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100 pounds of pot wash ashore on Florida beaches

About 100 pounds of marijuana have washed ashore on beaches on Florida’s Atlantic coast in just a few days.

Authorities say the bundles of marijuana have washed ashore over several days in Volusia, Flagler and St. John’s counties along the central-north part of Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Federal agents were expected to collect the drugs from the local law enforcement agencies as they investigate where they came from.


Authorities say at least one man was arrested for trying to take the marijuana.

When deputies questioned Robert Kelley, he told them he was just holding the marijuana until law enforcement arrived. When asked why he didn’t alert law enforcement immediately, they said he stated he did not alert them because he did not know if the sheriff’s office was going to come or not.

Robert Kelley

He was charged with possession of marijuana and released on $2,500 bail.

Gov. Jerry Brown to launch satellite to track greenhouse gas emissions

California Gov. Jerry Brown started the week by signing a pair of actions to get his state to use nothing but electric power drawn from green sources like wind and solar by 2045. He ended the week Friday with a surprise: The state would launch its “own damn satellite” to track down greenhouse gas emitters who fuel global warming.

The twin actions were meant to demonstrate the power that California, and other cities, states, corporations and individuals have to take action against global warming — particularly in the face of perceived inattention or hostility from President Donald Trump and the federal government.

In the days in between the two announcements, Brown hosted a gathering of nearly 5,000 environmentalists, elected officials, corporate chieftains and activists from five continents at the Global Climate Action Summit here. They repeatedly promised to do more to rein in global warming while trying to spur on an equal level of commitment from 195 national governments.

The week was a melange of high aspirations, escalating pledges of greater action against greenhouse gases and jeremiads about the calamities that await the world if it continues to move slowly on what Brown and others deemed an “existential” threat to humanity.

“In California, with science under attack, in fact we’re under attack by a lot of people, including Donald Trump. But the climate threat still keeps growing,” Brown told delegates at Moscone Convention Center, near the city’s financial district. “With science still under attack, we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is.”

Brown’s office said the satellite — to be developed in conjunction with the San Francisco-based Earth-imaging company, Planet Labs, and launched by 2021 — will allow the state to track greenhouse gas emissions. It hasn’t yet been determined whether data from the satellite would be available to other governments or private organizations that want to track greenhouse gas emissions, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state Air Resources Control Board.

The government could then crack down on catastrophic releases of carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state Air Resources Control Board. And it could use data to detect more chronic problems and develop policies to abate them, Young said.

The summit grew out of an alliance between Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push ahead with global warming solutions after Trump announced in June of 2017 that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, under which all nations set greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The organizers pushed hard for companies, governments and other organizations to increase their ambition for expanding and nurturing forests, buying more electric cars and buses and building more sustainable green buildings, among other innovations.

In the lead up to and during the conference, the organizers said, there were more than 500 commitments, including:

  • Governor’s from 17 states, and both U.S. political parties, pledging to spend $1.4 billion to drive down auto emissions. The money comes from a legal settlement paid by Volkswagen for falsifying the clean air performance of its cars.
  • Two giants of the electric vehicle charging business, ChargePoint and EV Box, pledged to build 3.5 million new charging points worldwide.
  • A total of 26 states, cities and businesses pledged to procure non-polluting vehicle fleets by 2030 and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promised that the city’s regional bus operation would be all electrical in time for it to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
  • New York announced it would double the investment by its city’s pension funds in companies offering climate change solutions — investing $4 billion over the next three years.

“I had the sense that there is a tipping point in climate change action,” said Mark Major, a senior adviser at the nonprofit Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport. “With the number and the scale of announcements, I felt like we were really accelerating the momentum, which is not where we were just three years ago.”

That’s when the world assembled in Paris and reached a historic compact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, also agreeing to regular follow-up sessions to reassess. The goal of the international agreement is to keep global temperatures from increasing more than 2 degrees centigrade, and preferably no more than 1.5 degrees. Any more could put the planet’s ecosystems at unredeemable risk, scientists said.

