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See the trailer for ‘Michael Jackson’s Halloween’ special

A new animated Halloween special with the music of Michael Jackson is coming just before the holiday.

Entertainment Weekly reported that CBS released a trailer for “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” Wednesday. The trailer was posted on the official Michael Jackson Twitter page.

>> Read more trending news

The special features the voice work of actors Lucy Liu, Jim Parsons, Brad Garrett, Alan Cumming and others.

Billboard reported that the hourlong show will follow millennials Vincent, voiced by Lucas Till, and Victoria, voiced by Kiersey Clemons, who accidentally meet Halloween night and end up at a hotel called This Place Hotel on 777 Jackson St. The pair, along with Ichabod the dog, go on an adventure that features Jackson’s music. It leads up to a finale in which the characters dance with an animated version of the King of Pop. 

The official Twitter page of the late singer initially announced the special in July.

“Michael Jackson’s Halloween” airs Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. on CBS. Watch the trailer below.

Imagine being dead and knowing you’re dead, that’s what happened in new study

Scientists may be a step closer to solving the mystery surrounding death and what happens next. New research finds a person’s brain is still active after the heart stops beating, so many people actually may be aware that they have died, according to a new report.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from New York University’s Langone School of Medicine are currently conducting a study to explore how the brain functions after death. 

To do so, they examined individuals who suffered cardiac arrest, but were later revived. The scientists noted that death was defined by when the heart stops and blood stops flowing to the brain.

During the evaluation, many patients were able to recall full conversations and visuals, and in some cases, participants even reported hearing they had been pronounced dead. 

"They'll describe watching doctors and nurses working; they'll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them," lead author Sam Parnia told Live Science.

>> Related: No cure, yet, but scientists may have found the cause of dyslexia

Scientists confirmed the patients’ stories with doctors and nurses present at the time of death, and were stunned to hear what the subjects remembered.

Why is there still brain activity after death?

Brain death is a process. It takes up to 20 seconds before brain waves are no longer detectable. Once they aren’t, a set of cellular processes take place that eventually result in brain death. And this could occur hours after the heart has stopped, Parnia said. 

"If you manage to restart the heart, which is what CPR attempts to do, you'll gradually start to get the brain functioning again. The longer you're doing CPR, those brain cell death pathways are still happening — they're just happening at a slightly slower rate," he said.

The scientists are now expanding their ongoing experiment, which will be the largest of its kind, to investigate the occurrences of consciousness after death and how it may affect the rest of a person’s life if they are revived.

>> Related: After near-death experience, Atlanta teen pursues songwriting dreams

"In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of 'love.'” Parnia said.

“For instance, we're trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death, because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we're all going to have when we die."

ACLU: Oklahoma school's national anthem policy is unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that an Oklahoma school's national anthem policy is unconstitutional.

>> Read more trending news

The statement was released after Stuart Public Schools enacted a policy requiring all students, staff and spectators to stand for the national anthem, prohibiting any form of protest.

The Hughes County school's policy was announced amid a nationwide conversation about kneeling during the national anthem. Professional football players started kneeling in protest of police brutality against minorities. The protests received increased scrutiny after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who chose to join the protests.

While some say the protests are disrespectful to U.S. service members, other say they fall under free speech and raise awareness to an important domestic issue in the country.

The ACLU of Oklahoma's legal director released a statement Wednesday:

“Stuart Public Schools’ new policy is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Supreme Court has made clear that students have the right to express themselves. Our Constitution guarantees that public schools can neither mandate forced displays of patriotism and nationalism, nor forbid lawful protests against injustice. Stuart Public Schools has chosen to violate both of these guarantees. This school district’s school’s leaders are in desperate need of a First Amendment lesson, one that they are likely to receive swiftly in the event they actually attempt to enforce this unlawful policy.”

The organization's director of external affairs also released a statement:

“Forcing students to stand for the National Anthem is irresponsible and flies in the face of every conceivable understanding of the First Amendment. If this school district were actually interested in real patriotism, they would do their duty as a government actor to uphold the values of the Constitution rather than waste taxpayers’ time and resources with an unlawful attempt to shut down the expression of their students and staff.”

Fugitive turns himself in, with doughnuts, after issuing challenge to police

A man made good on his promise to turn himself in to police in Michigan this week with a box of doughnuts in-hand after he challenged officers to get a Facebook post shared 1,000 times after taunting the department on social media.

>> Read more trending news

“You guys suck!” wrote 21-year-old Michael Zaydel, who goes by the name “Champagne Torino” on Facebook, in response to an Oct. 6 post from the Redford Township Police Department.

Zaydel was wanted on multiple misdemeanor warrants and taunted police on social media, writing that he was sure they didn’t know his last name and later messaging officers with a challenge.

