WQAD News

8-year-old Rock Island girl starts business to save the turtles

COAL VALLEY, Illinois-- A Quad City animal enthusiast is taking her love of wildlife to the next level. She's created a company and  a product that's helping save aquatic animals near and far. And she's only 8-years-old.

Nicolina Pappas has always loved animals, but when she saw a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose, she knew she had to do something to help. So she created Nicolina's Turtle Co.

Her mom, Lori, taught Nicolina how to sew, and now she's created more than 100 metal straw pouches with a turtle twist on each one.

"About 500 million [plastic straws] are used in a day in America, and they take 500 years to decompose," explains Nicolina.

"Because when you offer things like metal straws, it decreases the 500-million plastic straws, and when you offer her bags, it makes a convenient place to put them," explains Joel Vanderbush from the Niabi Zoo.

Nicolina is selling her straw pouches at the Niabi Zoo gift shop, the Botanical Center and Nahant Marsh. All the money she raises will go to help even more turtles.

"When we talk about the impact, it isn’t just the oceans. Nicolina may have seen a video with a sea turtle with a straw in its nose but that can happen to local turtles that can happen to local fish, otters, and our mink and any local animal," explains Vanderbush.

So far with the some of the money Nicolina has raised, she's sponsoring seven local turtles, some at the Niabi Zoo and at the Botanical Center. Money from Nicolina's project goes towards food and care costs for the turtles.

Medics adding sensory bags to ambulances

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- MEDIC EMS in Davenport is seeing a need for a new tool on their rigs.

Right now, they are testing out "sensory bags". Bright yellow backpacks filled with toys, headphones, blankets and other comfort items for kids with autism.

According to the Center of Disease Control, 1 in 59 kids in the United States have autism and for medics here in the Quad Cities that statistic meant they needed to be prepared to properly respond to all calls. Including calls with someone on the spectrum.

"In a given time of a year or a month or whatever we are going to come in contact with these children so I think any extra training that we can do for our EMT's and paramedics along with any tools that may help them take care of one of these patients we are going to do," said Jeremy Pessman, with MEDIC EMS.

They hope to launch the bags by March of this year and plan on carrying one bag in every ambulance.

YOUR MONEY with Mark: Where’s the Jobs in 2020?

When it comes to YOUR MONEY, we want to take it a step further. That's why Mark Grywacheski appears on Good Morning Quad Cities every Monday to give us his analysis of the latest business, economic, and financial news.

If you're looking for a job - or a change - now's the right time.

The U.S. economy added 145,000 new jobs in December 2019 and the U.S. unemployment rate is now at a new 50-year low, at 3.5%.

During Good Morning Quad Cities' Your Money Segment on Monday, January 20th, Mark Grywacheski - Investment Advisor with the Quad Cities Investment Group - recapped the labor market in 2019 and what we can expect in 2020.

He says the biggest job gains over the last year have been in Education and Health Services, followed by Professional and Business Services, then Leisure and Hospitality.

Manufacturing is lower on the list - going from #6 in 2018 to #9 in 2019 when it comes to "Job Gains by Sector" - but Grywacheski says he expects a pickup in that industry after 500,000 new jobs were added in the last three years, which is the most since the mid-1980s.

"The global economy should get stronger," he explained. "I think the U.S. economy gets stronger. We just wrapped up our two biggest trade disputes. Now, it's not going to be an overnight flip of the switch. It's going to take some time to filter through the economy, to filter through these manufacturing supply chains, but I do have a revised upward projection for 2020."

To hear the rest of our conversation about the labor market, wage growth, and more - click the video clip above.

RISE: Ways to Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day Today… and Beyond

Monday, January 20th, 2020 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The federal holiday celebrates the birthday of the minister and activist, who was born January 15th, 1929. Dr. King became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

"I have a dream... that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed."

To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Augustana College held its Community Celebration on Saturday, January 18th, 2020. This year's theme is RISE.

The Soul Children of Chicago performed at the event. The mission of the 30-year-old group is to use music "as the motivator and catalyst to inspire young people throughout the world to have faith in themselves, each other and God."

RISE is also the theme of Reverend Dwight Ford's Keynote Address, which also takes place at Augustana College at 10:30am on Monday, January 20th in The Gerber Center for Student Life. This free event features Rev. Ford from Grace City Church in Rock Island, Illinois.

Also taking place at 10:30am on Monday, January 20th is the 37th Annual Memorial Service and Awards Celebration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Rock Island. The theme for this year's event is also based on a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." The event features keynote speaker Rev. Allen Shuler from Olivet Baptist Church in Rock Island and the “I Have A Dream” Award, presented to a Rock Island citizen for exemplary community service and enormous contributions made to the community.

