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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.

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.

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.”

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.

Some elementary schools are getting rid of homework — and experts say it’s OK

Second grade teacher Brandy Young gained national attention in 2016 when a note she wrote to her class parents was posted on social media.

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year… rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success,” she wrote. “Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

Two years later, Young is teaching second grade at a new school, A.G. Elder Elementary School in Joshua, Texas. She is still not assigning formal homework — though she has tweaked her policy a lot, she told TODAY Parents, since she wrote that note.

The no homework policy has worked great, she said, but it has been a learning process for her. Young found out that some of her students really do want homework, for one thing. She will also send work home with a child who needs more practice on a specific skill from time to time, but when she does, she communicates with the parent and sends an answer key to ensure the practice will be effective.

“Also, not assigning homework doesn’t change the fact that the kids who need extra practice the most usually don’t have the necessary support at home,” said Young, who has three young boys of her own with her husband Klint. “It’s a battle that educators are used to fighting, and it isn’t going away any time soon.”

Young said her experiences in the classroom for the past two years have only reinforced the idea that effective teaching is all about relationships.

“I want my students to know that I care about them at every second,” she said. “I want parents to trust me and let me into their family. I want open communication lines between us so that I can better understand their children and help them succeed.”

For that to be possible, Young said, “Student work, regardless of when and where it’s done, should be meaningful, engaging, and relevant. No packets ever. Period.” Her second grade students approach learning enthusiastically as a result — even at a Title 1 school where nearly 70 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.

“Kids can conquer mountains when given encouragement, choices, and support!” said Young. “They want and need to be nurtured as a whole child. I believe the no-packet theory supports that effort.”

Young was not the first nor the last teacher to implement a classroom policy eliminating homework. In 2017, Marion County, Florida, School Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier announced she was banning homework for the 31 elementary schools throughout her school district. At the time, Maier said her plan called for “no traditional homework, no work sheets, no endless pages of workbooks. Instead, our children are reading aloud with their parents at least 20 minutes a night.”

A year later, the Ocala Star Banner reported that under pressure from her teachers — 86 percent of whom did not support the ban — and school board members who called the policy “micromanaging” and blamed poor test results in part on it, Maier loosened the guidelines. She is asking that any homework be “meaningful” and not “busy work.”

However, Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth,” told TODAY Parents, “It is important to realize that no research has ever found any advantage to any kind of homework before kids are in high school — and newer studies are questioning whether it’s necessary even in high school.”

Kohn — who has written 14 books covering parenting and education and lectures on those topics at universities, parenting groups, and corporations — is a well-known critic of homework. He said that though some defend the concept of homework as having non-academic advantages like teaching kids responsibility, work habits, or independence, “To the best of my knowledge, not a shred of evidence supports those claims.”

What evidence does show, he said, is the disadvantages of homework, some of which parents are already familiar. “It causes frustration, unhappiness, and family conflict; it often makes children less excited about learning and leaves them with less time to pursue other interests and just enjoy their childhoods,” he observed.

“But we seem to assume it’s worth it to force them to work a ‘second shift’ after they get home from a full day in school,” he said. “We take on faith that the academic benefits must outweigh the substantial costs.”

Though many parents support homework, others say they would love for their children’s teachers to adopt no-homework policy. Omaha, Nebraska mom Ashley Austrew said she is relieved her first grade daughter has less homework this year than she did in kindergarten.

“Her only homework is whatever she doesn’t get done in class, which I believe is the teacher’s way of saying she doesn’t give homework,” she told TODAY Parents. “I am a fan of no homework policies because I think its mostly busy work at this age level and they work hard enough all day.”

Julie Burton from Overland Park, Kansas, said she gets annoyed with her fourth grade daughter’s math homework even though it is usually just one sheet a night. “If she ever has a question, sometimes we are stumped too,” she said. “I feel bad emailing a teacher in the evenings. I’m slightly annoyed at homework in general because I don’t know what the teacher taught.”

Kohn said that even small amounts of homework can still be frustrating and damaging to children’s attitudes about learning for reasons like Burton’s. “The bottom line is that research fails to support the practice of giving any amount or any kind of homework to a 12-year-old, let alone to a 6-year-old,” he said. “Making kids unhappy about learning is more likely to undermine than to promote academic excellence.”

He encouraged parents to speak up on behalf of their children. “If your child’s teacher never assigns homework, take a moment to thank them for doing what’s in your child’s best interest — and for acknowledging that families, not schools, ought to decide what happens during family time,” he added. “If your child is getting homework, organize a bunch of parents to meet with the teacher and administrators — not to ask, ‘Why so much?’ but, given that the research says it’s all pain and no gain, to ask, ‘Why is there any?’”

