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Source: MedleyStory

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

The suspect in the disappearance of a University of Virginia student was charged Monday with abducting and raping a woman in suburban Washington, D.C., in 2005.

The indictment against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. was handed up by a Circuit Court grand jury in Fairfax County and includes a charge of attempted capital murder.

Matthew, 32, is being held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on a charge related to the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old from northern Virginia.

At a news conference Monday, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh declined to discuss any details of the case, but did say the victim is cooperating. Police had previously said that on Sept. 24, 2005, a 26-year-old woman was walking home from the grocery store about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, when her assailant grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area behind some townhomes, and sexually assaulted her.

The man fled the area when he was startled by a passerby, police said.

Morrogh said he will seek a bench warrant later this week requesting that Matthew be brought to Fairfax for an initial appearance, and he expected that to be granted. But no court date has been set. Morrogh said he was not sure whether Matthew would be tried first in Charlottesville or in Fairfax.

"I'm willing to go first, last or whenever," Morrogh said.

Law enforcement officials who have been searching for Graham found human remains over the weekend and they were taken to the Virginia Medical Examiner's office in Richmond. A spokesman in the office could not say Monday when the results of the forensic examination would be completed.

One of the officials who made the discovery said the remains were found just as he and his team were about to move on to another site.

"We were on our way back to our vehicle and I just decided to keep going," said Sgt. Dale Terry of the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department. "So we swept a different area and luckily we just came upon what we came upon. ... Divine intervention is the only thing I can think of."

Matthew's attorney has repeatedly refused to discuss his client, and a message on his law office telephone on Monday said he was not taking questions in the case.

Monday, state and local law enforcement officials continued to search an area about 12 miles southwest of the Charlottesville campus of U.Va. where the remains were found on Saturday after an extensive search in the city of 40,000 and in Albemarle County.

Police let Graham's parents know about the discovery before they publicly released the information. They are looking for clues and evidence in a heavily wooded area that is dotted with farms.

Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington's killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to the 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. He has not been charged in the Harrington killing.

As for the link between the Graham case and the Fairfax case, Morrogh would only say that "indirectly, that case was of value to the department in conducting its investigation" but declined further comment.

Fairfax City Police Chief Carl Pardiny credited his investigators with their work on the case, going back to 2005.

"We never gave up, not over nine years," Pardiny said.

Graham hasn't been seen since after a night out with friends. She had met friends at a restaurant for dinner before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops. On Sunday, the area was buzzing with people having brunch at outdoor cafes on a brisk, sunny day. Graham's disappearance and the discovery of human remains was a frequent topic of conversation.

"Everybody was rattled. Everybody knew it was coming, but you still hope for the best. As much as you can prepare for it, you can never prepare for it," said Claire Meyers, a University of Virginia nursing student who has friends who knew Graham and Matthew.

Matthew was an operating room technician at the university's hospital, where Meyers works as a patient care assistant.

Albemarle County resident Bill Gnas, a retiree who lives a few miles from where the remains were found, said he suspected the worst.

"Truly, I was saddened by it. After three or four days you had to anticipate it was going to be another Harrington event where they were going to find the body, and the only thing you could hope for at that point was that there be some closure for the parents that it was in fact discovered," he said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:48:11 -0700

Man charged with murder for shooting outside nightclub

A man has been charged with murder for a shooting earlier this month outside a downtown Oakland nightclub, prosecutors said Monday.

Billy Shaffer Jr., 30, is accused of shooting and killing 27-year-old Connie Sowels III during a robbery outside of the Bella Ultra Lounge at 11th and Clay streets at about 1:18 a.m. on Oct. 1, according to prosecutors.

Police said the two got into an altercation before the shooting. Sowels was taken to Highland Hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Shaffer has also been charged with possessing a firearm as a felon because of a 2010 conviction for possessing a gun he was not registered to own in Sacramento County, prosecutors said.

Shaffer was arrested last Monday after being pulled over for traffic violations. He had a warrant out for his arrest and is currently being held without bail in Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland, according to jail records.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:17:22 -0700

Consumer advisory: Defective airbags

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. 