To learn about Martin Luther King Jr., click here.

The Score Sunday – Riverdale GBB, Augustana MBB, FCA

This week on The Score Sunday we talk with the 15-2 Riverdale Girls Basketball Team.  The Rams are leading the TRAC and ranked in the state.  Augustana Men's Basketball picked up a couple big wins this past week to move them into third place in the CCIW.  The FCA story of the week features Assumption Freshman Wrestler Derrick Bass.

Taal volcano eruption poses deadly dilemma for people living in its shadow

(CNN) — Maria Evangeline Tenorio Sarmiento struggles to wade through ankle-deep mud and debris to reach her house that’s been inundated with thick sludge.

Inside, the 52-year-old mother of two finds the roof over her kitchen has collapsed under the weight of ashfall.

The once-blue walls are now smeared in a thick layer of gray ash. Her son is up on the roof scraping off the mud in an effort to stop the rest from caving in.

“It was totally destroyed. I only saw it yesterday. I saw our barangay (village) and can’t help but cry,” she told CNN from the ruined house in Laurel in the Philippine province of Batangas.

Sarmiento’s piggery — a new source of income for her — is gone. Her five pigs dead.

“How can we rebuild our lives? How can we start again? I don’t have money to use as capital again,” she said.

It’s a bleak prospect faced by many families in Batangas and Cavite who lost their homes and livelihoods when the Taal volcano — one of the Philippines’ most active — began erupting last Sunday, spewing ash up to 14 kilometers (9 miles) into the air and generating volcanic lightning.

Heavy charcoal-like ash rained down on towns and villages, blanketing everything. Houses and trees buckled under the weight of it. Affected areas had no power or fresh water.

Outside Sarmiento’s hourse, the once bustling markets are empty, the fields left untended, the lush trees now gray and lifeless.

Many people here made their living off the rich land around the volcano, from fishing in the lake or from the many tourists that visit each year.

The volcano, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of the capital Manila on the island of Luzon, is like a time bomb. Volcanologists warn a bigger eruption could be yet to come — but no one can predict when, or if, it will explode or settle back down.

Sarmiento was at the local fish market when she heard a loud thunder-like sound followed by thick smoke. Her home lies within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the volcano.

“We went home and I saw my children stuffing all our clothes inside our vehicle, forgetting to put them first inside luggage. We immediately went up to a higher ground,” she said, adding that they stayed with her sister in the nearby town of Santo Tomas.

Thousands like her fled their homes when Taal suddenly rumbled into life. Caught off guard, many sought shelter in temporary evacuation centers carrying only the clothes they were in with little to no possessions.

Seismic activity had been recorded at the volcano since March 2019, but that morning the alert level was at one — meaning a hazardous eruption was not imminent.

“The speed of escalation was unexpected,” said Mark Timbal, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

By 7:30 p.m. the alert was raised to four, with Philippine authorities warning that an “explosive eruption” could happen in the coming hours or days. It prompted authorities to urge a “total evacuation” of people within a 14 kilometer (8.7 miles) danger zone of the volcano.

An explosive eruption could be extremely lethal. Ballistic fragments of magma could be violently expelled from the volcano, pyroclastic flows — fast-moving currents of hot gas and volcanic matter — could swallow anything in its path, and the volcano’s slope slumping into the surrounding lake could create a volcanic tsunami.

Residents would also be at risk from deadly toxic gases emitted from the eruption, and mud flows caused by ash mixing with water vapor in the atmosphere.

The lake that fills the caldera was another concern. Any water that intersects with the hot lava could immediately flash into steam and create an explosive system.

“We just had little time to prepare. From the first eruption at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday to the alert level four, we barely had time,” said Francis Tolentino, Senator and former mayor of Tagaytay, which overlooks the volcano and its lake.

Another bigger eruption could potentially send ash — which carries microscopic shards of glass — 100 kilometers (62 miles) away or more, contaminating the air and water supplies in distant locations. More than 25 million people live within 100 kilometers of the volcano.

The priority was to get almost half a million people living within the danger zone to safety. Towns around the banks of Lake Taal were placed under police lockdown and evacuations enforced.

By the following Saturday more than 70,000 people had sought shelter in 300 temporary evacuation centers. Many more are staying with relatives or friends in other provinces.

But in the days since Taal began erupting, a number of people have risked their lives by refusing to leave or returning home to tend farms and livestock or fetch personal belongings, even though a powerful eruption could happen at any time.