The U.S. now stands alone as the only nation declaring its intention to walk away from the agreement.

That action and others by the Trump administration —including supporting a continuation of coal-burning electric power and favoring less stringent fuel-mileage standards for cars —made the president an object of derision here, a deep blue city where he is was already a political pariah.

Speakers issued multiple admonitions against complacency, regardless of how much participants felt as if they were making progress, and thereby thwarting Trump.

“I am going to tell the truth,” former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the Paris agreement, said on the final morning of the gathering, “and the truth is we are not anywhere near where we need to be with respect to the overall challenge of climate change.”

Indeed, a review by Data-Driven Yale and other scientists analyzed the plans of nearly 6,000 cities, states and regions, and more than 2,000 companies, worldwide and determined they would not be enough to fulfill the commitments made in Paris. Even those ambitious benchmarks were predicted to leave the Earth with 3 degrees of warming by 2100, a level that would trigger calamities, including famines and pandemics, scientists have said.

Kerry made his remarks at a panel on the health of the world’s oceans. A few minutes later, climate activist and former Vice President Al Gore took to the convention hall’s main stage to urge more action.

He began with a litany of the record temperatures, droughts, firestorms and severe weather that seem to be washing over the globe. “Every night on the television news it’s like a page has been ripped from the Book of Revelation,” Gore said, “and we have got to connect the dots between the cause and the effect.”

Gore described Trump’s desire to leave the Paris agreement as only “a speech,” since the accord sets timelines for withdrawal and the U.S. is not free to leave the pact until the day after the 2020 election. “And if there is a new president … excuse me for a moment,“ Gore said, before bowing his head and putting his hands together in apparent prayer, “then we are right back in.”

The crowd roared its approval. And many talked during the week about how the climate solutions were now known and so much momentum had been gained that it would be hard to stop them.

“Our world is in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that is built on the new digital tools of the internet,” said Gore. “This revolution is sweeping the globe. It has the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution revolution.”

It was Brown, 80 and just four months from retirement, who stole the headlines on the last day of his summit. His first two terms spanned from 1975 to 1983, when he earned the nickname of “Governor Moonbeam.” The moniker came, at least in part, because of Brown’s proposal for the state to join in a satellite project.

Well into his second stint in office, in late 2016, Brown told a group of scientists at an event for the American Geophysical Union that some people were denying the science that made it clear humanity’s activities were warming the planet. He described rumors that Trump would even “turn off the satellites that are monitoring the climate.”

While Trump has never said he intended to cut off data from America’s climate satellites, one of his advisers did say the administration intended to crack down on “politicized science” by refocusing the mission of NASA’s earth science division away from climate change.

So Brown told the gathering of scientists, also in San Francisco: “If Trump turns off the satellites, California is going to launch our own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data.”

It wasn’t clear then if Brown was serious about that pledge. On Friday, it abundantly clear he was not joking.

The animal rescuers of Florence: Dogs saved from submerged crate, pets shuttled away in a bus

When two volunteer rescuers responding to Florence in North Carolina helped free six dogs from a crate submerged in floodwaters on Sunday, they didn’t do it for attention, but attention is what they got — a lot of it.

The two volunteers, Ryan Nichols and David Rebollar, along with journalist Marcus DiPaola, were helping people escape from their floodwater-surrounded home in Leland on Sunday afternoon when they heard dogs howling. As the people they were helping were gathering belongings, the three men went to investigate where the noise was coming from and found six dogs trapped in a cage behind a house.

“The dogs were almost underwater,” Nichols, 27, told NBC News. And the water was rising quickly. “Within an hour, they would have been dead,” he said.

The men let the dogs out of the cage and let them into the backyard, on much higher ground, Nichols said. Meanwhile, DiPaola, a freelance reporter, shot video, then tweeted it. The video was viewed nearly 3 million times by Monday morning.