The NHTSA released the following list:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 – Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:56:05 -0700

If no checks, more Ebola cases might leave Africa

A new study underscores the potential danger of airplane passengers infected with Ebola leaving West Africa: If there were no exit screening in place, researchers estimate that three people with the disease might fly out of the region each month.

The hardest-hit West African nations have been checking passengers since summer, but the new work is a reminder of how much easier it could be for the virus to travel outside the outbreak region if those measures weren't in place — and that screening can't catch every case.

Since the Ebola outbreak was first identified in March, there have been only two known exported cases involving flights, one before and one after screening began in Liberia.

A Liberian-American flew to Nigeria in July and sparked a small outbreak there, which has since been contained. The second man, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, passed a screening when he left for the U.S. last month; he didn't have a fever or symptoms until days after arriving in Dallas.

For the study, researchers used international flight data and Ebola case tallies to calculate that — without screening — three infected people a month could fly out of the region. They noted that screening isn't foolproof: It can take up to three weeks for people exposed to Ebola to develop symptoms, so it is likely some cases will slip through.

The out-of-control epidemic has killed an estimated 4,500 people.

"As the outbreak grows, we will be seeing more international exportations of Ebola," said Dr. Kamran Kahn of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, the study's senior author.

He added that disaster could strike if people with Ebola fly to less developed countries. "What might happen if cases were to wind up in a slum in Nairobi or Mumbai?"

Kahn noted that there were few flights from the West Africa nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia even before the outbreak. He and his colleagues calculated that countries most at risk of getting imported Ebola cases are the nearby Ghana and Senegal, followed by Britain and France.

The U.S. was significantly further down the list, followed by India, Kenya and Germany. The study was published online Monday in the journal Lancet.

"There are more and more cases of Ebola every week so the risk of exportation is also increasing every week," said Benjamin Cowling of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, who co-authored a commentary.

"Maybe the one case exported to Texas was just bad luck. Or maybe there are more cases traveling as we speak," he said.

U.S. health officials earlier this month said airport screening in West Africa had stopped 77 people from boarding planes, none with Ebola but some had malaria.

Some American lawmakers have called for a ban on travelers from West Africa. At a European Union meeting on Monday, foreign ministers scrapped the idea of a ban, reasoning people from West Africa would simply go elsewhere en route to Europe. In the meantime, the U.S. and other countries are now checking travelers from West Africa.

Health officials have repeatedly said the only way to stop exported cases is to stop the epidemic in West Africa.

"As long as Ebola continues to spread in Africa, we can't make the risk zero here," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:40:06 -0700

Apple reports record 39.3 million iPhone sales

Excitement for Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models drove sales of a record 39.3 million iPhones in the last quarter, boosting the company's earnings and revenue well above expectations.

All told, the company sold $23.7 billion worth of iPhones, beating the $21.5 billion in sales expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Apple's signature smartphones are the company's biggest source of revenue and profit.

"We had a really, really good quarter," Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press. He also credited strong demand for the company's Mac computers and its online app store.

But the company didn't do as well with its iPad tablets. Apple said it sold 13 percent fewer iPad tablets than it did a year ago. That follows an industry-wide decline in tablet sales. Still, the company reported even lower iPad sales than analysts had expected.

Maestri said Apple is counting on interest in new models coming out this week and a partnership with IBM, which will create new tablet software for business users, to help shore up tablet sales in the coming months.

Apple's profit rose more than 12 percent for the three months that ended Sept. 27 to $8.47 billion. Total sales also climbed over 12 percent year-over-year, to $42.12 billion.

The Cupertino, California, company issued a strong forecast for the upcoming holiday shopping season as well. The company said it expects total revenue, from all products, of between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion during the quarter that ends in December. That suggests the company will likely beat the expectations of analysts, who were forecasting $63.7 billion, according to FactSet.