“If (your) next post gets a thousand shares I’ll turn myself in along with a dozen doughnuts,” Zaydel wrote, according to a screenshot shared by police. “And that’s a promise. And I’ll pick up every piece of litter around all your public schools.”

The post was subsequently shared more than 4,500 times. Police said they topped the 1,000 share mark in less than an hour.

Zaydel turned himself in to authorities 10 days later, according to authorities.

“He walked in on his own, and not only did he bring the donuts, he brought one bagel!” police said in a Facebook post. “We would again like to express our gratitude for the support of all who followed this, shared it and left us positive feedback.”

Police officer rescues kitten and raccoon found cuddling in dumpster

An animal control officer with the Knoxville Police Department responded to a call that could have been taken out of a Disney movie.

KMBC reported that Officer Nick Powell responded to a call about an animal stuck in a dumpster in Knoxville, Tennessee.

>> Read more trending news

“When Officer Powell looked inside the dumpster he located two unusual companions -- a kitten and a baby raccoon -- cuddled in the corner keeping each other warm,” a Wednesday post on the department’s Facebook page said.

Commenters expressed concern that the raccoon would be euthanized and the kitten would be quarantined or euthanized, but an update from the department indicates a happier ending.

“The raccoon was relocated and released. The kitten was transported to Young Williams Animal Center,” department officials said. 

According to the Young Williams Animal Center website, the center’s goal is to find a home for all pets.

There’s now a Harry Potter wizarding school in Central Texas

Feeling bummed about never receiving your Hogwarts letter?

Well, you may be able to live out your Harry Potter dreams after all.

>> Read more trending news

Worthwich School’s annual Worthwich Wizarding Weekend, described as a “3-day magical retreat to Worthwich School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” is taking place in Killeen, Texas, Oct. 27-29.

And yes, it’s eerily similar to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The retreat is for adults 21 and up and lasts three days, with a curriculum of classes including potions, charms, defensive magic, divination, astronomy, herbology, magical creatures and flying lessons. First-year students even get sorted into their houses, just like at Hogwarts (no word on if there’s a magical Sorting Hat, though). 

The weekend kicks off with wand-making classes, pumpkin carving and magical shopping, followed by a sorting ceremony. There will be screenings each night, magical sporting games and classes throughout the weekend. Tickets, which are $400 per person for the entire weekend, include lodging, food and drinks. 

You can buy tickets and get more information here.

Worthwich also offers regular wand making classes in Austin and across Texas, as well as Harry Potter trivia nights. 

Critics say Museum of Ice Cream’s plastic sprinkles pose environmental risks 

Environmentalists in San Francisco and Los Angeles are concerned about the effects of one feature at local Museum of Ice Cream locations: sprinkles. 

>> Read more trending news

Critics say the plastic pieces are littering California streets blocks from the pop-up museums as they’re carried out on the clothes of museum visitors. The plastic material becomes litter and has the potential to end up in the water, a danger to marine life, KABC reported. 

“My concern is that they go down the drains and into the bay, where they will be bite-sized for most fish,” San Francisco resident Johanna Sanders told the San Francisco Gate.

The Museum of Ice Cream, which opened in Los Angeles in April and San Francisco in September, is known for its colorful displays, tasty treats and Instagram-worthy photo backdrops. 

According to a Forbes description of the LA location, there’s a “gallery of suspended bananas, ... rooms of giant melted popsicles, big-as-you gummy bears and a swimming pool full of sprinkles.” The San Francisco Gate describes its local pop-up as including “a candy garden, psychedelic rainbow unicorns, a pink rock climbing wall, banana swings, an all-pink diner with a jukebox and a sprinkle pool filled with more than 100 million plastic imitation sprinkles. A circular swimming space even has pink floats and a diving board.”

Both locations feature bright pink walls and interactive exhibits.

“All of the rooms in the museum have things you can eat or smell,” KABC reported.

The museums use plastic for the sprinkles in the pools instead of real, edible ones for sanitary reasons. A spokesperson for the Museum of Ice Cream told the Gate the sprinkles are coated in “antimicrobial germ bloc.”

Museum officials said they’re working to address people’s concerns. They’re working with an environmental specialist and also instructing exiting visitors to shake off excess sprinkles at an “air shower” at the San Francisco location, according to the Gate

But even still, “guests have been putting sprinkles in their pocket(s) as a memento of their experience in the sprinkle pool,” spokeswoman Shelley Reinstein said.

Eva Holman, with the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, said the plastic sprinkles pose risks that need to be taken more seriously. 

