Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, ‘Beloved’ author, dies at 88

Toni Morrison, author of seminal works of literature on the black experience such as “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon” and “Sula” and the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize, has died at 88 on Monday night her publisher Knopf confirmed to CNN.

Morrison’s novels gazed unflinchingly on the lives of African Americans and told their stories with a singular lyricism, from the post-Civil War maelstrom of “Beloved” to the colonial setting of “A Mercy” to the modern yet classic dilemmas depicted in her 11th novel, “God Help the Child.”

Her talent for intertwining the stark realities of black life with hints of magical realism and breathtaking prose gained Morrison a loyal literary following. She was lauded for her ability to mount complex characters and build historically dense worlds distant in time yet eerily familiar to the modern reader.

Themes such as slavery, misogyny, colorism and supernaturalism came to life in her hands.

A decorated novelist, editor and educator — among other prestigious academic appointments, she was a professor emeritus at Princeton University — Morrison said writing was the state in which she found true freedom.

“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I did n’t not have a way of thinking about it, which is what writing is for me. It’s control. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s mine, it”s free, and it’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge,” Morrison said.

U.S. author Toni Morrison smiles in her office at Princeton University in New Jersey, while being interviewed by reporters on October 7, 1993. Morrison said “I am outrageously happy” after hearing that she had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

The words of others

Morrison, who was nearly 40 when she published her first novel in 1970, wasn’t an overnight success.

The author was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, the daughter of George and Ella Ramah Wofford, whom she often credited with instilling in her a love of the arts.

A strong and prolific reader as a child, Morrison studied Latin and devoured European literature.

Growing up in Lorain, Morrison has said, she played and attended school with children of various backgrounds, many of them immigrants. Race and racism were not the overriding concerns in her childhood that they would become in her books.

“When I was in first grade, nobody thought I was inferior. I was the only black in the class and the only child who could read,” she once told the Los Angeles Times.

She encountered segregation for the first time when she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C.

It was a policy she found “theatrical” and hard to take seriously. However, family lore of lynchings, injustice at the hands of white people and midnight flight from the South seem to have informed her later subject matter.

In 1953, she graduated from Howard with a degree in English; she went on to earn a master’s from Cornell University in 1955.

She married Jamaican architect Harold Morrison in 1958 and gave birth to two sons — Harold Ford in 1961 and Slade Kevin in 1964. She and her husband divorced after six years of marriage.

Morrison began her storied career in letters as a college instructor at Texas Southern University and later at Howard, her alma mater.

In 1963, she took a position as a book editor at Random House based in Syracuse, New York, where she worked for 20 years before leaving in 1983. Morrison was editing the works of others when she published her first novel at age 39.

“I didn’t become interested in writing until I was about 30 thirty years old,” she later said. “I didn’t really regard it as writing then, although I was putting words on paper. I thought of it as a very long, sustained reading process — except that I was the one producing the words.”

“The Bluest Eye,” about an impoverished and abused black girl who longs for blue eyes, was met with middling reviews but gained prestige when it was added to the City University of New York curriculum.

“Required reading,” Morrison has said. “Therein lies the success.”

The novel has been challenged and called offensive over the years by parents in communities across the country who say the subject matter, which involves incest and violence, is too raw for young readers.

A regal presence

Morrison went on to pen roughly a dozen novels, most lauded among them 1987’s “Beloved,” about a former slave who kills her baby to ensure it is never enslaved. “Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Her non-fiction work included 1974’s collection of African-American historical ephemera “The Black Book,” 1992’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination” and 2004’s “Remember: The Journey to School Integration.”

A regal presence who’d come to be associated with her crown of gray dreadlocks, Morrison had amassed a body of work that rivaled the most decorated American novelists by the late 1980s, though according to some she had not been fully recognized as the literary institution she was. Morrison herself had championed the work of black writers such as Toni Cade Bambara, Gayl Jones and Angela Davis while at Random House.

In 1988, a group of 48 black writers and thinkers published a statement in The New York Times in support of Morrison and other black writers and critical of the literary establishment, which seemed to have gone out of its way to pass them over for major writing awards.

“Despite the international stature of Toni Morrison, she has yet to receive the national recognition that her five major works of fiction entirely deserve: She has yet to receive the keystone honors of the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize,” read the statement.

She received the Pulitzer for “Beloved” two months later.

Morrison encountered personal tragedy in 1993 when her home burned down, and in 2010 with the death of her son Slade at age 45 from pancreatic cancer. She had collaborated with Slade, a visual artist whom she called a “brilliant writer,” on a series of children’s books.

The lows were countered by the highest of heights. The same year her son died, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her body of work to that point.

“One can delight in her unique narrative technique, varying from book to book and developed independently, even though its roots stem from Faulkner and American writers from further south. The lasting impression is nevertheless sympathy, humanity, of the kind which is always based on profound humour,” said the Nobel committee in announcing the award in 1993.

President Barack Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 — the loftiest US honor for a civilian.

Novelist Toni Morrison is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama during an East Room event May 29, 2012 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The author preferred to let her work speak for her, often appearing publicly as an inscrutable grand dame, reluctant to talk about personal affairs. However, writing, she said, was the one space where she really could be larger than life.

“All of my life is doing something for somebody else,” Morrison told New York magazine in 2012. “Whether I’m being a good daughter, a good mother, a good wife, a good lover, a good teacher — and that’s all that. The only thing I do for me is writing. That’s really the real free place where I don’t have to answer.”

