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University rejects funding from group with Chinese communist ties

The University of Texas has decided to forgo funding for its new China Policy Center from a foundation with ties to the branch of the Chinese Communist Party that manages influence operations abroad.

>> Read more trending news

The decision by UT President Gregory L. Fenves followed an internal university review and a plea from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who warned that accepting money from the China-United States Exchange Foundation could facilitate China’s propaganda efforts and impair the university’s credibility.

The developments were first reported in an opinion article in The Washington Post.

The China Policy Center, part of UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, opened in August, and Fenves’ decision to reject funding from CUSEF is something of a rebuke to the center’s executive director, David Firestein, and LBJ School Dean Angela Evans.

Firestein did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, and Evans referred questions to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, who provided a copy of a letter Fenves sent to Cruz on Friday.

In the letter, Fenves said he began reviewing concerns after the center and the LBJ School approached him about potential funding from CUSEF. Several university professors and leaders had raised concerns about ties among Hong Kong-based CUSEF, its leader Tung Chee Hwa and the Communist Party.

The UT president told Cruz that he spoke not only with faculty experts on U.S.-China relations but also with U.S. intelligence officials. Those officials included some at the Central Intelligence Agency and the FBI.

Fenves said he had already decided that UT would not accept “programmatic funding” from CUSEF and was now also ruling out “any funds for travel, student exchanges or other initiatives from the organization.

“External support is vital to the work of faculty members and researchers, furthers our mission as a flagship university and underwrites studies that can advance our knowledge and understanding of the world,” Fenves wrote. “We must, however, also ensure that the receipt of outside funding does not create potential conflicts of interest or place limits on academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas. I am concerned about this if we were to accept funding from CUSEF.”

Fenves said the university would seek other domestic and international sources of support for the China center.

“The China Policy Center is up and running and has the backing of the university,” Susswein told the Statesman. “Broadly, this is something we’re heavily committed to and invested in.”

Man finds daughter after putting her up for adoption nearly 40 years ago

Jerry Miller’s daughter was taken from him shortly after she was born in 1978 in Covington, Kentucky. 

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At that time, he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and his chances of recovery were slim, according to WAVE

His wife was 17 years old the newborn would be too much to take care of, so she was given up for adoption.

Over the years, Miller remarried. He had three children and moved to Hanover, Indiana, according to WAVE

But he never forgot about the baby he held for 30 minutes that day nearly 40 years ago. He tried to find her, using private detectives. His last hope was social media.

"Please everyone share this,” his daughter wrote in a post that has since been made private on Facebook. “My dad is looking for a daughter that was adopted while he was very ill and was unable to gain custody in 1978.”

The post went viral, and media groups also shared the story.

"If she doesn't see it, I'll probably go to my grave regretting it,” Miller told WAVE. "Wondering if she's dead or alive. If somebody is taking care of her the right way.”

Miller stopped wondering Sunday, when they reconnected. 

Hospital blames contraceptive app for accidental pregnancies

A phone app that claimed it was an effective digital contraceptive is now under fire after dozens of women who said they used the app became pregnant.

Natural Cycles was certified as a birth control method in the European Union last year.

It would help woman keep track of body temperature to predict when women could become pregnant when not using traditional forms of birth control, the Evening Standard reported. It was promoted as an alternative to birth control pills and researchers believed in the results after they found it was up to 99 percent effective, the newspaper reported last year.

>>Mobile app designed to prevent pregnancy approved in Europe

Now a Swedish hospital is casting doubts on the method after it has reported dozens of unwanted pregnancies from users over the past few months, The Daily Mail reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The app is popular in Europe where users went from 5,000 in 2016 to 125,000 in 2017. 

And while there have been reports of unplanned pregnancies, the company markets Natural Cycles told the Daily Mail, “No contraception is 100 percent and unwanted pregnancies is an unfortunate risk with any contraception.”

Company officials said that the number that the hospital was reporting, 37 unplanned pregnancies out of 668 users, is within the 93 percent risk communicated to consumers, the Daily Mail reported.

The Evening Standard reported that the risk of unplanned pregnancy while using birth control pills is about 91 percent.

Worker who sent mistaken missile message reassigned

The person who hit the button that sent an emergency alert warning people living in or visiting Hawaii that a ballistic missile was heading to the island state has been reassigned.

Officials have not named the person responsible, but NBC News reported that the person has a new job that is not connected to the emergency alert system.

USAToday reported that the person at the center of the mistaken alert, and who has been reassigned has worked for the agency for a decade. 

“All we will say is that the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our Emergency Operations Center pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system,” Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for Hawaii Emergency Management System told NBC News.

Rapoza did not disclose what the person’s job is.

>>Missile threat alert in Hawaii is false alarm, rattles nerves

The worker ran an internal test Saturday and was supposed to select a template that would have kept the message internally. Instead the person chose the template that sends the message to everyone, CNN reported

The fail-safe for sending a message is a warning that requires the person to confirm the message is to be sent. The person clicked “yes” instead of “no” and sent the message to everyone in Hawaii, including radio and television stations, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Hawaii has been running siren tests since North Korea announced that it has the capability to hit the U.S. with a missile. The tests have been suspended as officials investigate the message that was sent over the weekend. Officials have also set up a new template for false alarms, CNN reported

Minutes after the alert went out, Hawaiian officials said there was no threat via social media. 

But it took nearly 40 minutes for a second alert to be pushed out to devices through the alert system.

Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan dead at 46

Former Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’ Riordan died suddenly in London at 46, her publicist told BBC.

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"(O’Riordan) was in London for a short recording session,” her publicist told BBC. "Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

O’Riordan, lead singer for The Cranberries, shot to fame with the group in the early 1990s. The group’s release “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” sold more than 40 million records. 

The group broke up in 2003 but reformed in 2009 and announced in 2017 it was going to tour the United Kingdom and the U.S., according to the Limerick Leader. However, the tour was cut short in May because of O’Riordan’s health issues with her back, according to the BBC.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Ex-postal worker burned 20 tubs of mail for over 6 months

A postal worker pleaded guilty Friday to burning at least 20 tubs of mail at his home over the course of six months, the U.S. attorney’s office said

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Mark Wayne Thompson, 50, pleaded guilty to use of delay or destruction of mail by a postal employee. 

Thompson took mail from his rural route in Elmer to his home to burn from Dec. 1, 2016, to May 1, 2017, according to officials. 

He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is in April.

Google app matches selfies to artwork

Have you ever been told you have a doppelganger? Well, a new feature on the Google Arts & Culture app finds your look-alike in famous artwork.

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By taking a selfie, the app will match you up with the piece of art it thinks you resemble … although, you might not be thrilled with the result.

People have been sharing their results -- good and bad -- on social media:

Social media remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As former President Bill Clinton noted, it has been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  final birthday, but the words he spoke and the actions he took still resonate today.

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And as his message still inspires Americans to make their country better, many are taking to social media to note how his fight continues today and what we can learn from King’s work.

Pizza shop manager gives woman concussion during 'violent altercation' at restaurant

Two people have been charged after a violent incident at a Pittsburgh pizza restaurant on Friday night, police said.

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According to police, Mahmut Yilmaz and Jade Martin were involved in a “violent altercation” at Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood.

The incident between Yilmaz, a manager at the restaurant, and Martin was caught on camera, and the video quickly spread via social media.

According to the complaint, Martin, 34, told police she had been drinking at a nearby bar before deciding to go home. She missed her bus, however, and tried to enter the restaurant to use the washroom.

Witnesses told police Martin was yelling on her phone before entering the restaurant and asking them for money for a ride home. One of the witnesses, who apparently was an employee of the restaurant, notified Yilmaz of Martin's behavior.

When Martin tried to enter the restaurant, Yilmaz, 41, told her she wasn't welcome there, witnesses told police. When she was refused entrance, she redoubled her efforts to enter.

That's when the video starts. At one point, she pushes past Yilmaz, who grabs her by the arm and pulls her back by the entrance, where he pins her against the doorframe. After a few moments, the video shows him appearing to headbutt Martin. 

"The unique thing about video is that the video speaks for itself and his actions were clearly demonstrative," said Martin's attorney, Todd Hollis. "His violent behavior and demeanor was unwarranted."

Yilmaz turned himself into officers Saturday, police said. He is facing charges of simple assault and aggravated assault.

Channel 11's Shelley Bortz spoke with Martin's mother about the incident. 

“I’m heartbroken,” said Darlene Wall, Martin’s mother. “That man could have murdered my daughter in this restaurant and he is not even in jail."

Hollis said Martin has a large bruise on her forehead, and she has a severe concussion and a bruise on the front of her head.

"She's a mother of two, and from what I saw on the video, she didn't do anything to deserve this type of treatment or this level of violence," Hollis said. 

Martin told Channel 11 on Sunday that her head was still hurting and she's trying to spend time with her family.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto released the following statement on the incident:

"This morning I was made aware of the deeply disturbing video from Milano's Pizza. I have worked through the day with Pittsburgh Police leadership and charges have now been quickly brought. I want to thank the community for their assistance in the investigation, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for their hard work throughout the day. It is my sincere hope that these charges are another step in sending a very clear signal that Pittsburgh will not tolerate violence against women and that we will work as a community to protect all women, and notably African American women, from physical and emotional violence."

Martin is being charged via summons with defiant trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to police.

Several people held a protest in front of the restaurant on Saturday, and local activist groups are advocating for a boycott of Pizza Milano following the altercation.

The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence (CAV) issued a release Sunday laying out their stance on the incident and the restaurant.

In the release, the groups said they will no longer “order food or services” from Pizza Milano as a result of the “outrageous, disrespectful, and unacceptable treatment” of Martin. 

B-PEP encouraged a boycott of the restaurant because their coalition “opposes violence against all people.”

The release called for respect to be given to all people, and the groups are encouraging prosecutors to pursue the charges against Yilmaz “fully and vigorously.”

CVS to stop digitally altered images in its store brand advertising, will label other brands’ manipulation

CVS is making sure its beauty ads live up to real life. 

It’s stopping the practice of photo manipulation on its store-brand beauty products and will mark other company’s advertisements with a notation on images that have been Photoshopped, USAToday reported.

The company will also mark photos that have not been altered with what it is calling the CVS Beauty Mark. 

>> Read more trending news 

The initiative has a deadline of 2020, the company announced.

CVS has 9,600 stores across the country and is considered one of the largest sellers of beauty products with 80 percent of the customers women. 

CVS Pharmacy President, Helena Foulkes told USAToday, “We’re all consuming massive amounts of media every day and we’re not necessarily looking at imagery that is real and true. To try to hold ourselves up to be like those women is impossible because even those women don’t look like how they appear in those photographs.”

The company hopes to have the CVS Beauty Mark on photos this year.

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