Guatemalan mom says inadequate medical care in ICE custody led to toddler’s death

A toddler who came across the border with her mother seeking asylum died after receiving inadequate medical care in ICE custody, according to lawyers for the woman.

Yazmin Juárez came to the United States in March with her 18-month-old daughter Mariee. In May, the little girl died. The Guatemalan mother and her lawyers now plan to file several lawsuits alleging that negligence and inadequate medical care when they were held in detention led to the toddler’s death.

Juárez, 20, filed a notice of claim Tuesday against the city of Eloy, Arizona, which is the primary contractor of the facility 900 miles away in Dilley, Texas, under an unusual arrangement between Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Eloy and CoreCivic, the private company that runs the facility.

“Mariee’s tragic death resulted from the unsafe and unsanitary conditions in immigration detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and the inadequate, substandard medical care Mariee received there,” Arnold & Porter, the law firm representing Juárez pro bono, said in the claim.

Juárez and Mariee were transferred to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Dilley on March 5, a few days after they crossed the border and requested asylum, according to a statement from the law firm. Mariee had no health problems at the time, according to the statement.

“Mariee was a completely normal, happy, healthy, beautiful little 18-month-old girl,” said R. Stanton Jones, a partner at the law firm. “She had never had any medical problems or chronic medical conditions of any kind.”

At the detention facility, Mariee became sick with a severe respiratory infection that went “woefully under-treated for nearly a month,” according to the law firm. Juárez continually sought attention from medical staff but she was prescribed medications that did not improve the child’s condition and Mariee continued to get worse, according to a timeline provided by the law firm.

“A mother lost her little girl because ICE and those running the Dilley immigration prison failed them inexcusably,” the law firm said.

Juárez took Mariee to see medical staff on March 11 and the little girl was diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection, according to the timeline. Over the next two weeks, Juárez brought Mariee back for treatment multiple times, with the little girl losing weight and suffering from high fevers, coughing, congestion, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the timeline.

Juárez told VICE News she was getting desperate and had her mother in New Jersey wire her money to buy tea and lemon for Mariee.

“I was desperate because of my daughter,” she said. “I would cry to my mother like crazy.”

Jones said during her stay, Mariee only saw a physician once, and at all the other visits she was tended to by physician’s assistants, a registered nurse and licensed vocational nurses.

A pediatrician who reviewed Mariee’s medical records said “this is way out of the norm of how we would treat a child.”

“If a child was having respiratory symptoms and fevers for more than five or six days, I would want to get a chest X-ray and see what’s going on in the lungs,” said Benard Dreyer, a pediatrician and past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“They should have sent that child for an emergency room visit well before the child was discharged,” he said.

“Kids do die of pneumonia, but it’s very rare, especially if they’re hospitalized reasonably early,” Dreyer said.

Juárez and her daughter passed the first step in their asylum claim and were released from ICE detention on March 25 and put on a plane to Juárez’s mother’s house, according to the timeline. Juárez took Mariee to the hospital the next day and the little girl remained hospitalized at different locations for six weeks before dying on May 10.

“Mariee spent six weeks in essentially pediatric intensive care at three different hospitals because she needed increasingly specialized treatment,” Jones said. “There were extraordinary medical interventions undertaken after her release from Dilley but it was just too late.”

Dreyer said Mariee’s records showed that when she hospitalized she had multilobar pneumonia, meaning the infection had spread to more than one lobe in her lungs.

“That did not happen in 24 hours,” he said.

Jones said Juárez owes more than $2 million in hospital bills, and the costs are still arriving.

ICE declined to comment on the specifics of Mariee’s case, but said in a statement that it “takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care.”

“ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care,” the agency said. “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody.”

The agency added that it spends more than $250 million a year on health care services.

CoreCivic said in a statement that it had “deep sympathy for the family and the tragic loss of their child” and that ICE, not CoreCivic, provides health care services at its facilities.

Jones said he said he believed Mariee would still be alive if the two had not been detained at the facility.

“There’s no question in my mind,” he said. “It caused her death.”

Police: Father shoots, kills son during argument over cleaning room

A Milwaukee man is charged with first-degree reckless homicide after shooting his son in the back of the head during an argument over cleaning his room, according to authorities.

Police were called to the apartment Randall Wright shared with his 21-year-old son Jakari Wright on Saturday.

Wright said the two argued when he told his son to “clean up his room” after he found “dirty cereal bowls and other food items” in it.

The argument escalated when the father got his gun to emphasize the point, but he claimed his son wouldn’t back down.

“We started wrestling for the gun, and it went off,” Wright said.

Jakari Wright was shot in the back of the head. Police found him in a hallway just inside the entryway.

Wright’s lawyer Thursday argued for a low bail, calling the shooting a tragic accident. He remains jailed on $65,000 bail.