Given that independence, it was perhaps ironic that she stuck with her married name on her books. (“Toni” was a high school nickname.) She’d used it for “The Bluest Eye” and later regretted it, she said.

“Wasn’t that stupid?” she said. “I feel ruined!”

The people who know her best call her Chloe, she added.

“Chloe writes the books.”

14 young people in Wisconsin and Illinois hospitalized after vaping, health officials say

(CNN) — Fourteen teens and young adults have been hospitalized in Wisconsin and Illinois for breathing problems potentially linked to vaping, health officials in both states announced in early August.

In Wisconsin, severe lung disease has sent 11 people to the hospital, according to the state’s Department of Health Services. That’s three more than the eight cases the state reported in late July.

And in Illinois, three young people have been hospitalized for severe breathing problems after vaping, the state Department of Public Health announced Friday. “The names and types of vaping products, as well as where they were obtained, are still being investigated,” the department said.

‘Some even needed assistance to breathe’
Thomas Haupt, a respiratory disease epidemiologist with Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, said Friday that his state’s cases were among young people, “otherwise normally healthy, and they were coming in with severe respiratory illnesses, and in some cases, they actually had to go to the intensive care unit and were placed on ventilators.”

The lung disease looked like it was caused by an infection, “but every test has come back completely negative,” Haupt told CNN. Regarding any links between the cases, “the only thing at this point is vaping, but we don’t know what they vaped, where they got their vaping liquids, all this needs to be determined at this point.”

Chuck Warzecha, a deputy administrator at Wisconsin’s health department, said that “all of them were hospitalized with shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Some even needed assistance to breathe.” While the patients are “generally improving,” it is unclear what long-term effects they might face, he said.

The majority of Wisconsin’s cases were in the southeastern part of the state, said Haupt. In Illinois, the state’s three hospitalized patients were from the northeastern part of the state, which borders Wisconsin. It’s not yet known whether the cases in both states are linked to a common source, such as a vape product or e-liquid.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, told CNN that her team has “talked to people from Wisconsin” and is gathering data and running tests. “We have a lot of unanswered questions at this time,” she said.

As in Wisconsin, the Illinois cases included coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and sometimes chest pain that worsened over time, according to Ezike. The cases also occurred in people with “no known lung problems or previously diagnosed pulmonary issues,” she said.

‘Potentially toxic substances’ in vapes, committee says
There were questions about the safety of vaping even before the recent hospitalizations. The American Lung Association, for example, says it is “very troubled by the evolving evidence about the impact of e-cigarettes on the lungs.”

The organization points to research showing that key vape ingredients may harm cells or contain “dangerous chemicals” that can “cause lung disease, as well as cardiovascular (heart) disease.”

An expert committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported last year that there is “conclusive evidence that in addition to nicotine, most e-cigarette products contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances.”

Scientists are unsure how those substances may contribute to lung disease, if at all. But the committee said there is “moderate evidence for increased cough and wheeze in adolescents who use e-cigarettes” and tied vaping to “an increase in asthma exacerbations.”

‘Who knows how many more cases we’re going to get’
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said that “unless the Department is withholding information, what we know today does not justify discouraging adult smokers from using vaping products as an alternative to cigarettes.”

It is “absolutely shameful that health departments are blaming vaping generally when the facts point to street-bought THC cartridges as being the likely cause of these hospitalizations,” he said.

He pointed to local news reports that described one hospitalized Wisconsin patient as having purchased THC oil on the street before his breathing issues began, according to his brother.

But health officials have yet to identify any common cause across the incidents, and Haupt, the Wisconsin epidemiologist, said “we haven’t indicated THC as a problem yet.”

He said THC, marijuana’s key psychoactive ingredient, “is part of our questionnaire that we’re looking into to really see if there is indeed use of THC and how widespread it is amongst these cases.”

Collecting information has been difficult, though, because “we’re dealing with minors, so they aren’t always the most honest when they deal with these things,” said Haupt.

He added that the state has been in contact with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “the FDA has called as well.” But this is the first time the state has seen a cluster of lung disease associated with vaping, Haupt said, and “who knows how many more cases we’re going to get.”

‘No kid should have cancer’: Boy raises $11K for St. Jude by auctioning hog ‘Millhouse’

MEDINA, Ohio – The generosity of a 14-year-old Ohio boy had both tears and donations flowing during an auction at the Medina County Fair.

When Austin Lettner decided to auction his 230-pound hog Millhouse, he decided not to keep the money for himself.

"One day my parents just asked me, well asked me and (my brother) Logan if we wanted to keep the money for our pigs or donate it, and we said donate the money," Austin said.

The decision was made to donate the proceeds from the auction to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He hoped to raise about $1,000.

"The people that we are donating the money to, they need the money more than we do. No kid should have cancer," he added.

When the auction for Millhouse started on Sunday, the bidding soared. Bidders ran the price far above the average to an amazing $12 a pound, raising nearly $3,000.

But the auction was far from over.

The auctioneer told those in the barn that, while they don't normally do this, they would open it up for anyone who wanted to donate an additional dollar a pound to go directly to the charity.

"It was a sea of cards that just came up," said Jamie Lettner, Austin's father.

More than 20 people bid an additional $230 with one bidder giving $500.

