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Baltimore removes Confederate statues

Baltimore has removed statues that honored the Confederacy in the city overnight.

Crews worked in Wyman Park starting around midnight Wednesday to remove the Lee and Jackson monument. 

>> Read more trending news 

They took down the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson early Wednesday after the city council passed a resolution Monday that ordered the immediate destruction of the monuments, WBAL reported.

The board cited the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia for the quick removal.

“Destroyed. I want them destroyed, and as soon as possible. I want them destroyed,” city councilman Brandon Scott said Monday.

The statues may be sent to Confederate cemeteries after Mayor Catherine Pugh reached out to the Maryland Historical Trust for permission to remove the monuments, WBAL reported.

The removal didn’t come without cost. WBAL reported Monday that the bill could be between $1 million and $2 million.

The city had four monuments to the Confederacy: a Confederate women’s monument, a soldiers’ and sailors’ monument, the Lee and Jackson monument and a statue of Robert Taney, a former Supreme Court Chief Justice who wrote the Dred Scott ruling in 1857, WRC reported.

Baltimore isn’t the only area that is trying to remove its Confederate history. 

North Carolina’s governor said he is trying to reverse a law that prohibits the removal or relocation of monuments in the state. Dallas’ mayor is looking at the city’s options. Tennessee’s governor called for the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust. Forrest was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans have spoken out about the removal of the monuments across the country.

“These statues were erected over 100 years ago to honor the history of the United states. They’re just as important to the entire history of the U.S. as the monuments to our other forefathers,” Thomas V. Strain Jr. told WRC.

At least 109 schools named after Confederate figures, study says

study from the Southern Poverty Law Center says that at least 109 public schools in the United States are named after prominent figures in the Confederacy and many have large African-American student bodies.

>> Read more trending news

As part of the 2016 study on the symbols of the Confederacy, the  advocacy organization found that 52 schools were named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is nearly half of the schools where data was pulled from. Most of these schools are in Southern states, but a few are in the Midwest and western regions of the country.

One of the oldest schools in Jacksonville, Florida, is Robert E. Lee High School. In Tampa, Florida, three hours away, is Robert E. Lee Elementary School.

Other schools are named after Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, Nathan Bedford Forrest and J.E.B. Stuart. Fifteen are named after Jackson, 13 after Davis, seven each after Beauregard and Forrest and five named after Stuart.

In California and Washington state, three schools are named after Lee: Robert E. Lee Elementary in East Wenatchee, Washington; Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Long Beach, California, and an elementary school of the same name in San Diego, California.

In 2016, the San Diego elementary school was renamed Pacific View Leadership Elementary School, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. That same year, The Grunion reported that Lee Elementary in Long Beach, one of the oldest elementary schools in the city, would be renamed Olivia Herrera Elementary School. Herrera was an activist who worked with Cesar Chavez, according to Long Beach Post.

Despite name changes of numerous schools named after Lee across the country, Lee Elementary in East Wenatchee has not moved toward renaming the school. In 2015, in the wake of the Charleston massacre, Eastmont Superintendent Garn Christensen said most Wenatchee citizens wanted to keep the name.

According to the SPLC, 27 of the 109 schools have majority African-American student populations. Ten have an African-American population of over 90 percent. 

In one case, The Washington Post reported in 2013 that Duval County Public Schools in Florida would change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Florida, following a 161,000 signature petition. Named after the Confederate general and the first “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, the school was reported as having an African-American student body of more than 50 percent.

Notably, in 2016, Houston Independent School District voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School Margaret Long Wisdom High School, after a lifelong Houston resident and educator. The school has a large Latino population, according to The Associated Press

Despite the renaming of some schools, others have kept monikers bearing the names of Confederate figures, like Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas, J.E.B. Stuart Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida, and Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s not clear for each school if the decision to keep some of the names is because of cultural or historical ties or budgetary reasons.

Relying on federal, state and private resources, SPLC said that the data was verified by at least one other source, with preference given to governmental sources over private ones. 

According to the SPLC, “at least 39 of these schools were built or dedicated from 1950 to 1970, broadly encompassing the era of the modern civil rights movement.”

Dad walks son to first day of kindergarten, college in heartwarming viral photos

Two touching photos of a father and son are tugging at heartstrings across the internet.

