The latest local news

New leadership society aimed at helping local African American children

WQAD News -

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- United Way of the Quad Cities is launching a new organization to help African American students become successful in the future.

On Tuesday, United Way of the Quad Cities launched the African American Leadership Society (AALS).

"This has been six months in the making of planning, preparing and getting ready to introduce it to the community," said Tracy White, the manager for the newly formed society.

AALS plans to address the needs of the African American community with a focus on education, income and health.

"They're last across the board on everything," said White. She said the group has done extensive research and has found that education is the biggest problem area.

"Kindergarten readiness is only at 53%. Third grade reading proficiency is only at 43%. High school graduation rate is only at 83%. Those numbers have to change," White said.

White said the society plans to work with current school programs, but on a smaller scale. She said it will help scale their programs by providing them the resources to expand their reach.

"(Those programs are) already in schools that have high African American population," White said. "But they need people. They need bodies. They need people who care to go into the schools and work with the children."

Interim Superintendent for Davenport, TJ Schneckloth, said the society approached the district prior to do needs assessments. He agrees reading proficiency is the most urgent.

"At first you learn how to read, and right about the third grade time frame you read to learn. So if you haven’t learned to read by third grade, from there on out you have assignments on ‘read this then we’ll talk about it’," Schneckloth said. He said it is an issue that can form into a downward spiral.

Both educators and leaders of AALS agree that a lower reading proficiency leads to a higher drop out rate.

"You start making the correlation and you start building the narrative, and you understand why this is happening," White said. "So if you understand it, now what do you do? Now you know the problem, so what are you going to do about it?"

The final steps of the Society's launch is being called "100/100/100." White said she is looking for 100 investors, 100 volunteers, and 100 mentors to help them accomplish their goals.


2019 Bix Jazz festival to spread music along both sides of the river

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Bix Jazz Festival is spreading out the music for its 48th year by playing on both sides of the river.

For the first time ever, the festival will be in Moline as well as Davenport.
The 2019 festival runs from Thursday, August 1 – Saturday,  August 3.

THE CITIES PODCAST: How Bix was saved

Jazz fans can catch free music on Friday at Bass Street Landing in Moline from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.  Free music will also be available in Davenport’s LeClaire Park that day from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Click here to see the schedule of events.

The festival is hosted each year by the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society.  Thousands of people take part in the festival each year, and the event is put on by more than 100 volunteers.

Several bands will be playing throughout the weekend, click here to learn more about them. 

Related: What do we know about Bix Beiderbecke? Author lets voices ‘hash it out’ in book ‘Finding Bix’

More security officers on patrol at Mississippi Valley Fair this year

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The Mississippi Valley Fair is ramping up security at the fairgrounds this year.

About 40 more security officers will be on patrol over the weekend.

"For the 100th anniversary, we’re expecting crowds to be a lot bigger and we want people to be safe when they come to the fairgrounds and have fun," said Shawn Loter, the general manager at the Mississippi Valley Fair.

Officers will be split between the fairgrounds and the grandstand. Loter added that security will also increase at night during the concerts at the grandstand.

Security will also search people entering the fair -- looking for prohibited items like weapons and alcohol.

"(Security has) been doing a pretty good job. Last night, we had very little problems with fighting," Loter said. "I just want everybody to know that they can feel safe with their families and have fun tonight."

For a list of entertainment at the fair through this Sunday, read more here.

Moline Police share warning for gun owners after 12 reports of stolen guns

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Illinois - Moline Police shared a warning for gun owners on July 31, after a dozen guns had been reported stolen in 2019.

Moline Police Detective Michael Griffin said most of the guns were stolen out of unlocked cars.

Police say thieves target unlocked vehicles.

"They're finding firearms that are legally owned by the owners either in the glove box, in the center counsel, under the seat and they're stealing them," said Griffin.

Griffin calls the stolen guns a public safety concern, saying that the guns are sometimes traded on the street for drugs and money. He adds that the guns can also end up in the hands of gang members.

"These guns are not used for target shooting at the range on the weekend. These guns are used for illegal activities and very dangerous activities,"

Detective Griffin said the most recent stolen gun report was taken on Wednesday, July 31.

He said the thieves broke in to a locked car using a spare key and were able to find a gun.

Gun owner Amber Sharp said that's why, even when her car is locked, she is extra cautious.

She keeps a gun safe, small enough to fit under her seat, in her vehicle.

Sharp says it's a simple and responsible solution to the growing concerns of gun theft.

The gun is tethered, so it can't be pulled out of the car and requires a combination to access the weapon.

"As a gun owner, you should always take every precaution possible to make sure your weapon doesn't get into the wrong hands," said Sharp who said there will always be people breaking the law.

She says it is up to the gun owner to know the best way to protect their weapons.