Many who commented on the post criticized the owners for leaving the dogs behind. Nichols said a neighbor told him that the family who left the dogs includes an 8-month-old, and the family left in a panic between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Nichols, originally from Houston, said he didn’t go to North Carolina with the expectation of public praise. His home and business were flooded last year during Hurricane Harvey, but in the midst of his own challenges, he and Rebollar helped other people escape the devastation. “That’s when I decided, when we see a hurricane, we’re going to help,” he said.

They arrived in North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, and immediately started plucking people from their homes and into boats. “Yesterday, we brought out 25-30 (people), including a 5-week-old,” Nichols said.

He said DiPaola had asked if he could shadow them, and told the journalist: “If you’re going to go with us, you got to work.”

While he didn’t expect a flurry of public attention to follow the tweet, he said he’s glad that “people can see what’s what’s going on out here.”

The storm, which has wreaked havoc in North and South Carolina, is responsible for at least 17 deaths.

“The widespread flooding is worse than I saw in Hurricane Harvey,” Nichols said Monday while waiting in an 80-car-deep line for gas, with the hope that roads would open back up so he could get home to Texas.

Another animal savior was also in need of fuel. Tony Alsup posted a picture of his big yellow school bus on Facebook on Sunday with the caption “Rolling to Lumberton and could use help with fuel.” Alsup, 51, a truck driver from Greenback, Tennessee, has rescued 53 dogs and 11 cats from the wrath of Florence, according to The Greenville News.

He will drop the pets off at shelters around the country. “We take on the ones that deserve a chance even though they are big and a little ugly. But I love big dogs, and we find places for them,” Alsup told The Greenville News.

Alsup’s operation began with a misunderstanding before Hurricane Harvey. He saw a call online for people to help haul pets out of shelters, and he responded that he could help with his truck. Animal shelter workers had assumed his truck was a lot bigger than it was, “but I’m a man of my word. If I give you my word, it’s going to get done. So I said, you know what, why don’t I just go buy a bus?”

He did, to the tune of $3,200, and has been shuttling animals out of dangerous hurricanes since then.

“I love it,” Alsup said. “People don’t believe me. They say it’s got to be barking crazy. But no.”

Animal-Lovers Unite, Save Dogs from Hurricane

A South Carolina woman who was planning to ride out Hurricane Florence because she couldn’t evacuate with her seven rescue dogs has found a way out.

Palm Springs radio host, Kate Zenna was reading the news Wednesday when she saw CNN reported on Christine Meinhold’s dilemma.

An adopted dog-owner herself, Zenna decided she couldn’t stand back without doing something to help. She reached out to Meinhold on Facebook who said she needed a car.

A teacher in New York, Trudy Schilder, also wanted to help.

“I said we can’t let this happen, there’s just got to be something we can do,” Schilder said.

Them and other animal-lovers across the country got to work. The word started getting out and resources started flowing in.

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Zenna said about 16 people across the US coordinated on Facebook chat and donated to help Meinhold evacuate with her dogs. Initially, the group planned to purchase a 2009 Dodge Journey with the help of a generous single $5,200 donation, Zenna said, but some obstacles stood in her way.

“She gets to the dealership later that morning with her money, we were ready to pay, it was all going to be over the phone and the guy could not show up at the dealership because he was already in an evacuation zone,” Zenna said. “He couldn’t get there.”

One of the helpers recommended they use U-haul.

“Of course, all of the U-hauls are closed, everything around there was done, it was yesterday [Thursday] at noon,” Zenna said. “Except for one.”

One U-haul was the saving grace that brought Meinhold and her passengers to safety. In a video chat with Zenna, she couldn’t thank her enough.

“I hope this turns into something really good, not just for us because it has been such a blessing, but to help other people that are in my position,” Meinhold said.

A small gesture that turned a rippling hurricane into a ripple effect of kindness.

