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California high school senior banned from wearing MAGA hat

A California high school senior is fighting a ruling that banned her from wearing her “Make America Great” hat on campus, KGPE reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Maddie Mueller, who attends Clovis North High School in Fresno, belongs to Valley Patriots, a conservative activist group, KOVR reported. The group asked members to wear their MAGA hats Wednesday, but Mueller said school officials denied her permission, citing school dress code rules, the television station reported.

Mueller said her First Amendment rights were being violated.

“How does being a patriot in trying to show pride in your country, how is that inappropriate?" Mueller told KGPE. "To my knowledge (President Donald) Trump is not a logo it's a last name, it's just our president. You can't claim the president is a logo, sports team or affiliated with any gang."

Kelly Avants, spokeswoman for the Clovis Unified School District, said the ruling was a matter of safety.

"Bottom line for us is the dress code is for kids to feel safe at school and free of distractions so they can focus on learning." Avants told KGPE. "Here we are closer to shouting fire in a crowded theater."

According to former federal district judge Oliver Wanger, while Mueller’s First Amendment right is being infringed, the school may have the right to do it.

"If the hat is something that could invoke violence or invoke controversy, then for the sake of the safety for students the school is in their legal right,” KGPE reported

Mueller said she will continue to fight the ruling.

"I don't care if I offend anybody, I'm just showing support for the President and what I believe," Mueller told the television station.

Rare monkey stolen from Palm Beach Zoo

A rare monkey was stolen from a Florida zoo early Monday, WPBF reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Kali, a 1-pound, 12-year-old Goeldi’s monkey that is an endangered species native to South America, was one of five at the Palm Beach Zoo, WPEC reported. Kali is taking anti-inflammatory medication and has a is microchip implanted in her, the television station reported.

Zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter said Goeldi’s monkeys command a high value on the black market.

“Goeldi’s monkeys are very popular on the illegal pet trade, and so since she is a female as far as breeding is concerned, she’s holding a pretty high value, upwards of $10,000 I’ve been told,” Carter told WPEC.

Carter said Kali was likely stolen around 1 a.m., WPBF reported. While zoo officials did not say how the suspect entered Kali’s cage, there is surveillance video, the television station reported.

Video released Tuesday shows a person walking along the western perimeter of the zoo, moments before officials discovered Kali was missing, WPEC reported.

Legislator suggests dividing New York into 2 states 

A state assemblyman is proposing a referendum to split New York into two states, WGRB reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, floated the idea of a nonbinding referendum in a Jan. 29 letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

"Spending is the issue, mandates are the issue, fees and philosophies of government are the issues and I think we're very very different, upstate New York and Western New York in particular," Hawley told WIVB

If Hawley’s referendum passes, it would go before voters in New York. He said the referendum was in response to legislation proposed by the “radical left wing” in New York City, which has included measures about gun control and controversial abortion measures.

“It has become abundantly clear in recent years that the New York City voting bloc has forgotten upstate and is imposing their radical left-wing agenda on all of us, whether we like it or not,” Hawley told WRGB. “And that is deeply troubling.”

Hawley’s proposed question for the ballot would read, “Should New York be divided into two states?” the television station reported.

"I think it's something we ought to ask folks about,” Hawley told WIVB. “Many of these propositions that are pushed on us from New York City have nothing to do with the rest of the state of New York."

Florida city commissioner resigns after face-licking, groping allegations

A city commissioner in Florida resigned after she was censured and fined for allegedly groping and licking the face of a former city manager, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Nancy Oakley submitted a letter of resignation to the Madeira Beach City Commission on Tuesday, which was accepted by commissioners Wednesday night, the newspaper reported.

Oakley was fined $5,000 by the state ethics commission, WTSP reported. In its report, the Florida Commission on Ethics said Oakley possibly violated state law because she was "exhibiting inappropriate behavior" when she allegedly licked the face of Shane Crawford, then Madeira Beach’s city manager, at a fishing tournament in 2012, WFTS reported.

Oakley did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, the Times reported. In a statement, she said, “I have made the incredibly difficult decision to resign. It's time for us all to move on.”

Crawford, who was forced to resign last year by Oakley, Mayor Maggi Black and Commissioner John Douthirt, said he is angry that Madeira Beach has become “a national joke,” the newspaper reported.

Oakley’s term was set to expire at the end of March, WTSP reported. She was not seeking re-election.

Metallica spreads $1M donation across 10 community colleges

Nothing else matters to Metallica when it comes to furthering education.

