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Georgia women’s college trying to atone for Ku Klux Klan legacy

Like other first year students corralled in Wesleyan College’s auditorium in Macon, Georgia, Dana Amihere didn’t know what to make of the spectacle unfolding on stage.

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It was fall 2006 and the freshman had been awakened in the dead of night. A group of sophomores stood on stage yelling, screaming and cheering as part of a hazing ritual that seemed part pep rally, part seance, she said. But one feature struck Amihere, an African American, about the young women on stage tormenting the first year students: They wore purple, hooded robes.

“They looked just like Klan robes,” she said. “It was kind of like bells and whistles going off.”

Amihere had no idea at the time how close she was to the truth.

For more than a century, the nation’s oldest college chartered for women has had historical links to the Ku Klux Klan that have never been formally acknowledged. Its class names in 1909, 1913 and 1917 were the Ku Klux Klan. The 1913 yearbook is named the “Ku Klux.”

A sketch of a masked night rider on horseback galloping under crescent moon graces the title page. The 1910 yearbook contains a prominent sketch of a female figure in white hood and robe holding a burning cross.

Read more here.

Woman dragged through parking lot trying to retrieve stolen purse

A man who allegedly stole a woman’s purse at a South Florida gas station dragged the victim with his car when she tried to get her purse back. 

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The woman was pumping gas at a Broward County station on June 2 when Robert Flagg, 19, broke her car window, grabbed her purse and tried to make a getaway in his car, according to NBC 6 Miami.

When he was about to drive off, the victim grabbed her purse from inside the alleged thief’s car through an open window and was then dragged through the parking lot, authorities said.

>> Related: Car stolen with baby inside, mother dragged by thieves

Flagg was later arrested. 

Read more  here.

Watch: Girl falls 25 feet from Six Flags ride, caught by other park guests

A 14-year-old girl fell 25 feet from a gondola ride at Six Flags Amusement Park in Queensbury, New York, Saturday night as a group of park guests gathered under her to help break her fall.

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The “Sky Ride” was stopped at the park about 55 miles north of Albany when the accident happened, according to CBS News.

The teenager was on the ride with a child relative when she fell from the two-person car, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. 

The ride was stopped after the operator was told of a rider in distress, CBS reported.

The video shows the girl somehow slipped through the safety bar, which briefly held her aloft while she dangled in the air.

The teen from Delaware struck a tree before landing in the crowd, which had gathered to catch her. She was treated at the park, then taken to an area hospital.

>> Related: Girl, 11, dies after falling out of ride at water park

Park officials said the ride was working properly.

“There does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until the a thorough review can be completed,” USA Today reported park officials said in a statement.

Another person was injured as he was trying to help catch the girl.

California woman finds frog in her salad

A California woman found an unpleasant addition to her salad earlier this month, as she uncovered a dead frog nestled inside the lettuce.

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Shawna Cepeda was dining at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in West Covina and noticed her salad had a bitter taste, according to a Yelp review she posted on June 13. She began stirring the salad and found the frog.

“I see something kind of rolled up. I was like, ‘this doesn’t look right,’ so I passed it to my husband,” Cepeda told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “I asked, ‘Is that a piece of lettuce?’ Then he looked and daughter looked and he was like, ‘it’s a frickin’ frog.’”

Cepeda said she told the restaurant manager, who offered to pay for her meal but made the family pay for their drinks, KTLA reported.

“I just found a frog in my food from a place that doesn’t even carry frog and I still gotta pay for my drinks?” Cepeda wrote in her Yelp review.

Cepeda said she later received a $50 gift card from the restaurant’s corporate office.

An inspector from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health visited the restaurant on June 19 and found no health code violations, the Valley Tribune reported.

In an email  to the Valley Tribune on Thursday, Greg Levin, the chief financial officer for BJ’s said the company had launched an internal investigation to “ensure that nothing like this happens in the future.”

Cepeda updated her Yelp post on Thursday, writing that she still feels “really sick.”

“BJ’s has responded to my review and thank you,” she wrote. “But I’m disappointed that it took over a week to respond even after they had been responding to other reviews that were posted after mine.”

