WQAD News

One person hurt after shooting in Davenport

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Davenport Police confirmed one person is hurt after a shooting.

It happened on the intersection of Vine and West 7th Street just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.

Several officers were on the scene.

Police said the victim was taken to Genesis East Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Police are not releasing any more information at this time.

Rock Island County health department employees protest “hostile workplace”

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Rock Island County health department workers are protesting what they've called a hostile workplace, arising primarily from one chief nursing officer. Several of them could be seen picketing outside the county administration building Tuesday afternoon and making strong public comments at the start of the county board meeting.

Multiple employees complained that they had reported incidents of harassment and discrimination to the county administrator, chairman of the county board and to the Rock Island board of health. They said their complaints had fallen on deaf ears for the last nine months, driving them to make a public plea.

"We were just so desperate that we had to go public," said health department worker Hilary Knott. "After we had gone through our grievance process and directly talking to the administration, the county and the health department, they would just put little band-aids on and offer solutions that weren't working out," she said.

One former health department worker filed a lawsuit against the county, claiming negative behaviors and verbal assaults from the chief nursing officer that went from uncivil and unprofessional to outright discrimination.

"There is discrimination based on gender, race, nationality, origin and disability at the Rock Island County Health department," said Elvia Ortiz at the public comment session.

"We have been working in a hostile workplace since September of 2018. And I’m ex-military so I’ve got a thick skin. I can tolerate a lot," said another health department worker, Joleen Diehl.

The protesters said they wanted the board to hear their complaints in a very public way. If the county doesn't take corrective action, some health department workers said they thought the county would be on the hook with more lawsuits down the line.

Viola gets plan for revitalizing the heart of the village

VIOLA, Illinois-- Driving through the crossroads of Mercer County brings you to the heart of Viola. US Highway 67 and Illinois 17 intersect in the middle of downtown. The Mayor of Viola Kirk Doonan that's why revitalizing the area is essential to the village's future.

"Instead of declining, hopefully, we've reached the bottom and we can start increasing," Doonan says.

The mayor of 19 years says he remembers when the buildings downtown were full of life. Now many are vacant and crumbling.

"It's just an unfortunate thing," he says. "A lot of downtowns are suffering from the same thing. We're all 100 years old, 150 years old, and the buildings are in need of some attention."

But the biggest question was what to do with the area.

That was answered by Mercery County Better Together, the University of Illinois Extension Office and one class. Earlier this year, U of I students conducted research and surveys in Viola to find out the best uses for the buildings and lots downtown that the village has bought over the years.

"The point of looking at your downtown is to keep your identity and keep your brand going," says Russell Medley, the University of Illinois Extension Community and Economic Development Educator. "What is the community comfortable with? And how are they going to take this plan and adapt it to their comprehensive plan and their financial planning?"

The 55-page final report concludes that the buildings aren't likely salvageable and should be torn down for new development. That includes a new green space and new buildings.

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Doonan says they're looking at bringing in new businesses, from dentists and chiropractors to ice cream shops and restaurants. He says the village also wants to create a business incubator, where entrepreneurs can bring their ideas to life.

"People think about their downtown as the heartbeat, the lifeblood of their community," says Kyle McEwen, executive director of Mercer County Better Together. "This plan that's been put together reflects the amount of work and research and vision involved, and community feedback involved, in what it really takes to make that step from 'where we are' to 'where we want to be.'"

Doonan says the village is now looking at funding this project, setting long-term goals and attracting investors. He says they'll likely have five-year timelines for each portion of the project. He adds they'll look to use TIFF money and grants to cover the cost over the next 15 years.

Arconic union workers agree to maintain contract while talks continue

QUAD CITIES- Quad City steelworkers may consider a strike vote as soon as the week of May 27,  if there is no progress on the on-going contract negotiations.

Arconic union workers held their first regular meeting Tuesday, May 21, since their contract expired the week before with no agreement.

Bargainers agreed to continue the current contract as talks continue.

The local union president says he understands a strike could hurt the pockets of employees and the company but went on to say it's the main tool needed to bargain for a fair contract.

Union workers plan to meet again to discuss a possible strike vote.