Apple's shares have surged more than 35 percent this year, when adjusted for a seven-to-one stock split that occurred in June. The stock is off slightly since hitting an all-time adjusted high of $103.30 last month.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:22:39 -0700

Family shocked after texting dead grandmother, getting a response

The phone was placed in the coffin of 59-Year-old Lesley Emerson because she loved texting her family members.

Cancer took Lesley in 2011 but her granddaughter Sheri sent messages to the phone from time to time “as a way of coping.”

The Shields Gazette reports Sheri was stopped in her tracks last week when she received a response.

“I’m watching over you, you’ll get through this, you’ll be all right,” the message said.

Sheri admitted to being rattled by the situation.

“Obviously we know that nan wasn’t ever going to reply to our texts," she said. “You can imagine what I was thinking seeing a message flash up from her.”

More popular and trending stories

Sheri’s uncle called the number and, sure enough, someone answered.

The man on the other end said he thought the messages he had been getting were jokes, so he decided to send something back.

The family isn’t mad at the guy, but they are peeved at their cell provider.

They said they paid the company, Q2, to retire Lesley’s number but instead it was given to another customer.

The Daily Mail reports Q2 is trying to get the number back so the family won’t have to go through this again.

More here.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:13:31 -0700

8-year-old with Down syndrome scores TD in high school game

Owen White plays wide receiver for the freshman football team at  Rhinelander High School in Wisconsin. His younger brother, Gabe, is the squad's honorary captain.

He also has Down syndrome.

This relationship on Friday night provided one of the best moments of the football season on any level.

"I wanted to make a special moment for him. [He's a] special kid. All you have to do is hang out with him for 30 seconds and you see that," coach Mark Apfel told WJFW.

So with the game over, the stage was set.

"They kicked it off, and it went over his head so I hit it on the ground," Owen White said.

"I caught it, and then I blocked it, and then ran to coach," Gabe said.

"And he took off for the end zone, it was pretty special," Owen White said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:38:17 -0700

Denver police warn parents of pot-spiked candy this Halloween

Colorado parents are being told to be on the lookout this Halloween for marijuana-laced candy, NBC News reported.

The Facebook page of the Denver Police Department is warning that mass-produced candy can by sprayed with hash oil, and once the spray dries, there is no way to tell that the candy has been infused.

The station reported that the Denver PD Facebook page features Patrick Johnson, owner of marijuana shop Urban Dispensary. In the film, Johnson urges parents to inspect any candy their children bring home after trick-or-treating on Halloween to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.

According to Children’s Hospital Colorado, accidental exposures of marijuana products to children in Colorado have increased in the past three years, based on the rate of emergency department visits and admissions at the hospital

“Since 2005, states that allow some form of legal marijuana have seen a 30 percent annual increase in calls to poison control centers for marijuana ingestion, relative to a 1 percent increase in non-legal states,” the hospital states on its website.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:32:36 -0700

Missing WWII airman to be buried in Oakland

A World War II airman whose remains were found more than 60 years after he was shot down over Germany is set to be buried in Oakland.

William "Billy" Parker Cook will be laid to rest with full military honors near other family members at Mountain View Cemetery on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1rXsLYi).

Cook and a five-man crew were on a mission to take out a critical rail bridge in Germany when their plane came under fire and went down in December 1944, according to the Department of Defense.

Aviation researchers found the crash site near Allmuthen, Belgium in 2006. A dig in 2012 and 2013 led to the discovery of bone fragments and clothing belonging to Cook.

"This is something that came out of the blue," said Bruce Cook, 62, of Newport Beach, Billy Cook's nephew and closest living relative. "It's something I hadn't thought about in years. I'm just glad I'm still around to arrange the final resting place."

Billy Cook lived in Alameda after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley and getting married. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces and rose to the rank of 1st lieutenant, flying missions in a twin-engine B-26G Marauder called "Hunsucker," according to the Chronicle.

He was 27 when his plane was shot down.

Bruce Cook said he visited his uncle's home in Alameda in the early 2000s and met with Billy Cook's widow, Jean Swanson, who has since died.

"This man perished before I was born," said Bruce Cook, whose middle names, William Parker, come from his uncle. "But I'm named after him, and I spent my childhood hearing about him. He's certainly close in my psyche."