Now, police are hoping to use surveillance to try and track down thieves, and hope this warning can help remind gun owners to lock-it-up.

"When you lock your vehicles at night, take your keys inside, remove your valuables. Your work computers, your laptops, your I-Pads, and remove your firearms. Don't leave them in there," said Griffin.

Prison riot in Brazil leaves 16 inmates decapitated and dozens more killed

WQAD News -

(CNN) — At least 57 people were killed, including 16 who were decapitated, during a vicious gang battle that erupted in a prison in northern Brazil on Monday morning.

The unrest is reported to have begun when a local gang stormed a wing of the facility in Para state controlled by a rival group, state news reported. The majority of the victims are believed to have died from asphyxiation, after gang members set fire to part of the prison complex.

State media said the violence began around 7 a.m., local time in the Regional Recovery Center in the city of Altamira and lasted for several hours. Video of the scene showed prisoners sat on the roof of the building, brandishing knives and with their heads covered, amid smoke rising from the interior.

Two correctional guards taken captive were released, state media reported.

Ten of the 16 prisoners who were blamed for instigating the violence will be transferred to federal penitentiaries, state media reported, citing local authorities. More than 46 other prisoners will be moved to other prisons in Para.

The incident is the latest outbreak of deadly violence in recent months to have taken place in Brazil’s often overcrowded and underfunded prison system.

In May, 55 inmates were killed in gang-related riots at four prisons in western Brazil.

The local prison authorities said at the time the deaths were a result of violent clashes among rival factions within the same drug gang, known as the Family of the North.

Benjamin Lessing, a professor at the University of Chicago who studies Brazil’s prison gangs, said that there were likely local factors at play in Monday’s violence, but the attacks were also part of an ongoing turf war between the country’s two main gangs and a “whole constellation of local gangs.”

“Most of the violence has been in this region, the north and the northeast region, and it’s a place where these gangs are actively fighting each other to achieve some kind of local hegemony or at least carve out space,” Lessing said.

“It doesn’t mean these gangs don’t exist in the rest of Brazil — they do, and there’s violence in other parts of Brazil too related to these gangs. But it seems like where the fighting is very intense right now is in this north-northeast region.”

The gangs used to only exist in Rio de Janeiro, but in recent decades have spread throughout the country, Lessing said.

In turn, the country’s prison population has ballooned to the world’s third-largest, trailing only the United States and China, according to the World Prison Brief.

Brazil’s penitentiary system has for years been plagued by violence due to what analysts have described as systemic failures. The country’s top prison official resigned in 2017 after a series of problems with drugs, corruption, escapes and riots.

Human rights groups have accused the government of doing too little to prevent the violence at prisons that have become recruitment centers for gangs — and even facilitating clashes by allowing the cells to become overcrowded.

“As you start to lock up more and more people, you’re really giving fuel to the fire. You’re putting more people in the hands of these prison gangs, giving them more power to recruit,” Lessing said.

Monday’s clashes pose a challenge to the country’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has previously vowed to crack down on criminal gangs and prison violence.

Wait, so, why is the Fed cutting rates, exactly?

WQAD News -

(CNN) — The economy is strong. Unemployment is historically low. Consumer confidence is high. So why, exactly, did the Federal Reserve cut rates Wednesday?

One argument: By cutting rates, the Fed could grow the supply of money, which has been growing too slowly for the past few years. That, more than any tool at the Fed’s disposal, will help keep the economy growing.

“Everyone is focused on interest rates, and that’s the wrong thing to focus on,” said Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins and a director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the Cato Institute. “It’s all about the growth in the money supply. That’s what drives changes in nominal GDP.”

The number of notes and coins in circulation plus bank accounts is growing at 4.8% per year. Although that’s up from its low of 3.5% per year in October, “a bit more would probably do some good,” Hanke argued.

He argues that the economy is not overheating, which gives the Fed wiggle room to loosen its grip on monetary policy ahead of “international storm clouds” on the horizon — which include uncertainty about trade, a potential no-deal Brexit and slowing growth in China.

Hanke said the US-China trade war and an increase in tariffs, in particular, could damage the global economy, backfiring on the United States.

“The US thinking on this thing is completely wrongheaded,” Hanke said. “We have a president who is a businessman and most businessmen have no clue about international economics.”

Policymakers led by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell voted 8-2 in favor of a small cut in the federal funds rate on Wednesday, and recommitted to their promise to “act as appropriate” to sustain the country’s longest economic expansion in history.

Cutting rates would weaken the dollar, potentially making US exports more attractive to foreign buyers. That’s why the Trump administration has been advocating for devaluing the dollar.

But Hanke cautioned against any intervention on the part of the Trump administration.