Man tells police he was making essential oils, not meth in Virginia Beach home

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Abraham Haines admits he’s grown mushrooms and pot before, but he told WTKR his arrest Monday for allegedly manufacturing meth is all a mistake.

Abraham Haines

“Someone texted me on my phone looking for pot. They said they heard about me through a mutual friend,” said Haines from inside the Virginia Beach Jail.

When he went to get money out, he says he and a friend were stopped by police and handcuffed.

“They said they have been following me for months and that I am making meth,” said Haines.

Norfolk Police say they were conducting a narcotics investigation in their city Monday when it lead them to execute a search warrant in the 4300 block of Tillman Drive in Virginia Beach. During their investigation, they said they discovered items in Haines' home that appeared to be components of a lab used to manufacture drugs.

“They told me I was producing meth, but I have a chemistry set and it’s used to make essential oils and soaps. I’ve been trying to make a little extra money to buy my daughter a gift, so I’ve been selling stuff on Etsy,” explained Haines.

Haines says his 5-month-old daughter was stripped from his arms inside his home Monday.

“Someone called Child Protective Services because they saw chemistry equipment. My neighbors have seen it and even my landlord because I was excited about it” Haines told WTKR.

Law enforcement were outside the auto mechanic's home for hours Monday, dressed in hazmat suits and coming out with bags of materials.

“It was shocking, very scary. I was baffled” said Rhonda Llewelyn, who lives across the street.

Police charged Haines with possession of a controlled substance; manufacturing, sales and possession of a controlled substance; and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

“I catch myself bouncing between rage and sorrow. I’m so sad to think about what my daughter is going through. I think I’ll be in here forever and they will bury me,” stated Haines.

Memphis student named valedictorian while homeless, earns $3M in scholarships

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A teenager in Memphis, Tennessee, exceeded the goals he set for himself – and then some.

Tupac Mosley, 17, a Raleigh Egypt High School graduate was not only named valedictorian, but he told WHBQ he received about 50 scholarships for more than $3 million.  He said he was accepted into more than 40 colleges.  Mosley reportedly chose Tennessee State University where he will major in electrical engineering.

Mosley said his goal was to receive $1 million in college scholarships.

WHBQ reports Mosley became homeless his senior year. “After my father passed, we fell behind on bills and we ended up getting evicted from our home February 21 of this year,” the teen said.

Mosley told the TV station he and his family have been staying at a place called For the Kingdom — a camping site and nonprofit organization that helps urban children and teens.

During his speech at graduation, he thanked his teachers for always believing in him.

The teen had a very important message:  “Never let your current situation, whatever circumstances you’re going through, be a mountain that you can’t climb.”

Off-duty New York firefighter attacked by teens after defending elderly couple: police

NEW YORK — An off-duty FDNY firefighter was attacked after he defended an elderly couple from a group of teens in New York City Saturday morning, police said.

Police are looking for the group of teens who allegedly attacked an off-duty firefighter in Manhattan (NYPD)

Just before 9:30 a.m., police said the firefighter, 38, intervened after witnessing a group of teenagers harassing an elderly couple in the vicinity of 86th Street and Third Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

One of the teens sucker-punched the man from behind and pushed him to the ground, then the group repeatedly struck and stomped the man's head and body, according to police.

The victim suffered a concussion to his head and broken teeth, police said. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The group wanted for questioning in connection to the attack are described as three females and three males between 15 and 17 years old.

The victim is now at home recovering.

 

Mom, 3-year-old son vanish in Oregon

The Fretwells. (Salem Police Dept.)

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon mom and her 3-year-old son have not been seen or heard from since May 13.

The family of Karissa Alyn Fretwell, 25, and son William (Billy) Fretwell reported the pair missing last week, the Salem Statesman Journal reports, and Salem police are asking the public to report any information on the two to its non-emergency line, (503) 588-6123.

A friend who regularly watched William tells the newspaper she last spoke to Fretwell May 11 when Fretwell had questions about installing a security camera system; the friend was supposed to watch William May 17 but never heard from Fretwell.