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:25:23 -0700

Barbecue chef one of three weekend homicide victims in Oakland

A man shot and killed in North Oakland on Sunday evening was wrapping up a day of selling barbecue with his fiancée.

Friends and family mourned the loss of Vallejo barbecue chef Eric "Trill" Harvis, 42, on Facebook today after he was gunned down in the 800 block of 46th Street at about 7:20 p.m. Sunday, according to police.

He had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later. Police have not released any information about a possible motive or suspect in the shooting.

Harvis had been selling barbecue in a 46th Street driveway in his old North Oakland neighborhood for several weekends. He advertised on Instagram before arriving Saturdays and Sundays.

Dinner plates started at $10 each and he cooked a variety of dishes, including smoked ribs, hot links, greens, potatoes, beans and cake.

Harvis was engaged to be married and had an adult daughter who lives in Sacramento whom he spoke to daily. He was planning his 43rd birthday party in November, friends wrote on Facebook.

Dozens of friends and family expressed their grief over his loss on social media Monday.

"He wanted to continue his get-togethers with friends and family so we can take time to forget about our daily lives and just come together and have a good time with love and food he cooked," one poster wrote.

Harvis's death was one of three in a bloody weekend in Oakland.

A man was found with multiple stab wounds inside a West Oakland home in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday.

Earlier in the weekend, a male victim was found fatally shot in the 800 block of Mead Avenue at 2:16 a.m. Saturday.

Police have released few details about the killings and have announced no arrests.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:05:35 -0700

One dead, others injured in San Francisco pedestrian accidents

A man in his 80s was killed and three others were injured over the last 24 hours in accidents involving pedestrians on San Francisco streets, authorities said.

San Francisco police said the fatality occurred at 44th Ave and Sloat Blvd at around 7 a.m.

A man, identified as 87-year-old Louis Van Velzen, who lived in the neighborhood was crossing Sloat near the San Francisco Zoo when he was hit and declared dead at the scene.

Investigators said Van Velzen was not in a crosswalk at the time and that the driver was cooperating with police.

Less than an hour earlier, a 66-year-old man was hospitalized after being struck by a car in the Richmond District.

At around 6:05 a.m., officers responded to the collision reported at the intersection of Geary Boulevard and 10th Avenue. The pedestrian was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening, according to police.

The woman driver remained at the scene and was ultimately cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, police said.

Meanwhile, two people were injured in a hit-and-run collision in downtown San Francisco on Sunday evening.

Officers responded to a report of a hit-and-run collision at Mason and Turk streets, north of Market Street, around 6:30 p.m.

A 50-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man, were struck by a light-colored BMW that fled the scene, police said.

Both people were transported to San Francisco General Hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:38 -0700

Teen killed in West Oakland Saturday identified

Police identified a teen found shot to death in West Oakland early Saturday morning as 17-year-old Breon Coleman.

Coleman was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds at 2:16 a.m. Saturday outside a home in the 800 block of Mead Avenue, a small residential street between Market Street and San Pablo Avenue, police said.

He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Police have not disclosed any possible motive for the shooting and have not announced any suspects or arrests.

Anyone with information about the homicide has been asked to contact Oakland police and may do so anonymously by calling (510) 238-7950 or Crime Stoppers of Oakland at (510) 777-8572.

People with information about this homicide may be eligible for a cash reward through the Crime Stoppers program.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:31 -0700

Register to vote and read your ballot

Monday is the final day to register to vote for the Nov. 4 election. You can register at the California Online Voter Registration page here.

If you want to find out what's on your ballot, find the answers you're looking for with these county specific links to voter information.

Alameda County

Contra Costa County

Marin County

Santa Clara County

San Francisco County

San Mateo County

Solano County

Sonoma County

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:39:20 -0700

Deadline to register to vote in Nov. 4 election arrives

Monday is the last day for Bay Area residents to register to vote in the statewide general election being held on November 4.