For many residents whose living depends on fishing the lake, a good harvest or for those who live hand to mouth doing odd jobs, staying in an evacuation center for an unknown period, while fields spoil or animals die, is a death sentence of its own.

When the Taal volcano erupted in 1754 it lasted six months. The deadliest eruption took 1,335 lives in 1911, and it lasted a few days.

Renz Mateo, 20, is from a small lake-side barangay in Agoncillo and said he sneaks past police every day to return home from a shelter because he said there is not enough food there.

“Most of the people here went to the evacuation center. I live in a very remote area. We also need water. Whatever we get from evacuation area, we try to maximize it. We lack food and water,” he said.

While government and NGO agencies are working to provide shelters with mats, food, water, clothing and hygiene kits, the conditions are cramped and stifling. The evacuation centers are often schools, gymnasiums, or even basketball courts and families sleep on the cold, hard floor or on folded-up cardboard boxes.

Because of the unpredictability of the volcano, no one knows how long they will have to stay there or whether there will be enough supplies to last the weeks or even months.

Mateo, who was escorted out of his neighborhood carrying a sack of rice on his motorbike by police, said he feels “lost.”

When the mud and ash started falling from the sky, he scrambled to get his mother out of the house and they ran to high ground in the mountains.

“We just take what is given to us. Our house was destroyed, we have nothing, no more house to go back to. We were only able to salvage few personal items,” he said.

The alert level for the volcano remained at four out of a possible five on Saturday. Fissures caused by the pressure from magma moving below the ground have opened up in several areas and deep cracks could be seen carving through roads.

Tremors are also ongoing. Some 666 volcanic earthquakes were recorded since Sunday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS.)

“All these activity increases tell you that something is happening. But none of this says exactly what will happen in exactly what timeframe,” said Joseph Michalski, director of the Earth and Planetary Science division at the University of Hong Kong.

“That’s frustrating for people who want to evacuate or people who need to make decisions.”

At a checkpoint between Laurel and Agoncillo towns, one Batangas police officer whose team was cleaning the thick mud off a road said he was sympathetic to those who returned home. Charged with enforcing the evacuation order, he was torn.

“We are really in a difficult situation because we are mandated by the law to implement whatever our higher ups told us but we cannot help and also sympathize with these people because they are the victims of this eruption. They are worried about their livelihood and get whatever is left from their properties,” said Police Senior Master Sergeant Mar Carabeo.

The whole town of Agoncillo, on the banks of Lake Taal, is a no man’s land due to the extent of mud and ash. it clings to clothes and hair and the smell of sulfur lingers in the air.

Haunting images from those who went back to the Taal volcano island show a desolate landscape of destroyed houses and snapped trees covered in a thick layer of heavy ash. Half-buried bodies of horses and cows that could not escape the island lay in black sludge or floating in the surrounding lake.

Animals that survived the ashfall are caked with dirt and those who can have brought them to relative safety on boats.

PHIVOLCS has designated the entire volcano island as a “Permanent Danger Zone” and recommends strongly against permanent settlements there.

Nevertheless, people have inhabited the island. Some locals living on or near the volcano, many of them laborers or farmers, made money from offering horse rides to tourists. Others built their livelihoods farming the mineral-rich fertile soils that are associated with many volcanoes or fishing tawilis or “live sardines” only found in Batangas province.

The area is known for growing sweet pineapple, coffee called Kapeng barako, and for a dish of thick lomi noodles cooked with garlic. The busy international seaport of Batanagas is close by.

Lake Taal is also a popular attraction and many of the towns in the vicinity are tourism hot spots. There are several amusement parks, lakeside resorts and yacht clubs nearby. And the holiday town of Tagaytay is a popular getaway for Manila residents who often take boats onto the lake and hike up the volcano.

“Eruptions are actually relatively rare, in the greater scheme of things,” said David Phillips, head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. “Many of these landscapes are very beautiful and people want to go visit them.”

“It’s beautiful but it’s also potentially deadly — it’s that fatal attraction,” he continued.

Taal Volcano sits on the Ring of Fire — a horse shoe shaped belt in the Pacific Ocean basin where most of the world’s active volcanoes lie. It’s also where 90% of earthquakes happen as tectonic plates push against each other, causing tremors.

The “ring” stretches along a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc from the boundary of the Pacific Plate, to smaller plates such as the Philippine Sea plate, to the Cocos and Nazca Plates that line the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Life for millions of people living around the Ring of Fire can often be precarious as they live and work under the constant threat of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis.

On any given day there could be around 20 volcanoes erupting at any one time, according to the Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program. And perhaps hundreds of earthquakes, according to Earthquake Track.

