WQAD News

Kentucky governor says he exposed his children to chickenpox rather than getting vaccine

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said he made sure all his nine children were exposed to chickenpox and caught the disease instead of giving them a vaccine.

“They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine,” Bevin said in an interview with WKCT, a Bowling Green radio station.

Bevin and his wife, Glenna, have nine children between the ages of 5 and 16, according to his campaign website.

The governor says he supports parents who choose to get their children vaccinated and also those who decline to do so. But he said the decision shouldn’t be up to the government.

“This is America,” he said. “The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t.”

CNN has reached out to Bevin for comment.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can spread by touching or breathing in virus particles. It can be especially serious for babies, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Bevin’s remarks come several days after a teen in Kentucky sued his local health department, which had temporarily barred students who aren’t immunized against chickenpox from attending school after an outbreak at a Catholic school.

There have been 32 cases of chickenpox reported.

The teen and his father allege that he’s being discriminated against because of religious beliefs. Some Catholics worry about vaccines derived from cell lines associated with abortion.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department argued the ban “was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness.”

Chickenpox has not gone away since the vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1995, but each year, more than 3.5 million cases are prevented by the chickenpox vaccination, the CDC said.

Initially, only one dose of the vaccine was recommended for children. But when experts realized that a small percentage of children didn’t mount robust immunity after the first dose, the recommendations were changed. Two doses are currently recommended: one at 1 year of age and a second around 4. The two-dose vaccination program has resulted in a smaller number of outbreaks, according to the CDC.

United Township teacher wins prestigious Golden Apple Award

EAST MOLINE, Illinois – A teacher at United Township High School is now the recipient of the highly respected Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

History teacher Heather Monson was surprised with the award when her family, friends and bosses filled her classroom at around 10 a.m. on March 21.

Out of more than 550 unique nominees, Monson is one of 10 recipients who is being awarded by the nonprofit Golden Apple.

Golden Apple is a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators.

A press release about the award says, “The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching honors outstanding teachers for their roles in having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and building stronger communities.”

Award recipients are selected by educators who understand and recognize the best teaching practices and who utilize professional standards to evaluate exemplary teachers and school leaders.

This was the first year the award was offered throughout the entire state of Illinois.

“The historic opportunity to bring the recognition of the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching to all of the schools and teachers in Illinois is thrilling and we are delighted to honor Heather Monson this year,” said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple.

Monson’s principal said in a statement, “She is an outstanding teacher who champions the improvement of her students, her colleagues, the school culture and her own professional development.”

Monson, who teaches several history courses at the high school level, is also recognized for her volunteer work in the community, her chaperone work on different school trips and her volunteer and charitable support in opportunities that bring forth scholarships for her students.

It is estimated that Monson helped her students attain an estimated $200,000 in scholarships in the last five years, according to Golden Apple.

As a highly-valued component of this recognition, Northwestern University also provides a Spring Sabbatical to award recipients at no cost.

Each Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award and award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.

For more information about Golden Apple, click here.

Facebook left millions of passwords readable by employees

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook left millions of user passwords readable by its employees for years, the company said Thursday , an acknowledgement it offered after a security researcher posted about the issue online.

“Security rule 101 dictates that under no circumstances passwords should be stored in plain text, and at all times must be encrypted,” said cybersecurity expert Andrei Barysevich of Recorded Future. “There is no valid reason why anyone in an organization, especially the size of Facebook, needs to have access to users’ passwords in plain text.”

Facebook said there is no evidence its employees abused access to this data. But thousands of employees could have searched them. The company said the passwords were stored on internal company servers, where no outsiders could access them. But the incident reveals a huge oversight for the company amid a slew of bruises and stumbles in the last couple of years.

The security blog KrebsOnSecurity said some 600 million Facebook users may have had their passwords stored in plain text. Facebook said in a blog postThursday it will likely notify “hundreds of millions” of Facebook Lite users, millions of Facebook users and tens of thousands of Instagram users that their passwords were stored in plain text. Facebook Lite is designed for users with older phones or low-speed internet connections and is used primarily in developing countries.