Voters can register online with a California driver's license or identification card, according to the Secretary of State's Office. Voters can also mail a registration card postmarked by today to their county elections office as long as it is received before Election Day.

"Registering to vote is one of our most fundamental rights as a citizen," said San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church.

As of Sept. 5, more than 17 million California voters had registered to vote out of more than 24 million eligible, or 73 percent of the voting population, according to the secretary of state's office.

That number is marginally higher than the percentage of voters registered in the November 2010 election and nearly 4 percentage points higher than those registered to vote in the 2006 general election.

Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-to-1 in this election, according to the secretary of state's office, with Democratic voters representing 43 percent of the voting population, compared to 28 percent for Republicans.

The number of voters preferring not to state their political preference has increased in recent years. Twenty-three percent of voters declined to state a political preference in this election, compared to 20 percent in 2010, 19 percent in 2006, and 15 percent in 2002.

The statewide election includes contests for the U.S. House of Representatives, eight executive positions -- including governor, attorney general and secretary of state -- the state Senate and Assembly and eight statewide ballot measures.

In order to qualify, voters must be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident of California and 18 years of age or older on Election Day. People in prison, on parole, or serving a state prison sentence in county jail, along with those found by a court to be mentally incompetent, are not eligible to vote.

People can find out if they are already registered to vote by visiting http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status and can register online at http://registertovote.ca.gov.

If enrolled in California's confidential address program, Safe at Home, people should not apply to register to vote online. Instead, they should contact the Safe at Home program toll-free at (877) 322-5227.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:19:14 -0700

About 50 detained after man shot twice outside South Bay strip club

A man was shot twice in the leg early Sunday outside a strip club near San Jose in a "chaotic scene" where about 50 people were detained for questioning, a Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman said Monday.

At about 3:15 a.m. Sunday, sheriff's deputies were driving to an unrelated call by the Pink Poodle club at 328 S. Bascom Ave. when they saw the muzzle flash of a gunshot in the club's side parking lot, sheriff's Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup said.

A man was struck two times in the leg by bullets and was later transported to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, Stenderup said.

Deputies detained about 50 people near the club to query them about the shooting and recovered a handgun at the scene, according to Stenderup.

"It was a very chaotic scene that took a while for us to control," he said.

Some of the people detained were customers of the club, Stenderup said.

The suspect in the shooting has not been identified and no one was arrested, deputies said.

The sheriff's office will attempt to extract DNA evidence from the gun for testing in an effort to identify a suspect, according to Stenderup.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:11:33 -0700

$40M in meth seized, 22 arrested in massive Contra Costa County drug bust

State and local law enforcement officials Monday announced the successful takedown of a transnational drug trafficking organization based in Contra Costa County that led to almost two dozen arrests.

During "Operation Road Trip," the culmination of several related investigations into Mexico's Sinaloa Federation drug cartel, law enforcement agents over the past year seized more than 500 pounds of methamphetamine, more than $700,000 and made 22 arrests in Contra Costa County alone, according to state Attorney General Kamala Harris's office.

The operation is a merger of two investigations by the West Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, or West-NET, the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (LA IMPACT) and additional local, state and federal agencies.

The investigation revealed that Mexican methamphetamine was being delivered to the "Nitro" gang in Southern California, which then took "road trips" to Contra Costa County to distribute the meth to other drug trafficking gangs, according to Harris's office.

In 2011, a two-year operation led by West-NET shut down a network of local and transnational gangs that included a Norteno gang in western Contra Costa County, according to the attorney general's office.

That operation, named "Operation Red Reach," led to the seizure of 135 pounds of meth, 26 illegal guns and about $150,000 as well as federal and state convictions of 26 suspects.

Information gathered during Operation Red Reach led law enforcement to identify the involvement of the Northern California "Urtiz" gang in the transnational drug trafficking. A subsequent operation revealed that the Urtiz gang's meth was being supplied by the "Nitro" gang, which was under separate investigation by LA IMPACT.

The three operations have resulted in the seizure of more than 1,100 pounds of meth with a street value of $40.2 million, according to Harris's office. In addition, the operation turned up a total of $1.82 million in cash, 48 guns and 10 vehicles and resulted in the arrests of 67 people for drug and weapons violations.