As one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, the Philippines experiences more than its share of earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters.

“We have had a severe year,” said Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Red Cross Philippines.

A series of deadly earthquakes between October and December rattled the southern Philippines, leaving 600,000 people in need of assistance. Two typhoons in December killed at least 26 people and caused millions of dollars of damage.

Even without a potential second eruption of Taal — which could prove devastating for the local economy — the financial effects are already taking their toll.

The ash fall has damaged crops in the area such as corn and coffee, and continues to threaten fish stocks. In Batangas and Cavite provinces, 74,549,300 Philippine pesos ($1.5 million) worth of damage has been caused to agriculture, according to the NDRRMC.

Footage shows farmers surveying their ruined pineapple fields, which are coated in ash. Their harvest, and income for the year, has been lost.

Those in the evacuation zone face an agonizing wait to see if the volcano will explosively erupt, in which they will prepare for disaster, or if Taal will go back to sleep and they can slowly rebuild.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Sarmiento. She hopes the government will be able to “help us rebuild our lives and this barangay.”

Tracking a nice warming trend in the week ahead

Bitterly cold wind chills will hang on for one more day as an Arctic area of high pressure lingers in the region. Thankfully, winds won't be nearly as gusty compared to Saturday night, meaning wind chills will drop to between -10 and -15.

Monday will be our last truly cold day for a while as a pattern change by Tuesday and especially Wednesday brings much warmer readings back to the Quad Cities.

Monday's highs will be limited to the middle and upper teens, but by Tuesday our winds will switch to a more southerly direction bringing in a warmer air mass and allowing us to climb well into the 20s. We won't have to wait much beyond that to see our first above-freezing day as that arrives on Wednesday.

What follows this warmth is another potent storm system for, you guessed it, the end of the week. Thursday and Friday look to be the main two days where we will be dealing with some sort of wintry weather. At this time, it appears we will see more of a rain and snow mix as opposed to ice when compared with this last system. The reason? This next storm doesn't look like it will reach it's maximum intensity as it gets close, which gives us a break from the freezing rain threat. The accumulating snowfall threat though is a bit higher since the colder air remains locked in place before the system arrives.

While we wait for more details regarding the threats our next storm system will bring, let's have a look back and see where we stand when it comes to snowfall for both the season and beyond.

When looking at December 1st through today, we are still in a deficit thanks to a very quiet December and a similarly quiet start to the month of January. That put us behind about 3 inches compared to normal for that time frame. When you throw the data out even further, going back to July 1st which would encompass our snowy October and November, we are actually in a surplus for snowfall of more than five inches. This category will be trending up in the days ahead as we still have at least one more wintry system to get through.  It will also be important to keep an eye on this value when it comes to the impact river flooding will pose in the months ahead. The more "above normal" snowfall we see, the higher the threat for flooding in the spring.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

A stray cat without ears has a new set of purple ones, thanks to an animal lover who crochets

(CNN) — A stray cat in Wisconsin had her ears removed due to chronic and painful infections. So a helpful woman crocheted her some new ones.

The cat, named Lady in a Fur Coat, was bought into the Dane County Humane Society in December and immediately began treatment for chronic ear infections and hematomas, spokesperson Marissa DeGroot told CNN.

To alleviate her suffering, veterinarians eventually decided to remove Lady’s outer ear flaps — which left her looking a little funny.

It also made shelter employees worried that she wouldn’t be adopted.

That’s when Ash Collins, who works at the Humane Society, decided to crochet Lady an adorable ear bonnet.

With some coaxing (and more than a few treats), Lady fit into her new purple ears.

“It’s amazing because we see these strays and medical cases come in and I think we’re always surprised by their resiliency,” said DeGroot.

The sweet girl, known at the shelter for her love of cuddles and head bumps, was adopted on Tuesday just hours after the Humane Society — which serves the Madison area — posted photos on Facebook of Lady in her new ears.

“Staff and volunteers at Dane County Humane Society consistently go above and beyond for the animals in our care,” Collins told CNN.

“I was more than happy to use my crochet skills to help Lady stand out and get the second chance she deserved, and I’m so honored to be a small part of her happy ending.”

Puerto Rico emergency director fired after residents discover warehouse full of Hurricane Maria supplies

(CNN) — Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced fired the island’s emergency manager, hours after a warehouse filled with supplies was discovered.

The emergency aid is believed to be from when Hurricane Maria hit the island two years ago, the governor said.

Carlos Acevedo, director of Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management, was dismissed Saturday. The governor appointed Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, to replace him.