>> See the photos here

One photo shared by 17-year-old Charles Brockman III shows him and his father walking side-by-side on the first day of kindergarten. The next photo shows the pair walking side-by-side as his dad moves him into his college dorm room.

>> On HotTopics.TV: Father and son graduate together, plan to continue their educations 

“From the first day of kindergarten to college move in. Thank you dad,” Brockman wrote when sharing the photo on Twitter.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

According to the Dallas Morning News, Brockman graduated from Plano Senior High School in Texas in June. He’s now running track for Mississippi State University.

>> Read more trending news

“It hasn’t hit me yet because they’re still here, but I know it will hit me soon,” Brockman told the newspaper. “I’m happy they raised me to be who I am. But I know I got growing up to do.”

Remembering Elvis: Elvis impersonator visits assisted living facility

An Orlando Elvis impersonator made a special visit to a Lake County nursing home near the 40th anniversary of the “King's” untimely death. 

For the group of senior citizens at Benton House of Clermont, it’s the music that lives on despite the years. 

Steve Greer, who has a British accent, is an Elvis impersonator who has the jumpsuits, the moves and the sound, just like Elvis. 

Read: 40 years after Elvis' death, impersonators talk about legacy 

“People tell me, ‘How do you sing with an American accent and talk with a British accent?’ I tell them I have no idea,” Greer said laughing.

>> Read more trending news

“The King will never die, never,” a resident told WFTV

The iconic singer was found dead at his home on Aug. 16, 1977.

Read: Elvis Presley's Graceland opens a new $45 million complex

Judge suspended after comparing anti-Confederate statue protesters to ISIS

A Gwinnett County, Georgia, judge is off the bench after posting what some people believe are controversial comments about Confederate monuments and protesters.

>> Watch the news report here

On his Facebook page, Judge James Hinkle posted: "It looks like all of the snowflakes have no concept of history. It is what it is. Get over it and move on."

In another post, he observed how all the Confederate monuments in Virginia have the rear ends of horses facing north, he wrote in all caps: "PERFECT TUESDAY MORNING," and added, "The nut cases tearing down monuments are equivalent to ISIS destroying history."

>> Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

Gwinnett's chief magistrate judge suspended Hinkle immediately Tuesday afternoon after being alerted to the post.

Some residents, like Donna McCloud, worry he can’t be impartial on the bench and doesn’t believe the punishment is harsh enough.

“He has this position as a judge and he doesn’t see that it's pertinent that he acts different and do things differently. ISIS – really,” she said.

>> Tiki torch manufacturer 'appalled' at protesters

McCloud says she almost started crying when she read the Facebook posts on Saturday, one hour before a man drove his car into a group of protestors in Charlottesville.

“It really just kind of punched me in the stomach,” she said.

Chief Judge Kristina Blum wrote in a statement: "I have made it clear to all of our judges to conduct themselves in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity, impartiality, and fairness of the judiciary. I consider any violation of those principles and policies to be a matter of utmost concern."

>> Read more trending news

When reached by phone, Hinkle said he didn't see anything controversial about the statements, then later refused to comment. 

Hinkle served as Grayson’s mayor for 25 years. He's currently a part-time magistrate judge for Gwinnett County.

Mom charged with child abandonment after newborn baby found outside, covered in ants

The Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department charged a woman accused of leaving her newborn baby girl in the bushes of her apartment complex with child abandonment on Monday, KHOU reports.

>> Watch the news report here

If convicted, Sidney Woytasczyk, 21, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Woytasczyk reportedly told police she didn’t know she was pregnant and was afraid before she gave birth, but police are not buying her story:

“We believe that she was trying to hide the fact that she was pregnant and gave birth from her boyfriend,” Sgt. Matt Ferguson of the Child Abuse Division of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in an interview with KTRK.

Both her boyfriend and her mother testified they had no idea Woytasczyk was pregnant.

>> On Rare.us: Newborn baby girl found in bushes outside of apartment complex

Deandre Skillern, the woman’s boyfriend, claims he is the father of the baby and wants custody, submitting to a DNA test to prove his paternity.

However, the baby’s maternal grandmother is also seeking custody.

At this time, authorities reportedly do not believe Skillern was part of the child abandonment.

Authorities believe that Woytasczyk hid her pregnancy to the point of delivering the child in her kitchen by herself and attempting to hide the birth out of fear of the baby coming between her and her boyfriend. That led to her dumping baby outside, investigators said.