"All the way through here there wasn't a dry eye from the biggest burliest men to the highest paid-guy in here. Everybody was just tearing up and crying, they were so proud of these boys and themselves. They should be extremely proud of themselves for coming and and supporting these children. Not just mine, but all of them," Lettner said.

"It was just an amazing feeling to me to see everyone throwing up their signs and bidding for it,"  Austin said.

When the bidding finished, the effort raised more than $11,000.

"They are not farmers. They run gravel pits, they run shoe stores to have them come out and put that money back into their community, it's a beautiful thing," the boy's father said.

"It just shows the quality of people here in Medina County, that individuals would do something like that and the buyers would do so much more on top of it," said Michael Gall, the livestock sale president.

"It's just so heartwarming and it makes you feel good as a parent that my children chose to donate some of their money, instead of keeping it for themselves. They could have done a lot with that money, but instead they chose to help kids and families who need it more than they do," said Stacey Lettner, Austin's mother.

To magnify the charitable effort, the buyers donated Millhouse to help feed people through another local charity.

Later, when Austin sold another of his hogs, the bidders rewarded him for his charitable contribution by bidding $10 a pound.

Both Logan and Austin hope their charitable efforts will inspire other members of 4-H, a youth development organization, to do the same thing.

"What makes me happy is when the whole family comes out and supports the fair supports the kids," said fair board president Bob Toth.

During the fair, many 4-H members show their animals that they have spent months raising.

"The goal is to get it to proper weight. They are invited to the auction. They are able to sell at auction and hopefully, the proceeds pays for the cost of that animal and all that feed," Toth said.

Louisiana launching medical marijuana after years of waiting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is becoming the first Deep South state to dispense medical marijuana on Tuesday, four years after state lawmakers agreed to give patients access to therapeutic cannabis.

Nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical marijuana across Louisiana and most are expected to open this week. Louisiana joins more than 30 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form. And though marijuana is banned at the federal level, a congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs.

GB Sciences, one of two state-sanctioned growers, will begin shipping medical marijuana to Louisiana’s registered dispensaries Tuesday morning, after state regulators recently completed final tests and cleared it for release. Hundreds of patients in Louisiana have been awaiting the start of the program after years of work by lawmakers, who created the regulatory framework in 2015 for dispensing the cannabis. There also have been regulatory disputes and other hurdles.

State Sen. Fred Mills, a pharmacist in St. Martin Parish who sponsored the medical marijuana law, never thought it would take years for patients to gain access. He said he has repeatedly received “difficult calls” from people with cancer, seizures and other debilitating conditions and their family members asking when cannabis will reach pharmacy shelves.

“The toughest thing has been not being able to give people a definitive timeline that they could make plans for,” Mills said.

Nine pharmacies are licensed to dispense medical marijuana across Louisiana. Most are expected to open this week. It joins more than 30 other states that allow medical marijuana in some form. And though marijuana is banned at the federal level, a congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs.

“We’re super-excited. The first patient will be getting medical marijuana here,” said Randy Mire, owner of Capitol Wellness Solutions in Baton Rouge, one of the nine dispensaries authorized statewide.

Mire said he’ll see three patients Tuesday — two cancer patients and a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. But he has hundreds more waiting. To avoid a rush at the pharmacy, Capitol Wellness Solutions scheduled appointments for patients to pick up the liquid tinctures that will be the first medical marijuana product available — bottles that come with a dropper for patients to use.

Doug Boudreaux, a pharmacist and co-owner of the Shreveport medical marijuana dispensary Hope Pharmacy, is taking a similar approach, opening Tuesday for patients by appointment only.

“We should have all of the patients taken care of in the next six days,” he said. “We’ve been calling patients for the past week and a half.”

Only the Louisiana State University and Southern University agricultural centers are authorized to grow medicinal-grade pot.

Regulatory disagreements between GB Sciences, LSU’s grower, and state regulators in Louisiana’s agriculture department slowed getting the product to shelves, with medical marijuana advocates claiming the agency created unnecessary regulatory hurdles.

Meanwhile, Southern broke ties with the first company it chose to grow marijuana, delaying its efforts. Southern’s new grower Ilera Holistic Healthcare planted its first crop two weeks ago and estimates its first product could be available by fall at the earliest.

Under the 2015 law and additional changes passed since then, Louisiana is allowing medical marijuana to treat a long list of diseases and disorders, such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

Doctors won’t issue a prescription but a “physician recommendation form,” a legal nuance aimed at keeping doctors from jeopardizing their medical licenses because federal law prohibits prescribing marijuana. Eighty-eight doctors around the state have been approved for the Louisiana permit required to offer medical-grade pot to patients.

Marijuana can be available in oils, pills, liquids, topical applications and an inhaler, such as that used by asthma patients — but not in a smokeable form.

GB Sciences’ first product will be the liquid tinctures, in three different concentrations. John Davis, GB Sciences Louisiana president, said he expects to have dissolving strips taken by mouth available in a month, followed by topical creams.

Pharmacies set their own price for the products, and insurance won’t be covering the cost, so patients will have to pay out of pocket. Mire said the cost at his pharmacy will range from $99 to $200 per product.

Police host National Night Out Against Crime

EAST MOLINE, ILLINOIS  --   East Moline and Moline Police Departments are teaming up to host the 2019 National Night Out Against Crime.

The goal is to encourage people to be active in their neighborhoods and communicate with law enforcement to help fight crime together.