Earlier on Saturday, numerous pallets of water and other boxes with emergency supplies were found at a warehouse in the earthquake ravaged city of Ponce.

Several residents were seen opening the rolling metal doors of the building and calling for authorities to distribute the supplies. Families began lining up Saturday afternoon outside the warehouse, hoping to get bottled water, food and emergency radios, CNN affiliate WAPA reported.

Acevedo has denied allegations of mishandling, saying the agency has been actively distributing supplies, according to a statement released through the office of emergency management. No residents have been denied any supplies in the warehouse, including food, diapers, baby formula and cots, Acevedo said.

He said about 600 pallets of water were distributed when Hurricane Dorian and Hurricane Karen threatened Puerto Rico and during a drought that affected the island last year. Nearly 80 of those pallets remain in the warehouse because they expired, he said.

“There have not been orders to seize or destroy those items at any point,” Acevedo said in a statement

Vázquez Garced has directed Secretary of State Elmer Roman to investigate the allegations and share his findings within 48 hours.

“There are thousands of people who made sacrifices to bring aid to the south and it’s unforgivable that resources have been kept in a warehouse,” the governor said in a statement.

Puerto Rico has been ravaged by a series of earthquakes since December 28. In the last two weeks, tremors and aftershocks have destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of structures and forced thousands of people in the southern area of the island to flee their homes.

More than 8,000 people have been living in outdoor shelters in the cities of Yauco, Peñuelas, Guánica, Guayanilla and Ponce. Some of those displaced are residents who are too afraid to return home for fear a wall or the roof will collapse.

Web Exclusive: Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- News Eight sat down with U.S. Senator from Minnesota and Democratic Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar on her campaign bus Sunday.

Watch the full interview with her views on impeachment, trade, long-term care and the fight between two of her senate colleagues over whether a woman can win in 2020.

The body of a woman missing for 6 years was found in a car submerged in a New Jersey river

(CNN) — The body of a woman who had been missing for six years has been found in a New Jersey river, according to State Police Trooper Charles Marchan.

The body was recovered from a submerged car in the Salem River on Thursday, Marchan said, and later identified as that of 52-year-old Vanessa Smallwood, who was last seen on January 27, 2014.

Divers from the Walker Diving Underwater Construction Company were removing debris from the river when they saw what they believed to be human remains in the car, state police said in a news release.

Authorities responded and recovered the body, it said.

According to a FBI missing persons poster, Smallwood was last seen at a dry cleaning business in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, driving a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van.

The Southern Regional Coroner’s Office will perform an autopsy on the body, New Jersey State Police said. The case remains under investigation.

CNN has reached out to the Southern Regional Coroner’s Office for comment.

An abandoned husky with ‘weird’ eyes has been adopted after her photos went viral

(CNN) — A Siberian husky that was surrendered to a New Jersey shelter because of “weird” eyes has been adopted after photos posted on Facebook went viral.

Jubilee, a 4-year-old female pup, has an eyelid deformity that makes it appear as if she’s always surprised.

A breeder gave her to Husky House in 2018, telling the nonprofit shelter in Matawan that Jubilee couldn’t be sold because she was too “weird” looking.

Despite the congenital issue with her eyelids, Jubilee doesn’t suffer from any other health issues.

“She has been thoroughly checked out by our vets,” a Husky House representative told CNN. “It does not affect her in any way or slow her down one bit. She is happy and healthy.”

But for the past two years, Jubilee has struggled to find a loving family to care for her.

Husky House took to Facebook on Tuesday with a heartbreaking doggy plea for her adoption.

“I came from a ‘breeder’ who couldn’t sell me because he said I was ‘weird’ looking,” the shelter wrote. “Huskies are majestic looking dogs and I don’t know why I don’t look like them.”

“I wish I was beautiful so someone would want me to be their dog.”

Caretakers at Husky House were worried the plea wouldn’t work, but to their surprise it went viral.

More than 150 people applied to adopt Jubilee, the Husky House representative told CNN.

“Since the original Facebook post went viral, we received an overwhelming amount of love, support, and inquiries, including adoption requests,” the representative said. “We are so happy to see that everyone feels she is as wonderful as we always knew she was.”

Husky House announced on Saturday that Jubilee has found her “forever home” with a family that had previously adopted a dog from them.

At least two Honolulu police officers killed in shooting, report says

(CNN) — At least two Honolulu police officers were killed in a shooting Sunday morning in the Diamond Head area, according to CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

The station reported the suspect in the shooting apparently set a home on fire on Hibiscus Drive.