Facebook said it discovered the problem in January. But, according to Brian Krebs, the security researcher, in some cases the passwords had been stored in plain text since 2012. Facebook Lite launched in 2015 and Facebook bought Instagram in 2012.

Barysevich said he could not recall any major company caught leaving so many passwords exposed internally. He said he’s seen a number of instances where much smaller organizations made such information readily available not just to programmers but also to customer support teams.

Davenport preschool evacuated due to electrical odor

DAVENPORT, Iowa — An odor at a Davenport preschool prompted a precautionary evacuation that lasted about an hour.

Staff noticed the odor at Children’s Village West around 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, according to a statement from Dawn Saul with the Davenport Community School District.  The students were evacuated over to the Putnam Museum as a precautionary measure.

Children’s Village West is located at Wilkes Avenue and West 12th Avenue and buts up to the Putnam Museum.

The incident was handled within about an hour, according to Saul.  Davenport firefighters determined that it was an electrical odor coming from a worn-out breaker that needed to be replaced.

Saul said school district maintenance “was on site quickly and repaired the issue,” allowing for students and staff to return around 10:20 a.m.

Saturday is still your weekend’s best… Showers to follow

Flood warnings continue along several area rivers including the Mississippi and Rock. Crests are occurring now and will continue this week. Be prepared for road closures and detours in these areas.  Second crest still on track for parts of the Mississippi River by the Sunday-Monday time period. For more information on river levels go to https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=DVN

A bit more sun will be breaking through those clouds as we head through the afternoon hours.  And like yesterday, temperatures should respond with numbers just over 50 degrees.

Skies will remain clear overnight with temperatures dropping around 32 degrees.

Full sun will prevail heading into the weekend with lower 50s on Friday warming well into the 50s on Saturday.

Rain is still on track to develop Sunday with most of the rain occurring later in the day.

Warmer jackets will come in handy as we start off the new week with highs not getting out of the 40s both Monday and Tuesday.

But the spring season does have its swings and later next week is no different with temperatures soaring over 60 by next Thursday.   This will transition to showers and thunderstorms as well.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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

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

Military dropping hay from helicopters for cows stranded by floodwater

NEBRASKA -- The Nebraska National Guard is using military helicopters to drop hay bales for cattle stranded by floodwaters.

"Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers used a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with Company B, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, to secure multiple bales of hay, March 20, 2019, and airdrop them to cattle," a post from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service says.

The video shows hay bales falling from hovering helicopters onto prairie fields inundated with floodwater. Cattle can be seen walking through water.

The flooding "has caused catastrophic damage to the state’s infrastructure, agriculture and personal property," the post says.

Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa have both experienced major issues in regards to flooding. In Iowa, an interstate was covered in some spots with floodwater, and a passenger train route was shut down and rerouted.

Read: Western Iowa flooding shuts down interstate, passenger train route

In Nebraska, at least three people have been killed

"Thank you to all the military men and women who are helping the Nebraska farmers and ranchers," the Illinois Farm Bureau said in a Facebook post.

Related: New business in Downtown Davenport prepares for flooding

Pay it Forward recognizes mom and dad behind massive Easter egg hunt

LYNDON, Illinois — What started as a backyard egg hunt to celebrate Easter for John and Kodi Wright's young and growing family 14 years ago, has turned into something much bigger in the Village of Lyndon.

Every year since that inaugural egg hunt, the Wright's have organized it again, and again... and again. Now, they have to ask the town to borrow Riverside Park , which sits adjacent to the water tower in Lyndon, population 648 according to John Wright.

Come April 20, 2019 at noon, the Wright's expect 4,000 people to fill Riverside Park for their egg hunt. The relatively massive event takes a lot of coordination to make a success. John and Kodi spend countless hours collecting prizes, bikes and candy to give to the kids; it's all 100% free for the kids.