Hurricane Florence barrels toward US Southeast with ‘potential for unbelievable damage’

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and dangerous blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,” the National Weather Service reported. “I can’t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

Here’s what we know:

  • Florence is now a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph. On Wednesday, its peaks decreased slightly but the size of the wind field has increased.
  • As of 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reports, Florence is around 385 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and 420 miles east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is traveling 315 degrees at 16 mph.
  • Hurricane Warnings have been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
  • Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 35 inches over portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states from later this week into next week.
  • Forecasters said Florence is expected to gain strength through Wednesday, with some weakening expected Thursday.
  • Forecasters said the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and will approach the Carolinas on Thursday.
  • Governors of North and South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.
  • Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line re-routed its cruise ships.
  • Evacuation plans have been put into place for South Carolina, whose governor declared the entire coastline needed to evacuate starting at noon Tuesday. North Carolina issued a mandatory evacuation for Dare County residents that started Monday at 12 p.m. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a mandatory evacuation for the 245,000 people living along Virginia’s coast.


It’s too early to know the exact path of Florence, but forecasters said it could blow ashore by Thursday in the Carolinas and southern Virginia, a stretch of the U.S. East Coast that experts have identified as the most vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.

The storm’s potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.

“It’s not just the coast,” Graham said. “When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center.”

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees, hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence’s hurricane wind field was expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats.

Navy ships off Virginia’s coast were preparing to sail out of the path, a North Carolina university has already canceled classes and people have begun stocking up on plywood, bottled water and other supplies.

Red flags have already been flying on beaches, warning swimmers to stay out of the water as seas began kicking up. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes.

White man pulls gun in confrontation with black Florida A&M students, police investigating

Tallahassee Police are investigating an incident that allegedly occurred Saturday night in which four black Florida A&M University students said they were harassed by a white man who brandished a gun at an off-campus apartment complex.

The altercation, which was captured in a social media video, shows a man in a baseball cap denying the students entry to the building and elevator in the Stadium Centre residence before pulling out a gun.

According to the police report filed on Saturday afternoon, the incident occurred at 12:30 a.m. Saturday and is being investigated as an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, without intent to kill.

Isaiah Butterfield, a junior at Florida A&M and who filmed the incident, told NBC News that he and his friends were waiting to be let into the building by their other friend, a resident of the complex, when the man approached them.

“He walked past us and opened the door and he told us we weren’t getting into the building unless we had a key,” said Butterfield. “We were thinking, ‘Why would he even say anything to us?’ We were confused.”

After the man approached the students a second time, Butterfield decided to start recording.

“In Tallahassee, there’s a lot of people with their own racial opinions,” said Butterfield. “It doesn’t sound like a place where people of color are invited or welcomed.”

The video posted on Butterfield’s Twitter account begins with a shirtless white man, who Butterfield and his friends identified as “Chad,” confronting the man on behalf of the students. The two have an altercation, with Chad asking the man, “What’s your problem? You’re not just man enough to go about your day?”

“We literally met Chad that night. We didn’t really know Chad like that,” said Butterfield. “He was there and heard what was going on, and he stepped up. I commend him for that.”

Inside the building, the man tells the students to find another elevator, declaring to them, “this is my elevator.” As the altercation escalates, the man pulls out his gun and keeps it by his side.

“He made sure that we saw the gun,” said Butterfield. “He was holding his arm in a way to emphasize.”

One of the students, Fitzroy Rhoden, is heard in the video asking the man, “Sir, you bring out your gun. What’s your purpose for that?” which the man then apologizes and puts the gun in his back pocket.

Despite the weapon being out, Butterfield wasn’t concerned the man would shoot at them, saying he thought it was more of a “if you make me use it, I’m going to use it” kind of threat.

The students began to ask the older man if he is a resident of the building, considering the apartments were predominately rented by college students.

“My friend asked him, ‘Do you even live here, where’s your key?’” said Butterfield. The video then shows the man respond, pulling out keys and a gun.

In an email shared by Butterfield, Stadium Centre management addressed the situation, stating “We are cooperating with the police during their investigation and it has been determined that the person in the elevator is not a resident. Firearms are prohibited on our property and we take this matter very seriously.”