Honolulu Police said the area of Hibiscus Drive was closed because of a police investigation. Video from Hawaii News Now showed several homes on that street engulfed in flames.

CNN has not yet independently confirmed the details of the incident provided by Hawaii News Now.

Earlier, FBI Honolulu Operational Support Technician Derek Hayes told CNN the FBI was responding to an “active shooter” in Honolulu. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also responding, the agency said on Twitter.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted his “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of the two officers and the department.

“This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawai’i,” Caldwell wrote.

This story is developing.

The student loan debt is $1.6 trillion and people are struggling to pay it down

(CNN) — The student loan burden in the US is about $1.6 trillion and rising, mostly because people have barely made a dent in paying down their loans.

That’s according to a report released Thursday from credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service. While higher college enrollment rates and rising tuition costs used to the main reason for growing student loan balances, the report states that slow loan repayments have recently become the primary driver.

“Over the next few years, the combination of slow repayments and elevated, if no longer growing, levels of new borrowing will likely fuel further increases in outstanding debt,” the authors of the report write.

In recent years, the number of students enrolled in higher education has declined and the cost of attending college has stabilized relative to people’s incomes, Moody’s analysts said. But borrowers have been slow to pay back their debt, meaning student loan balances will keep growing over the years.

Over the past decade, the aggregate annual net student loan repayment rate — meaning the amount of existing balances eliminated each year — has averaged about 3%, according to the Moody’s report.

Only 51% of federal borrowers who were scheduled to start paying back their loans in 2010 to 2012 had made any progress after five years, the report said. Students who attended all types of institutions have struggled with loan payments, although people who attended for-profit or two-year institutions have had a particularly tough time. Many of them haven’t paid down their balances at all.

Why repayment has been slow

There are several reasons that people have been slow to repay their student loans.

For one, the job prospects for many graduates of for-profit, two-year and non-selective four-year schools aren’t great, making it hard to earn the income needed to pay back loans and otherwise stay afloat. Some students don’t complete their programs or receive degrees.

Another reason that Moody’s cites for slow repayment is a rise in income-driven repayment plans, which can lower monthly loan payments based on their incomes and the size of their families and make paying back those loans more affordable.

“As you can imagine, the monthly payment will be lowered to reduce their monthly obligation but at the same time that keeps the loan outstanding for much longer and the repayment rate is going to be much slower,” Nicky Dang, senior vice president/manager at Moody’s, told CNN.

Finally, more people are opting for extended repayment plans, meaning that they plan to pay back their loans on a longer schedule. Only about a quarter of balances are currently being repaid on 10-year or shorter terms, the report said.

Many people are on longer repayment plans because they cannot afford traditional loan payments, although analysts believe others are opting to pay back loans on a longer schedule by choice, Warren Kornfeld, senior vice president at Moody’s, told CNN.

Student loans affect other areas of life

Student debt was the fastest growing type of household debt in the US in the last decade, and it’s now the second largest household debt category after home mortgages, according to Moody’s.

About two in three college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2018 had student debt, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access and Success. Those borrowers owed an average of $29,200.

“The growth in student loans has slowed in recent years as states have invested more in public colleges, but millions of students continue to struggle with their debts,” Debbie Cochrane, executive vice president of the organization, said in a statement at the time.

The student loan debt burden, Moody’s analysts said, is “weighing on household finances and the broader economy.”

Having student loan debt affects whether a person can access other forms of household credit, including whether they are able to save for a down payment on a home, qualify for a mortgage or start a small business — all of which drive economic growth and wealth creation.

Section of River Drive to be limited to one lane each direction starting Monday until March

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Quad City drivers will want to be aware of a traffic change that is about to occur on River Drive and last for over a month.

Weather permitting, there will be a traffic change on River Drive starting Monday, January 20th. River Drive will be down to one lane in each direction between Perry and East 3rd streets for installation of a new sewer line. Traffic will be head-to-head in the two north lanes.

 Work is estimated to be complete by Monday March 2, pending weather and subsurface conditions.

How lawyer Alan Dershowitz plans to defend Trump during the impeachment trial

(CNN) — Alan Dershowitz, a recent addition to President Donald Trump’s legal team, said Sunday that he plans to revive an 1868 argument used during former President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial when he is arguing on behalf of Trump on the Senate floor.

Dershowitz said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would be paraphrasing former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis, who served as the chief counsel during Johnson’s impeachment, in saying the framers of the Constitution intended for impeachable conduct to mean “criminal-like conduct.”

Dershowitz said he will argue that because the House charges do not include criminal conduct, there is no need for witnesses. If this reasoning prevails, he said, there would not be any reason for any further witnesses or arguments.