“If it's on the sidewalk it most likely goes into storm drains and then into the ocean,” Holman told the Gate. “(And) my 5-year-old would think it’s candy. Why wouldn’t a bird on the street think it’s something to consume?”

“Most plastic has a purpose, like bottle caps and food wrappers,” Holman said. “What is the purpose of this tiny piece of plastic other than a selfie moment?”

The Museum of Ice Cream’s Los Angeles location, originally slated to close in May, has had its close date pushed back five times due to popularity. It’s scheduled now to close in December. The San Francisco location will be open until Feb. 13, just in time for lovebirds to take their sweet someone before Valentine’s day. The museum was set to close in October, but officials extended the schedule after tickets sold out in just 18 minutes.

Read more at the San Francisco Gate.

Georgia school fires Muslim employee who asked for time to pray, lawsuit says

A Gwinnett County custodian was accused of falsifying her job application and then fired after asking supervisors to accommodate her prayer schedule, a federal lawsuit alleges.

Penny Deams filed the lawsuit against Gwinnett County Public Schools on Monday. She previously worked at Ferguson Elementary School in Duluth, Georgia.

Deams also previously filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint related to her termination, but the commission “found insufficient evidence to support her claim of discrimination,” Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools said. The district declined to comment on the lawsuit itself, Roach said.

>> Read more trending news

When she was asked to extend her work schedule from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., she told supervisors that it would interfere with her daily prayer schedule, as her mosque closed before 10 p.m., the lawsuit says. Deams is an observant Muslim, and it is customary for Muslims to pray multiple times each day. 

When Deams objected to the schedule change because of her prayer obligations, Principal Angelique Mitchell asked her about her religious activities, including when she prayed, how many times per day she prayed and what days she prayed, the lawsuit says. After that encounter, Deams says she went to the school’s human resource office to “inquire about her rights.” 

Deams noticed “significant, retaliatory changes” in the way she was treated by school management, the lawsuit says. A supervisor told Deams that Mitchell was upset with her for asking the HR department about her religious rights, according to the lawsuit. A human resources worker asked Deams when, where and how often she prayed, and requested a letter from Deams’s mosque explaining when Deams needed to pray, the lawsuit said. Deams did not objec,t but mentioned she would consult an attorney about her religious rights, according to the suit. 

After Deams said she would speak with an attorney, the human resources worker began questioning Deams’s job application references and accused Deams of falsifying her job application, according to the lawsuit. One of Deams’s listed references had worked with Deams in DeKalb County, but no longer worked for the county at that point.

The lawsuit says Deams was suspended from work for falsifying her application, which she denied doing.

The human resources worker told Deams she would have to provide a document from DeKalb County verifying her previous employment within two days, “knowing full well the process for obtaining the requested form takes at least four to five days,” the lawsuit says. A DeKalb County employee told Deams that it would take “several days” for her to receive the document.

Deams went to work the next day, despite her suspension. When the two-day period was up and she did not have the employment verification letter from DeKalb County, Deams was fired for allegedly falsifying her application and for working while suspended, the lawsuit says. Deams “knew these reasons had a casual connection to her (religion) because they were never raised with her” before she asked for her schedule to accommodate her prayer obligations, the lawsuit says.

Deams is suing the school district for damages, back pay, interest, attorney’s fees, reinstatement or lost potential earnings and “further relief” to be determined at trial. 

Deams and her attorney declined to comment on the suit further at this time. 

Driver killed in freak accident after tire flies off truck, striking car on Georgia freeway

A frightening incident Thursday morning on a metro Atlanta freeway left a driver dead in a freak accident.

>> Read more trending news

At the height of the Thursday morning rush hour commute, a tire flew off a pickup truck traveling north on Georgia 400, and landed on the windshield of a car in the southbound lanes, killing the driver, according to police in Sandy Springs, a suburb of Atlanta.

“A truck traveling north on Ga 400 at Pitts Road lost a wheel and tire” around 8 a.m. police Sgt. Sam Worsham said in a statement.

“The wheel went over the wall and struck a vehicle south on Ga. 400.”

The driver, the only person in the vehicle, died on the scene, according to police. Her name has not been released.

The pickup truck driver was still on the scene at noon. He expressed remorse during an interview with WSB-TV.

“I was on the way to my job,” Jorge Herrera said. “I’m not drunk. I’m not driving fast. It was like a normal (day) trying to get to my job.”

>> Related: Woman killed, 5 hurt in Atlanta valet parking accident

At times, the accident blocked multiple lanes in both directions, causing a massive back-up for morning drivers.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s relationship may have hit another milestone

Prince Harry reportedly took his girlfriend of 15 months to Buckingham Palace for a private tea with Queen Elizabeth II, according to reports.

