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Gas will cost drivers $1 billion more this Memorial Day weekend

Traveling for Memorial Day weekend will cost you more at the pump this year.

>> Read more trending news

A gallon of regular gas is expected to cost $2.96 on average this holiday weekend, an almost 50 cent jump from Memorial Day weekend in 2017, according to AAA

Drivers will end up paying over $1 billion more for gas this weekend nationwide, GasBuddy.com reports.

This is due to huge global demand and a shrinking international supply, according to NBC.

“Pending U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, as well as OPEC cuts and record U.S. oil production, are influencing higher crude oil prices in the market,” AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano told NBC News.

In some places, gas prices have spiked in recent weeks.

In New York City, a Mobil station reportedly sold gas at $4.99 per gallon.

To trim gas costs, experts say to drive about 5 miles under the speed limit. Drivers can also try to save on gas by avoiding starting and stopping abruptly in traffic, instead easing off the gas, NBC reports. Also, a clean air filter and good tire air pressure can help keep gas costs low.

Rachel Dolezal, white woman who posed as black, charged with welfare fraud

A former NAACP official who made international headlines in 2015 when it was discovered she had posed for years as a black woman has been charged with fraud, accused of cheating the government out of $8,847 in public assistance. 

Rachel Dolezal, who in 2016 changed her name to Nkechi A. Diallo, was charged Tuesday with first-degree theft by welfare fraud, second-degree perjury and false verification for public assistance, according to court documents obtained by KHQ-TV in Spokane, Washington. The victim in the case is listed as Washington state’s Department of Social and Health Services. 

Dolezal resigned from her post as head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP in June 2015 after her white parents came forward and revealed her true lineage. She first applied for public assistance for her and her teenage son two months later, claiming that she no longer was able to find work, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported

Dolezal, who also worked as a professor of African-American studies, was first questioned about her ethnicity during an interview with KXLY in Spokane. Dolezal in that interview talked about alleged hate crimes she’d reported to police over the years, including nooses she said were hung at homes where she and her two sons lived. 

About eight minutes into the raw interview footage, the reporter showed Dolezal a photo of a black man she said was her father, asking if the man was really her father. 

“I don’t know what you’re implying,” Dolezal said. 

“Are you African-American?” the interviewer asked. 

“I don’t understand the question of -- I did tell you that yes, that’s my dad.”

“Are your parents, are they white?” the reporter asked.

Dolezal walked away from the interview. 

Dolezal said in later interviews that she identifies as black, a claim that has brought the term “transracial” into the national conversation about race. She is the subject of a Netflix documentary, called “The Rachel Divide,” that premiered in April. 

The court documents outlining the charges against Dolezal, who is now legally known as Diallo, allege that the DSHS’s Office of Fraud and Accountability learned in March 2017 from one of its criminal investigators that she had written and published a book. The investigator, Brad Borden, knew from previous news articles that Diallo had admitted to going on public assistance since her lies about her background had been uncovered. 

Diallo told The Guardian for one of those news stories, published on Feb. 25, 2017, that she was jobless and had to resort to feeding her children through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. 

“A friend helped her pay this month’s rent; next month she expects to be homeless,” the newspaper reported. “She has applied for more than 100 jobs, but no one will hire her, not even to stack supermarket shelves.”

Borden found ample reason to doubt those claims, according to authorities. 

“(Borden) conducted a review of Diallo’s DSHS records and found she had been reporting her only source of income was $300 per month in gifts from friends,” the DSHS’s investigative report stated. “He researched the publisher of Diallo’s book and found a typical contract would include payments of $10,000 to $20,000 as advances against later royalties.”

Borden learned about the published book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” from Diallo’s LinkedIn profile, the investigative report said. 

DSHS fraud investigators subpoenaed Diallo’s self-employment records in September, as well as her bank statements from 2015 to the present. The records showed that Diallo had failed to report all her income to the department, the report said.

Investigators said her bank statements showed she deposited just under $84,000 into her account in the two years subpoenaed. Investigators found during their probe that aside from the income from her book, Diallo also failed to report her income from speaking engagements, soap making, doll making and the sale of artwork she created, the report said. 