According to the state attorney general's office, transnational criminal organizations have made California the single biggest entry point for meth in the U.S.

Following the release of a report in March that outlined the growing threat of meth trafficking in California, Harris led a delegation of state attorneys general to meet with Mexican attorneys general and federal officials to discuss drug, human and gun trafficking as well as money laundering and high-tech crime.

Harris announced earlier this month that the California Department of Justice plans to create a new anti-methamphetamine task force dedicated to investigating meth manufacturing and distribution.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:45 -0700

How Nigeria beat its Ebola outbreak

After six weeks without any new cases, Nigeria is now free of Ebola, according to the World Health Organization. Here's how it beat the outbreak. 

The initial response was critical. The disease was introduced back in July when a man displaying Ebola symptoms traveled from Liberia to an airport in Lagos. It could have been a disaster scenario. (Video viaENCA

After all, at 21 million people, Lagos is the most populous city in Africa. But a bit of luck kept the virus from spreading.

A lecturer at the University of Pretoria tells Scientific American it's a good thing the patient's symptoms were spotted at an airport before he had the chance to travel elsewhere. 

The same day he was diagnosed, the Nigerian government came up with an incident management center and shortly after declared an Ebola emergency. Granted, that diagnosis came three days after the patient arrived in Lagos. 

He was first treated for malaria and during that time infected 11 health workers in Lagos. One of them then spread the infection to the city of Port Harcourt. 

In all, eight people died out of a total of 20 cases — a pretty remarkable figure compared to the thousands of infections reported in other countries.

To keep those 20 cases from spreading to Nigeria's slums, health officials used a method called "contact tracing," which essentially means tracking down everyone who came in direct contact with an Ebola patient.

In Nigeria, the 20 Ebola patients had contact with a total of 898 people.

"You need to wash your hands."

A public awareness campaign also played a part. Officials went door to door and explained the disease to the 26,000 families who lived within 2 km of those 20 patients. (Video via PBS

And unlike some of the poorer, harder-hit countries, Nigeria — Africa's wealthiest nation — had at its disposal some key resources, including multiple labs able to test for the virus.

Senegal is also free of Ebola, but Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have not been able to stop its spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there could be as many as 1.4 million cases worldwide by January.

This video includes images from Getty Images,  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Google

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:21:12 -0700

It's dog vs. weatherman in hilarious video

Dogs are great for running, cuddling and just generally being adorable — but apparently they're not so great at reading the weather. 

Weatherman Mike Sobel of Global News in Edmonton, Alberta, brought Ripple, a shepherd-mastiff mix, onto the set to help with the weather. But things got a little ... unruly.

Ripple even managed to chew through his leash!

Although the video has gone viral on sites like BuzzFeedDaily Mail and The Huffington Post, this segment wasn't just for fun.

The 18-month-old pup is up for adoption at the Edmonton Humane Society. And he's pretty upfront about his rambunctious ways, noting, "I would even make a fantastic running partner!" and "I can be quite energetic." Yeah, no kidding.

Now, this wasn't Sobel's first go-around with a rowdy pup — he apparently promotes the Humane Society during the forecast every week.

And he's gotten into some hijinx with the dogs before — one little guy managed to get all tangled up in Sobel's legs.

Ripple reportedly now has multiple suitors for his adoption thanks to his viral Internet fame. You can learn more about him and a host of other animals at edmontonhumanesociety.com.

 

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:15:27 -0700

Your birth season might determine your temperament

According to a new study, temperatures affect temperament: The season you're born in can determine what kind of general mood you have. But you might be a little surprised by which season indicates which mood. 

We think summer lovin' ... well, that's only sort of true, according to this. The study says people born in spring and summer do tend to be more positive but that people born in summer are much moodier than others, often swinging "between cheerful and sad." (Video via Paramount Pictures / "Grease")

And those born in the icy cold of winter are actually more even-tempered folks, the research shows.

The study comes from researchers in Hungary and was just presented in Berlin. 