On Thursday, the Daily Mail reported that Harry and Meghan Markle arrived to the Palace in a Ford Galaxy with blacked-out windows last week. When they arrived, they were “whisked up to the Queen’s private sitting room” for a one hour-long meeting.

Following the meeting, Prince Harry accepted a posthumous award honoring his late mother and her activism with HIV/AIDS.

RELATED: Sources say Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will make a big announcement soon

PEOPLE reports that the rumored meeting is significant since Harry is the fifth in line to the throne (he will be moved to sixth in line once Prince William and Duchess Catherine’s third child is born in April). Since he is still in the succession, he must get permission from the monarch to marry.

>> Read more trending news 

Though, there are rumors that Markle previously met with the queen during a visit to Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

“If Harry asks for something, she would say yes as she adores him,” a source said of the queen’s love for her grandson.

The couple went public with their love when Markle attended Harry’s Invictus Games in Toronto. The lovebirds were spotted holding hands and being affection as they took in some of the sporting events together.

Reps at Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace have not yet commented on the rumor of Markle’s private tea with the queen.

Iditarod first: Sled dogs test positive for opioids 

Sled dogs in the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race tested positive for a banned opioid for the first time since testing of the dogs for banned substances started back in 1994.

>> Read more trending news

Race officials, however, are not releasing the name of the musher whose dogs tested positive for the painkiller Tramadol, according to CBS News.

Dog teams were tested after the 1,000 mile trek ended in Nome, Alaska back in March.

It’s unknown when the drugs were administered or the exact number of dogs from the team that tested positive, CBS News reported, but the drugs could have been administered any time right before the end of the race or as long as 15 hours beforehand.

Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George told CBS News in an email that there are several reasons the organization is not releasing the musher's name. An attorney advised against it and race officials said they most likely can’t prove the musher gave the dogs drugs on purpose.

>> Related: Iditarod musher falls asleep at the reins

The Iditarod also won’t ban the musher from next year’s race.

Only dog teams from the top 20 race finalists are tested.

George W. Bush warns 'bigotry seems emboldened' in America: Read his full remarks

Former President George W. Bush warned Americans to be wary of growing trends toward nativism and isolationism on Thursday during a speech at the Bush Institute’s national forum.

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“Bigotry seems emboldened,” Bush said. “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

The speech was widely interpreted as a veiled message aimed at the politics of President Donald Trump, who has often touted an “America first” view of world politics. However, Trump was not named in the speech.

Read Bush’s full remarks from the forum, “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, in the World”:

Thank you all. Thank you. Ok, Padilla gracias. So, I painted Ramon. I wish you were still standing here. It’s a face only a mother could love – no, it’s a fabulous face. (Laughter.) I love you Ramon, thank you very much for being here.

And, Grace Jo thank you for your testimony. And, big Tim. I got to know Tim as a result of Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Bush Center along with the Clinton Foundation, with help from 41 and LBJ’s libraries.

I am thrilled that friends of ours from Afghanistan, China, North Korea, and Venezuela are here as well. These are people who have experienced the absence of freedom and they know what it’s like and they know there is a better alternative to tyranny.

Laura and I are thrilled that the Bush Center supporters are here. Bernie (Tom Bernstein), I want to thank you and your committee. I call him Bernie. (Laughter.)

It’s amazing to have Secretary Albright share the stage with Condi and Ambassador Haley. For those of you that kind of take things for granted, that’s a big deal. (Laughter and applause) Thank you.

We are gathered in the cause of liberty this is a unique moment. The great democracies face new and serious threats – yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.

Since World War II, America has encouraged and benefited from the global advance of free markets, from the strength of democratic alliances, and from the advance of free societies. At one level, this has been a raw calculation of interest. The 20th century featured some of the worst horrors of history because dictators committed them. Free nations are less likely to threaten and fight each other.

And free trade helped make America into a global economic power.

For more than 70 years, the presidents of both parties believed that American security and prosperity were directly tied to the success of freedom in the world. And they knew that the success depended, in large part, on U.S. leadership. This mission came naturally, because it expressed the DNA of American idealism.

We know, deep down, that repression is not the wave of the future. We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity. We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

This is not to underestimate the historical obstacles to the development of democratic institutions and a democratic culture. Such problems nearly destroyed our country – and that should encourage a spirit of humility and a patience with others. Freedom is not merely a political menu option, or a foreign policy fad; it should be the defining commitment of our country, and the hope of the world.

That appeal is proved not just by the content of people’s hopes, but a noteworthy hypocrisy: No democracy pretends to be a tyranny. Most tyrannies pretend they are democracies. Democracy remains the definition of political legitimacy. That has not changed, and that will not change.

