WQAD News

Moline wants your thoughts on what art to bring downtown

MOLINE, Illinois-- The City of Moline is developing a Master Art Plan for the downtown and riverfront area. City and community leaders at looking at different art forms to add to the area, from sculptures to murals to performance art.

"[We want to] engage the community in really participating and deciding what that future looks like," says Alexandra Elias, the CEO and president of Renew Moline. "What is public art in Moline? There are many ways you can do public art."

This week, the city has hired consultants from Ohio-based 'Designing Local' to start those conversations. They'll be at the Public Art Steering Committee Tuesday, Jan. 21.

There will also be other chances to give input this week. A survey and interactive map to give feedback is currently online.

People working on this project say art can add to the city culturally and socially.

"I think there are also pretty special areas in downtown that we can also capitalize on to use art to attract more people and make everyone feel like they belong in that space," Elias says. "That's really the point of the plan."

The consultants will be back in town in April to move forward with what art to bring in and how it will be paid for, whether publicly, privately or through grants.

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YOUR HEALTH: What can be done when the medicines you need make you even sicker?

PALO ALTO, California – One medical center has developed an innovative program that uses new technology, genetics, and other tools to personalize care.

For Debbie Spaizman, it means actually getting the help she needs.

She needed surgery, but she hesitated due to how she reacted to pain medication.

"My head would spin.  I really was foggy, and I had itching all over my body," she explained.

"I had no pain relief at all.  I thought twice about having the surgery."

To get answers, Debbie enrolled in the HumanWide Project at Stanford Medical School.

The study flips the model on healthcare by personalizing treatment.

That includes a deep dive into pharmacogenics.

"Pharmacogenomics specifically tests for genes that look at the rate in which we metabolize drugs," said Dr. Megan Mahoney, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.

"It can determine the dosing of medications and also predict any side effects."

That means our genes can play a big role in how we respond to medicine.

And so, with a quick swab of the cheek, Debbie finally got answers.

"The result of the test showed that I'm a slow metabolizer.   Drugs will stay in my system longer than they will for someone else."

With that, a plan started to come together for Debbie.

"We were able to identify the class of opioids that would work for her based on her pharmacogenomic make-up and then she was able to go through with the surgery," said Dr. Mahoney.

Debbie is grateful.

"It was life changing for me."

And she's not the only one.

"25% of patients had a change in their dose of medication based on the pharmacogenomics test," said Dr. Mahoney.

It's an approach that Debbie calls an "absolutely game changer."

Stanford is not the only one paying attention to pharmacogenics.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs is making a big push to personalize medicine for its vets.

The program will enroll those with a history of cancer, but will also inform doctors how patients will metabolize other medicines they need.

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.

Farm equipment dealers see flat sales season due to rough 2019

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – Farm equipment sales ended 2019 on a flat note according to the Association of Equipment Manufactures.  This comes after farmers had a rough year due to flooded fields and a late harvest.

At the 25th Annual QC Farm Show farmers say they don’t want to invest in large equipment that cost six figures due to their low yields last season.

“The weather was probably the biggest reason for the flat year last year,” says Mark Seipel, a salesperson for Montag Manufacturing.

Some farmers walking around the QC Expo Center are interested in buying, but most say they are just looking.

“It’s mainly just to see what’s new,” says David Dvorak, a West Liberty farmer. “I’m not in the market for any big-ticket items.”

“The farmer leaders the way, we just follow,” says Joe O’Connell, with O’Connell Farm Drainage Plows Inc. “When they’re in tough times it converts for the rest of us (farm equipment dealers).”

O’Connell says he and his company come to the QC Farm Show to gauge their year.  He says he has a lot of people talking, but no one’s committing, which means there’s interest but there’s no money.

And with a wet 2019 behind them, farmers are gearing up with hopes of a better season this year.

“As opportunities get tighter on the farming end, they start looking for opportunities to be more efficient,” says Seipel.

The QC Farm Show goes until Tuesday, January 21st.

Two people were killed and five injured in a Texas club shooting Sunday night

(CNN) — Two people were killed and five injured after at least one person opened fire inside a Texas club Sunday night, police said.

Police received calls of shots fired around 8 p.m., San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said in a news conference. There seemed to be some kind of altercation inside the club between individuals or a group, McManus said, and that’s when the shots were fired.

Police are looking for one suspect, he said, adding that it’s still unclear whether the shooting was indiscriminate or targeted.

“I’m confident that we will identify the individual and have that person in custody sooner than later,” the chief said.

One 21-year-old male was found dead inside the club. Another victim died after being found in critical condition.

Four people were transported to local hospitals by the San Antonio Fire Department, spokesman Joe Arrington told CNN. Three of the victims had life-threatening injuries.

The last victim arrived at the hospital themselves, Arrington said.

The police chief said officials are still looking into the incident and that the “investigation is not nearly complete.”

2 Honolulu police officers were shot and killed when they answered a call for help. Then the house they responded to went up in flames

(CNN) — Two Honolulu police officers were shot and killed when they responded to a call for help Sunday in Waikiki.