A neighbor tells KOIN that about two months ago, “We heard a man and woman arguing incredibly loud. The man was swearing a lot and there was a kid crying in the background, and the woman was yelling at him to get out of her apartment.”

Authorities aren’t releasing much information, including whether any of Fretwell’s personal belongings are missing, but a white Grand Am registered to her is still parked on the street in front of her apartment, and a green Mercury Mountaineer parked in front of it has a college financial aid application on its passenger seat that appears to have been signed by Fretwell.

Her friend says Fretwell works as an overnight security guard while studying education at Western Oregon University, and adds, “She has a strong work ethic. She’d never miss work.” (Read more missing childstories.)

More From Newser:

Stutzke’s Stats: Why vehicles are not safe shelter during a tornado

Multiple tornadoes this week in parts of the Midwest remind us that the month of May can be violent. One situation that stood out the most from the severe weather coverage this week was the amount of people that were on the roads as tornadoes were touching down around them.

While forecasting tornadoes and notification methods have improved, there are still instances where the public remains uninformed, especially when traveling, that danger is imminent.  There are typically two situations you'll find yourself in when it comes to encountering a tornado while traveling. Each scenario has it's own pros and cons, so you'll always want to use your best judgment if you find yourself in this situation.

With little to no traffic around you, the best action to take involves moving away from the storm/tornado at a right angle to the movement of the tornado if at all possible. If a tornado is heading east, drive south as quickly as possible.

In situations that involve heavy traffic that make an escape impossible while the tornado is moving towards you, it's best to abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in a ditch or nearby building. If seeking shelter in a ditch, move as far away from the vehicles as possible, lying flat and covering your head.

While some organizations recommend staying with your vehicle, there are several reasons why this isn't a good idea. For one, the surface area of your vehicle is large and makes it a target for multiple pieces of debris. That debris could even be driven straight through your vehicle if the winds are strong enough. At a minimum, all of the windows will likely be shattered sending glass flying. Remaining with your vehicle should always be a LAST RESORT. If you chose to do so, make sure your seatbelt is fastened.

Remaining in your vehicle can also throw you into the worst case scenario in which your vehicle is lofted high in the air. Vehicles are not designed to withstand a violent drop to the ground. The end result for the majority of cases that involve a vehicle being lifted in the air is deadly. Many became wrapped around trees and unrecognizable, not to mention you'll likely become entrapped with a bunch of other debris.

The reason a ditch or culvert is your best bet goes back to the laws of physics. While you are in that low-lying spot, the majority of the debris will be flying overhead rather than reaching down into the ditch/culvert where you are located. You'll still experience some strong winds, but the more intense winds will likely pass directly over you. While this is not always going to be the case 100% of the time depending on various factors like the depth of the ditch etc, it often yields the best possible survival rate when you encounter this situation.

Don't forget that severe storms often times produce heavy rainfall and you should always be aware of your surroundings. If you notice water that begins rising rapidly, you'll want to move to higher ground, especially if the tornado itself is now a fair distance away. Be mindful that the surrounding area will likely be filled with debris and even electrical lines.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

Download the News 8 Weather App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Download the free News 8 App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Day care to close after 6 toddlers wander away, some found on busy road

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A North Carolina daycare is slated to close after six children wandered away from the facility several months ago, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

The paper reports that Pinedale Christian Day Care Inc. voluntarily contacted state officials to inform them that they would end operations by June 11.

The news comes after a Dec. 4, 2018 incident that left leaders at the school “devastatingly embarrassed.”

A group of toddlers managed to slip out of an enclosed playground unnoticed; five of the kids made their way to Peters Creek Parkway, a busy, 55 mph thoroughfare.

“It was disbelief, and it was shocking, and then at some point, it was complete devastation,” Matthew Sink, minister at Pinedale Christian Church, told WGHP after the incident.

Sink said there was a class of 20 children at the playground, who were being monitored by two teachers. Six of the children went through a door, into a church hallway, and made their way to the front doors of the church where they went outside.

From there, five went up a hill and were found alongside – or on – Peters Creek Parkway. One woman reported seeing a boy running down the center lane of the road, then noticed four other toddlers in the care of another driver who pulled over after noticing the children.