Yet for years, challenges have been gathering to the principles we hold dear. And, we must take them seriously. Some of these problems are external and obvious. Here in New York City, you know the threat of terrorism all too well. It is being fought even now on distant frontiers and in the hidden world of intelligence and surveillance. There is the frightening, evolving threat of nuclear proliferation and outlaw regimes. And there is an aggressive challenge by Russia and China to the norms and rules of the global order – proposed revisions that always seem to involve less respect for the rights of free nations and less freedom for the individual.

These matters would be difficult under any circumstances. They are further complicated by a trend in western countries away from global engagement and democratic confidence. Parts of Europe have developed an identity crisis. We have seen insolvency, economic stagnation, youth unemployment, anger about immigration, resurgent ethno-nationalism, and deep questions about the meaning and durability of the European Union.

America is not immune from these trends. In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned, especially among the young, who never experienced the galvanizing moral clarity of the Cold War, or never focused on the ruin of entire nations by socialist central planning. Some have called this “democratic deconsolidation.” Really, it seems to be a combination of weariness, frayed tempers, and forgetfulness.

We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.

We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge.

In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.

This is part of the reason we meet here today. How do we begin to encourage a new, 21st century American consensus on behalf of democratic freedom and free markets? That’s the question I posed to scholars at the Bush Institute. That is what Pete Wehner and Tom Melia, who are with us today, have answered with “The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World,” a Call to Action paper.

The recommendations come in broad categories. Here they are: First, America must harden its own defenses. Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

The second category of recommendations concerns the projection of American leadership – maintaining America’s role in sustaining and defending an international order rooted in freedom and free markets. 

Our security and prosperity are only found in wise, sustained, global engagement: In the cultivation of new markets for American goods. In the confrontation of security challenges before they fully materialize and arrive on our shores. In the fostering of global health and development as alternatives to suffering and resentment. In the attraction of talent, energy and enterprise from all over the world. In serving as a shining hope for refugees and a voice for dissidents, human rights defenders, and the oppressed.

We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization. People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution. One strength of free societies is their ability to adapt to economic and social disruptions.

And that should be our goal: to prepare American workers for new opportunities, to care in practical, empowering ways for those who may feel left behind. The first step should be to enact policies that encourage robust economic growth by unlocking the potential of the private sector, and for unleashing the creativity and compassion of this country.

A third focus of this document is strengthening democratic citizenship. And here we must put particular emphasis on the values and views of the young.

Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. (Applause.)

And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.

We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

Finally, the Call to Action calls on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust.

For example, our democracy needs a media that is transparent, accurate and fair. Our democracy needs religious institutions that demonstrate integrity and champion civil discourse. Our democracy needs institutions of higher learning that are examples of truth and free expression.

In short, it is time for American institutions to step up and provide cultural and moral leadership for this nation.

Ten years ago, I attended a Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague. The goal was to put human rights and human freedom at the center of our relationships with repressive governments. The Prague Charter, signed by champions of liberty Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar, called for the isolation and ostracism of regimes that suppress peaceful opponents by threats or violence.

Little did we know that, a decade later, a crisis of confidence would be developing within the core democracies, making the message of freedom more inhibited and wavering. Little did we know that repressive governments would be undertaking a major effort to encourage division in western societies and to undermine the legitimacy of elections.

Repressive rivals, along with skeptics here at home, misunderstand something important. It is the great advantage of free societies that we creatively adapt to challenges, without the direction of some central authority. Self-correction is the secret strength of freedom. We are a nation with a history of resilience and a genius for renewal.

Right now, one of our worst national problems is a deficit of confidence. But the cause of freedom justifies all our faith and effort. It still inspires men and women in the darkest corners of the world, and it will inspire a rising generation. The American spirit does not say, “We shall manage,” or “We shall make the best of it.” It says, “We shall overcome.” And that is exactly what we will do, with the help of God and one another.

Thank you.

Man killed in shooting was previously shot 10 times in six months, police say

An Alabama man gunned down outside a gas station in broad daylight Tuesday afternoon had previously been shot 10 times in a six-month period. 

Antoine “Twin” Collier, 29, of Birmingham, was killed when two unidentified gunmen fired more than 40 bullets in the parking lot of an Exxon service station in the city, AL.com reported. He died on the sidewalk in front of the store. 

A Birmingham police spokesman said the shooting took place just before 1:30 p.m., as Collier and his girlfriend were entering the convenience store. AL.com reported that Collier’s girlfriend was not injured, but a female bystander who had just gotten food at a pizza place adjoining the Exxon was struck multiple times.

The unidentified woman was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. 

>> Read more trending news

Police officials were familiar with Collier, who investigators believe was the target in the shooting that ultimately took his life.