Following the shooting, a fire broke out at the home the officers had been called to. Three people, including the suspect, remain unaccounted for in the fire.

The chaotic crime scene drew the response of local police and fire as well as multiple other agencies, including the FBI and ATF.

Now the Honolulu Police Department and the community are mourning their slain officers and searching for the remains of the suspect.

A call for help

A woman called 911 Sunday morning around 9 a.m. HST and “said she needed help,” according to Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard.

When officer Tiffany Enriquez arrived at the address in a Waikiki neighborhood, a woman who had been stabbed in the leg had already been found by another officer.

Enriquez and two other officers walked down the driveway of the home where the stabbing took place. As they walked, the suspect — identified by police as Jerry Hanel — began shooting at them, Ballard said during a Sunday night press conference.

Enriquez, a 7-year veteran officer with the department was killed in the shooting, according to Ballard.

Ballard said that after Enriquez was shot, more officers began to show up at the home.

Hanel allegedly opened fire on the second group of officers to arrive, striking Kaulike Kalama, a 9-year veteran with the force, Ballard said.

As more officers rushed to the house, “thick black smoke” started to pour out of the home, Ballard said.

Possible ammunition in the home

Firefighters arrived on the scene as flames engulfed the house and licked at other homes, but they were held back by police out of concern for their safety.

Ballard explained that it sounded as though ammunition in the home was being set off by the fire.

“If they had gotten hit by one of those stray rounds, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night,” Ballard said.

Seven homes were destroyed in the blaze and several other homes sustained fire and smoke damage, according to Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves.

Neves said at the press conference that he wasn’t sure how many people had been displaced in the fire.

Even though authorities opened a shelter to house the displaced residents, none of them needed aid and said they could stay with family and friends, Neves said.

As of Sunday night, the fire had been completely extinguished. Both the fire department and police department continue to investigate the scene.

Three unaccounted for in fire

Police are looking for three people that are unaccounted for — the suspect and two adult women, Ballard said.

Ballard told reporters that the police department will not stop searching for Hanel until they are able to confirm that his remains were in the fire.

Hanel is believed to be in his 60’s, according to Ballard.

Honolulu Police have opened an investigation into two counts of first degree murder, one count of second degree assault and multiple accounts of first degree attempted murder against Hanel, Ballard said.

It could take several days to process the scene, which includes recovering the bodies of those unaccounted for after the fire, the chief said.

The woman who was stabbed was taken to Queens Medical Center for treatment, Ballard said. She was unsure of the woman’s condition.

‘They were like my kids’

Both slain officers had worked directly with Chief Ballard over the years, she said through tears.

Enriquez and Kalama were assigned to District 6 Waikiki with the Honolulu Police Department, Ballard told reporters.

“They were like my kids they were with me for five years,” she said. “I knew each one of them very personally.”

“You know everyday, everyday men and women in blue get up and put on their uniforms and go to work,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said. “Officer Enriquez and Kalama put on their uniforms this morning and they didn’t get home.”

Ballard said the entire department and community is grieving along with the families of the officers she met at Queens Medical Center, where they had been taken for treatment.

The chief struggled with how to describe how the families were feeling when asked by a reporter. “They left in the morning alive and they come to the hospital and find out that their loved ones are no longer around. Very emotional, very emotional,” Ballard said.

A state in mourning

News of the officers’ deaths was met with an outpouring of condolences statewide.

Governor David Ige tweeted, “Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning.”

Democratic Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard also tweeted about the tragedy, saying, “They paid the ultimate price.”

“Today the city and county of Honolulu and the people of Oahu, almost a million strong, lost two members of their family and we’re grieving,” Mayor Caldwell said. “This is a family and people are grieving”

A dentist was filmed extracting a tooth while on a hoverboard. He was found guilty on 46 counts

(CNN) — A dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, has been convicted on dozens of charges after he was filmed extracting a patient’s tooth as he stood on a hoverboard, according to the Alaska Department of Law.

Seth Lookhart was convicted on 46 felony and misdemeanor counts in Anchorage Superior Court on Friday by Judge Michael Wolverton, who called the evidence presented by the state during a five-week bench trial “overwhelming,” the Department of Law said in a news release.

A lawsuit filed by the state in 2017 charged Lookhart with “unlawful dental acts,” saying his patient care did not meet professional standards.

Lookhart, the lawsuit said, “performed a dental extraction procedure on a sedated patient while riding a hoverboard,” filmed the procedure and then sent it to several people.

In at least one conversation, Lookhart joked that performing oral surgery on a hoverboard was a “new standard of care,” the lawsuit said, citing phone records.

Lookhart was also charged with medical assistance fraud for billing Medicaid for procedures that were either unnecessary or not properly justified and theft of $25,000 or more by diverting funds from Alaska Dental Arts, among dozens of others.

The evidence indicated Lookhart “believed that he could get away with his fraud indefinitely, and that he believed his scheme was foolproof,” Judge Wolverton said, according to the Department of Law’s news release. That evidence “was often supported, and often in excruciating detail, by Lookhart’s own texts, photos and videos.”