A Winston-Salem police officer responding to a different call happened to come across the scene and later found a sixth child at the front doors of the church. The child was so young he was unable to figure out how to open the door to get outside.

The day care, Sink said, was started 22 years ago as a nonprofit ministry of the church.

Farmers unable to plant in wet fields start to look at insurance options

MILAN, Illinois - The fields at Derrer Farms in Milan look like they're stuck in Winter, when they should be full of fresh life.

Farmer Julie Derrer says in May of 2018, all of her corn and soybeans were planted.

This year, in 2019, she has nearly nothing planted. Just 40 acres of soybeans that could be washed up by rain at anytime.

"It's mud. You can`t get anything in there," said Derrer. "You could get the tractor stuck, you can`t make sure the seeds are going to stay in the ground."

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), only about 9% of soybeans are planted in Illinois right now. That's compared to 79% This time last year.

Meanwhile, 24% of corn is planted in Illinois, compared to 95% this time last year.

In Iowa, Farmers are in a similar situation.

Only about 70% of corn is planted, and 27% of soybeans are planted. The USDA reports says farmers are 1-2 weeks behind schedule.

Preventative Crop Insurance can help cover the cost of crops that are unable to be planted.

"The forecast is two more weeks of rain," said Derrer. "And, our deadline for preventative crop insurance is June 2nd for corn. And its not looking like we are going to get it in so its scary. Its very scary."

Now, many farmers are getting ready to settle.

"Is it enough? We will make it work. We don`t have any other options. But, Its not the same as being able to sell a cash crop," said Derrer.

She told WQAD News 8 that the stress is mounting.

"When you wake up in the morning and the rain is hitting the window again- after how many days? It can take its toll on a psyche." said Derrer.

But, she continues to pray.

"We don`t want people to say 'oh the poor farmers' but its tough. Its tough emotionally, its tough financially - but faith, family, farming, that`s what we try to do.

Heavy police presence in Rock Island after car rams into tree, accident confirmed fatal

ROCK ISLAND- Many police and firefighters were in Rock Island for a single car that ran into a tree and proved to be fatal.

Tuesday, May 21, a car rammed a tree at 37th Street and 16th Ave. Police handling the scene confirmed one is dead and another had been taken to a hospital.

Our people on the scene said the car was severely smashed into the tree.

The car was towed away and the streets were unblocked at 7:10 p.m. that evening.

Three fire trucks and three RI police cars could be seen responding to the accident.

Neighbors Tell News 8 that the SUV caught on fire after hitting the tree. They tried putting it out with hoses and several people checked on the passengers before police showed up.

Several people gathered around the accident.

14-year-old and 18-year-old charged with car theft after high-speed chase

MOLINE, Illinois- Police say a 14-year-old and 21-year-old are charged with theft after leading them on a high-speed chase in a stolen car.

Police arrested Drake Howard 21, after he admitted to being in the back seat of the silver KIA.

A 14-year old was taken to the juvenile detention center.

A third person was also taken into custody, but charges were not filed.

It started after a shots fired call near 59th and Brady Monday, May 20.

Police say the suspects led them on a chase before coming to a stop near Silver Creek Mobile Home Park, then they took off running.

The suspects were later arrested.

Poll: Most Americans feel good about current job market

According to a poll from Gallup, Most Americans think the job market is improving and feel positive about it.

Take our poll at the end of the article: Be heard!

Americans’ current confidence in the U.S. job market is the highest since Gallup’s 2001 poll.

71% in May 2019, say now seems like a good time to be looking for a  job.

“This represents a significant improvement from March and April, when 65% each month rated the job market favorably. Today’s level is similar to February’s 69% reading.”-Gallup

Results of the Gallup poll say:
  • Over 7 in 10 Americans feel positive about the U.S. job market
  • Employment optimism among the workforce is highest since 2000
  • Majorities of Americans rate the economy positively and say it’s improving

This survey was conducted May 1-12, with most of the interviews collected after the May 3 Labor Department report announcing that unemployment in April had fallen to 3.6%, the lowest in nearly 50 years.