"It's just a way for our communities to get to come together and get to interact with each other," Officer Brian Yuska with East Moline Police said.  "We get to know more about each other and get to be come one full community."

They saw hundreds of people at last years event, but they are looking for even more this year.

"We're all one community, so it's great that we do get to meet each other, interact with each other, and get to have a good time," Yuska said.

This is the second year the departments have joined together for the event, but it has been an East Moline tradition for more than a decade.

The event will be August 6th, 2019 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m at the Williow Springs Pool in East Moline.

There will be free swimming, food, and ice cream.

This year's night out in Rock Island takes place tonight, August 6th, from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Longview Park.

An 11-year-old started the ‘El Paso Challenge’ to help his community heal

(CNN) -- Sixth-grader Ruben Martinez wants to hold up posters, pass out flyers and promote a challenge on Facebook he thinks will help his Texas community begin to heal from a devastating shooting that claimed the lives of 22 people and injured 24 others.

He calls it the #ElPasoChallenge.

Here's how it works: The 11-year-old is challenging each person in El Paso to do 22 good deeds for others --- one for each of the victims shot and killed when a white supremacist began firing Saturday inside a Walmart.

You can mow someone's lawn, visit a nursing home, pay for someone's lunch or dinner, donate to families in need, write someone a letter and tell them how great they are, hold the door for everyone, take flowers to someone in the hospital or leave a dollar on the vending machine for the next person, the young boy suggests, among other ideas in a list of "kind acts" examples.

The point is for people to "be kind to each other all day, every day," his mom, Rose Gandarilla, said. Her son's idea, she said, came after Ruben told his mom he didn't want to go shopping at stores anymore, asking if they could find a delivery service instead.

"He was having some trouble dealing with what happened," Gandarilla told CNN. "I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving. I told him to try and think of something he could do to make El Paso a little better."

So, Ruben went to his room on Sunday, brainstormed and came up with the challenge --- and he's already leading the way.

"Last night, he agree(d) to go out to do his first act of kindness," Gandarilla said Monday. "He chose to go deliver dinner to our first responders."

The young boy and his mom have been to multiple places -- Walgreens, Barnes & Noble and Sprouts --- to spread the message.

"He seems to be doing better and says that hopefully, the world will be a better place with all these random acts of kindness."

Blaming mass shootings on mental illness is ‘inaccurate’ and ‘stigmatizing,’ experts say

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump described a weekend of two mass shootings — one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio — as a "mental illness problem."

"We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary involuntary confinement," Trump said during a public address on Monday.

"Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

Yet mental health experts, including representatives from the American Psychological Association, have called it "unfounded" to blame mass shootings on mental illness in place of considering other possible factors, such as hate, bigotry and access to assault weapons.

Calling every mass shooting a mental health problem is "inaccurate and it's stigmatizing," said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.

Mental illness affects millions of adults across the country. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States, or 46.6 million, experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"The reality is that there are a variety of reasons that mass shootings happen," Evans said. "If this were a mental health issue and this was the only issue involved here, what you would see is roughly the same number of mass shootings around the world and we're not seeing that."

Framing mass shootings as a "mental health issue" certainly could lead to policies aimed at improving mental health, but "that won't prevent the next shooter," said Lori Ann Post, a professor of emergency medicine and medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies violence and policy.

It's estimated that less than 5% of shootings are committed by people with a diagnosable mental illness, Post said.

What makes a mass shooter

Based on the current body of research, mass shootings tend to fall within specific categories, most of which do not explicitly involve mental illness, according to Post, who has been tracking these "typologies" of massacres.

"One of them is hate crime," Post said, referring to the El Paso, Texas, shooter and the previous mass shootings at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015 and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

"We also see revenge killing," she said, referring to some workplace shootings. "Then we also have some people whose motives are mostly just to kill as many people as possible" or some are "mission oriented."

"Another typology is domestic violence on steroids," Post said, referring to when a violent spouse might kill an entire family. Most mass shootings fall within the categories of domestic violence, hate crimes or retribution killing, she added.

While these scenarios are important to research, Post said that mass shootings overall are rare occurrences.

"Mass shootings make up a half percent of the total deaths in America," Post said.

"Mental health definitely has a role in gun shootings and that's mostly people who are depressed and kill themselves — however, not mass shootings," she said.

Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns in the year 2017, marking the highest number of gun deaths in decades, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database.

That analysis, conducted by CNN last year, showed that, within the total number of deaths, 23,854 people died from suicide by guns in 2017, the highest number in 18 years. That's a difference of more than 7,000 deaths compared with 16,599 suicide deaths by guns in 1999.

The age-adjusted rate of suicide deaths by firearm rose from 6.0 in 1999 to 6.9 in 2017.

Although they seem like they happen all the time, public mass shootings are rare events and tend to have different motivations, said Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, who specializes in gun violence and mental illness.

"They range from this extreme anger and hate, to rare manifestations of acute psychopathology," he said. "The risk factors for this kind of violence are non-specific."

He added that the risk factors require more study beyond just mental health research.

"Other countries have the same prevalence of mental illness as we do. They don't have this problem with mass shootings," Swanson said.

"If you look at our violent crime rate in the United States, it's about average compared to countries in Western Europe, the UK, Canada, and Australia," he said. "Our homicide rate is several times higher. One reason is that we have far easier access to guns."

Various epidemiological studies over the past three decades suggest that the vast majority of people with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression, are not violent, Swanson added.