Diallo’s business license indicated she had registered businesses under the trade names Melanin Spectrum, Gimme Some Sugar, Living Spectrum Studios, Rachel Dolezal, Royal Soaps and Shine On, the investigative report said

Read the entire report from DSHS investigators here.

When Diallo was called in for an interview last month, she invoked her rights and refused to speak with investigators. The investigators ended the interview.

The investigative report said that Diallo was informed multiple times of the reporting requirements to receive assistance, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution if she “willfully provided false information or failed to accurately report her circumstances.”

Further details of the investigation indicate that, when applying online for assistance in August 2015, Diallo, who then still went by Rachel Dolezal, reported zero expected monthly income and said she and her son were living off $480 in child support. She also stated she had just $54 in her bank account at the time. 

Her bank records show she actually had nearly $2,000 in her account on the day she signed the application, the report said. 

A few days later, in a telephone interview with a welfare worker, Diallo claimed she was behind on her rent because of her lack of income, the report said. In that call, she was told to report by Sept. 10 if her gross monthly income exceeded the threshold of $1,726. 

Bank statements show that, while Diallo was claiming little to no income, she deposited nearly $3,000 per month that September and October, the investigators said. In November, they said, she deposited more than $11,000. 

In January 2016, she reported no income changes on her mid-certification review, the investigative report stated

>> Read more trending news

Diallo is accused of continuing the deception throughout 2016, bringing in up to $6,600 each month despite requesting food assistance for herself and her two sons, the report said. She reported no cash or money in her bank accounts on her June 2016 eligibility review, despite having more than $3,000 in her checking account at the time, investigators said. 

According to the report, she also failed to report receiving unemployment benefits, citing child support as her sole source of income. 

In January 2017, around the time of her name change, Diallo’s mid-certification review indicated no change in her income level, the investigative report said. At that time, she was asked about her rent and utility costs, which the report said she listed as $1,094. 

She was asked how she paid those expenses with just $480 in child support each month. 

“Barely! With help from friends and gifts,” Diallo responded, according to the report

She told The Guardian the following month that she and her children were near homelessness, though her bank records showed that she deposited about $3,000 in January and February. 

Investigators allege that Diallo continued the deception about her income through March 2017, when Borden requested the investigation, and beyond. She reported a change of circumstance in November but claimed it was for a one-time job for which she earned $20,000 for speaking and voice-overs, investigators said. 

Diallo was largely criticized on social media following the news of the pending charges. Twitter was also abuzz with jokes.

 

If convicted, Diallo faces 15 years in prison on the charges, KHQ-TV reported. She will be arraigned June 6 in Spokane County Superior Court.  

At least 3 pedestrians injured in hit-and-run in Portland, Oregon

At least three women were injured Friday after an SUV jumped a curb in downtown Portland and struck them before speeding away, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Portland Fire & Rescue officials confirmed authorities were responding to the incident near the intersection of SW 6th Avenue and SW Hall Street around 10:20 a.m. local time.

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT Sat. May 26: Overnight, the mug shot of Greg Porter was released by authorities. Porter, 61, has been charged with 3 counts of attempted murder in connection with Friday’s hit-and-run incident, KATU reported.

Update 3:55 p.m. EDT: A suspect was in custody Friday after a blue SUV struck at least three women Friday in downtown Portland, KPTV reported.

Police earlier asked for help locating the SUV. By 12:45 p.m. local time, authorities said the vehicle had been located.

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT: Portland police confirmed that three women were injured Friday in a hit-in-run reported in downtown Portland.

Police said the injuries appeared to be serious and two of the women’s injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Authorities said a fourth person might have also been injured but left the scene before police arrived.

Officials did not rule out the possibility that the crash could be connected to terrorism, though police said it was too early to tell Friday afternoon.

Update 1:53 p.m. EDT: Police described Friday’s crash as a “hit and run,” according to KATU.

A witness, who said he was nearly run over, told The Oregonian that it was clear that the driver of the car acted intentionally before Friday’s crash.

"When he got right before me he gunned it,” said the man, who was not identified. He estimated that the vehicle was traveling at about 45 mph when it collided with several other pedestrians.