Gallup has collected opinion on this question since August 2001, when 39% rated the job market favorably.

“This was at a time of rising unemployment amid the 2001 recession. However, even after that economic downturn, the figure remained subdued for the next 16 years, including dips below 10% at points in 2009, 2010 and 2011, when unemployment was especially high.”-Gallup

Recently, the percentage of Americans viewing the job market positively averaged 65% in 2018.

How did they do it?

“Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 1-12, 2019, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.”

“Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.”

See the poll yourself HERE: Take Our Poll

National Weather Service and Davenport Public Works unsure what rain will do to river levels

DAVENPORT, Iowa – Davenport Public Works says they are still unsure when or if they will be setting a temporary flood wall for the expected rainfall that could raise river levels again.

It may seem like you can pour one out to celebrate the end of flooding, but Great River Brewery Owner, Scott Leanert, is mindful the Mississippi River could still hop from one flood stage to the next.

“I pray the water levels don’t get to what they were earlier this year,” says Leanert.

Leanert, along with two dozen volunteers, are finally able to wash away what the flood left behind.  But there’s a chance the water could return.

“I heard it was going to rise, that’s all I know,” says Maureen Carter, an employee at Great River Brewery.

With scattered thunderstorms expected the rest of the week and into next, everyone is uncertain how high the river may rise.

“I thought I heard 20 feet, but I could be wrong, I don’t know,” says Carter.

It’s not just businesses that are unsure.  Davenport Public Works is unsure what Mother Nature will do, and that’s because the National Weather Service doesn’t even know.

“With spring rains and thunderstorms, you can have variations over short distances,” says Rick Kinney, at the National Weather Service Quad Cities. “It’s tough to nail down location, amounts, and so forth with a high degree of confidence.”

“Now it will just be tornadoes or something, who knows?” Leanert questions.

Whether the river reaches 18 feet, 20 feet, or beyond, it doesn’t matter for Leanert, because at this point everything is a total wash.

“Everything is pretty much already destroyed,” comments Leanert.

Davenport Public Works says they do have preparations ready to re-install the flood wall if the river reaches 18 feet.

Since Public Works is uncertain about the forecast they are encouraging property owners to watch the forecast and leave flood measures in place.

Baby cut from Chicago teen’s womb after she was killed opens his eyes

(CNN) — Inside a Chicago-area hospital, a baby fights for his life. The infant is in intensive care and listed in grave condition after he was cut from his mother’s womb in an attack on her last month. But this little one has a fighting spirit, and a picture has emerged of him with his father.

In the photo, taken Sunday by a student pastor, the baby is being held by his father Yovany Lopez. The infant is attached to various tubes and appears to be asleep in his father’s arms. Around the time the photo was taken, the baby opened his eyes.

Related: Horrific new details in case of pregnant Chicago teen found dead, baby cut from womb

“We were just praying and praying and he opened his eyes, and his dad said, “Oh my God, he opened his eyes!'” Cecilia Garcia, a student pastor who is assisting the family, told CNN.

“We’ve been blessed, although this is a really bad tragedy, they’re such a loving and humble family and it’s just so wrong what happened to them.”

Garcia said she was horrified when she first heard about the slaying of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, Yovany Lopez’s pregnant 19-year-old wife.

She was killed last month after she was lured to a Chicago woman’s home on an offer of free baby clothes.

Police say Ochoa-Lopez was strangled and her unborn baby was cut out of her. Her body was found in the garbage can in the backyard of the home. Police arrested and charged three people in the ghastly killing.

Garcia says the country has united in support of the family.

“I felt like I was watching a scary movie when I heard about this. It was really bad,” said Garcia, who is a member of the Lincoln United Methodist church in Chicago.

“But she’s (Marlen) evoked the whole nation of people, pouring their love out for this family. He’s (Yovany Lopez) a single dad now, and we’re praying this baby makes it.”

Councilman knocked out in violent brawl at city council meeting

COMMERCE, Calif. - A heated argument between elected officials of the city of Commerce led to punches thrown and Commerce councilman Leonard Mendoza knocked unconscious on the ground.

The bloody brawl broke out early Saturday morning at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort during a meeting of city leaders.