Rather, people with severe mental illnesses are more than 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. Only about 3% to 5% of violent acts can be attributed to serious mental illness, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in reference to a study by Swanson and his colleagues.

More 'complicated' than just a mental health issue

Instead of policies that restrict gun access based solely on mental illness diagnoses or because a person has made contact with the judicial system or health care agencies due to mental illness, the American Psychological Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other advocacy groups have called for gun access criteria based on more direct indicators of potentially dangerous behavior.

The American Psychological Association recommends prohibiting firearms for high-risk groups, like domestic violence offenders or persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes.

"What happened over the weekend shows how complicated the issue of gun violence is. Most people who commit gun violence are not committing mass shootings. Unfortunately, what's happening in cities around the country every day, the majority of people who die by shooting are people who die by suicide," said Evans of the APA.

"We need the research funding so that we can get a better handle on this in the country and secondly our political leaders need to understand the complexity."

Stigma can be a harmful result of routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness, Rosie Phillips Davis, president of the American Psychological Association, said in a written statement after the shootings.

Especially when "research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness," she said in the statement.

Rather, "as our nation tries to process the unthinkable yet again, it is clearer than ever that we are facing a public health crisis of gun violence fueled by racism, bigotry and hatred. The combination of easy access to assault weapons and hateful rhetoric is toxic."

Environment friendly restaurant opens in Bettendorf

BETTENDORF, Iowa-- A new face has entered the developments outside the TBK Bank Sports Complex. Joining Hurts Donut, Foundry and Cheesy Cow is Freshii, a healthier "fast food" option.

They offer a variety of salads, bowls, burritos and smoothies with vegan or gluten free options. It's not just the food that owners care about they are also environment friendly. There is no plastic used to package the food they make. All of their bowls, utensils and salad bags are biodegradable.

"Our shaking bags for the salads are made out of corn resin, bowls are made out of paper pulp, and our utensils are made out of potato fiber so everything is biodegradable. We don't have any grease stoves or overheads or gas ovens and not even a microwave so our carbon footprint is minimal," said owner, Jake Eikenberry. Eikenberry is from the Quad Cities area and first ran into Freshii in college.

"Not even just in the Quad Cities but all over, I think there is a huge need for healthy, fast, casual concepts like this. I did look into a few other things before deciding on Freshiii but they are more about their community and their people." said Eikenberry.

All Freshii franchises partner with the WE charity to donate meals to kids in need around the world.

There are Fresiii's in major cities across the US and Canada. Bettendorf owners hope they can get at least five franchises in Iowa.

Emerging details on Dayton gunman who killed 9 people by firing 41 shots in 30 seconds

(CNN) -- A Twitter account that appears to belong to Dayton mass shooter Connor Betts retweeted extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters.

The most recent tweet on the @iamthespookster account was on August 3, the day of the shooting, when he retweeted a post saying, "Millenials have a message for the Joe Biden generation: hurry up and die." He also retweeted messages supporting Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The user's Twitter bio reads: "he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / I'm going to hell and I'm not coming back." One tweet used the hashtag #HailSatan.

Police are still trying to determine what motivated Betts to kill nine people early Sunday morning in a popular nightlife district in downtown Dayton. He was killed by police officers on patrol nearby 30 seconds after he opened fire.

In the hours before the Dayton shooting, the Twitter account "liked" several tweets about a shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead, including one supporting gun control and others that called the El Paso shooting suspect a "terrorist," and a "white supremacist."

The account also retweeted posts against ICE agents, including one that said, "these people are monsters," and multiple posts condemning police, and supporting Antifa protesters, who often use violent tactics. There were also many tweets of selfies, photos with a friend and ordinary memes and nonpolitical content.

The account was suspended by Twitter on Sunday evening. A Twitter spokesperson would not comment on the account, only saying in a statement, "We're proactively removing content that violates our policies and will be engaged with law enforcement, as appropriate."

Former classmates say gunman had a 'hit list' in high school

As a high school student, the gunman had a "hit list" of classmates he wanted to "kill" or "rape," said former students who said they were told by school officials they were on the list.

Spencer Brickler said a counselor at Bellbrook High School in Ohio told him he and his sister were on Connor Betts' hit list.

Brickler recalled sitting on a school bus about nine years ago when he saw Betts getting escorted away by officers investigating the threats.

"He was kind of dark and depressive in high school," said Brickler, who was a freshman when the school counselor told him about the hit list. He said he had no idea what prompted Betts, then a sophomore, to put him or his sister on the list.

Authorities searched the Betts' family home in Bellbrook, a suburb southeast of Dayton, and uncovered writings that expressed an interest in killing people, two law enforcement sources told CNN.

But the writings did not indicate any racial or political motive, sources said.

Former classmate said he called police

A former high school classmate of the shooter said he and another classmate called police years ago to warn them that Betts had a "kill list."

David Partridge said a friend had showed him text messages she received from Betts referencing his "kill list," and that one of Partridge's relatives was on it. Partridge told his friend he was going to call police and said he convinced her to do the same.

"I said, 'Hey, I don't want to drag you into this, but we have to go to the police. This guy could go to the school, he could kill people, he could hurt my family, he could hurt you,'" Partridge recalled telling his friend.

In an interview with CNN, Partridge said he believed the incident occurred about 10 years ago, when he was a sophomore at Bellbrook High School. He said police took his friend's cell phone as part of their investigation.