An attorney for Lookhart, who had pleaded not guilty on all counts, declined to comment Sunday.

He’s expected to be sentenced on April 30.

‘It’s crazy!’ hoverboard patient said

The Alaska Department of Law thanked several of Lookhart’s former patients who testified during the trial, including the patient whose tooth was removed while Lookhart was filmed on the hoverboard.

Veronica Wilhelm testified she did not consent to being filmed while sedated nor to having her tooth taken out while Lookhart was on the hoverboard, CNN affiliate KTUU reported last month.

Wilhelm didn’t even know about the video until she was contacted by investigators, she said.

“I would’ve said ‘hell no!’ No, that’s unprofessional,” she testified, per KTUU. “It’s crazy.”

Stockler apologized to Wilhelm in court on his client’s behalf.

“It’s unacceptable and be assured that when I agreed to represent him I got in his face and told him what I thought about him for doing this,” he said.

According to KTUU, Wilhelm addressed Lookhart and told him she thought he “could’ve made better choices.”

Dust storms and golf ball-sized hail are battering southeastern Australia

(CNN) — Parts of southeastern Australia are being pelted by hailstones the size of golf balls, big enough to smash car windows and injure birds, less than 24 hours after the region was hit by massive dust storms.

The hailstorms arrived in the national capital Canberra on Monday afternoon, covering the ground with white balls of ice and leaves that have been stripped from trees. People ran for cover, and drivers pulled off the road to try and find underground parking for fear of hailstone damage.

The hail stopped after about 15 minutes, but the hailstones, measuring about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide, were enough to break windows and injure scores of birds, said Tom Swann, a researcher at the Australian Institute based in Canberra. He found an injured cockatoo that “screeched horribly” and took it to the vet, where there was a “steady stream of injured birds coming in.”

“Someone behind us at the vet brought in another galah, another brought a currawong, another a crow,” he told CNN.

The hailstorm is now headed east toward the coastal cities of Sydney, Wollongong, and Newcastle, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. The bureau warned that the cities could see “damaging winds (possibly destructive), large hailstones (possibly giant) and heavy rainfall.”

The hailstorm comes less than 24 hours after massive dust storms swept through New South Wales late Sunday afternoon, blanketing entire towns and blacking out the sun.

Images from the ground showed huge, rolling clouds of dust, at least ten stories high. The dust storm moved fast, engulfing neighborhoods in minutes and obscuring what previously was a blue sky.

The dust storms first hit the town of Narromine, in the center of the state, before moving east to the town of Dubbo and then south to the town of Parkes, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

The storm wasn’t just tall, it was long — videos show a dust storm that appears to stretch for miles, surrounding the perimeter of Narromine.

Residents from Dubbo and Parkes described the sky turning orange as the dust storm approached, and posted videos showing the sky completely black only minutes later as the storm fully descended on the towns.

The dust storms were likely kicked up by ferocious winds in the area — wind gusts measured up to 95 kilometers per hour (59 miles per hour) in Parkes and 107 kph (66.5 mph) in Dubbo, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. The state has been suffering from drought for several years, meaning the land is parched and the soil loose — making it easier for dust to be whipped up into the air.

Rain brought some relief Sunday evening, washing away the dust in Dubbo and Parkes. It was especially welcome for these drought-stricken towns, which have only seen light sprinklings of rain since 2017; as the rain fell on Sunday, children ran outside to celebrate, cheering and whooping.

The rain was also a relief for firefighters in the state, battling the worst blazes the country has seen in decades. Rain had fallen on most firegrounds in the state in 24 hours, said the New South Wales Rural Fire Service on Friday.

But the rains weren’t enough to put out the flames, and likely won’t be enough to end the drought. Some have warned that as long as the drought continues, dust storms could continue happening with increasing frequency.

The dust storm on Sunday was the second one in central New South Wales in a week; another giant dust storm hit the town of Forbes, south of Dubbo, last Thursday, Nine News reported.

Symptoms of climate change

The wildfires and dust storms have been exacerbated by extreme heat and drought — which experts say are symptoms of Australia’s climate crisis.

Australia’s bush has been drying out since January 2017 — the worst drought on record. New South Wales has received less than 5 inches (25 millimeters) of rain each year for the past three years, which has never happened before.

The drought has hit rural towns hard. The town of Murrurundi, northwest of Sydney, has not seen significant rain in three years. Water is supplied to towns by trucks that make 10 to 20 trips a day; if the trucks stopped, the town would be completely dry in three days.

The drought has worsened natural phenomena like Sunday’s dust storm — and has also devastated livelihoods. Cattle and sheep farmers have seen their lands turn cracked and bone-dry in recent years, and many are struggling to keep their livestock alive.

“It’s not just dry on the surface,” said cow farmer James Galbraith. “It’s dry right the way down. So what we’re seeing are trees suffering as well as pastures. For us farmers, we’re just holding on.”