Original report: The Oregonian reported that at least three people were injured, citing an officer at the scene.

Matt Ritzi told the newspaper that he was walking to Portland State University when he saw the aftermath of the accident, which left three or four people on the ground. He said he saw more than a dozen people trying to help them. "

I heard a lot of moaning and crying," he told The Oregonian. "I didn't see much movement."

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Childhood leukemia may be triggered by germs, could be prevented, study suggests

A leading cancer researcher has suggested the likely cause of childhood leukemia, adding that most cases of the condition may be preventable.

>> Read more trending news 

Dr. Mel Greaves of the Institute of Cancer Research in London examined more than 30 years of research to develop his theory, and published the scientific review in the journal Nature this week.

According to his review, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which is the most common type of childhood cancer, is likely caused by a combination of genetic mutations developed while babies are still in the womb, plus an infection with an unknown bacterium or virus.

"It has always struck me that something big was missing, a gap in our knowledge - why or how otherwise healthy children develop leukemia and whether this cancer is preventable," Greaves, who has been studying ALL for more than 40 years, told Sky News. "The research strongly suggests that ALL has a clear biological cause, and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed.”

>>Related: FDA approves new leukemia treatment, costs $475k

The most important implication is that most cases of childhood leukemia are likely to be preventable.

"It might be done in the same way that is currently under consideration for autoimmune disease or allergies - perhaps with simple and safe interventions to expose infants to a variety of common and harmless bugs," he suggested.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year, ALL is the most common cancer among children and adolescents in the United States. The form of leukemia accounts for 20 percent of all cancer cases in people under age 20, with more than 3,000 new cases reported in the country every year. 

Greaves' findings suggest that something as simple as exposing children with the first stage mutation to benign microbes may be enough to protect them from developing ALL. If this is the case, thousands of families across the country and around the world could potentially be spared the emotional heartache of a child's leukemia diagnosis.

"The problem is not infection – the problem is lack of infection," Greaves said, according to The Independent.

>> Related: Leukemia disguised as strep throat kills 10-year-old girl in days

Previous studies have shown that attending day care, where kids are exposed to bacteria and viruses from others, and breastfeeding both appear to protect children from developing ALL. This is likely a result of the priming effect these activities have on a child's immune system early on.

Although Greaves’ review suggests the research is both novel and compelling, some experts point out that his conclusions are not entirely new, “but rather an expansion of concepts that have been considered for many years," Dr. Amelia Langston, a leukemia and stem cell transplant specialist at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"It happens that we now have the molecular tools to begin to sort out how it all might work, and he incorporates these new data into what amounts to an evolving model," Langston said, adding that "some of the fine details that are proposed [in the review] remain speculative.""But the point is, they generate testable hypotheses that may lead us closer to an ability to prevent some forms of ALL," she said.

>> Related: 7 surprising things that can increase your risk of cancer

Langston also said many details would need to be worked out before a new strategy for prevention or treatment could be developed. However, the existing data suggests socializing children at an early age is "likely on balance to be a positive thing for the child."

She said this early priming is beneficial for "many reasons," but primarily to help children develop healthy immune systems.

Further laboratory studies are needed to better understand the cause of ALL, according to Langston. But Greaves’ theory does provide a path forward for researchers.

"This will involve both study of patients and animal studies looking at the immune machinery at a very fine level," she said. "The hope would be that if we can fully understand the molecular pathways at work we may be able to tip the balance away from leukemogenesis."

>> Related: Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

But Langston carries serious doubt that "any single strategy will eradicate this form of ALL."

11-year-old given full-ride scholarship to Southern University

A bright 11-year-old was awarded a full-ride scholarship to college this week.

>> Read more trending news

Elijah Precciely, a home-schooled student who already had been taking classes at Southern University, plans to start full-time at the college in spring 2019, according to WAFB.

Elijah put a school cap on his head and a letterman jacket on over his shirt and bow tie before he academically signed with the university Friday at a meeting attended by his family and the school’s board of supervisors, according to The Advocate

"It feels great," Elijah told The Advocate. "I thank God that all my hard work and all the pouring (into me) did not go in vain."