>> Read more trending news 

The heavy metal rockers donated $100,000 each to 10 community colleges across the country as part of its Within My Hands Foundation, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The nonprofit organization, formed in 2017, was established to support workforce education, the fight against hunger and other services, KUTV reported.

"Ten colleges from across the country will receive $100,000 to support more than 1,000 students training to enter the American workforce," the band said in a news release. "These students will become the first cohort of Metallica Scholars."

The 10 schools are:

  • Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, Oregon

  • College of Lake County, Grayslake, Illinois

  • Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore

  • Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisconsin

  • Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Lone Star College, The Woodlands, Texas

  • North Idaho College, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

  • Spokane Community College, Spokane, Washington

  • Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, Wichita, Kansas

Ex-Lehigh University student accused of trying to poison roommate

A former Lehigh University student is accused of trying to poison his roommate by tainting his food and drink with deadly chemicals, The Morning Call reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Yukai Yang, a chemistry major, is accused of attempted murder following several months of investigations in a case District Attorney John Morganelli called “weird and bizarre,” the newspaper reported.

Yang, 22, was charged Thursday with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment, The Washington Post reported. He is in Northampton County Prison and bond was set at $200,000, Lehigh Valley Live reported. His student visa has been revoked, prosecutors told the newspaper. 

According to prosecutors, Yang was putting thallium into Juwan Royal’s food and drink -- including in his milk and mouthwash -- the Morning Call reported.

There does not appear to a motive, as Yang and Royal had lived together for several years without incident, the newspaper reported. Royal graduated this spring.

“Mr. Royal was as somewhat dumbfounded by this as anyone else,” Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis told reporters. “He believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates.”

Royal first reported symptoms March 18 when he called campus police and said he was feeling dizzy, WPVI reported. He called authorities again March 29, telling police he had been throwing up for 45 minutes and felt “very shaky,” the television station reported.

On April 5, police came to Royal’s dorm room after racist graffiti was written on his desk and his television set was damaged, the Morning Call reported. Yang was arrested the next day and charged with ethnic intimidation against Royal, who is black, the newspaper reported.

In an interview with investigators May 25, Yang admitted he used the internet to purchase chemicals, including, thallium, and mixing them into foods and drinks he stored in a refrigerator he shared with Royal, Morganelli told reporters. But Yang claimed he intended to harm himself with the chemicals, “if he did poorly on future exams,” the Morning Call reported.

“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office on the investigation and will continue to do so. From the outset, our concern has been the health and safety of the victim of these alleged behaviors and, as such, Lehigh staff and faculty have been providing support, services and assistance,” Lehigh spokeswoman Lori Friedman said in a statement.

Online campaign for border wall raises concerns

While an Air Force veteran’s online campaign to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall topped $14 million in pledges early Saturday, concerns were raised about whether the federal government would be able to accept the money, the New York Post reported.

>> Read more trending news 

If the money cannot be accepted, people who pledged the cash may have to be issued refunds, the newspaper reported.

>> Air Force veteran starts GoFundMe page to help fund border wall

Florida resident Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient who was severely injured during his deployment in Iraq in 2004, started a GoFundMe page Dec. 16 called “We The People Will Fund The Wall” and set a goal of $1 billion. More than 229,000 people have already pledged money to the cause.

According to his website, Kolfage lost three of his limbs during Operation Iraqi Freedom during a rocket attack at Balad Air Force Base on Sept. 11, 2004. Kolfage is a fervent supporter of Trump’s border wall.

“Americans are putting their money where their mouth is,” the campaign’s founder, Kolfage told The New York Times on Friday. “They’re willing to put money down to show politicians this is what they want.”

While Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, complimented Kolfage’s effort, he tempered his enthusiasm with concerns about allowing the private sector to raise money for government spending, the Post reported.

“I think it’s admirable, and I think that the country should respond,” Goodlatte told the newspaper. “Obviously, we can’t let citizens raise money and say, ‘The government will spend my money on this purpose.’ ”

According to the Treasury Department, general donations to the federal government are sent to a “Gifts to the United States” general use fund for budget needs, the Post reported. set aside for “general use” by the federal government or “budget needs.” Most federal agencies cannot use this money without congressional approval, the newspaper reported. Some agencies are allowed to accept gifts for earmarked purposes, but it was not clear whether the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of border security, is one of them, the Post reported.