Many have pointed to this disastrous weather as a sign that Australia urgently needs climate action. Tens of thousands of people participated in protests around the country earlier this month, calling on the government to do more to combat the climate crisis.

Travel ban expansion could include immigration restrictions on additional countries, sources say

(CNN) — The Trump administration drafted plans to renew and expand its travel ban list to include immigration restrictions on seven additional countries, according to sources familiar with the process.

Unlike the travel restrictions currently in place, the new rules could limit certain immigrant visas from the additional countries, said a US government official — essentially creating a partial immigration ban.

Not all of the restrictions are uniform, said the official, adding that the proposal limits some immigrant visas from one country and other visas from another.

The plans, which are still under review, are based on interagency input from the departments of Homeland Security and State, as well as the White House, according to the official. President Donald Trump will make the final decision on changes to the ban.

The anniversary of the first travel ban — a Jan. 27, 2017 executive order signed by Trump that suspended refugee resettlement and barred nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries — comes at the end of the month.

According to the administration, the restrictions are used to encourage countries to comply with US national security requirements, such as sharing information with US agencies..

“This is the stick,” to get countries to comply, the official said regarding the new restrictions.

Another source told CNN that the administration is focused on immigrant visas because of the difficulty in removing someone from the US who holds a green card or becomes a US citizen if derogatory information surfaces after someone travels to the US.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Friday that the US is establishing criteria that all foreign governments must satisfy to assist in vetting foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States.

“For a small number of countries that lack either the will or the capability to adhere to these criteria, travel restrictions may become necessary to mitigate threats,” he said in prepared remarks for a Homeland Security Experts Group event.

The White House did not respond to request for comment. The Department of State declined to comment.

BuzzFeed first reported on plans to restrict certain immigrant visas on seven additional countries.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the third version of the travel ban after the previous iterations were challenged in court. The current policy restricts entry from seven countries to varying degrees: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with Venezuela and North Korea. Chad was removed from the list last April, after the White House said the country improved security measures.

When asked about the travel ban on Wednesday, Wolf said the administration “continues to look at that.”

“It’s under review every six months. We continue to do that. We’ve done that for the past three years, every six months. This is part of the process,” he added, declining to provide a timeline for an announcement.

Restrictions are imposed because a country does an inadequate job of sharing information, or otherwise poses an elevated public safety or national security risk, according to Wolf.

In October, CNN reported that Trump administration officials were discussing adding more countries to the travel ban list, two sources said. At the time, fewer than five countries were under consideration, an official said.

The goal, the official said, is to “bring governments into compliance by using the power of access to the United States.” The travel restrictions would be tailored to the countries, if they’re added, and not impose a ban on them altogether, the official noted at the time.

A baby stroller sold at Target and Amazon was recalled because of a possible fall hazard

(CNN) — Baby Trend has recalled four models of their strollers due to the potential for a fall hazard, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The company issued the recall Thursday for four models of the Tango Mini Stroller because the hinge joints can release.

If the hinge joints release, the stroller could collapse when under pressure, posing a fall hazard for a child, the recall says.

The company says anyone who has the stroller should immediately stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a full refund or replacement.

Those with stroller models Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A), Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A), Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A), and Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A) are under recall. Model numbers are printed in black on a white sticker located on one of the stroller’s legs.

The strollers were manufactured in China and sold at Target and Amazon between October and November of 2019. The product retailed for between $100 and $120.

Dwayne Johnson opens up about his dad’s ‘quick’ death and thanks supporters

(CNN) — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says he is “full of gratitude” for the love and support he’s received in the wake of his father’s death.

The actor’s legendary pro-wrestling father, Rocky Johnson, passed away last week at age 75.

The younger Johnson posted an almost eight-minute video Sunday on his official Instagram account in which he expressed his appreciation.

“Hard to express how deeply grateful I am for all your love, mana & support,” the caption read. “My family and I thank you. Go hug your loved ones hard, while you still can. I love you. DJ #ripsoulman.”

The wrestler-turned-actor said during the video, “My heart is so full of gratitude.”

“As you know, I lost my old man a few days ago, I lost him just like that, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him,” Johnson said. “I’d give anything right now to give him a big ol’ hug and a big ol’ kiss before he crossed over and just say thank you and I love you and I respect you. But I didn’t get a chance to say that. But such is life, as many of you know, based on the messages that you have shared with me, that many of you understand this pain when you lose a parent.”

Johnson acknowledged people were curious about how his dad died. He said his father’s death was “quick.”

“He had not been feeling well, had been battling a cold and infection, and on Tuesday he had what’s called a deep vein thrombosis, which is essentially a blood clot in the leg,” Johnson said. “It was a big ol’ blood clot that broke free, traveled up his body, and went right to his lung, clotted his lung, and he died very quickly from a massive heart attack, just like that.”

Johnson said he planned to start writing the eulogy he will give at his father’s funeral on Tuesday.

“I’ve written a lot of speeches for myself over the years, but I have no idea where to start with this one,” Johnson said. “But I do have my tequila and I can hear him now, ‘Good, that’s the way you’ve got to do it.’ I can also hear him now, ‘Make sure you put me over in the speech, say good stuff about me.'”