“(Curtis) argued successfully to the Senate that criminal-like conduct is required. That argument prevailed. I will be making that argument as a lawyer on behalf of the President’s defense team against impeachment. That’s my role. It’s very clear. I have done it before,” Dershowitz, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, said.

Dershowitz’s argument hinges on the consideration by the Senate that neither of those charges qualify as “criminal-like conduct.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the two articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate last week, charging the President with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate trial is slated to begin on Tuesday, where Republicans and Democrats are expected to battle over a resolution setting the rules for the trial and shortly after start opening arguments.

Dershowitz also argued on ABC’s “This Week” that both obstruction of Congress and abuse of power are not within the constitutional criteria for impeachment as set forth by the founders. The Constitution says presidents can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” but it does not define “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In his testimony to Congress in December, Harvard Law School constitutional law professor Noah Feldman said the phrase means “abuse of the office of the presidency for personal advantage or to corrupt the electoral process or to subvert the national security of the United States.” Under this opposing definition, the President’s conduct does not have to be criminal to be impeachable.

Dershowitz on Sunday made it clear that he would not be involved in the day-to-day with the legal team — noting that he will just be there to argue the specific issue of constitutional criteria for impeachment, making “what could be the most important argument on the floor.”

The President was especially fixated on having controversial defense attorney Dershowitz on the legal team. But Dershowitz has been telling his own associates he didn’t want to participate in the President’s trial, a source who is familiar with these conversations told CNN. White House officials have applied a lot of pressure over the last several weeks to convince Dershowitz to join the team, sources familiar with the attorney’s appointment said.

On Sunday, Dershowitz told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that he didn’t think his past clients — notable names like Jeffrey Epstein, former President Bill Clinton or O.J. Simpson — would affect his ability to make a persuasive argument to the Senate.

“I have defended some of the most controversial people in American history … I am very proud of my role as a defense lawyer. I did nothing wrong in any of those cases,” Dershowitz s

River Action putting on 6-month-long series of environmental films and documentaries

DAVENPORT, Iowa — River Action has announced the slate of films making up its 2020 Environmental Film Series.

The series consists of 6 films and documentaries shown over the course of 6 months about environmental challenges, conservation, and other topics related to environmentalism.

The films are being shown on select Sundays from at 4 p.m. in the Figge Art Museum in Davenport from January to May. Admission for adults is $5, while the student price is lower at $2. A $20 season pass granted admission to all 6 screenings is also available for $20.

The film series schedule is as follows:

For move trailers, information, and tickets, visit riveraction.org/filmseries. If you have any questions, River Action recommends that you give them a call at (563) 322-2969.

Annual Icestravaganza crowds brave the cold for alien-themed sculptures

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Cold and icy conditions didn't stop people from visiting Davenport's Freight House to experience...more ice.

The 8th annual Icestravaganza was held at Davenport's Freight House beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 19th and lasting until 4 p.m. This year, sculptures followed the theme of "Aliens and are 51", so the sculptors turned 24,000 pounds of solid ice blocks into flying saucers, little green men, and other extraterrestrial designs.

Other than the sculptures, the winter festivities included games, crafts, and story readings courtesy of the Davenport Public Library. Attendees also got to meet the Quad City Storm's mascot, Radar, and practice a hockey trick shot.

As fitting as the weekend's cold weather is for a winter festival, the extremely low temperatures and icy roads could have been a huge dampener on Icestravaganza's attendance, but according to Downtown Davenport Partnership Events Director Jason Gilliland, the crowds were still quite strong and he was happy with the turnout.

Following the festivities' end at 4 p.m., a 21-and-over afterparty was help from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon completes fiery emergency escape test ahead of first astronaut mission

(CNN) — After months of anticipation, SpaceX’s new crew-worthy spacecraft, Crew Dragon, reached its last major milestone in a years-long testing program. The success paves the way for astronauts to begin using the spacecraft for rides to the International Space Station this year.

The capsule was launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:30 am ET on Sunday. About 84 seconds after liftoff, Crew Dragon intentionally ejected itself from the rocket to simulate how it would carry passengers to safety if something goes awry during launch.

Sunday’s launch came after bad weather on Saturday forced a 24-hour delay.

SpaceX CEO and chief engineer Elon Musk on Twitter called the in-flight abort test a “risky mission” that’s “pushing the envelope in so many ways.”

SpaceX’s test appeared to go exactly as intended Sunday. The Falcon 9 rocket shut off its engines after climbing more than 10 miles above ground at supersonic speeds. At the same time, the Crew Dragon capsule detached itself and fired up its own set of engines for a about ten seconds to thrust the vehicle up and away from the rocket.

