1,100 New Hampshire acres donated for permanent conservation

Mar 27, 2017 8

A New Hampshire couple has donated 1,100 acres to the Upper Valley Land Trust for permanent conservation, the largest donation in the organization’s history.

The Valley News reports (http://bit.ly/2nsNnQR) Christina and Harvey Hill, of Charlestown, are keeping 27 acres for the home they built in 1989.

The publicly accessible land includes parts of Charlestown, Claremont and Unity, encompassing high-quality timber stands, large hayfields, wetlands, streams, vernal pools and a large breached beaver pond.

Trust President Jeanie McIntyre says the land is particularly valuable because of the Hills’ sustainable forestry practices. McIntyre said the size and quality of the land provides “all sorts of teaching opportunities for people,” from demonstrating thoughtful timber harvesting and related activities, to identification courses for natural resources, plants, winter trees and animal tracking.

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Information from: Lebanon Valley News, http://www.vnews.com

High court struggles over hospital pension dispute

Mar 27, 2017 9

The Supreme Court is struggling over whether some of the nation’s largest hospitals should be allowed to sidestep federal laws protecting pension benefits for workers.

The justices on Monday considered the case of three church-affiliated nonprofit hospital systems being sued for underfunding employee pension plans.

The hospitals — Advocate Health Care Network, Dignity Health and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System — say their pensions are “church plans” exempt from the law. They want to overturn three lower court rulings against them.

Lawyers for employees say the hospitals are shirking legal safeguards that could jeopardize retirement benefits for tens of thousands of workers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she believed the case could go either way. Justice Anthony Kennedy said the hospitals seemed to rely in good faith on guidance from federal agencies.

9/11 from terrorist's perspective basis for Iowa State assignment

Mar 27, 2017 6

9/11 was bad. But let’s pretend it wasn’t.

That’s the challenge some International Studies students at Iowa State University faced in an assignment obtained by The College Fix.

COLLEGE DIVERSITY COUNCIL APOLOGIZES FOR RACIST FLIERS ON CAMPUS

“Write a paper that gives a historical account of 911 from the perspective of the terrorist network,” the project rundown stated. “In other words, how might Al-Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened.”

Though the description acknowledges the terror attack was a “heinous action,” it encourages students to view the events “from other perspectives.”

The university defended the proposal for the 500-word minimum essay.

“As you can see, the assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of September 11, 2001,” an ISU spokesperson told The College Fix. “Nor was it designed to support the goals of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.”

The spokesperson added: “This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.”

The class is taught by lecturer James Strohman,a member of the Iowa Employment Appeal Board and a registered Democrat. Strohman has taught at ISU for 10 years, according to his biography on the university’s website.

The assignment was given out during the first week of class and was worth a total of four points, according to the online description.

ISU is located in Ames, about 35 miles north of Des Moines.

Sheriff: 2 accused of trying to sell a baby online for $3K

Mar 27, 2017 7

Authorities say a Tennessee couple is accused of trying to sell a 5-month-old baby online for $3,000.

Local news outlets report that the Greene County Sheriff’s Office says 37-year-old Deanna Lynn Greer and 26-year-old John David Cain were arrested Friday on charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment.

Sheriff Pat Hankins says authorities were alerted after another couple saw an ad posted on Craigslist listing the infant for sale.

Hankins says an undercover officer contacted Greer and Cain and was given the price for the child. He says the couple then met with the agent at a store, exchanged the baby for cash and both were then taken into custody.

Hankins says the child is in state custody.

It’s unclear if Greer and Cain have attorneys.

West Oakland fire: One feared dead in large 4 alarm blaze

Mar 27, 2017 6

There is a large 4-alarm fire burning in West Oakland on the corner of Mead and San Pablo Avenue. 

It’s a three story residential building. Firefighters rescued seven people from the building. Oakland fire crews say they do believe there was a fatality in the fire but they will have to confirm that information. Crews thought they saw a body on the floor but there was too much smoke to confirm that information. 