Screen Actors Guild Awards make history as ‘Parasite’ claims its top prize

(CNN) — “Parasite” became the first foreign-language movie to win SAG’s coveted best ensemble prize on Sunday night, capping a 26th annual ceremony that otherwise closely followed the script in terms of the individual victories.

The event’s most surprising element might have been the acceptance speeches, which were virtually devoid of politics, other than Robert De Niro’s remarks in receiving a life achievement honor.

The win for “Parasite” broke up what had been a night that saw people of color entirely overlooked, as the industry comes under increased scrutiny for a lack of diversity in its awards.

“I’m so honored to receive this award in front of such amazing actors that I admire. I will never forget this beautiful night,” cast member Song Kang Ho said through a translator.

Five members of the 10-person “Parasite” cast were on stage to accept the award.

Director Bong Joon Ho was shown proudly recording the cast’s win from his seat in the audience.

The guild awards are watched closely for clues on how the Oscar race might turn out, but the perceived Oscar frontrunner, the World War I epic “1917,” doesn’t really lend itself to the “ensemble” designation, and wasn’t among SAG’s nominees.

Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger received the top acting prizes for “Joker” and “Judy,” playing the comic-book villain and the tormented singer Judy Garland.

“Judy Garland, 50 years later, your community is thinking of you tonight,” Zellweger said.

After a number of politically oriented speeches at the Golden Globes earlier this month, the ceremony hewed much more toward the personal than the political. That changed briefly when De Niro accepted his award, giving a full-throated defense of actors wading into the public arena, offering no apology for having “a bigger voice” because of his stardom, noting, “As a citizen, I have as much right as anybody … to voice my opinion.”

The supporting movie awards also went to presumed favorites, as Laura Dern and Brad Pitt claimed awards for “Marriage Story” and “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.” (Jennifer Lopez — overlooked by the Oscars for her role in “Hustlers” — was among those she overcame.)

Pitt offered a humorous acceptance speech, opening by saying, “I’ve got to add this to my Tinder profile.” He proceeded to joke that the role — a guy who takes off his shirt with a spotty marital track record — really wasn’t much of a reach for him.

As if on cue, Pitt’s ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, later picked up a trophy for the backstage drama “The Morning Show,” marking the first win for fledgling programming service Apple TV+.

The win was indicative of a night in which SAG voters spread the wealth among a variety of services. Amazon snagged its second best comedy ensemble prize for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as well as actor Tony Shalhoub, and added Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the Emmy-winning “Fleabag.”

Netflix’s history of the British Royal family, “The Crown,” was crowned for the first time as best drama ensemble.

Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, won for the first time — after six nominations — for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

In another sign that Hollywood tends to enjoy watching its own stories, Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams were both recognized in the movie/miniseries category for FX’s “Fosse/Verdon.”

Although SAG is the only televised awards of the four guilds representing actors, writers, directors and producers, it’s not the most reliable barometer in terms of predicting the Academy Awards.

On Saturday, the Producers Guild of America honored “1917,” following its win at the Golden Globes.

Among the guilds, the producers have been the strongest Oscars bellwether, with its best-picture winner lining up the eventual Oscar choice eight of the last 10 years, including “Green Book” in 2019. SAG chose “Black Panther” for the ensemble award last year.

During that span, the Directors Guild has coincided with the Oscar winner six times, and SAG and the Writers Guild four each. The DGA and WGA will weigh in on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, respectively.

The film and TV awards for stunt ensemble — presented prior to air — went to “Avengers: Endgame” and “Game of Thrones.”

Malaysia has sent back tons of plastic waste to rich countries, saying it won’t be their ‘garbage dump’

(CNN) — Malaysia has sent back 150 shipping containers of plastic waste to rich countries including the United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada, insisting it won’t be the “garbage dump” of the world.

The country has been inundated with shipments of illegal plastic waste since 2018, when China cracked down on a large recycling industry.

Malaysia subsequently emerged as a major target of illegal waste trafficking, but its government has attempted to tackle the reputation and has returned shipments of waste in the past.

On Monday the country’s environment minister, Yeo Bee Yin, said she ordered 3,737 metric tons of trash to be returned to 13 countries.

Of the 150 containers, 43 were sent back to France and 42 to the UK, while the US will receive 17 and Canada 11.

The government will seek to ensure that “Malaysia does not become the garbage dump of the world,” Yeo added in a lengthy Facebook post.

The countries from which the waste originated and the shipping companies covered the cost of the returns, she added.

China banned imports of plastic waste two years ago, as part of an initiative to clean up its environment. That move caused a ripple effect through global supply chains, as middlemen sought new destinations for their trash, including Malaysia.

A recent Greenpeace report found that during the first seven months of 2018, plastic waste exported from the US to Malaysia more than doubled compared with the previous year.

The row is also playing out in the Philippines, which locked horns with Canada over tons of plastic trash last year.