"It's a big park but it's getting small now because [the egg hunt] is getting so big!" said Renee Lanphere, of nearby Prophetstown, Illinois in March, 2019.

Renee is proud of her community - she says it's great the Wright's and so many others come together to put on the Easter egg hunt. That pride is why Lanphere nominated her friends for the Pay it Forward contest, sponsored by Ascentra Credit Union. For more information on how to enter click here.

"Renee, thank you for nominating John and Kodi for the Pay it Forward," said Megan Guldenpfennig, of Ascentra Credit Union, which sponsors the contest. "John and Kodi are the true definition of what it means to have a sense of community here in the small town of Lyndon. They are a great example of listening, caring and doing what's right, which are our core values at Ascentra Credit Union. On behalf of Ascentra today, I would love to present you with $300 so that you may Pay it Forward to them, Congratulations!"

Lanphere walked into Lyndon's gas station where she knew John and Kodi were doing a staged interview with Dan Eyrich of Aroundptown.com.

"I'm happy," said Lanphere about being about to surprise the Wright's with the money, "I'm glad I could do it. [Kodi] is a good person... [John and Kodi] both are."

The Wright's say they will put the $300 towards buying more prizes for the Easter egg hunt. For more information on the Annual Wright Family Easter Egg Hunt, go to the event's Facebook page here.

If you know of someone doing good things in your community, who show the core values of Ascentra Credit Union, which are Listening, Caring and Doing What's Right, nominate them for the Pay it Forward Contest here.

‘Numerous handguns’ stolen from Monmouth gun store

MONMOUTH, Illinois — Police are investigating a burglary at a gun store and shooting range that resulted in the theft of “numerous handguns,” according to a press release from the Monmouth Police Department.

The burglary happened at the Tac Shack on Thursday, March 21 approximately 4:25 a.m., according the to the release. Police say several unknown suspects broke into the store.

No further information is available at this time.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident to call Monmouth police at (309)734-8383 or Warren County Crime Stoppers at 734-9363.

Government overhaul: Democrats eye packing Supreme Court, changing voting system

(CNN) — The list of big systemic changes that some Democratic presidential candidates are pushing is long and getting longer and it includes greatly expanding the size of the Supreme Court and throwing out the Electoral College.

Such foundational changes to the US system of government are a step further than Democrats’ massive and ambitious proposals to improve the social safety net by remaking the health insurance systemtesting jobs guaranteesdoling out nest eggs to American children and responding to the existential threat of climate change.

Those are all concrete proposals focused on inequality in the US. But the latest ideas emerging in the 2020 campaign, along with some old ideas gaining new traction, target the underpinnings of the US federal system of government itself.

President Donald Trump noted some of the proposals and called them “strange” on Twitter early Wednesday, taunting Democrats that they’ll have to win at the ballot box first. He didn’t mention that these ideas still have little or no chance of becoming reality in the near future.

Expand the Supreme Court

Separately, Democratic candidates including Kamala Harris, a US senator from California, Kirsten Gillibrand, a US senator from New York, and Warren all told Politico they’d consider expanding the size of the Supreme Court. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has suggested term limits for justices.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg likes a proposal to make the court composed of 15 members and to build bipartisan agreement into the confirmation process.

The son of Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who died in 2016, said there’s some merit to the idea of expanding the court, but told Fox News that Buttigieg’s idea would be unconstitutional.

Democrats saw Republican leaders sit on the court vacancy created by Scalia’s death during the Obama administration for more than a year just in case a Republican won the White House. Trump did, and conservative Neil Gorsuch was appointed. Then swing vote Anthony Kennedy resigned and the balance of the court shifted toward the right when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed last fall. The new swing vote seems to be Chief Justice John Roberts. Supporters of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion legal nationwide, now fear the court might re-examine the issue.

Expanding the court could dilute the importance of any single justice, especially now that a conservative majority could hold sway for a generation.

It’s an idea not without precedent in US history. In fact, the Constitution leaves the sizes of US courts up to Congress and in the course of American history there have been as few as five Supreme Court justices and as many as 10, although it has been set at nine since after the Civil War when Ulysses S. Grant was President.

Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to combat the court’s initial opposition to his New Deal programs by adding justices, although he never got support in Congress. The threat, however, coincided with a convenient shift in ideology by a few sitting members.

Trump probably wouldn’t support expanding the court unless he could appoint new justices, but he would love for Congress to change the makeup of the US court system. He’s talked in recent years about trying to break up the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s largest federal court regional circuit, which includes the entire West Coast.

One Republican, Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, is proposing a constitutional amendment to permanently set the court’s membership at nine.

Remake the voting system

Elizabeth Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts, already wanted to transform the US economic system by breaking up massive tech companies. At a CNN town hall on Monday night, she endorsed transforming the US electoral system by abandoning the Electoral College.

That’s not exactly a controversial position. Most Americans, according to polls, think the president should be selected by popular vote. And Democrats have been complaining about the Electoral College since 2000, when Republican George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the White House. When Trump did it again in 2016, it proved that the system devised as a compromise between Southern slave-owning states and Northern free states more than 200 years ago is causing tension between rural Southern states and frustrated urban-focused states today. Today’s Republicans benefit and today’s Democrats are tormented.

Trump, in a set of tweets on Tuesday, said the idea would completely change the way candidates campaign.

Add a new state

Every Democrat running for president from the House or the Senate has endorsed statehood for Washington, DC. The Constitution expressly requires a capital district, but in modern times it has become a symbol of frustration for DC residents — there are more of them than in Wyoming or Vermont — that they have no voting power in Congress.

The bill most Democrats support in Congress would seek to avoid a constitutional amendment by shrinking the size of the capital to, essentially, the National Mall, the Capitol building and the White House. Most or all DC residents would then live in the newly formed state.

It’s hard to imagine DC statehood happening in the current governmental system. Opponents would argue it takes a constitutional amendment, which requires supermajority votes in both chambers on Capitol Hill and ratification by most state legislatures. Since granting statehood to DC would essentially be adding two Democratic seats to the Senate and one voting member to the House, don’t look for that amendment (or even the bill that tries to sidestep an amendment) to gain any Republican support anytime soon. There have been separate proposals — much less popular among DC residents — to fold Washington back into Maryland. That would give the residents some voice in Congress, though not statehood, and potentially avoid the need for a constitutional amendment.

There is also the question of statehood for Puerto Rico, which could likely bring two Democratic senators and voting members of the House. While the idea does not have as much steam as DC statehood, Puerto Rico has more than 3 million residents, whereas DC only has more than 700,000. And while DC residents got the right to vote in presidential elections thanks to the 23rd Amendment, Puerto Ricans can vote for President only if they move from Puerto Rico to a state.

Lower the voting age

Democrats are about to pass a plan to update the voting system. It does not include lowering the federal voting age, but at least one prominent Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, likes the idea, although she made clear when she endorsed it recently that it’s not the position of her caucus of Democrats in the House.

I myself personally — I’m not speaking for my caucus — I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16. I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about the government, to be able to vote. That — that is not necessary — you know, in other words, some of the priorities in this bill are about transparency and openness and accessibility and the rest, that’s a subject of debate. But my view is that I would welcome that.

Again, this would require a constitutional amendment, which likely is not happening anytime soon.

What about a constitutional convention?

And that’s the larger theme of these ideas. Many of them require changing the Constitution. Of course, there is a second way to do that: by calling a new constitutional convention. No Democrat has recently done that, but Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have entertained the idea of a new constitutional convention in recent years, although their aim was to pursue a federal balanced budged amendment, impose term limits for federal lawmakers and restrict the commerce clause that gives the federal government so much power. So gripes with the Constitution are bipartisan.

Wouldn’t it be something to see Republicans and Democrats come together and agree to meet and compromise in order to change it?

It bears mentioning that while these proposals wouldn’t deal specifically with public concerns, people’s general faith in the US government has been falling. Big time.