The baby’s umbilical cord was ripped from her body before she was placed in the bushes without any protection, KHOU reported.

The baby reportedly was found naked outside by a neighbor after six hours, covered in ants. As a result of the ripped umbilical cord, she is suffering from a bacterial infection, KHOU reported.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities believe the child was near death when the neighbor rescued her.

At this time, the baby is in CPS custody.

Donations on behalf of the baby and other CPS children can be made by calling Mary Votaw at 832-454-4163 or Be a Resource (BEAR) at 713-940-3087.

Father, daughter survive Syria war zone, reunite with wife in Charlotte

Dana Tahhan waited two years for the moment when she would be reunited with her husband and 8-year-old daughter.

>> Read more trending news

"We cry. We cry a lot. We cry a lot because there's no words can describe this thing,” Tahhan said.

Pictures at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Saturday captured the sheer joy. The war and violence in their homeland of Syria kept them apart all this time.

"I can't believe it, still I can't believe that they are here." Tahhan said.

Dana said for months her 8-year-old daughter, Nadin, kept asking when she would see her mother again.

Just days after their reunion, they're settling back in as a family, going to SouthPark Mall and visiting Freedom Park.

"I just, like, give her kisses and hugs every five minutes. The same thing for Faysal. He can't believe he holding his son again,” Tahhan said.

Ben Snyder, an immigration attorney, has been working with Tahhan to bring her family to the U.S.

"They've literally survived a war zone. This family is from Aleppo, Syria," Snyder said.

Tahhan was pregnant when she came to Charlotte from Syria and was granted asylum.

It took a mountain of paperwork and two years to get refugee visas for Nadin and Faysal. They were finally able to apply in December.

But President Donald Trump's travel ban went into effect in January, banning refugees from seven predominately Muslim countries -- Nadin and Faysal included.

"They fall in the category of people who are banned indefinitely," Snyder said.

But the ban was challenged in federal court by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. It resulted in exceptions to the ban, including one for refugees with family ties in the U.S.

Tahhan described how she and her husband would talk while separated and said, "We going to see each other here in the United States and when we look at each other and say, 'We did it.'"

Want to prevent Type 2 diabetes in your child? Follow these CDC tips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want parents to think about Type 2 Diabetes, that’s what used to be called adult-onset diabetes.

>> Read more trending news

It almost never happened to kids or teenagers, instead kids would get Type 1 or juvenile diabetes. Now with about one-third of American children being overweight, doctors are starting to see Type 2 diabetes in children, sometimes as young as 10 years old. Typically it’s happening in their teen years when hormone fluctuations make it harder for the body to absorb insulin.

What can you do?

Worry about weight. People who are overweight or more likely to have insulin resistance, especially if they have excess weight around their bellies.

The CDC offers these tips:

  • Limit TV time (and the mindless eating that comes with it.)
  • Drink more water and fewer sugary drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice before age 1, 4 ounces or less a day for toddlers and 8 ounces or less for children. 
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Make favorite foods healthier.
  • Get kids involved in making healthier meals.
  • Eat slowly — it takes at least 20 minutes to start feeling full.
  • Eat at the dinner table only, not in front of the TV or computer.
  • Shop for food together.
  • Shop on a full stomach so you’re not tempted to buy unhealthy food.
  • Teach your kids to read food labels to understand which foods are healthiest.
  • Have meals together as a family as often as you can.
  • Don’t insist kids clean their plates.
  • Don’t put serving dishes on the table.
  • Serve small portions; let kids ask for seconds.
  • Reward kids with praise instead of food.

Get active. Kids should get 60 minutes of activity a day. It doesn’t have to be all together, but it should add up to an hour of movement. That activities helps keep kids at a healthier weight and helps the body better use insulin.

The CDC offers these tips:

  • Start slow and build up.
  • Keep it positive — focus on progress.
  • Take parent and kid fitness classes together.
  • Make physical activity more fun; try new things.
  • Ask kids what activities they like best — everyone is different.
  • Encourage kids to join a sports team.
  • Have a “fit kit” available — a jump rope, hand weights, resistance bands.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.
  • Plan active outings, like hiking or biking.
  • Take walks together.
  • Move more in and out of the house — vacuuming, raking leaves, gardening.
  • Turn chores into games, like racing to see how fast you can clean the house.