“These guys were looking for him,” Lt. Sean Edwards, a police spokesman, told AL.com. “It’s obvious they were looking for him. They definitely targeted him.”

In at least two of the previous shootings in which Collier was injured, he was accused of stealing illegal drugs from another person, police officials said. Birmingham police Chief A.C. Roper said the circumstances that may have led to his killing do not matter.

“It’s a tragedy for his family, but regardless of the circumstances that led to his murder, we need to bring the killers to justice,” Roper told AL.com

In April, Collier’s mother, Kimberly Flowers, spoke out about her son’s past

“I’m the mother who hates to answer the phone,” Flowers said at the time. “You worry about your child.”

Her son, whose name was not made public at that time because he was a target for harm, had been released from prison a year before, but kept finding himself in trouble. The most recent shooting prior to Tuesday’s fatal one had been the most serious, with Collier suffering a gunshot wound to the face. 

At the time of Flowers’ April media interview, Collier was still recovering from that shooting in a protective rehabilitation facility, AL.com reported. In a text message, Collier expressed hope that participation in the city’s Violence Reduction Initiative could help him turn his life around.

“I’ve cried till I can’t cry anymore, ‘cause I’m blessed,” Collier wrote, according to AL.com. “I think when my health gets better, I wanna speak to young black males about violence.” 

Collier was released from the rehab facility this summer. 

Teen asks friend with Down syndrome to homecoming dance

A Florida teen probably has made the year for a fellow student and friend.

Kyana Chevalier surprised John Zamminer with a proposal to go to homecoming.

She held up a sign asking him, “Wanna have a ball with me @ homecoming?!”

John who was slightly embarrassed said sure and sealed the deal with a hug, WTVT reported.

>> Read more trending news

John is a student with Down syndrome. Kyana and he became friends during her sophomore year when he would show off his dancing prowess before school every morning.

“As bad as mornings are, he made everyone smile,” Kyana told WTVT.

After the big proposal, John started to get teary once he realized the magnitude of the question. She then gave him another big hug.

Kyana assured John that homecoming will be their bond.

“Now we’re going to be best friends, right? And we’re going to have a great time at homecoming,” she said.

These are the top 10 happiest places in the U.S.; here’s why

The happiest city in the United States just might surprise you, and the reasons it ranks at the top might surprise you even more.

>> Read more trending news

According to a National Geographic study, the happiest city in the country is Boulder, Colo.

The city has more than 300 miles of bike trails, and that’s one of the reasons Boulder scored the top spot, according to one of the study’s authors Dan Buettner.

Cities were evaluated using an index with 15 metrics, including healthy eating, learning something new every day, civic engagement, green spaces, limited development, financial security, vacation time and even dental checkups— metrics that the study authors said signal happiness. 

Researchers talked with 250,000 people in 190 metro areas between 2014 and 2015, National Geographic reported, and discovered that Boulder is the happiest place in the country.

Boulder won based on a number of factors , including a sense of community, access to nature, sustainable urban development and preservation policies, National Geographic reported.

“Boulderites overwhelmingly feel ‘active and productive every day,’” Buettner said

More people walk to work in Boulder. The city has low rates of obesity and smoking, and high rates of exercise. Buetnner said all these factors contributed to why Boulder residents are the happiest people.

>> Related: Most charming cities in America 2017

Colorado scored another city in the top five with Fort Collins coming in 4th.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., ranked number 2, Charlottesville, Va., placed third, and the San Luis Obispo-Paso, Robles-Arroyo Grande region in Calif., placed 5th.

Top 10 happiest cities in the U.S.:

1. Boulder, Colo.

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.

3. Charlottesville, Va.

4. Fort Collins, Colo.

5. San Luis Obispo-Paso, Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.

6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

7. Provo-Orem, Utah

8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

9. Barnstable Town, Mass.

10. Anchorage, Alaska

Alleged cop-killer smears feces on self in court, halting jury selection in murder trial

A man accused of murdering a New Orleans police officer in 2015 halted jury selection in his trial Wednesday by smearing feces on his face, head and mouth, horrifying potential jurors and courtroom spectators. 

Travis Boys, 35, apparently put the feces, wrapped in tissue, in his pocket during a bathroom break earlier in the day, NOLA.com reported. He was seated at the defense table with his attorneys when he pulled the tissue out and silently rubbed the waste on himself. 

>> Read more trending news

Boys is charged with first-degree murder in the June 20, 2015, shooting death of Officer Daryle Holloway. The officer was transporting Boys to jail when Boys allegedly shot him inside his police SUV. 

Boys escaped custody and was at large for about 24 hours before being recaptured. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The Advocate reported that criminal defense lawyer David Belfield, who is Holloway’s uncle, witnessed the incident. Belfield said he believed Boys was trying to sway potential jurors. 