“Unilateral interventions are useless unless they’re well planned and well coordinated, otherwise you’re just burning up foreign currencies,” he warned.

Bernie Sanders raises $1.1 million following debate

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ campaign said Wednesday the Democratic presidential candidate has raised $1.1 million since Tuesday and took in more than 70,000 contributions from small-dollar donors.

The announcement comes a day after Sanders’ fiery defense of his progressive policies, such as “Medicare for All,” during the first night of CNN’s Democratic debate in Detroit.

“He left absolutely no doubt that he is the best candidate ready to take this fight to Donald Trump and finally bring the change we need to America,” his campaign manager Faiz Shakir said of Sanders’ debate performance.

The Vermont senator, who has built on a massive small-donor base from his 2016 campaign, is among the fundraising leaders of the 2020 Democratic field. In a Wednesday news release, his campaign said he has received more than two million contributions since launching his campaign in mid-February.

The second night of CNN’s Democratic debate airs at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.

8 in the Air: Mississippi Valley Fair celebrates 100 years

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- The Mississippi Valley Fair has been around for 100 years.

The fair runs from Tuesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 4.  An estimated 300,000 people were expected to visit the 85 acre site during the 2019 fair.  In honor of the big anniversary, visitors will find 100 tractors on display.

Entry into the fair costs $10 per day for adults. Kids get in for $5 per day.  Back in 1945, admission was 75-cents for adults and 35-cents for kids.

Click here for information on the fair, to purchase fun cards and to see who's playing on the grandstand. 

Two years after surviving the deadliest U.S. mass shooting, she was there when the garlic festival gunman opened fire

WQAD News -

SACRAMENTO - In the panic following the gunfire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, thousands wondered what was happening. Only a few found themselves thinking, "not again."

“Oh man, this is not happening again,” Alicia Olive recalls thinking Sunday as she escaped the mass shooting in Gilroy - her second.

On October 1, 2017, Olive escaped the mass shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas. She said she entered a deep depression following the tragedy.

“I would go into either - if it’s a bar or sometimes just a crowded area - and something about it, it just, I start to panic,” Olive said.

Olive said it took almost two years after Vegas to start to feel safe in public places again.

Then, she ended up in Gilroy, in the company of two friends she met in a Las Vegas shooting support group.

All three of them are part of a small group of Americans with a distinction none of them wants: they’ve now survived two mass shootings.

“After the Vegas shooting, I felt like I would be there again, and it happened,” Olive said. “Angry. It makes you angry.”

Olive said she was near the concert stage where the shooter entered the festival. She and her friends were leaving, but before they hit the exit, gunshots rang out.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’ We were trying to find somewhere to get cover,” she said.

Olive said massacres really can happen anywhere, but accepting tragedy as inevitable isn't enough.

“We can’t tell that to the families that lost someone. Say, ‘oh well that’s life, that’s America,'" she said. "It’s not enough. It’s time to say enough is enough."

Police: Woman snatches dog at 7-Eleven after man suffers seizure, later dies

WQAD News -

LONGMONT, Colo. — A woman is accused of stealing a dog from a man who collapsed after having a seizure in a Colorado convenience store and later died, police said Wednesday.

The 59-year-old victim, who had been feeling ill, walked his Chihuahua to the 7-Eleven store at 1650 N. Main St. in Longmont on Tuesday night.

Police said the man suffered a seizure while at the store and was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Surveillance video from the store shows the unidentified woman leading the man’s dog from the scene while officers and firefighters responded.

Police said the family does not know the woman and officials have not been contacted regarding the dog.

Police are asking for the dog to be returned.

“They not only lost a treasured family member, but are also missing his companion,” police said.

Thief steals California dog’s surfboards just before competition

WQAD News -

POMONA, Calif. - Residents in the Philips Ranch neighborhood of Pomona say someone prowling around vehicles late at night broke into one woman's van - making off with her dog's surfboards.

Susan Gan's dog, Giselle, loves to surf, and she's made it more than a hobby. Giselle is a competitive surfer, and she already has a few wins to her name.

After a thief broke into Gan's van early Monday morning, it looked like Giselle might end up landlocked.

A homeowner caught a man lurking around her vehicle on surveillance footage that night. Later on, Gan's van was hit just down the street. Residents believe it was likely the same man.

The thief stole two surfboards, and it could not have come at a worse time for Susan and Giselle. The dog was set to compete this weekend in Northern California.

Fortunately, Giselle's sponsor was able to loan her a few boards.

"We will not be able to completely customize it before we leave on Wednesday night. We'll do it well enough where we can compete," Gan said.

Gan is happy Giselle will still be out on the water this weekend, but for her, those boards are important.

"The board holds a lot of memories for us. She has won many championships with those boards," Gan said. "All I want is for the people who took those boards to bring them back. No questions asked."


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