According to a Gallup poll this year, trust in government to handle domestic and international problems is under 50% — its lowest in more than two decades. That measure is often tied to which party holds the presidency, but it is currently down among both parties.

Police say illegal immigrant suspect killed for drugs

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A detective says a Salvadoran immigrant charged with four Nevada murders told police he robbed and killed his elderly victims during a 10-day rampage in January because he needed money to buy methamphetamine.

The detective told the grand jury, which indicted Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman in Reno last week, the 20-year-old, who is living in the U.S. illegally, broke into tears and repeatedly called himself an “idiot” before confessing to the murders during an interrogation hours after his arrest in Carson City on Jan. 19.

According to the grand jury transcript obtained by The Associated Press, Washoe County Sheriff’s Detective Stefanie Brady testified March 13 that Martinez-Guzman initially denied any wrongdoing and was smiling and giggling through part of the questioning.

But after she confronted him with several contradictions in his story during a nearly three-hour interrogation, he said through a Spanish interpreter he had “done something that’s unforgiveable.”

She says he told her he shot the victims “because of the drugs.”

“He said he needed the money for the meth and it was the meth,” Brady testified, according to the 268-page transcript filed late Tuesday in Washoe District Court.

The grand jury indicted Martinez-Guzman last week on four counts of murder with the use of a deadly weapon, three counts of burglary while in possession of a firearm and one count each of burglary, burglary while gaining possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf during an arraignment Tuesday. His trial isn’t scheduled to begin until April 2020.

His public defense attorney, John Arrascada, said in an email to AP he didn’t receive the grand jury transcript until Wednesday, was reviewing it and had no immediate comment.

Federal officials have said Martinez-Guzman is in the U.S. illegally, but they don’t know how or when he crossed the border.

The case has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who says it shows the need for a border wall.

District Attorneys Chris Hicks of Washoe County and Mark Jackson of Douglas County announced last week they are seeking the death penalty but that Martinez-Guzman’s immigration status had nothing to do with that decision.

The four slaying victims include Gerald David, 81, and his 80-year-old wife, Sharon David, a prominent Reno Rodeo Association couple who had employed Martinez-Guzman as a landscaper last summer at their house where they were found dead Jan. 16.

Police say they were shot with a .22-caliber handgun that Martinez-Guzman stole from them earlier.

Court documents allege that Martinez-Guzman’s DNA was found on the same gun that was also used to kill Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken in their homes in Gardnerville south of Carson City.

Detective Brady told the grand jury that Martinez-Guzman was “engaging” and made “lots of eye contact” during the early stages of the interrogation at the Carson City sheriff’s office.

“He smiled, kind of giggled through some of the questions. But he was very engaged in the conversation,” she said.

After she read him his Miranda rights, “he actually acknowledged that he was fine not having an attorney because he hadn’t done anything wrong,” she said.

He indicated he had buried “a bunch of stuff” that he found by a river in Carson City. But when she confronted him about several contradictions, his answers became slower, his body posture was more slumped and he started touching his face uncontrollably.

When she asked him about some fishing poles that had been stolen from the Davids, “there was a really long pause. And at that point, he had dropped his head and began to cry with long deep breaths.”

“He talked about how he was an idiot. He repeated that several times,” Brady testified. “He talked about how he had done something that’s unforgiveable.”

“He said … something about if he tells me what he did, it’s not going to bring back the people that he shot,” she said, and then shortly after that blamed the killings on his need for money to buy drugs.

She said he initially denied he killed Renken, but ultimately acknowledged he shot her too.

What’s with the ring around the moon?

Earlier this week, the full moon took on a neat appearance, which several of you noticed. Tonya from Monmouth sent us this picture of the moon that appeared to have a halo surrounding it. So, what caused this unique appearance?

It all has to do with something we can and can’t see… water vapor!

The night of the ring, we had a very thin layer of cirrus clouds located high up in the atmosphere. This layer was thin enough to remain mostly invisible to us here at the ground, but thick enough to provide plenty of water particles for the moonlight to reflect upon. The appearance is known as a lunar (moon) halo.