"To be honest with you, it’s pretty embarrassing, the fact that our officials are doing this," Commerce resident Hector Maravilla told KTLA.

Mayor John Soria released a statement saying the physical altercation began with an argument between Mendoza and vice Mayor Ivan Altamirano.

The mayor said he stepped in to diffuse the situation, when both he and the vice mayor were attacked from behind by two other men.

Altamirano suffered a gash on his lip. His attorney said Mendoza was the aggressor and points to a pattern of alleged violent behavior involving the councilman.

Mendoza can be seen being carted out on a gurney from a different incident at a local bar in January .

"It’s not the first time one of our officials had this situation happen to him. He did get knocked out at Maguey bar not too long ago," Maravilla said.

KTLA went to Mendoza’s home, but there was no answer.

Mendoza said he was sucker punched by the vice mayor, and just remembers waking up in the hospital.

Some residents said they’ve had enough with their local politicians.

"Very unprofessional, I think in a position that all eyes are on you, I think you have to act in a manner more professional than what they’re presenting," Edder Pinedo said.

Both the mayor and vice mayor are planning on pressing charges against Mendoza. The next city council meeting is set for next week.

Sisters sell lemonade to pay off classmates’ school lunch debt

DAVIDSON COUNTY. N.C. – Two young girls are hoping to make a difference in their classmates’ lives with a lemonade stand.

Sisters Hailey and Hannah Hager spent the weekend squeezing and serving lemonade to raise money for their peers at Southwood Elementary in Lexington. Student lunch debt at the school is up to $3,100.

“There's one family that owes $800,” Erin Hager, the girls’mom, told WGHP. “I don't know how many years’ worth that is, but it's a big deal.”

Hager says her daughters have raised money for other causes in the past. On Sunday, they hosted a hot dog lunch at the lemonade stand to collect funds.

“Super proud,” said Erin Hager, the girl’s mom. “It has been hot and they have been out waving their arms and flailing.”

“There are people in the world that need help,” Hannah said.

One man was inspired by the girls' efforts and encouraged members of his biker club to attend the hot dog lunch.

“I find very few young people who have that responsibility or gumption to do something like this,” he told WGHP.

If you want to give back or stop by the lemonade stand, check out the Hailey and Hannah’s Helping Hands Lemonade Stand Facebook page for updates.

Moving forward, the girls hope to help cover the cost of lunch debt at different schools. More than $40,000 is owed across schools in Davidson County.

Abortion rights advocates protest to ‘stop the bans’ as more states pass fetal heartbeat bills

(CNN) — Holly Nunn is expecting her first baby in September, so it was with a bright pink shirt and a protruding belly that she joined an abortion rights rally outside the US Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“I’m here protesting today because no one should be forced to be pregnant when they don’t want to be, and right now our right to make that most basic, fundamental decision is under attack,” she said.

Nunn is one of the many abortion rights supporters gathering at statehouses, town squares and courthouses Tuesday across the United States in a show of opposition to a wave of laws attempting to sharply restrict abortion.

“We will not go back,” protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, chanted.

“My voice, my choice,” protesters outside the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta shouted.

More than 50 organizations — including the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America — are participating in #StopTheBans protests nationwide. Rallies began taking place at noon local time in almost all 50 states.

“Across the country, we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access,” organizers said.

“This is Trump’s anti-choice movement… and it’s terrifying, particularly for women of color and low-income women who are most affected by these bans.”

The group of protesters at the Georgia statehouse carried signs that read “Stop the bans” and “Don’t take away our care.” They also targeted lawmakers who recently passed a restrictive “heartbeat” abortion law with chants of “What do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

A number of Democratic politicians joined the protests, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Washington.

“I stand in solidarity with those across the country to #StopTheBans,” Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted. “We will fight with everything we’ve got to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”

Reaction to Alabama’s restrictions

Last week, Alabama enacted the strictest abortion law in the country. It would make abortion illegal in virtually all cases, including cases of rape and incest. The new law says doctors who perform an abortion could face up to 99 years in prison, punishments similar to penalties for rapists and murderers.