He will study physics and mechanical engineering through the honors college. When he was 8, he started taking biology, physics and business classes at the school, according to The Advocate.

He has also published a book, submitted five patents for inventions and hosts a weekly radio show, according to The Advocate.

Oregon teen sues school district after suspension over pro-border wall T-shirt

A high school senior in Hillsboro, Oregon, is suing the Hillsboro School District after he claims his First Amendment rights were violated when he was asked to cover up a T-shirt supporting a border wall along the U.S. southern border.

>> Read more trending news 

According to Willamette Week, the T-shirt said, “Border Wall Construction Company” and featured a quote from President Donald Trump: “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”

Addison Barnes told KGW that he wore the shirt to a politics class at Liberty High School last January, knowing they were going to discuss immigration. 

Barnes said after students and a teacher complained, the school’s assistant principal pulled him out of the class room and told him to either cover up the T-shirt or go home. 

Barnes said his first instinct was to put a jacket on, but then decided to change his mind.

“I thought to myself, ‘You know this isn't right, this is my First Amendment right to be able to wear this shirt,’” Barnes told KGW. “So, I took off the jacket and the assistant principal had seen that and sent for a security guard to escort me out of class.”

Students told KGW that the school has a large Latino population.

“(The shirt) offended a lot of people,” Liberty High School senior Mark Guzman told KGW. “In the hall, kids would ask me if I’d seen it.”

The lawsuit filed Friday by Barnes’ attorney in U.S. District Court in Portland states that Barnes engaged in a “respectful, silent, and peaceful expression of his political views by wearing a T-shirt,” Willamette Week said.

The Hillsboro School District refused to respond to requests for comment. The ACLU of Oregon told KGW in a statement that “The school clearly crossed the line when it required a student to remove a T-shirt that voiced support for Donald Trump's border wall or face a suspension. This shirt is mean spirited, but it isn't a ‘disturbance’ under First Amendment case law.”

The ACLU also stated that it is “disappointing” that the high school decided to censor the student, instead of using it as an opportunity to discuss immigration.

Mother cat looks ‘surprised’ when doc says she’s expecting

Any female expecting a new arrival has probably had a similar look, no matter the mother’s species. 

A stray cat named Ulla was getting a little heavier after she arrived at Greenland’s Dyrenes Venner animal shelter. So shelter workers took her to a veterinarian for an ultrasound, the “Today” show reported

The worker’s gut feeling was right. Ulla’s expecting four or five kittens. 

>> Read more trending news 

Workers posted photos of Ulla getting the good news last week to social media where they have gone viral.

Not only has Ulla’s good news been shared all over the world, she also has a new family who will care for her until she has her babies and who will then will take care of her offspring until they are old enough to find their forever homes. Mom will stay with her newfound family, People magazine reported

For more on the Dyrenes Venner animal shelter, visit its Facebook or Instagram pages. 

Cashier scolds customer for trying to pay grocery bill for woman with WIC

A woman who offered to pay the $12 difference in a customer’s grocery bill was admonished by the cashier for trying to help someone who already “gets her free stuff.”

>> Read more trending news

Jacki Carroll was waiting in line at Albertson’s when the woman in front of her ran out of Women, Infants and Children credits to pay for her groceries, leaving her with $12 worth of food unpaid for, according to a Facebook post

"(I) said, 'I will pay,' and she said, 'No!' Very abruptly," Carroll told KATU. "Literally, she raised her voice and said, 'No, you don’t need to do that.'” 

Carroll insisted on helping.

"I go, 'Well, I don’t mind, just let her have her stuff,’” she said. “'No! You’re not going to do that. She has WIC. She gets her free stuff.'"

The woman, who was black, left the store with only the items she was able to afford. 

Carroll said the cashier, who was a white woman in her 60s, continued to rail against welfare recipients. 

“That’s why they have babies, so they can keep on getting all of the free stuff.”

Carroll called the store when she got home and talked to the manager. Then she posted about the experience on Facebook.

Albertsons told KATU the incident is under investigation. 

