle, that the teen had to do the requirements as written and that includes the leadership responsibilities, KSL reported.

But Logan, according to his father, performs at cognitive level of a 4-year-old and is not able to write or hold a conversation, The Washington Post reported.

There are accomodations made for advancement for Scouts who either have physical or mental disabilities, but the accommodations must be approved after a formal application is received, the Daily Sun reported.

>>Click here to see the process that a scout with special needs must take to attain advancement and earn merit badges.

Logan’s father is now taking the Boy Scouts of America and the local council to court for “outrageous and reckless conduct,” The Associated Press reported.

The elder Blythe said that his son is being discriminated against in a statement he posted on YouTube.

Blythe’s suit against the Boy Scouts requests that the organization accommodates Logan, the Post reported.

Boy Scouts of America has responded to the countrywide media coverage saying that he could still earn the rank of Eagle Scout and that they hope to work with Logan and his family to help him attain the advancement, the Post reported.

In a statement to the paper, the BSA wrote, “The National Disabilities Advancement Team wants to work directly with the Blythe family to review what Logan has accomplished based on his abilities and help determine a path to earn the Eagle Scout rank that is both appropriate and empowering for him.”

Blythe says he has not been contacted by the Boy Scouts of America, according to the Post.

Scouts have until they are 18 to earn the rank of Eagle, but Scouts with special needs are able to apply for extensions to retain their eligibility after they become adults. 

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