Lunar Halos are neat because they form using the same process that creates sun halos during the day. There’s actually an old saying relating to this phenomenon: ring around the moon means rain soon.  This is almost always true because high cirrus clouds are almost always tied to distant storm systems.  These clouds often drift as high as 20,000 feet above us! Within these clouds are millions of tiny ice crystals that will refract light from the moon, causing the halo effect that we see.

Did you know? The halo appearance that you see is uniquely personal to you? No two ice crystals are the same, and the way they reflect light will look different to you compared to someone standing next to you.

Taking a look at Tonya’s photo again, notice there isn’t much color with the halo itself. That’s because the light reflected off the moon isn’t nearly as bright when compared to sunshine. That’s why sun halos will have a brighter display of reds and blues.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

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

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

Assault rifles to be banned in New Zealand in aftermath of massacre, Prime Minister says

(CNN) -- All military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines will be banned in New Zealand following the mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday.

"On 15 March our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place," Ardern said at a press conference in the capital Wellington.

The announcement came after the country's cabinet agreed to overhaul the law and ban military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles 72 hours after the Christchurch attacks.

"Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned," Ardern continued, adding that she hoped the law would be in place by April 11. "This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency."

An estimated 1.2 million guns are in circulation in the country, according to New Zealand Police -- one for every three people. Ardern said the buyback scheme could cost between $100 million to $200 million.

Later on Thursday, New Zealand Police announced all 50 bodies from the shootings had been identified. "This means that all victims are now able to be released to their families," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.

Arden said a "nationwide reflection" for the dead would be held on Friday -- one week after the attack.

Amnesty for gun returns

The gun reform proposal will be introduced to Parliament in the first week of April. For it to come into effect, lawmakers need to vote on amending the existing legislation, the Arms Act 1983.

In the interim, New Zealand Governor General Patsy Reddy has signed an order to reclassify some semi-automatic weapons as "military-style".

As a result, many people who legally owned certain firearms will no longer be able to possess them on their existing license conditions.

An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in from Thursday. Cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme, and Ardern said that further details would be announced "in due course."

Bush said gun drops would be set up at police stations so citizens could safely hand in guns.

"I can't emphasize enough that in the current environment it is important you do not take your now-unlawful firearm anywhere without notifying police," Bush said. "It is absolutely vital that we manage the safe and organized transport of all firearms into police custody."

The Australian model

Ardern pointed to similar measures taken in Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre as an example for New Zealand to follow, including certain "exemptions for farmers."

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the bill would include "narrow exemptions" for the police and the defense forces, as well as "legitimate business uses" such as professional pest control.

"Some guns serve legitimate purposes in our farming communities," he added, noting that exemptions had been made for .22-caliber rifles and shotguns used for duck hunting.

Immediate action would be taken to prevent people from stockpiling weapons ahead of the change in law and to encourage gun owners to surrender their weapons, he said.

After Australia implemented a similar ban, the country destroyed more than a million weapons, and additional gun buybacks and amnesties have been conducted since. Last year, more than 57,000 weapons were handed in, including a rocket launcher and a World War II machine gun.

In the wake of the reforms, mass shootings in Australia dropped to zero, gun suicides declined by an average of 4.8% per year, and gun-related homicides declined by an average of 5.5% per year.

Philip Alpers, founding director of GunPolicy.org and a University of Sydney academic, said the buyback "has a good chance of delivering the same life-saving public health benefit as that which followed the 1996 Australian buyback."

Gun controls welcomed

There had been a groundswell of support for tougher legislation, with almost 70,000 New Zealanders signing petitions calling for gun control reform, according to TVNZ. On Thursday, crowds gathered outside Parliament in Wellington to deliver those petitions to lawmakers from across the political divide.

New Zealand's Police Association welcomed the planned law changes, congratulating the government for "demonstrating the courage to take decisive action and ban the firearms that have inflicted so much harm in New Zealand."