“It’s calculated, and it shows that he’s not insane, not crazy,” Belfield told the newspaper

Boys has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, the Advocate reported. District Court Judge Karen Herman ruled last month that Boys was competent to stand trial in Holloway’s slaying. 

After halting the proceedings Wednesday, however, Herman ordered that another competency hearing be held on Thursday. His attorneys have argued that Boys suffers from low IQ and mental health problems. 

Though Herman ruled him competent to stand trial, she is allowing the defense to present evidence of schizophrenia in Boys’ family, the Advocate said. 

The judge dismissed the panel of potential jurors who witnessed Boys’ actions on Wednesday. 

The Advocate reported that the odor of bleach clung to the air an hour after the incident. 

What is Real ID; is your state compliant; what if it isn’t?

A 2005 act that calls for states to install federal standards to issue identification documents has some travelers concerned that soon their driver’s license will not be accepted as proper id when traveling by air.

The REAL ID Act, passed after the 9/11 attacks as a measure to fight terrorism, has been rolled out in stages, with Jan. 22, 2018 being the target date for the last stage of the act to go into effect.

What is a Real ID, and what does it mean to you? The Department of Homeland Security offers these answers to the questions about the Real ID Act.

Q: What is REAL ID?Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. States have made considerable progress in meeting this key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and every state has a more secure driver’s license today than before the passage of the Act.

Q: What do I need to do if I am visiting a federal facility or a military base?Visitors seeking access to military bases and almost all federal facilities using their state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards must present proper identification issued by REAL ID compliant states or a state that has received an extension. When planning a visit to a federal facility or military base, visitors should contact the facility to determine what identification will be accepted.

Q: Will a federal agency accept my Enhanced Driver’s License?Yes. State Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs) designated as acceptable border-crossing documents by DHS under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative are acceptable for official federal purposes such as accessing a federal facility or boarding a commercial aircraft. Individual agency policies may still apply.Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington are the only states that currently issue EDLs. For more information on EDLs, click here.

Q: REAL ID does NOT apply to the following:-Entering Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification-Voting or registering to vote-Applying for or receiving Federal benefits-Being licensed by a state to drive-Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)-Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

Q: When will I need to change how I travel domestically?

Starting Jan. 22, 2018, passengers who have driver’s licenses issued by a state that is not yet compliant with REAL ID and that has not received an extension will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel. Please see TSA’s website for a list of acceptable forms of identification. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state that is compliant or that has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual. For a list of states already in compliance or with an extension visit DHS’s REAL ID webpage. DHS continually updates this list as more states come into compliance or obtain extensions. 

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every air traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel. A REAL ID-compliant license is one that meets and is issued by a state that complies with, the REAL ID Act’s security standards. 

Travelers can check DHS’s REAL ID webpage at any time to learn if your state is compliant and can check with your state’s agency that issues driver’s licenses about how to acquire a compliant license. The earlier your state becomes compliant, the more likely you will be able to acquire a compliant license as part of the normal renewal cycle.

Q: Will minors need to have driver’s licenses to fly domestically?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.

Q: Is a passport my only other option if my state is not compliant?

No. TSA currently accepts several other forms of identity documents and will continue to do so. For more information on acceptable forms of identification for boarding aircraft, please see TSA’s website.

Q: What happens to travelers who show up without a compliant license? Will TSA turn them away?

DHS has been working with states for years around REAL ID compliance and has provided technical assistance, grants, and other support to them. The agency is also providing more than two years advance notice of implementation with respect to domestic air travel to allow ample time for all states to achieve compliance, or for potential air travelers to acquire an alternate form of ID if their state does not comply with REAL ID. 

Starting Jan. 22, 2018, travelers who do not have a license from a compliant state or a state that has been granted an extension (a complete list of non-compliant states/ territories can be found here) will be asked to provide alternate acceptable identification. If the traveler cannot provide an acceptable form of identification, they will not be permitted through the security checkpoint.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel.

Q: Why are some states still not compliant? Isn’t this law?

REAL ID is a mandate on federal agencies, restricting the circumstances under which they may accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards for official purposes. Participation by states is voluntary, although federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses or identification cards from noncompliant states for official purposes (e.g., boarding aircraft, accessing federal facilities, and entering nuclear power plants).

Q: How does REAL ID implementation impact states that provide driver’s licenses and IDs to certain non-citizens/undocumented immigrants?

REAL ID allows compliant states to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards where the identity of the applicant cannot be assured or for whom lawful presence is not determined. In fact, some states currently issue such noncompliant cards to undocumented individuals. These cards must clearly state on their face (and in the machine-readable zone) that it is not acceptable for official purposes and must use a unique design or color to differentiate them from compliant cards. DHS cautions against assuming that possession of a noncompliant card indicates the holder is an undocumented individual, given that several states issue noncompliant licenses for reasons unrelated to lawful presence. 