In May, the governments of 187 countries, including Malaysia, agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates the movement of hazardous materials from one country to another, to combat the dangerous effects of plastic pollution worldwide. The US was not among them.

China confirms new coronavirus can spread between humans

(CNN) — A mysterious respiratory virus that has killed at least three people and sickened more than 200 in China can be transmitted between humans, a Chinese government-appointed expert has said, fueling fears about the possibility of a deadly epidemic as millions prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Zhong Nanshan, head of the team set up by China’s National Health Commission to investigate the pneumonia-like virus, confirmed that at least two cases had been spread from person to person and medical staff had also been infected.

Authorities had previously said that the new strain of coronavirus, which was traced by health officials to a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, was primarily passed from animals to humans.

But at least two people have become infected in recent days, despite living hundreds of miles from Wuhan.

“The current cases show there is definitely human-to-human transmission,” Zhong told Chinese state-run CCTV, explaining that two people in China’s Guangdong province were infected by a family member who had recently returned from Wuhan.

Zhong, who helped discover the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS) in 2003, said the infectiousness of this virus was not as strong as SARS, but that the disease was “climbing” and suggested that the “death rate at the moment is not so representative.”

SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia in 2002 and 2003.

Earlier on Monday, Chinese authorities reported that the number of cases had tripled over the weekend to 218. The outbreak has spread to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen, hundreds of miles from Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced last month.

Thailand has also reported two cases, while Japan and South Korea reported one each, taking the global total to 222.

Fears of major outbreak amid busy travel period

The spread of the outbreak comes as the country gets ready for the Lunar New Year holiday later this week. On Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that there was evidence of “limited human-to-human transmission” of the new virus raising fears of a wider regional outbreak. The holiday period typically sees hundreds of millions of Chinese travel throughout the country and overseas.

The three cases outside China have all been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

According to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 35-year-old Chinese woman was detected by temperature screening upon arriving Sunday at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport from Wuhan. She has been quarantined and is in a stable condition, the CDC said.

The woman, a Wuhan resident, had planned to go on holiday in South Korea and Japan with five others. She said she developed a fever and muscle pains on Saturday and was prescribed cold medicine by a doctor in Wuhan, according to the CDC.

Almost 7 million Chinese were estimated to have traveled overseas last year during the Lunar New Year holiday season. “I believe Chinese tourists will bring the virus to many other countries in Asia in the coming days, due to their overseas travels during the Lunar New Year holiday,” Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told CNN Monday.

Study suggests infections may be underestimated

The pneumonia outbreak emerged last month in Wuhan, the largest city in central China and a major transportation hub. Officials in China have linked the viral infections to a Wuhan seafood and wildlife market, which has been closed since January 1 to prevent further spread of the illness.

Chinese scientists on January 8 identified the pathogen as a new strain of coronavirus, in the same family of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

While the new virus has not shown death rates like SARS, a new study by Imperial College London suggests the number of infections in Wuhan is likely to have been grossly underestimated.

“The detection of three cases outside China is worrying. We calculate, based on flight and population data, that there is only a 1 in 574 chance that a person infected in Wuhan would travel overseas before they sought medical care. This implies there might have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far,” Imperial College London’s Neil Ferguson, a disease outbreak scientist, told CNN.

On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced three US airports — in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles — will start screening passengers arriving from Wuhan to check for signs of the new virus, following similar measures taken by governments in Asia.

In Wuhan, infrared thermometers have been installed at the airport, train stations, coach terminals and passenger piers to measure the temperature of passengers departing the city since January 14, Chen Xiexin, deputy mayor of Wuhan, was quoted as saying by state-media China Daily on Sunday.

The measures were only imposed five weeks after the onset of the outbreak, with countless passengers having left the city without screening.

Kansas City shooting leaves 2 dead, possibly including gunman, and 15 others injured

(CNN) — A gunman opened fire on people waiting in line to get into a Kansas City bar Sunday night and was stopped by an armed security guard, police said.

A man, who police believe was the shooter, and a woman were found dead in the bar’s parking lot. Kansas City police Capt. David Jackson said the armed security guard engaged the gunman in the parking lot.

The shooting came hours after the Kansas City Chiefs clinched a trip to Super Bowl LIV, beating the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Business records show the bar, 9ine Ultra Lounge, is owned by former Chiefs cornerback Alphonso Hodge, CNN affiliate KCTV reported.

Officers were nearby when the call about the shooting came in just before 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Jackson said. Officers were not involved in the shooting and did not fire any shots, Jackson said.

At least 15 people arrived at nearby hospitals with injuries, three of whom were in critical condition, Jackson said.

Police don’t know if there was a specific person targeted or if there was a disturbance that led up to the shooting. It’s unknown what type of firearm was used.

“Detectives and crime scene investigators will be collecting evidence and talking with witnesses to gather evidence and more information to see what lead to this shooting,” Jackson said.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas expressed his condolences on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with the families and friends of those whose lives were lost or impacted by last night’s mass shooting.” Lucas tweeted Monday. “Thankful security appears to have kept the situation from being even worse.”