"I hope that the moves immediately attract cross-party support because it is important for New Zealanders to know that their political leaders are all on board with this extremely important move," association president Chris Cahill said in a statement.

Lobby group Federated Farmers issued a statement backing tougher gun laws but acknowledged that many of its members would not support its decision.

"This will not be popular among some of our members but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution," Feds Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson said.

"We are trying to tread a responsible path. The wrong guns can't be allowed to get into the wrong hands."

Opposition leader Simon Bridges said his National party supported the proposed changes.

"The terrorist attack in Christchurch last week has changed us as a nation," the party said in a statement. "National has been clear since this devastating attack that we support changes to our regime and that we will work constructively with the government."

The country's Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said in a Facebook post to members that it will "consider these implications and make a statement very soon," adding that it is working "incredibly hard to understand and manage this set of circumstances."

Illinois trooper struck by semi, squad car demolished

COLLINSVILLE, Illinois — An Illinois State Police officer was hit by a semi-truck on I-55 on Wednesday, March 20, according to a press release from the ISP.

This is the fourteenth ISP squad car to be struck in Illinois in 2019 alone, the report states. The accidents are the results of Scott’s Law violations, which mandate drivers slow down and move over when approaching an accident.

Officers were assisting a crash, reported at 10:29 p.m., which knocked over a light pole, according to the report. Seven additional vehicles struck the pole before troopers could arrive.

Three squad cars arrived, the third one parking back behind the crash to get people to slow down and move over.

The trooper was on foot outside of his vehicle with his lights flashing, when a semi struck both the trooper and his squad car at 10:54 p.m.

The trooper was transported to a nearby hospital with serious but stable injuries.

ISP are investigating the accident. No further information is being released.

COMING SOON: New Townhouses in Downtown Moline

What's going in here? What's happening over there? These are questions we all ask as we drive around town and Good Morning Quad Cities' "Coming Soon" Segment is about answering those questions.

Here are this week's updates:

March 2019

Project Rendering

6th Avenue and 13th Street in Moline

We received two emails from two viewers with the same question: What is "Coming Soon" at the corner of 6th Avenue and 13th Street in downtown Moline?

According to Ray Forsythe, Moline's Director of Planning and Development, crews are building a new townhouse development in this area. There are going to be 22 units - all three-bedroom with two-car attached garages.

It's a "very urban design and we’re excited to have this kind of housing opportunities adjacent to Moline Centre," Ray told WQAD News 8.

The townhouses are expected to be done in the coming months with residents moving in later this year.

Do you have a development you want us to look into? Send an email to news@wqad.com with "Coming Soon" in the subject. 

Western Iowa flooding shuts down interstate, passenger train route

POTTOWATTAMIE COUNTY, Iowa -- Historic flooding in and around Council Bluffs is affecting national infrastructure, shutting down highways and causing cancellations for passenger trains.

The video above shows dash-cam footage from the Iowa State Patrol on I-29 near the 33.5 mile marker.

The officer is forced to drive north in the southbound lanes since the northbound lanes are completely submerged. The dry parts are covered in flood debris.

Amtrak has also shut down the California Zephyr route on the BNSF Railway between Chicago and Omaha, effective Thursday, March 20, according to a press release. The line runs all the way to San Francisco.

The release states the service is being restored between those cities by taking a detour on Pacific Union Railroad routes north of the regular route on March 21. This will affect service at Burlington, Mt. Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola, and Crestion in Iowa; and Naperville, Princeton and Galesburg in Illinois.

Here's a map of the main Amtrak train routes.

Dramatic video shows Iowa officers catching children as mom drops them from burning apartment

DES MOINES, Iowa – Police officers helped save several children from an apartment fire on Des Moines’ north side, including three who were tossed out of a third story window.

O'Sheana Harrison and her three kids were trapped inside during the fire.

Desperate to save her children's lives, Harrison made the only choice she could and relied on Des Moines police officers to catch her kids from a third-story window.

“He was like, 'you got to trust me,' and I don’t trust anybody with my kids, but at that point in time, all I thought was I had to get them out, Harrison said.