It looked at 400 people, matching their general moods with when they were born. The researchers say they found seasons influence certain neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit signals between the neurons in your brain. The ones they influence — dopamine and serotonin — control your mood.

Now, the scientists still need to look into how exactly this effect happens. 

"We can't yet say anything about the mechanisms involved. What we are now looking at is to see if there are genetic markers which are related to season of birth and mood disorder."

But they say this could provide a more scientific explanation for something that's long been a bit of folklore.

Ever check your horoscope, for example? What's your sign?

And of course, we've long known seasons can affect our current moods — if you have seasonal affective disorder, you likely get depressed in fall and winter. 

But what's new about this study is it's claiming when you're born can affect your mood for the rest of your life. Future parents, something to think about. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, Chiara Vitellozzi Fotografie / CC BY NC ND 2.0and Riccardo Cuppini / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and music from Podington Bear / CC BY NC 3.0.

 

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:15:27 -0700

Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings

Police investigating the slayings of seven northwestern Indiana women whose bodies were found over the weekend said Monday it could be the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect has indicated there could be more victims going back 20 years.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said at a news conference that the suspect is 43-year-old Darren Vann of nearby Gary, Indiana, who pleaded guilty to a Texas sexual assault in 2009 and was released from prison in July, 2013. His confession to the slaying of a woman in Hammond led police to the grisly discovery of six other bodies in Gary, including three on the same block, authorities said.

Doughty said the Gary slayings appeared to have happened recently, though Vann indicated there could be earlier victims. He said police are not actively looking for more bodies and have no indication that any slayings have occurred in another state. He said Vann is cooperating with investigators in the hope of making a deal with prosecutors.

"It could go back as far as 20 years based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated," Doughty said.

Vann is registered as a sex offender in Texas, where the Department of Public Safety listed his risk level as "low." He did not register in Illinois.

Court records in Travis County, Texas, show that Vann served a five-year prison sentence, with credit for the 15 months he was in jail awaiting trial, after pleading guilty in 2009 to sexually assaulting a woman at an Austin apartment two years earlier.

The woman told police that she went to Vann's apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her.

Vann allowed the woman to leave and she called police the next day.

Charges were expected to be filed in Indiana later Monday in the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found about late Friday at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Doughty said. The Lake County coroner's office said she was strangled.

Doughty said she was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website. Police were called by someone who attempted to reach Hardy and "was provided suspicious text responses that she believed to be from the suspect while he was still inside the motel room."

Police said they took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary.

Vann allegedly confessed to killing Hardy, then told investigators where more bodies could be found in abandoned homes in Gary, a deteriorating former steel town about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, police said.

Police found the body of 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, Indiana, on Saturday night in an abandoned home. She had been missing since Oct. 8.

Five more bodies were found on Sunday in other homes, said Doughty, who identified two of the women as Gary residents Teaira Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36. Police have not determined the identities of the other three women, including two whose bodies were found on the same block where Jones' body was found on Saturday.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said only Jones was reported missing, perhaps indicating that Vann "preyed on individuals that might be less likely to be reported missing."

Hardy's mother, Lori Townsend, said police told her that Vann asked that she perform a certain sex act, and "when she said 'no' and put up a fight, he snapped and strangled her."

"This man is sick," Townsend said from her home in Colorado.

Hardy graduated from high school in late 2013 and planned to go on to college to study music, Townsend said.

"She was full of life. She lit up a room with her smile and her beauty," she said. "And she had a voice like a songbird."

Gary, once a thriving steel town of 178,000 where thousands worked in the mills, has been struggling for decades. Its population has shrunk to just over 78,000 and its poverty rate hovers around 40 percent. Thousands of homes are abandoned, many with weeds choking broken sidewalks — often on the same streets where other homes are tidy and well-kept.

On Monday, people in Gary tried to make sense of the tragedy.

"That's devastating," said Jay Jackson, 25, a health care worker visiting a woman a few houses from where one of the bodies was found. "All we can do is pray for the city and hope for recovery."

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:07:30 -0700