‘Dancing dragon’ feathered dinosaur fossil discovered in China

(CNN) — About 120 million years ago, a “dancing dragon” lived in China’s Jehol Province. The discovery of a fossil belonging to the small feathered dinosaur is new to science and helps bridge the gap between dinosaurs and birds.

Researchers named the dinosaur Wulong bohaiensis, which translates to “a dancing dragon.”

The dinosaur was about the size of a raven but double its length with a long, bony tail. Its entire body was covered with feathers, complete with two plumes at the tail’s end.

Despite its small size, it had a fierce, narrow face and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Like a bird, it had small, light bones and wing-like forelimbs. And there were also a number of feathers on its legs.

The fossil was initially discovered in the fossil-filled Jehol Province a decade ago by a farmer and was placed in China’s Dalian Natural History Museum.

Researchers, including Ashley Poust, a postdoctoral researcher at the San Diego Natural History Museum, later analyzed the fossil (at the time, Poust was still a student at Montana State University).

The findings were published last week in the journal The Anatomical Record.

“The new dinosaur fits in with an incredible [range] of feathered, winged animals that are closely related to the origin of birds,” Poust, the study’s author, said. “Studying specimens like this not only shows us the sometimes surprising paths that ancient life has taken, but also allows us to test ideas about how important bird characteristics, including flight, arose in the distant past.”

This dinosaur was a juvenile when it died, according to its bones, but its feathers resembled that of a mature adult. This suggests that the feathers grew quickly, unlike modern birds, which take time to grow their mature feathers.

“Either the young dinosaurs needed these tail feathers for some function we don’t know about, or they were growing their feathers really differently from most living birds,” Poust said.

The dinosaur was an early relative of Velociraptors, which lived 75 million years ago. Its contemporaries would have been Microraptors, small feathered dinosaurs that resembled birds.

The researchers actually sliced into several bones from the fossil and studied them with microscopes to understand the different regions of the skeleton. They also compared it to a close relative that also appeared more mature, known as the Sinornithosaurus.

Surprisingly, that dinosaur was also still growing when it died. The researchers said that histology, or cutting up the bones, was the only way for them to truly know the life stage of the dinosaurs when they died.

“We’re talking about animals that lived twice as long ago as T. rex, so it’s pretty amazing how well-preserved they are,” Poust said. “It’s really very exciting to see inside these animals for the first time.”

Fossils from the Jehol Province have painted a portrait of the diverse life that once flourished there. It’s an area in northeastern China full of exceptionally preserved fossil discoveries that has been studied for the past 90 years.

Researchers learned that birds, pterosaurs and bird-like dinosaurs all lived in the environment at the same time. This is also when flowering plants initially began to flourish.

“There was a lot of flying, gliding and flapping around these ancient lakes,” Poust said. “As we continue to discover more about the diversity of these small animals, it becomes interesting how they all might have fit into the ecosystem. It was an alien world, but with some of the earliest feathers and earliest flowers, it would have been a pretty one.”

Virginia gun-rights rally concludes peacefully despite earlier fears of extremist violence

(CNN) — A large gun-rights rally in Virginia’s state capital unfolded peacefully Monday despite earlier fears of the kind of violence that took place in nearby Charlottesville three years ago.

Security was tight as gun-rights advocates descended on Richmond for “Lobby Day” to oppose legislation that would restrict access to firearms in the state. The commonwealth braced for the potential of extremist and white nationalist groups to disrupt the peaceful demonstrations with violence and riots, and the state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, declared a temporary state of emergency last week to ban open and concealed firearms and other weapons from the state capitol grounds.

The crowd, however, was peaceful, with no immediate reports of arrests or violence.

In addition to the people on the capitol grounds, there was a large group outside the fenced area, which was not under the ban on weapons and is an open carry area. They were chanting “Northam out” and outnumbered the group on the capitol grounds. There was a heavy police presence among this crowd, and law enforcement could also be seen on the rooftops, providing extra security to the area.

Several protesters brandished rifles and held signs extolling gun rights.

“We came unarmed … this time,” one read. “Patriots unite! They ban, we fight,” read another.

A petition was circulating calling for Northam’s recall, an effort unlikely to succeed given that it would require the signatures of hundreds of thousands of registered Virginia voters to trigger a court process.

Manny Vega of Richmond, who was outside the secured area, said he and his fellow protesters were “here to represent every citizen here that wants to keep the right to bear arms.”

Authorities would not immediately give estimates on the crowd size. But some streets surrounding the capitol grounds, several of which were closed ahead of the event, were packed with protesters.

Speakers at the event concluded their remarks around noon, and crowds began dispersing shortly afterwards.

Concerns about threats

People began lining up around 6 a.m. ET to go through security, an hour before gates to the capitol grounds were opened. Security was very thorough, as officers went through bags and made people remove their jackets to be searched despite the frigid temperatures. Law enforcement confiscated items like lighters as people passed into the secured area.

State Capitol Police urged attendees on social media that if they “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” and posted a list of prohibited items.

Despite fears of potential violence, President Donald Trump urged his followers to stand up to state Democrats’ gun control efforts.