Overweight man says Spirit Airlines humiliated him on overbooked flight

An overweight passenger on a Spirit Airlines flights from Las Vegas to Denver said he was embarrassed and humiliated by the airline when it took away one of two seats he had booked in order to fly more comfortably.

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Jose Cordova told Denver 7 that he bought two seats on both his original flight to Vegas and for the return trip because of his size.

"I am a big person and I know one seat wouldn't fit for me, and to be comfortable, I wanted to have two seats," Cordova said. 

"You don't want to overhang on someone else's lap, so you want to make sure you have that extra seat without bothering anybody." 

Cordova said his flight to Vegas was fine, but Spirit overbooked his return flight and took one of his seats without asking.

>> Related: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from flight

“They stole one of his seats. They sold it out from under him,” Denver 7 quoted one of Cordova’s friend Scott Tenorio as saying.

Spirit apologized to Cordova and said it was refunding the cost of his flights. It also said it was investigating what happened.

SeaWorld under investigation by two federal agencies

SeaWorld is under investigation by two federal agencies who subpoenaed statements made by the company and its executives on or before August 2014 regarding the impact of the “Blackfish Documentary,” according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings published Friday. 

The theme-park company reports receiving subpoenas in June from the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation into statements about the 2013 anti-captivity documentary “and trading in the Company’s securities.”

>> Read more trending news

The filing also indicates the company received similar subpoenas from the SEC, although it is unclear when those were received. 

“The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries,” the filing says. 

The filing also indicates the company’s board of directors formed a special committee with legal counsel to determine how to handle these investigations on June 16, two days after the company’s shareholder meeting. 

The full SEC disclosure reads as follows: 

In June 2017, the Company received a subpoena in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning disclosures and public statements made by the Company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the Company’s securities. The Company also has received subpoenas from the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with these matters. On June 16, 2017, the Company’s Board of Directors formed a Special Committee comprised of independent directors with respect to these inquiries. The Special Committee has engaged counsel to advise and assist the Committee. The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.

Man wakes from induced coma when his dog visits the hospital 

Andy Szasz was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and beat the initial cancer after receiving treatment, but after falling ill with pneumonia in December, he was rushed to the hospital and placed into an induced coma the next day when he stopped breathing.

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Doctors at Southampton General Hospital in England estimated he would be in a coma for a week, but they were surprised when he woke up after just four days with the help of his dog, Teddy, a 4-year-old schnauzer-poodle mix.

While waiting for him to come out of a coma, Andy’s wife, Estelle, received special permission to bring Teddy into the hospital. Pet visits usually take place outside the hospital, but hospital staff made an exception for Teddy.

Inside Edition reported that Andy woke up from his coma as soon as Teddy entered the hospital room and started barking.

“Ted is such a remarkable little dog in many ways,” Andy said. “He’s clever, loving, loyal, funny and a right little character.”

>> Related: Mastiff named Martha crowned world’s ugliest dog

Fiona Hall, senior sister for the general intensive care unit, told the Daily Mail that having pets around during recovery can be incredibly beneficial for patients, their friends and families, and hospital staff.

“It can be motivational, aiding recovery, and can provide a pleasant and familiar experience in what can otherwise prove to be a long, uncomfortable journey in hospital,” she said.

For helping his owner wake up, Teddy was recognized by the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the same organization Andy adopted him from, under a special animal category. He was the only animal to win an award under the newly-created category.

 >> Related: Dog saves family with nine children from house fire

Trump doesn't hold Ramadan dinner, breaking White House tradition

President Donald Trump did not hold a White House dinner to mark the end of Ramadan, breaking an annual tradition dating back to President Bill Clinton's administration.

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CNN reported that Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama held yearly iftar dinners celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Additionally, President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 made sure a formal White House dinner attended by Tunisian envoy Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, who observed Ramadan, occurred "precisely at sunset" instead of the usual 3:30 p.m., according to the Washington Post.