Crew Dragon then used onboard thrusters to orient the vehicle as it fell back toward Earth. Two sets of parachutes slowed its descent before it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are designed to be reusable, and the one used Sunday already made three trips to space. But for the purposes of the test, the rocket was intentionally destroyed after Crew Dragon executed its emergency abort, erupting into a ball of fire mid-air. Recovery crews will work to recover as much of the debris form the vehicle as possible.

A successful emergency abort test will mark a significant win for SpaceX. There is still some testing left to do, such as additional checks on the vehicle’s parachute design, Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said during a press briefing Friday. But officials can now work to finish the long-awaited verification process that will deem Crew Dragon ready for its first mission with astronauts on board.

The next step will be for SpaceX and NASA to closely review the data collected by the in-flight abort test, including information collected by two sensor-clad test dummies that rode aboard Crew Dragon Sunday. They’ll help determine what type of G-forces astronauts would experience during such a launch abort

NASA asked the private sector to develop crew-worthy spacecraft to replace the Space Shuttle program after it was retired in 2011. SpaceX was allotted $2.6 billion and Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion in 2014, and the space agency initially predicted their vehicles would be ready to fly astronauts by 2017. But development of both spacecrafts took years longer than expected. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia billions of dollars for American astronauts to ride aboard Russia’s Soyuz capsules.

Though the US space agency paid the companies to develop their vehicles, Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are privately owned and operated. So, unlike previous human spaceflight programs, NASA will essentially be a customer for the companies during their missions.

Boeing suffered a setback when its Starliner spacecraft malfunctioned during an orbital test flight in December, and it’s not clear when the vehicle will be ready for crewed missions.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, however, appears to be on track for a crewed mission in the near future now that it’s completed the emergency abort test. Final certification could happen in the coming weeks.

The capsule has already demonstrated it can fly into orbit and autonomously dock with the International Space Station: It completed an uncrewed demonstration mission in March 2019.

And it previously conducted a ground test of its emergency abort system, which saw Crew Dragon blast itself off a launch pad to simulate how it could fly crew away from a malfunctioning rocket if something goes wrong in the minutes before takeoff.

The company suffered a significant setback shortly thereafter, however, when a Crew Dragon capsule exploded during a ground test of the vehicle’s emergency abort engines. SpaceX worked for the past nine months to address that issue and to finetune Crew Dragon’s parachute design.

Lueders said that system has so far performed “very well” during additional tests.

Boeing will not conduct a test analogous to SpaceX’s in-flight abort test. Lueders said Friday that each company is allowed to design their own testing programs, and “each of them have their pros.”

“As long as it’s meeting our overall strategy, we allow the flexibility for each of the providers to propose what [testing] makes sense for their systems,” she said.

Benji Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management, said during a press conference earlier in the week that demonstrating Crew Dragon’s ability to escape a rocket during a mid-air emergency was important to SpaceX — particularly after an emergency abort of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft saved the lives of two astronauts after a rocket malfunctioned in 2018.

The next major milestone for Crew Dragon is DM-2, the codename for the first test mission that will allow astronauts on board.

It will mark NASA’s first human spaceflight mission in nearly a decade and the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX in its 18-year history.

Two NASA astronauts are selected to be Crew Dragon’s first passengers: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, both of whom are former military test pilots and veterans of space shuttle missions.

USDA proposes allowing ‘more flexibility’ in school lunches

(CNN) — The US Department of Agriculture on Friday announced two new proposals that would give school nutrition professionals “more flexibility” in what they serve to students.

The Washington Post reports the proposals would allow schools to reduce the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfast, and would let schools sell more burgers, pizza and french fries.

The move appears to be the latest attempt by the Trump administration to roll back federal nutrition standards that were championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. The USDA’s school lunch announcement came the same day as Obama’s birthday.

A news release from the agency provided few specifics about the proposed changes, but says the agency would allow schools to offer “more vegetable varieties,” “customize meal patterns” and “adjust fruit servings.” About 30 million students get school meals every day.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement, “Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work.”

Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Post that the rules “would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries and other foods high in calories, saturated fat or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day.”

The proposals would allow schools to offer potatoes as a vegetable every day, according to the Post. They would allow schools to reduce the amount of fruit included in breakfasts served outside of the cafeteria from one cup to a half cup, according to the Post. The rest of the calories could be replaced with pastries and granola bars, the newspaper reports.

CNN has reached out to USDA for more specifics on the proposed changes.

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