“At Albertsons, we have a policy and a culture of treating our customers, and each other, with courtesy, dignity and respect. It’s at the core of who we are as a company and member of this community. We sincerely apologize that, in this incident, it appears we did not deliver the customer service that we pride ourselves on. While this isolated situation is still under investigation, we are taking this opportunity to remind all of our employees that each and every customer is a welcomed guest in our stores."

Alberto: What is a subtropical storm?

Days away from the official start of Atlantic hurricane season, the first tropical system of 2018 formed Friday in the Caribbean Sea. 

The National Hurricane Center has begun to issue warnings on Subtropical Storm Alberto as the system makes its way over the Yucatan and into the Gulf of Mexico.

>> Read more trending news 

At 11 a.m. Friday, forecasters put Alberto 55 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico. The storm’s sustained winds were 40 mph and it was moving northeast at 6 mph. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the storm Friday afternoon. 

The NHC classified the storm as a “preseason subtropical storm.” While there is a difference in the classification of storms – from extratropical, to subtropical, to tropical – they are all capable of threatening life and property.

Here’s a look at the characteristics of both subtropical and tropical systems. 

Subtropical storms:

  • A subtropical storm is basically a low-pressure system that is partially a winter-type storm and partially a tropical storm. 
  • They are colder than tropical storms, meaning the core temperature is lower than a tropical storm’s core temperature. Warm water feeds tropical systems making them spin faster and become stronger. 
  • There is a closed low-pressure center of circulation with the storms, just as with tropical storms, but the rains and wind are not near the center. Instead, thunderstorm activity and strong winds are miles (sometimes hundreds of miles) from the center of circulation. Think of the shape of a comma.
  • Subtropical storms can and often do organize into tropical storms.
  • They are less likely to become hurricanes, though they can.
  • They are generally large storms. 

Tropical systems

  • Tropical storms are powered by very warm water, and are well-connected to the upper atmosphere. The warm water is drawn up into the system through the upper atmosphere and pushed down again as the cycle repeats, causing a heat pump effect that fuels the storm.
  • Tropical storms gain strength by thunderstorm activity around the eye, or center of circulation.

For  more  information on tropical systems, see:

>>Hurricane season: What is the Saffir-Simpson scale; how does it work; is there a Category 6?

>>What is a storm surge and why is it dangerous? 

>>How to use internet during a storm when your internet is down 

>>9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane 

>>15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane 

>>Hurricane evacuation: Helpful apps for finding gas, hotel rooms, traffic routes 

>>Here's how to keep your pets safe during a hurricane 

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million vehicles over cruise control issue

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles that could prevent drivers from turning off the cruise control function.

>> Read more trending news

The cruise control could become dangerous when an affected car accelerates under cruise control, like when trying to climb up a hill, Fiat Chrysler officials told CNN. This could cause the car to become locked in cruise control, and the driver might not be able to tap the breaks or hit the designated switch to turn it off. 

One incident related to this issue has been reported to Fiat Chrysler, but there have been no reported injuries. 

Affected car owners are told to stop using the cruise control function immediately until the vehicle can be repaired, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated in a press release.

If this issue happens while driving, the NHTSA said drivers might be able to stop the vehicle by pushing the break pedal and placing the vehicle in park once it is stopped. Drivers could also shift the transmission to neutral or forcefully apply the manual break and place the car in park once it has stopped. 

Fiat Chrysler officials are asking owners of the recalled vehicles to bring them to a dealership for a software update.

The models covered under the recall include:

• 2015-17 Chrysler 200 sedan

• 2014-18 Chrysler 300 sedan

• 2014-18 Dodge Charger sedan 

• 2014-18 Dodge Durango SUV 

• 2014-18 Dodge Journey crossover 

• 2014-18 Jeep Cherokee SUV 

• 2014-18 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV 

• 2014-18 Ram 2500 pickup 

• 2014-18 Ram 3500 cab chassis 

• 2014-18 Ram 3500 pickup 

• 2014-18 Ram 4500/5500 cab chassis

• 2014-19 Ram 1500 pickup 

• 2015-18 Dodge Challenger coupe 

• 2017-18 Chrysler Pacifica minivan 

• 2018 Jeep Wrangler 

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