But due to legal challenges, it could be years before Alabama’s law takes effect — if it ever does at all.

The 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in all states up to a certain point of viability. However, with President Donald Trump’s appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court, anti-abortion advocates believe they may have enough votes to overturn that decision.

The Alabama legislation was designed specifically to go to the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v. Wade, said Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, which helped draft the Alabama bill.

But it can take years for the Supreme Court to hear a case, if it chooses to hear the case at all. The nation’s highest court decides which cases it wants to take.

Fetal heartbeat bills

Georgia is one of the latest states to enact a so-called “heartbeat law,” meaning virtually all abortions are illegal once a heartbeat is detected. That can be as early as six weeks, which is before an embryo becomes a fetus, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Several states already have passed similar laws, including Mississippi and Ohio. And more states, including Missouri and Louisiana, could soon enact similar “heartbeat” bills.

None of these states have managed to put the law into practice though, and they have often been struck down as unconstitutional in court. In January, for example, an Iowa judge struck down that state’s heartbeat bill, and on Tuesday, a federal judge in Mississippi expressed deep skepticism about the legality of that state’s heartbeat bill.

Abortion rights activists say these kinds of restrictive laws are attempts to end Roe v. Wade.

“We will show up to speak out and fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women,” organizers of Tuesday’s protests said.

“Politicians shouldn’t be making decisions best left to women, their families, and their doctors.”

The National Right to Life — the largest anti-abortion organization in the country — said it is fighting a different kind of national wave.

“We bet you are frustrated. You are frustrated with the extreme pro-abortion agenda that seems to be taking over our country,” Right to Life tweeted. It called for supporters to attend its national convention in July.

Alabama Public Television blocks episode of ‘Arthur’ over gay wedding

Alabama Public Television says it won’t air an episode of the children’s show “Arthur” that featured a same-sex marriage.

“Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” aired as the premiere for the show’s 22nd season on May 13. But not in Alabama.

Programming director Mike McKenzie says Alabama Public Television has no plans to broadcast the episode.

The storyline about Mr. Ratburn’s marriage conveys a positive message, he said. But while many parents will find it appropriate, many others will disagree, he said — “either because their children are too young, or because of their beliefs.”

“Our broadcast would take away the choice of parents who feel it is inappropriate,” McKenzie told CNN in a statement.

The response to the decision

CNN has reached out to WGBH, which produces the series, and is waiting to hear back. PBS told CNN that its local channels decide what to put on the air in their markets.

“PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation,” PBS Kids’ Maria Vera Whelan told CNN. “We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day.”

The show’s creator told CNN he felt like the episode was a responsibility they had with Arthur.

Mark Brown cited his friend Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, who taught him how television could be used to help children in families.

“So many of us have have family or friends who are gay who are not represented in the media,” Brown says. “We have people in our family that are gay and raising children and looking for things to validate their families.”

The ceremony is a literal wink and nod

The episode doesn’t specifically address Ratburn’s sexuality or show a marriage ceremony.

“Who is Mr. Ratburn marrying?” Muffie, one of the character, asks.

The scene then cuts to Mr. Ratburn, their third-grade teacher walking down the aisle with Patrick, a chocolate maker. Patrick simply answers the children with a wink.

To see the episode for yourself, view the episode by clicking here.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called the station’s decision censorship and mean-spirited.

“TV worlds often reflect our actual world and today that includes LGBTQ parents and families,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told CNN in a statement.

“LGBTQ parents and their children deserve to see themselves reflected in media and if leadership of this public broadcasting station cannot serve the interests of the entire public, it’s time to find someone who can.”

Not the first backlash

It’s not the first time that “Arthur” has experienced backlash for addressing real world situations.

A 2005 episode of the spinoff show, “Postcards from Buster” had then-Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings writing a letter to PBS, asking it to refund the education grants used to create the episode, “Sugartime!”

In it, the character Buster visited a couple of actual families in Vermont, and the kids showed him how to make maple sugar and cheese. Two of those families were headed by lesbian couples.

“Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode,” Spellings said at the time.

The episode actually never aired outside of Boston.

Boston PBS station WGBH ran it; PBS decided not to distribute it.

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