Tallahassee police spokesman, Damon Miller Jr., told NBC News the department is still conducting interviews for the ongoing investigation.

Many on social media are identifying the man in the video as the general manager of Baymont Inn & Suites Tallahassee Central. On Tuesday, Baymont Tallahassee released a statement on their Instagram account confirming they were aware of the situation and that the general manager has since been fired.

Instagram Photo

The man identified in reports did not respond to request for comment from NBC News on Wednesday.

After the incident, Butterfield says he felt embarrassed and singled out by the man, but recognizes the altercation as being bigger than a local issue.

“There are people out here targeting young black males to retaliate in a violent way just so they can retaliate also and use deadly force and be protected by the law due to Stand Your Ground,” said Butterfield. “And that’s a set up.”

New lawsuit alleges Larry Nassar drugged, raped and impregnated teen at Michigan State

A new lawsuit alleges that Michigan State University officials were made aware of a videotaped rape of an underage girl by Dr. Larry Nassar but covered it up, told a coach who reported it to resign, and stripped the victim of a scholarship.

The federal suit, filed in Michigan Monday on behalf of Erika Davis of California and other plaintiffs whose names were not revealed, says Davis was given a pill by Nassar during an exam in the spring of 1992, when she was 17, and raped as a video camera captured the attack.

Davis, a scholarship field hockey player at MSU who was referred to Nassar by her coach, told her coach what happened, and the coach in turn went to Nassar’s office, demanded the video, and received it, according to the suit.

But when she complained about the doctor to then-athletic director George Perles, “she was forced to return the video, resign and sign a non-disclosure agreement,” the suit claims.

The filing says the coach retained a copy of the video. Perles is now a trustee of MSU but he was not named as an individual defendant.

Perles did not return requests for comment to NBC News and has not spoken publicly or to any media about the Nassar case since January when he and other MSU trustees apologized to victims.

“We’re awful sorry for the trouble we’ve caused those poor women. And we will make sure to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Perles said at the time, according to NBC affiliate WOOD.

On Tuesday, the university apologized in general for Nassar’s behavior over the years but said they were still investigating the specific allegations in the new lawsuit.

“We are deeply sorry for the abuses Larry Nassar has committed, and for the trauma experienced by all sexual assault survivors,” the university said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Sexual abuse, assault and relationship violence are not tolerated in our campus community. While the protocols and procedures mentioned in this lawsuit do not reflect how sexual assault claims are handled at MSU, we are taking the allegations very seriously and looking into the situation.”

Defendants in the case include the school, its board of trustees, Nassar, USA Gymnastics, former MSU gymnastics coach Kathie Klages, and other individuals and organizations for allegations that include helping to cover up Davis’ claim, failing to prevent Nassar’s attacks when they had the chance, and misrepresenting Nassar’s professional suitability to treat young women.

NBC News reached out to multiple attorneys representing MSU, USA Gymnastics and other defendants but they did not immediately respond.

Nassar was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics, a onetime U.S. Olympics gymnastics team physician, and an MSU sports medicine doctor. More than 156 women have accused him of sexual impropriety, molestation and assault committed mostly under the guise of his medical authority, and in January he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years behind bars.

Davis was examined twice, with the first examination, videotaped by a third party, ending after Nassar fondled and licked her breasts, the filing alleges.

“During this time, the cameraman was filming Defendant Nassar’s sexual abuse of Plaintiff Erika,” the suit states.

Nassar asked the victim to return for a “full exam” about a week later, and that’s when the rape, with the aid of an unknown drug, took place, the lawsuit claims.

“Eventually, she could not keep her eyelids open and got very woozy,” it states.

Davis was a virgin, the suit says, so when she realized she was pregnant she had no doubt who had impregnated her. She eventually miscarried, the document states.

After the miscarriage she went to university police, who advised her that this was a matter for MSU’s athletics department.