>> 5 things you should know about Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting

Trump and first lady Melania Trump issued the following statement Saturday:

>> Muslims in America, by the numbers

"On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

"Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

"During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values. Eid Mubarak."

CNN, citing two unnamed administration officials, also reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson turned down "a request by the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception marking Eid al-Fitr." The department had held iftar dinners or Eid al-Fitr receptions since 1999, according to CNN.

Read more here or here.

U.S. suspends Brazilian beef imports over safety concerns

All imports of fresh beef from Brazil have been halted because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Thursday.

The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.

The action comes three months after a major scandal erupted in Brazil over allegedly corrupt inspectors at slaughter and processing facilities. Brazilian officials said then that meat companies paid inspectors to overlook violations and certify tainted or rotten meat or not make inspections at all.

>> Read more trending news

However, before the crackdown, rotten meat was distributed in Brazil and exported to Europe.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products.

That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world. Since the implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness. Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

>> Read the full news release here

The U.S. is not a major importer of beef from Brazil because the U.S. produces more beef and veal than Brazil does. This year, U.S. beef and veal production are expected to grow 5 percent to more than 12 million tons, reaching a nine-year high, according to USDA reports.

In 2016, the U.S. exported $6.3 billion in beef and beef products globally. The major importers of beef to the U.S. are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, with Brazil ranking fifth.

In May, Brazil re-opened its doors to U.S. fresh beef exports after a 13-year hiatus, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported.

In 2003, Brazil closed its market fresh beef imports from the U.S. over concerns about bone spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Farmers Union applauded the decision to suspend the importation of Brazilian beef and said it has long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil.

“Since the 2015 repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line. This incident underscores the importance of COOL to protect American beef producers and consumers alike,” NFU officials said in a statement.

Monday, several cattle-ranching groups sued the USDA in Spokane, asking that it overturn its decision to not require country-of-origin labeling on meat imports. Without the labeling, imported meat can be sold as a U.S. product.

Grieving father buries wrong man after coroner error 

A California dad got a call on May 6 that no parent ever wants to receive: it was news that his son had passed away. The problem is that just wasn’t the case.

Frank Kerrigan, 82, got a phone call that day from the Orange County coroner saying that his 57-year-old son, also named Frank, had died next to a Verizon store in Fountain Valley.

Kerrigan told the Orange County Register that authorities said his son was identified through fingerprints and that he died from an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs. The father also said that he only saw the body days before a $20,000 funeral ceremony and burial and that between his grief and what he’d been told by authorities that he believed he was really looking at his son.

>> Read more trending news

 “I took a little look and touched his hair. I didn’t know what my dead son was going to look like,” he said. “When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them.”

Kerrigan said that he asked if he had to go down to the coroner’s office to identify his son, but was told that fingerprints had already confirmed who he was.

“If he wasn’t identified by fingerprints I would been there [to identify him] in a heartbeat,” he added.

Six days after getting that call, a funeral and a burial took place for someone who wasn’t actually Kerrigan’s son, a fact that he would learn on another phone 17 days after the whole ordeal began.

A family friend named Bill Shinker, who was a pallbearer at the funeral, called up Kerrigan on May 23 and revealed that Frank Kerrigan the younger was alive.

“Bill put my son on the phone,” Kerrigan said. “He said, ‘Hi Dad.’”

The Kerrigan family is demanding answers as to how this egregious error occurred and they retained legal representation. Attorneys from Easton & Easton, LLP are filing a claim on behalf of the family due to the coroner’s negligence with the allegation attached that the younger Kerrigan was treated differently because he is homeless and mentally ill.

“The people that we put in place to handle things, when they make these kind of mistakes, they have to be held accountable,” W. Douglas Easton said.

Frank Kerrigan’s sister Carol Meikle believes her brother was treated differently because he’s homeless.

“He was not given the dignity and the due-diligence in the process that a normal citizen of Orange County would get,” she said. “We lived through our worst fear. He was dead on the sidewalk. We buried him. Those feelings don’t go away.”

KABC reported that the coroner has not responded for comment The coroner would not comment and the county has six months to respond to the claim.

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