17 states granted extension for REAL ID compliance; Driver's license OK for domestic travel 

Less than a week ago, residents in 22 states were panicking over the possibility that their state-issued ID cards would be insufficient to access domestic flights. Many thought they would need passports to travel between states.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has now approved requests for an extension, granting 17 states more time to provide appropriate, REAL ID-compliant identification for residents.

>> Read more trending news 

A report earlier this week named 22 states that would face conflict next year for not providing standard ID cards to residents that are compliant with the REAL ID Act. Officials with the Transportation Security Administration were instructed to allow only travelers with REAL ID-compliant identification through airport security and onto domestic flights in the U.S. starting Jan. 22, 2018. 

Previous report: Here’s why travelers from 22 states could face conflict with domestic flights in 2018

Twenty-seven states currently provide residents with standard, compliant IDs. Residents in the remaining states were to obtain passports, enhanced driver’s licenses and other forms of acceptable identification if they wished to travel within the country and abroad. 

But 16 states were granted extensions Wednesday, meaning states have more time to craft, fund and offer compliant IDs to their residents. 

>> Related: What is Real ID; is your state compliant; what if it isn’t?

The following states were granted an extension until Oct. 10, 2018: 

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Washington

Virginia was granted the same extension last week. 

The remaining states are still under review for a renewed extension to REAL ID enforcement: 

  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in an effort to strengthen identification rules at airports. The 9/11 Commission recommended it to the federal government to set standards for how IDs –- such as driver’s licenses -– are issued. 

The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses. Under the law, state driver's licenses and ID cards have to be issued only to people who can prove they are legally living in the United States. If state licenses don’t meet the standards, then federal agencies -– such as the TSA -- will not accept them.

Despite all extensions, there is a hard deadline for states to require compliant REAL IDs: Oct. 1, 2020.

“There are no anticipated changes to the enforcement schedule, and we are tracking that by 2020, 15 years after this act has been passed, that DHS will require that all states are compliant with Real ID as per federal law,” DHS spokeswoman Justine Whelan said, according to The Washington Post

Ashli Blow contributed to this report.

New mom contracts flesh-eating bacteria, loses arms and legs

A Canadian woman lost both her arms and legs to flesh-eating bacteria four days after giving birth earlier this year, and now she’s suing the hospital, contending the medical staff was negligent.

>> Read more trending news

Lindsey Hubley, 33, a quadruple amputee, underwent a total hysterectomy and spent the first seven months of her son’s life in a hospital, according to CTV.

Hubley is suing five doctors in Nova Scotia, Canada, along with IWK Health Centre, in Halifax after she claims that their negligence caused or contributed to the rash of health issues that she experienced during and after giving birth.

Hubley gave birth on March 2, was discharged and then taken back to the hospital and diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating virus.

>> Related: Human remains found on Florida beach

Hubley’s lawyer, Ray Wagner, told CTV that the new mother sustained a tear during labor and that part of the placenta was not removed after birth, which he believes helped contribute to Hubley’s medical issues. Wagner also said Hubley returned to the hospital several days after birth with abdominal pain, but the hospital failed to perform an examination on her.

"Our allegations are that had she been properly assessed when she presented at the hospital ... a substantial part of the damage, if not all of it, could have been prevented," Wagner told CTV.

>> Related: Palm Beach County clear of flesh-eating bacteria so far

Hubley’s arms were amputated below the elbow and her legs below the knees. She’s also expected to need a kidney transplant.

Roomy interior: Pony evacuated from wildfire in backseat of Honda Accord

When there’s a wildfire inching closer to your property and you have no time to waste, you do what you can to save lives, whether they’re human or animal.

Lauren Mesaros had to move three horses from her Northern California property. The problem was that the trailer could hold only two and the fire was a mile away, SFGATE.com reported.

>> Read more trending news

So instead of leaving one behind, she sacrificed the backseat of her vehicle.

Mesaros’ two mares were loaded into a friend’s trailer, and her pony, Stardust, climbed into the back of her 2001 Honda Accord.

She said Stardust, with a little help of a carrot as a treat, crawled into the Accord just like a dog.

Someone grabbed a picture and posted it to Facebook, where it has been shared more than 17,000 times.

After the unusual rescue, the winds shifted and the wildfire spared Mesaros’ property.

The same can’t be said about the car.

“My car will never smell the same again. It’s a little funky in the backseat, but (Stardust)survived,” Mesaros told the SFGATE.com.

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