After calling police, Partridge said he confronted Betts over the phone.

"(I) said, 'Hey ... I hear there is this hit list, and you've got my family on there. What is this about? Why have you written these things?' He was really avoidant about me confronting him about this, denying it, and not angry, but just shocked that someone had gone up to him and said, 'What is this, Connor?'" Partridge recalled.

Partridge said he witnessed Betts being detained by police at school the following day.

CNN has repeatedly requested records pertaining to Betts from the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school district.

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools Superintendent Douglas A. Cozad confirmed that Betts was a student who graduated in 2013. In a statement, the superintendent said they need to get approval from their legal counsel or a court before releasing records. Although Betts is deceased, Ohio law offers broader protections for students' records and "we have no official documentation of the student's death at this time," the statement said.

CNN requested records from the Sugarcreek Police Department, and they responded with a file on Betts that showed "sealed records" had been expunged.

A 'kill list' for boys and a 'rape list' for girls

Another former high school classmate, who asked not to be identified out of concerns for his privacy, also recalled being summoned to a school administrator's office and being told he was "number one" on the list of students Betts wanted to kill.

He said the list was separated into two columns: a "kill list" for boys and a "rape list" for girls.

Another source, who also asked not to be named for privacy reasons, told CNN that Betts sent messages about the list to one of his classmates, who told her mother. Her mother then notified the police, who came to the school and interviewed people on the list individually in the school's office.

"Personally, it freaked me out," said the classmate who was told she was on the list. "I started having panic attacks in the school building."

A fourth person, who also asked not to be named for privacy reasons, said, "All I know is there was a list of violent actions and a list of names including mine."

She said some of the names were female students who, like her, turned him down for dates. She said Betts often simulated shooting other students and threatened to kill himself and others on several occasions.

"He loved to look at you and pretend to shoot with guns, guns with his hands," she said.

Another former classmate, who was not on the list, said he met Betts through a "friend of a friend." He said whenever they hung out, Betts would talk about violence and use harsh language about women, like calling them "sluts."

Betts' former classmates told CNN that they recalled Betts being removed from the school for at least a year, but that he later returned to Bellbrook High.

The shooter later attended Sinclair Community College in Dayton but was not enrolled in the summer term, the school's president Steve Johnson said.

Vigil held for Davenport man who drowned in Mississippi River

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- More than 50 people came out to LeClaire Park Monday night to remember a friend whose life was cut short.

Paul Domine was found dead on July 31 after his body was pulled from the Mississippi River near Buffalo. Now, his family and friends, along with strangers are remembering his life.

"Pauly was the most kindest, caring person," says Carrie Kennedy from Saving the Perfect Stranger.

Domine was homeless but his friends say he wasn't hopeless. And several organizations providing services for the homeless were at Monday night's vigil, hoping to bring some good from a tragedy.

"We're just gonna continue helping our street friends until there aren't any street friends left," says Dwain Womack, co-founder of Street Friends of the Quad Cities.

Organizers say they want to make an annual event after this vigil to help raise awareness about people who are homeless in the Quad Cities.

"He just wanted unity with all the groups so that we work together as one," Kennedy says. "United is going to make changes to the homeless. It can't just be on group standing and fighting for their life."

Blood drive in Geneseo Saturday for little girl with neurological disorder

GENESEO, Illinois-- A four-year-old girl, fighting a neurological disorder, is asking the Geneseo community for help. And anybody can do that by taking less than an hour to donate blood.

Layla O'Bryant is like any four-year-old. She loves to play, climb and make new friends.

She, her mom Molly, dad Patrick, and sister Tessa are visiting family in Geneseo this weekend. They flew all the way from Las Vegas for a blood drive on Saturday.

Layla suffers from post viral acute cerebellar axtia.

"She picked up the common cold," Molly says. "That's all she had. Her body just reacted to it weird."

Just shy of her third birthday, Layla was unable to walk, crawl or sit without shaking anymore. Molly says her body essentially started to attack her brain. Layla lost control of her limbs and emotions. She fell upwards of 20 times a day, making it unsafe to go out and about often.

Molly says post-viral acute cerebellar axtia isn't a rare disease. It's something children often recover from quickly. But Layla didn't.

"It was hard to watch," Molly says. "It was scary, and we relied heavily on the doctors to guide us through it but they didn't really know or have any information about when the recovery would come or if it would."

Finally, late last year, the O'Bryants found a solution. IVIG, a treatment that uses antibodies from blood donations. Doctors aren't entirely sure why it works, but it's made a world of difference. Layla can run again without the fear of falling.

"She's able to be quote-unquote a normal four-year-old little girl that plays and runs and jumps," Molly says.

Recently, Layla started having side effects from her treatment. The doctors explained there's a nationwide shortage of IVIG because of a blood shortage. They had to switch treatment brands for Layla, causing side effects.

"So when the blood supply drops during the summer, and we don't see as many donors as we'd like, we have to do more to make sure we have a steady supply for our local hospitals," Kirby Winn with the Mississippi Valley Blood Center says.

That's why the O'Bryants are having a blood drive in Geneseo on Saturday. It goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Geneseo Community Center.

"To see (Layla) playing out here warms my heart and makes me really happy," Molly says.

Molly says blood drives help ensure everyone, including Layla, get the treatments they need.

Neil Armstrong Elementary has a new principal

BETTENDORF, Iowa- Neil Armstrong Elementary has a new principal after the candidate was approved at the Bettendorf School Board meeting.