Senior police officers Cole Johnson, Craig Vasquez, Casey Sanders and Tyler Kelley are all being thanked for their efforts.

Harrison says tossing her kids out of the window was a matter of life and death.

Harrison and her neighbors are now displaced. She is working on securing new housing.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Summer Wood Apartments have no comment.

Dollar General baby cough syrup recalled over contamination risk

WASHINGTON – Kingston Pharma has recalled its 2-fluid ounce (59 mL) bottles of Dollar General’s “NATURALS baby Cough Syrup + Mucus” because it could be contaminated with Bacillus cereus.

According to the Federal Drug Administration, Bacillus cereus in food products has the potential to produce two forms of gastrointestinal illness, one being a syndrome primarily of vomiting, and the other of diarrhea.

While there have been severe cases that have led to death, the FDA is warning that most cases are mild in nature, and are self-limiting.

The FDA also added that those who are more at risk of severe illness from Bacillus cereus are infants, young children, and others with weakened immune systems.

Neither Kingston Pharma, Dollar General, or the FDA, have reported any illnesses as a result of the cough syrup.

The potential for contamination was noted after audit testing revealed the presence of Bacillus cereus /Bacillus circulans in some bottles of this lot of the product. One in ten bottles showed low levels of Bacillus cereus and two in ten bottles showed low levels of Bacillus circulans, said the FDA.

Learn more about the recall here.

Construction on US 67 Rock River bridges will lead to lane closures

MILAN, Illinois -- Construction is set to start Friday, March 22 on US 67 bridges that span the Rock River, which will reduce traffic to one lane in both directions.

The $8. 7 million contract is for structural steel and bridge deck repairs on the three bridges that span the river between Milan and Rock Island, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Residents in the area will still be able to access their homes and area businesses.

IDOT is estimating the project will take eight months, finishing up sometime in late November.

Drivers should expect delays and use alternate routes when possible.

Hawkeyes glad to be back in NCAA Tournament, Sterling beats Sherrard in SB, Ed Froehlich stepping down

The Iowa Hawkeyes are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.  Iowa will play Cincinnati in the opening round.  The Hawkeye players used last years finish to motivate them to get back in the big dance.

Sterling Softball opening their season on the turf at the TBK Bank Sports Complex with a win over Sherrard 11-2.

Ed Froelich has been Race Director for 40 years of the QCT Bix 7.  He is stepping down after this year, but has plenty of great memories and stories about the race.

Moline businesses say I-74 detour could have positive and negative impacts

MOLINE, Illinois-- Some businesses in downtown Moline are worried the I-74 Bridge detour could mean trouble.

Omar Gutierrez is the lead bartender at Pub 1848 on River Drive. He says the new route has traffic backing up in front of the bar.

"It would make me nervous because there are going to be a lot of events throughout the year," he says. "Every time you look outside the window, all you see is honking, lines and basically too much traffic. More than you would normally see throughout the day."

Traffic gets backed up on River Drive because people can no longer use the 7th Avenue on-ramp to get on I-74.

Gutierrez says the lines and congestion could scare away some customers and keep people out of the downtown area.

Pub 1848 has a plan. They plan to offer extra specials to try and get customers to stop in.

"Just in case they want to go ahead and have a little fun, we're gonna take care of them," Gutierrez says.

A few blocks away, La Casa Mexican Grill is right next to the detour on 19th Street. Co-owner Alfonso Toscano doesn't think too much of the detour.

"There's been a lot of traffic," he says. "But it doesn't really affect our business because we've been in worse situations."

Toscano says in its eight years, the restaurant has seen plenty of construction and road closures. He hopes, if anything, the detour could help business.

"(Drivers) have to stop, you know. Some people don't know that we've been here almost eight years. So that might help," he says.

Overall, business owners ask people to make the extra effort to stop in.

There's a merchants meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 21. It's an informational meeting being held at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center to make sure business owners have the most up-to-date information about the I-74 bridge project.

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