“Plaintiff Erika explained that the athletic department already dismissed it and the Sergeant responded that [former athletic director] George Perles is a ‘powerful man,’ and she should just drop it.”

“Thereafter,” the suit claims, “Plaintiff Erika’s Field Hockey NCAA scholarship was taken away from her.”

With great detail the lawsuit claims that school officials and some of the other defendants were informed of allegations against Nassar in the 1990s and beyond — including accusations by other women — and did nothing.

“Because MSU took no action to investigate the 1997 or 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 or 2002, and 2004 complaints and took no corrective action, from at least 1997 to 2016, under the guise of treatment, the other Plaintiffs, many of whom were minors, were also sexually assaulted, abused, and molested by Defendant Nassar,” the suit claims.

The filing seeks unspecified damages greater than $75,000 for each plaintiff for allegations including sex discrimination in an educational setting, civil rights violations, negligence, assault and battery on the part of Nassar and, against USA Gymnastics, “fraud and misrepresentation that Nassar was a competent and safe physician.”

Move towards 100% renewable energy consumption promises more jobs

Evan Sanders carefully pressed some buttons prompting a power grid to expand its solar panels and showcase some small fans designed to test wind powers. This top notch technology that students at College of the Desert (COD) have access to.

Sanders graduated from COD four months ago. He is 21 years old, and he is already working after completing a certificate in heating ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration. He described his job as “quite interesting.”

“Not many people now about it,” Sanders said. “The job will always be there, so if you know how to do it, you’ll always be wanted, you’ll always be needed.”

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 100 into law. This is an ambitious goal Brown has set for California by aiming to be completely powered with renewable energy by 2045. This bill was introduced by California Senator Kevin de Leon.

In order to help students graduating from COD more competitive for the job market, instructors like Ramiro Galicia are working to have access to modern technology and creating hands on curriculum.

“With this bill that just passed, that’s just going to be more fuel for us to help and do research to show that we need to change our policy,” Galicia said.

Galicia said the introduction of SB100 is an important move to close the gap between supply and demand.

“It’s going to provide an incentive to actually hire more students that are trained at College of the Desert,” Galicia said.  

For those who are already in the business like Renova Energy, the move towards this more eco-friendly measure in California promises growth and expansion.

“At Renova we have over 160 employees now with the addition of moving towards more solar, we’ll double in size over the next few years,” Battaglia said.

Galicia said SB100 will also help colleges around the state who offer technical careers to expand their curriculum in order to satisfy the job demand. Renova Energy has employed students graduating from COD’s solar energy program.

“SB100 is the beginning of one of the largest state funded jobs program that the United States has ever seen before,” Battaglia said.

Sanders said he plans to pursue more certificates at College of the Desert to better prepare himself for the workforce.

Hurricane Maria kills 2,975; Puerto Rico updates official death toll

An estimated 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico in the five months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last September, a far higher number than the government’s official death toll count of 64.

The new findings are from an independent study conducted by George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health, which was commissioned by island officials for more than $300,000.

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced that his administration is updating its death toll count of 64 to match GWU’s 2, 975, “keeping in mind that it’s still an estimate.”

“The number of excess deaths is still very big and now, as a society, we need to come together and look forward to the future,” said Rosselló.

The Puerto Rican government said earlier this month that it was not updating its official death count until the findings were published.

According to the report, the number of excess deaths, which took place from September 2017 to February 2018, represent a 22 percent increase from what would have been expected during that time period.

This is not the first study that has tried to calculate the deaths following the storm; a Harvard University study out in May estimated that 4,645 more people died from Sept. 20 to Dec. 31, 2017, than in that same period in 2016.

However, GWU researchers said on Tuesday that their study is different in that it factored in the number of people who left the island right after the storm.

According to their calculations, they estimate that Puerto Rico saw an 8 percent drop in population after the hurricane, which triggered one of the longest power blackouts in history and pushed thousands of people to the mainland.