At the August 5 Bettendorf School Board meeting, directors approved the appointment of Jayme Olson to the position of Neil Armstrong Elementary Principal.

“We are excited to move Jayme into the position of Neil Armstrong Principal,” said Mike Raso, Superintendent. “She brings great leadership skills, a deep educational background, and experience working with a variety of students, staff, and parents to the position.”

Olson holds a Master of Art in Education and Iowa Administrative Certification from Western Illinois University.  She also has a Master in the Art of Teaching and Learning with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from NOVA Southeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from Iowa State University.

Olson has been working in the Bettendorf Community School District since 2002. She has been an associate principal at Bettendorf Middle School since 2010. Prior, she taught 8th grade mathematics and literature. She also taught 6th grade in the Pleasant Valley Community School District. Additionally, Olson served as the Bettendorf High School head varsity girls basketball coach (2003 – 2009), assistant varsity coach (2002-2003), and Pleasant Valley High School freshman girls basketball coach (2000-2002). Olson was inducted into the Iowa Girls Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, retired Iowa State University Jersey #53 in 2004, and was inducted in the Iowa State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.

Olson is replacing David Hlas, who is now working as the Director of Special Services in the Bettendorf Community School District.

House fire in Monmouth leaves “significant” damage

MONMOUTH, Illinois-Monmouth firefighters say a home had “significant” damage after a house fire.

On Monday, August 5 around 1:46 p.m. the Monmouth Fire Department responded to 400 block of  East 11th Avenue in Monmouth, IL for a residential structure fire.

Firefighters say the fire involved two structures on the property.

They performed a search of the structures and did not find any human or animals in the structures.

Although the fire was brought under control quickly, the fire caused significant damage to an outbuilding and moderate damage to the residence.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Traffic back to normal in Moline after serious crash

MOLINE, Illinois- Police say traffic is back to normal after a serious injury shut down the area of 15th Street and River Drive.

Moline PD says Eastbound River Drive at 15th Street was shut down while the Traffic Investigations Unit completed their investigation.

According to the police, it was a serious injury crash involving a pedestrian and a motor vehicle.

Man accused of molesting two boys in stranger’s Missouri home claims he ‘blacked out’

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Prosecutors have filed charges against a Missouri man for allegedly entering a stranger’s home and molesting two boys under the age of 10, one of whom has autism.

Treyvohn D. Covington, 26, faces two counts of first-degree sodomy, second-degree child molestation, and first-degree burglary.

According to court records, officers responded to an apartment in Independence around 5:15 Sunday morning on a burglary. When officers arrived they found Convington in the living room of the apartment naked from the waist down, according to a news release from Independence police. He was taken into custody for burglary and sexual assault.

The woman who reported the incident to police said she had driven from Springfield, Missouri with her grandsons and they were staying at her sister’s apartment. She told police the three grandkids were asleep in the living room and she was asleep in a back bedroom.

One victim, who is diagnosed with autism, came into the bedroom and was “acting excited” but was having trouble communicating. The grandmother said she told him to go back to the living room but stated a few minutes later she heard what she thought was her grandsons playing and went out to tell them to be quiet.

The grandmother told police when she got to the living room she saw Covington on top of her grandson. She said she pushed the suspect off and took the three kids to the bathroom, locked the door and called police.

Covington told police he had been with his friends drinking and blacked out. He said the last thing he remembers is taking a shot of Hennessey in a car on the way home from the club. The next thing he remembered was waking up in jail and did not have any recollection of what happened.

Prosecutors have requested a $75,000 bond for Covington.

East Moline rallies for fire victims, fire cause still not released

EAST MOLINE, Illinois – East Moline fire investigators joined insurance investigators Monday (August 5) to try to determine the cause of a fire that swept through a business and six downtown East Moline apartments last week.

Fire Chief Robert DeFrance says his crews are still "narrowing down" a cause to the fire that burned through the building that housed a used appliance store.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries but no one else was hurt in the fire.

Families who lived in the apartments have had a limited time to go inside to collect keepsakes.  But there's little to salvage.

"I figured that maybe I'd pinch myself and wake up and it'll be all a nightmare," Amy Hoyt told us outside the burned out building that was home to her and her family.

"No.  Because you wake and you're in a hotel."

Hoyt, her husband, and two daughters got out of quite literally, with just the clothes on their backs.  Now everything they owned barely fills the back of her family's minivan.

"All my family photos that I saved of my kids, myself, my husband, my daughters."

"All of my ceilings have collapsed in every single room of my building."  - Aimee Hoyt, East Moline fire victim

"When you lose everything, that's a lot to replace," said Michelle Horton with the East Moline Main Street association that is helping coordinate downtown East Moline's response to the fire.

She says it's been overwhelming.

In the days ahead, they'll let fire victims find what they need and even give them a place to store things until they get on their feet.

"You never want this to happen to you," said Horton.

Four days after the fire, smoke detectors are still chirping inside.

Fire Chief DeFrance says that sound saved lives that afternoon.

He also says three of the five displaced families had renters' insurance.  He says that will go a long way toward families recovering their losses.

But the building may be declared a total loss.

Aimee said she's resigned to that possibility.

"It might have to be demolished with the rest of our belongings inside," she said.

"I mean I have to laugh about it because there ain't nothing I can do about it."