GoFundMe’s terms of service prohibit “not using funds for their stated purpose,” the newspaper reported. That means Kolfage and GoFundMe may have to reimburse donors if the Department of Homeland Security is unable to accept the cash.

A competing fundraiser to buy “ladders to get over Trump’s wall” was created Thursday in response Kolfage’s campaign and had raised more than $115,000 by early Saturday.

>> Online campaign counters border wall fundraiser

Despite the tongue-in-cheek opposition, Kolfage remains determined.

“It’s time to stop playing games with voters,” Kolfage told The Washington Post in an email. “If we are told we’re getting something, make it happen.”

Former teacher gets 3 years for having sex with 14-year-old student

A former Florida middle school teacher was sentenced Wednesday to time in jail as well as community service for having sex with a 14-year-old student. 

>> Read more trending news 

A Volusia County judge sentenced Stephanie Peterson to three years in prison and two years of community service.

Prior to learning her fate, Peterson read a statement to the court. She explained how she tried to use an earring to kill herself when she was arrested in February

“Every day I wake up and ask, ‘What have I done?’ Every day I pray I will be forgiven,” Peterson said.

Peterson said she's battled with bipolar disorder and depression. She went on to apologize to the 14-year-old student and called it the worst mistake of her entire life.

According to deputies, the eighth-grade New Smyrna Beach Middle School student told detectives that Peterson would send him nude photos, and would go to his home at night, picking him up at about 11 p.m. and bringing him back hours later, the release said.

>> Teacher accused of having sex with eighth-grader

Detectives said the teen told them that Peterson asked him not to tell anyone about their relationship or they would get into trouble. The teen also said Peterson bought him marijuana and bowls for smoking it. He said that his grades suffered after the relationship started.

After the sentencing, the victim’s mother called Peterson a predator who took advantage of her son. The boy's mother said her son is teased by other students about what happened. He lost many of his friends and isolated himself from others.

She says the anger and fear he feels from being around the school kept him from going to his stepsister's dance recital there two weeks ago.

“Moments where he hated himself and what happened to him to the point where it gets overwhelming he turned to self-destruction,” said the mother, who is not being identified to protect the victim. “How is any 14-year-old supposed to emotionally handle that?”

Peterson will have to register as a sex offender. The judge is still allowing her to be around her niece and nephew.

‘It just dragged me:’ Pit bull bites third-graders after escaping from Seattle home

pit bull escaped a Seattle home and bit a third-grade girl inside nearby St. Therese Catholic Academy on Thursday. 

>> Read more trending news 

St. Therese Catholic Academy is an elementary and middle school.

“(It) jumped on one of my friends and started attacking me,” said Doris Dickerson, the 8-year-old who was attacked and bitten on her head and hand. “It just dragged me.”

Dickerson is related to KIRO 7 reporter Michael Spears. Her mother took her to the hospital, where she spent much of the day. She was released Thursday night with stitches in her face and hand.

All three students are expected to be OK.

“Screaming and then my teacher was trying to get the dog away from me,” said Dickerson, who had been in a hallway on a bathroom break when the dog got inside the school.

Police said two dogs managed to get loose from a nearby residence and entered the school grounds as students were ending their recess period. Two other students also received several minor bites. 

Animal control investigators are conducting a follow-up investigation. Click here for more information on the incident from the Seattle Police Department.

Huggable moment: Kindergartners' daily greeting goes viral

Hugs can go a long way toward making someone’s day happy.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s the idea behind a viral video shot at a kindergarten class in northwest Wisconsin, KARE reported. It was a huggable moment by students that has been viewed more than 10 million times on social media.

The reaction to the video on Facebook, shot at an elementary school in the tiny village of Birchwood, surprised Nicole Schlapper, the teacher who came up with the idea.

“It’s incredible,” Schlapper told KARE. “Within a few days it went crazy.”

The video shows Schlapper’s students choosing the way they wanted to be welcomed to class. The choices included a handshake, a fist bump, a wave, a high-five or a hug.

On the day Schlapper recorded her video, the assigned greeter was 5-year-old Colin Baker. In the video, most of his classmates chose to hug Colin.

“He’s so loving,” Schlapper told KARE. “He loves hugs.”

Schlapper told the television station she began using the greeting this school year, and said she liked the idea that her students had a choice.

“I think some mornings for them at home might not be easy,” Schlapper told KARE. “Maybe they don’t want a hug that day, maybe just a simple wave is all they need. We just want it to be a good, positive start to the day.”

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