“The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights,” Trump tweeted late Monday morning. “This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!

According to Northam, law enforcement had learned of credible threats of violence surrounding Monday’s rally, made from mainstream and alternative dark web channels used by violent groups and white nationalists outside of Virginia.

That led the Democratic governor to issue a temporary state of emergency last week through Tuesday, banning open and concealed firearms and other weapons from the state capitol grounds.

When announcing the ban on Wednesday, Northam said he hoped to prevent incidents like the violence that erupted three years ago at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which left one counter protester dead and several others injured.

On Thursday, the FBI arrested three alleged members of a white supremacist group, including two men accused of possessing a machine gun, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition and body armor parts.

Sean Restatter, 22, told CNN on the capitol grounds Monday that the protest was intended to be peaceful.

“There might be far-right and far-left groups that might be out here today, but the vast majority of the message is ‘guns save lives’ and we believe in the 2nd Amendment,” he said.

Right to gun ownership for ‘law abiding citizens’

The gun rights group — the Virginia Citizens Defense League — who organized protests on so-called Lobby Day said their demonstrations would be peaceful and intended to draw attention to “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” or what they refer to as localities that vow not to enforce “unconstitutional” gun laws.

One of the speakers invited by VCDL included Stephen Willeford, the man who shot and chased the shooter in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church massacre in 2017.

The group’s president, Philip Van Cleave, previously told CNN that they’ve been attending Lobby Day since 2003 to advocate for guns rights by “law abiding citizens,” and the “grassroots” effort hasn’t had any incidents of violence.

Northam’s executive order was quickly challenged in court by VCDL, the Gun Owners of America and three private individuals, who argued that the ban violated their rights under the First and Second Amendments. A judge upheld the governor’s temporary ban on Thursday, leading them to file an appeal with Virginia’s Supreme Court. On Friday, the Supreme Court of Virginia refused their petition, leaving Northam’s ban in effect.

Following a mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building last year, Northam called for a special session to debate gun control, but it was adjourned by Republicans without action.

But since winning control of the state legislature in November, Democrats have more successfully advanced gun control measures in the 2020 legislative session.

The Virginia Senate, along party lines, approved several gun measures last week, including background checks for private firearm transfers, limiting gun purchases to one handgun a month and allowing localities to ban firearms in public during a permitted event.

The bills now head to the Virginia House of Delegates.

Sterling Police Department warns of counterfeit money in the community

STERLING, Illinois — The Sterling Police Department has received reports of counterfeit currency being presented to area
businesses.

The Sterling Police Department is encouraging all businesses to review the security features of U.S. Currency and how to authenticate money. Be wary of persons who attempt to pass along large bills and ask for bills to be traded out or make unusual requests for change. You can learn the security features of U.S. Currency as well as other safety tips by visiting uscurrency.gov.

If counterfeit currency is suspected, please contact the Sterling Police Department (815-632-6640) or your local law enforcement authorities.

Riverdale High robotics competition stacks Lego and donates toys to Iowa children’s hospital

PORT BYRON, Illinois -- Riverdale High School was a playground for Legos on Sunday afternoon for both the robots stacking them and the children the event was benefiting.

The FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics League Competition took place on Sunday, January 19th at Riverdale High School and it united about a dozen robotics teams from across the area to compete.

The competition involved the teams guiding their robots through obstacles and having them stack Lego blocks onto the correct mats, with bonus points award if they could successfully stack the blocks on top of each other.

As simple as that might seem, getting a robot to work exactly how you want it to involves a lot of work. As Riverdale High School's Robotic Rams team member Boston Leighty puts it, "There's like basically little divisions of the team, like we have the whole coding team that spends months going through trying to make the code that works, that can do the stuff, or the building team, and the prototyping; trying to find what works best. Like, you have to build designs, You have to have a notebook keeping track of everything you do. You have to design the whole robot and the build it, and then test it, then design, then build, then test."

In addition to the competition, the event had a second purpose. The Robotic Rams continued their annual Lego Fundraiser to raise money to buy Lego sets for kids in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. Previous years' fundraisers raised over $6,000 and donated over 240 Lego sets to the hospital.

Next system on track for the later half of the week

Winter sunshine for most has been noticed throughout the day as temperatures will top out in the upper teens to around the 20 degree mark.  Cold, yes.  But trending in the right direction which will be noticing in the days ahead.

Promising another cold night with overnight lows into the single digits.  Fortunately, no big wind to produce any nasty wind chills.

Tuesday will try to melt some of that ice along neighborhood streets with sunshine and temperatures as high as the middle 20s.

Our next weather system is still on track for the later half of the week with snow as early as Wednesday night to a mix of rain and snow for Thursday then back to snow that night heading into Friday.  We will likely see some accumulation out of this which will make roadways slick in spots.

What we also continue to notice is no real cold with the passage of this system as we head into the weekend and into next week.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

Here’s a look at the hour-by-hour forecast from the StormTrack 8 Weather App!

Click on the links below to download the free app:

 

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