YOUR HEALTH: An AIDS drug that could greatly help stroke patients

LOS ANGELES, California – An AIDS drug may become the first ever pharmaceutical treatment from a human gene discovery to help patients recover from stroke.

Reams Freedman had a severe stroke 21 years ago.

"It was like I was run over by a truck. So I went from a fully-functioning man to someone who essentially couldn't do anything."

A stroke is a 'brain attack'.   It can happen to anyone at any time.

Using physical and occupational therapies that were available, he got back most of his function and now runs a stroke recovery group.

Now, his friend, UCLA's Dr. S. Tom Carmichael believes a missing gene may speed up stroke recovery, and that may lead to a medication that helps.

"It's tempered hope, but it's a pathway, and we haven't had a lot of those," said Dr. Carmichael, professor and chair of UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine.

Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than two-thirds of survivors will have some type of disability.

In a study in Tel Aviv, stroke survivors without a functioning CCR-5 gene showed significantly better improvements in motor skills, language, sensory function, memory, and attention.

The drug Maraviroc blocks CCR-5 and slows HIV progression.

Dr. Carmichael hopes the same mechanism will accelerate stroke recovery.

"Our hope is that it does enhance recovery, even a little bit, and lets many stroke patients know there's a possibility if you can get enhanced recovery a little bit and increase brain plasticity, you may be able to do more with a very aggressive rehabilitation program."

Dr. Carmichael says Maraviroc worked in mouse trials.

"The mice made about 30% to 50% enhanced recovery," he said.

"We know in humans with movement or motor recovery that if you get a 10% improvement in motor function that actually translates to a meaningful change in your interaction to community."

He says the mouse recovery was far better than that and it allows researchers some hope that it was "a meaningful thing we hit in the mouse."

Human trials are beginning now.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.


‘You need to pay attention,’ police asking for community’s help in stopping mass shooters

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Local police departments are urging the average citizen to report suspicious activity before it is too late.

After a weekend of mass shootings left dozens of people dead, a sergeant with Davenport Police Department's Crime Investigation Unit said these shootings do not need to repeat themselves.

"You need to pay attention," said Sgt. Mark Berger. "We live in the day and age where you almost have to be prepared to expect it."

Sgt. Berger said more than likely, the suspects involved in mass shootings have posted something, or said something, to somebody that has hinted towards their deadly actions.

"You can't take these threats with a grain of salt anymore," Sgt. Berger said.

Lt. Jeff Ramsey with the East Moline Police Department said his men treat every reported threat as a top priority.

"If you get any weird feeling like something's not right, or 'This is odd. I have a bad feeling about this,' give us a call," Lt. Ramsey said. "It may not be anything but at least you took the step to notify us."

Lt Ramsey said for those who wish to stay anonymous, he urges people to take to the Crime Stoppers App.

"Don't hesitate, you know? If it turns out to be nothing, that's a win win for all of us," Sgt. Berger said.

Those in uniform now asking the average citizen to be their eyes and ears.

"Some of these cases the person is walking right through the parking lot with their weapon in their hand and nobody says a thing," Sgt. Berger said. "We're all in our own little bubble and we got to get out of that bubble and we have to pay attention to what`s around us."

A 2017 study done by Homeland Security shows 75% of attackers showed signs of their planned attacks prior to following through with them.

Iowa-bound traffic getting onto the I-74 Bridge is finally moving again

MOLINE, Illinois — Traffic heading into Iowa-bound was hitting a slow spot at the foot of the Interstate 74 Bridge.

After 5 p.m. Monday, August 5, drivers coming onto I-74 from Moline’s River Drive were met with a backup.

But as of 6:43 p.m. traffic was moving normally again.

There was no word on what was causing the backup.  Traffic is still moving for Iowa-bound traffic, but is backed up along 19th Street in town.  Illinois-bound traffic on I-74 is unaffected.

Click here for traffic information, anytime.

Missing Attachment Missing Attachment

Tenants shocked by 50 percent rent hike at California apartment complex

CARMICHAEL, Calif. – Tenants at a Northern California apartment complex were shocked to find a notice on their doors advising them that their rent would be increasing by a whopping 50 percent.

Many of the tenants have lived at the Crestview complex in Carmichael for years.

"From a human and community standpoint, this is wrong," tenant Debbie Vigil said.

Vigil, 61, has spent her whole life in California, growing her career and raising a family. Now, she's making the heartbreaking decision to leave the place she calls home.

"It's absolutely tearing me apart. It’s my life, and this piece of paper destroyed my life," she told KTXL. "You feel like nothing. You feel like a number. You don’t feel like a person anymore."

Vigil said she's lived in her Carmichael apartment for nearly a decade, never missing a payment. She said she can't afford to pay $1,500 a month in rent, when there's only the $1,000 she's paid for years in her budget.

And she's not alone.

"What are they trying to do with us? All they care about is getting the money," tenant Sal Marino said.

Marino says he's lived at Crestview since 2005 with his wife and two kids, but now they may move.

"We're thinking about moving to Alaska because it’s ridiculously expensive to live in California," he said.

Vigil said she's moving to Virginia. It was an uneasy decision, she says, but it's one she could afford.

"They’re just sending the message that they don’t care. No one cares," Vigil said. "And isn’t there anyone who cares anymore?"

The complex was sold to the Roseville-based Vertus Properties last year. Vertus has not responded to a request for comment. The notice tenants received said the rent increase is to match market rates.