Three people who were rescued were injured. The injuries were mainly smoke inhalation. Currently, there are no reports of people missing according to the battalion chief. At this point, it’s unclear if everyone has been accounted for. 

Firefighters were pulled from the building due to safety concerns. 

Related stories…

Fire crews believe 50-60 people live in the building. KTVU spoke to a man who lives on the second floor of the building. He said the first floor was a drug rehab center, the second floor was clean and sober living and the third floor was independent living. We also spoke to residents who came down the fire escape. They were on the third floor and said the hallways were filled with flames. They are worried about their neighbors – some of whom were in wheelchairs. 

Read more from KTVU. 

Family sues town to demolish house after creepy letters

Mar 27, 2017 6

A New Jersey family that wants to demolish their home after they say they were stalked by an anonymous creepy-letter writer known as “The Watcher” has filed a lawsuit against their town.

Derek and Maria Broaddus filed the suit against the town of Westfield after its planning board rejected their plan to raze the house and subdivide the land, so they could build two houses.

A lawyer for the town told NJ.com (http://bit.ly/2nnv0eG ) she cannot comment on the lawsuit.

The couple, who have children, say that after buying the six-bedroom house for nearly $1.4 million in 2014, they received three threatening letters from a stalker calling himself “The Watcher.”

Their attorney says they are good people caught in a situation they didn’t ask for.

Parts of confession thrown out in case of teen's slaying

Mar 27, 2017 6

A judge has thrown out some statements a former Virginia Tech student charged in the killing of a 13-year-old girl made to police because of improper interrogation techniques.

The Roanoke Times reports (http://bit.ly/2opPMJR0 ) a judge ruled Monday that parts of Natalie Keepers’ confession cannot be used at trial. He said officers should have read Keepers her Miranda rights and told her she had the right to talk to an attorney once it was clear she would be charged in Nicole Lovell’s death.

Keepers has been charged with being an accessory to first-degree murder and with concealing a body. Her co-defendant, David Eisenhauer, has been charged with first-degree murder, abduction and concealing a body.

WDBJ-TV reports that the judge Monday also set a trial date for Keepers in February 2018.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

Snakes and other reptiles found dead at Zoo Knoxville

Mar 27, 2017 7

Officials say an “environmental cause” appears to be behind the recent deaths of 33 reptiles, nearly all of them snakes, at Zoo Knoxville.

The animals found dead last week were all housed in the same building in the zoo’s reptile area. Surviving animals were removed and given oxygen.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2nsc5RF) reports that an exact cause remains unknown. But Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New said Sunday that officials believe the deaths were not due to disease but to “an environmental cause.”

Additional autopsy results are pending.

New called the deaths a “devastating and catastrophic loss,” adding that several endangered or threatened species breeding programs were lost.

The building where the deaths occurred was home to 52 animals. It has been closed while an investigation continues.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

Matthew, Otto being retired as Atlantic tropical storm names

Mar 27, 2017 5

The names Matthew and Otto have been retired for Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes following the deadly 2016 season.

According to a statement Monday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the World Meteorological Organization will use Martin and Owen for future Atlantic storms. The new names might first be used in 2022.

Names get retired when a storm is so deadly or destructive that future use of its name would be insensitive.

Hurricane Matthew caused 585 deaths, including over 500 deaths in Haiti before it made landfall in Cuba, the Bahamas and South Carolina. It was the strongest Atlantic hurricane since 2007 and the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since 2005.

Heavy rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Otto caused 18 deaths in Central America.

Chicago man arrested with child, gun, marijuana in stroller

Mar 27, 2017 5

A Chicago man has been charged with child endangerment after police say they found a handgun hidden in a baby stroller alongside a 1-year-old boy.

Chicago police say 32-year-old Anthony Kennedy fled Friday afternoon as officers approached him in a West Side neighborhood, but that he was soon captured.

Police said in a statement that officers also found marijuana in the stroller. Kennedy is also charged with unlawful possession of handgun by a felon and other charges.

The child is in the care of relatives.

Kennedy was ordered held on $100,000 bail. An attorney who could speak on behalf of Kennedy is not listed.