The study said that the risk of dying over this period was 60 percent higher among people living in the poorest municipalities and 35 percent higher among elderly men. During a call with reporters, researchers said that the elevated risk of death persisted beyond the five months that were studied for these two subgroups.

“We still don’t know when deaths came back to baseline,” Goldman said.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-NY, who has introduced legislation that would set federal standards for measuring death tolls following disasters, said the findings are evidence of the “enormity of the tragedy that befell Puerto Rico.”

“These numbers are only the latest to underscore that the federal response to the hurricanes was disastrously inadequate and, as a result, thousands of our fellow American citizens lost their lives,” Velázquez said in a statement.

Enrique Fernández-Toledo, director of Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, also criticized island officials for taking so long to update their initial death toll of 64.

“According to this serious study, the actual death toll is more than 46 times that of the official count, placing it among the highest death counts caused by an Atlantic hurricane in the last 100 years,” said Fernández-Toledo in a statement.

GWU also makes a series of recommendations to help Puerto Rico effectively account for deaths during a disaster, such as providing doctors with the proper training and resources to issue death certificates based on the newest guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and improve interagency communication protocols.

Rosselló announced that the Puerto Rican government plans to create a committee, made up by local officials and “people from other sectors,” to find ways to implement the recommendations brought up in previous studies, including GWU’s.

He also plans to start a registry that keeps tabs of the most vulnerable populations in the island, such as people with disabilities, elders and those with severe medical conditions, so emergency responders are able to quickly and effectively locate people in need during a disaster.

The recent findings are just part of the first phase of what GWU expects to be a two-part investigation, in which they hope to interview families of victims who died during Maria’s aftermath, in an effort to identify how many of the 2,975 deaths can be attributed directly to the hurricane.

GWU researchers told reporters they don’t expect the 2,975 number to change during the next phase, “but it might get subdivided as to what situation caused certain deaths in the months after Maria.”

For the first part of the report published on Tuesday, GWU interviewed “key leaders,” including seven mayors and other officials from local agencies and FEMA.

Unlike previous studies on the matter, GWU’s has not yet been subjected to the rigorous process of being published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Researchers at GWU told reporters on Tuesday the study is still in the process of submission.

A School Janitor Couldn’t Afford His Dream Sneakers, So a Student Gifted Him a Pair

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An unlikely bond between a Stafford County, Virginia, school janitor and a student has gone viral.

Angel Echevarria, a custodian at Stafford High School, says he is used to being overlooked.

“It’s normally mean mugs and shoulder shrugs where I come from,” Echevarria said.

But in the middle of the high school’s bustling hallway, one student made an effort to get to know him.

“Angel’s one of those people that was always smiling, saying ‘God bless. Have a good day,’” senior Tristan McAlister said.

Echevarria stays positive despite the hardships in his past. Before working as a janitor, he was homeless for four years.

“Before I met my wife and she kind of took me out of that whole lifestyle,” Echevarria said.

Echevarria and McAlister formed a friendship about two years ago when they started chatting and found out they had some things in common.

“We started getting into shoes and what he did, and we started talking about sports. And we had a really good connection there,” McAlister said.

“When I saw him, I was just like this kid’s pretty cool,” Echevarria said.

Recently, McAlister asked Echevarria what type of shoes he should buy for himself.

“And he said, ‘You should buy the Jordan 8s.’ I said, ‘Oh really? Do you have a pair?’ He said, ‘No I got four kids. I can’t shop for myself,’” McAlister said.

That’s when McAlister decided to surprise his friend.

While another classmate recorded him, he walked up to Echevarria with a gift: a pair of Jordan 8s.

“Just to be able to know that he would be able to bless me with what he did was just amazing. It truly touched my heart,” Echevarria said.

McAlister’s generosity spread online and throughout the school when he tweeted the video.

“Actually, we weren’t going to even videotape but my mom was like, ‘I want to see his reaction!’”

“Because that’s really what it’s all about, I mean there are so many life lessons in school that we can’t teach and you guys are learning them,” Stafford High School Principal Joe Lewis said.