Care about family history. Your child’s risk factor goes up when they have a family member with Type 2 diabetes or were born to a mom who had gestational diabetes; are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American, Pacific Islander or Alaska Native; or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Consult with your doctor if any of these ring true for your child. Usually, a doctor will start testing blood sugar levels at around age 10.

Tiki torch manufacturer 'appalled' at protesters

The head of the Georgia-based company that makes Tiki torches says he was offended by images of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia, using his company's products.

>> Read more trending news

W.C. Bradley Co. President and CEO Marc Olivie said on Tuesday he has special reason to feel deeply offended.

“Obviously, we cannot control the way people use our torches, but the fact the people who promote bigotry and promote hatred are using these torches was really shocking to me,” he said.

Many of the protesters who marched Friday carried Tiki torches.

The Tiki brand is a product of Lamplight, a Wisconsin company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bradley company.

Lamplight, in a Facebook post Saturday, said, in part, "TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and (we) are deeply saddened and disappointed."

Olivie said the torches are a shining light symbolizing joy, not division and hatred.

“I would hope people would continue to use them for enjoyment and being together with friends and family. And that's the way these products should be used,” he said.

Tiki brand's 70 employees were also upset to see their product used in the controversial march.

Texas A&M could be on thin ice in canceling white nationalist rally

When a white nationalist spoke at Texas A&M University in December, school officials said they were duty-bound to tolerate free speech, even speech they considered repugnant.

>> Read more trending news 

A&M changed its policy later to bar outside people from using on-campus conference rooms without sponsorship of a university-sanctioned group. No such requirement applies to outdoor events at several free-speech zones on the College Station campus, but the university cited safety concerns Monday in canceling a far-right rally that had been booked through its events staff for next month.

Preston Wiginton, who had organized the rally and lined up use of Rudder Plaza in the heart of campus without a university sponsor, told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that half of him wants to sue A&M and the other half doesn’t want to bother because “A&M, the Texas Legislature and many white people have proven to me that whites accept their own demise.” Later in the day, he said he is pursuing a lawsuit and might walk down a public street through campus with activists and others who had planned to attend the “White Lives Matter” rally that was canceled.

Whether A&M’s cancellation of the event was a violation of Wiginton’s right to free speech would ultimately be up to the courts. But school officials who gathered in President Michael Young’s office on Monday, where the decision was made, were well aware that pulling the plug on the rally could expose the university to legal attack, according to two well-placed sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

In April, a federal judge in Alabama barred Auburn University from blocking white nationalist Richard Spencer from speaking, saying there was no evidence that he advocates violence. Auburn had canceled the event, citing safety concerns, after initially saying it could go forward as an exercise of free speech.

Spencer had been among speakers lined up for the now-canceled event at A&M. He was also the speaker at the December event in A&M’s Memorial Student Center, where he told an audience of more than 400 people that “America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men … This country does belong to white people — culturally, socially and politically.”

Rudder Plaza is one of several outdoor free-speech zones on campus.

“I don’t care if Black Lives Matter is there or if the American Communist Party is there. Why am I not allowed there?” Wiginton said.

A&M’s news release Monday — its only official statement on the matter — cited several reasons, including safety concerns in the wake of race-related violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and disruption of class schedules and pedestrian and bus movement.

“You can’t say that because the Charlottesville rally turned violent, another group’s rally will turn violent because it shares the same viewpoint,” said Samantha Harris, vice president of policy research for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based group that advocates for free speech and religious liberty at colleges and universities.

The argument that anticipated disruption is grounds for cancellation doesn’t hold legal water, said Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has written extensively on free speech.

“The anticipation of what might happen is not necessarily what will happen. It’s easy to say we’re afraid of disruption to avoid saying we don’t want the message,” Stone said, adding that opponents of marches for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights have also employed such tactics.

“The question is to what extent could the university reasonably control the disruption,” he said. “It could limit the size of the event, limit the hours, put up barriers. Fundamentally, it’s the responsibility of the university to do whatever it can reasonably do to let the event take place. They do have a right to prevent events where there is a clear and present danger, which usually means waiting until the moment is upon you. You might have to use tear gas or whatever you have to do to disperse people. You can’t prove it up in advance.”

Stone said universities are permitted to require outside groups to be sponsored by student, faculty or staff organizations before securing permission for an event on campus. The University of Texas mandates such sponsorship, whether the events are indoors or outdoors, said spokesman J.B. Bird.

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