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Police use Facebook to help man get off work during icy weather

Police in Texas used social media to offer a helping hand to a man who was trying to get off work as roads across the region began to ice over earlier this week.

>> Read more trending news

Police posted a warning on their Facebook page at 6:37 a.m. Tuesday telling citizens that all city offices would be closed. They urged area residents to stay inside and do their best to keep warm.

One man needed more help and turned to the Seguin Police Department. Justin Garcia, who is listed on Facebook as a resident of San Marcos, asked police for a note for work.

>> Photos: Snow blankets the South

Deputy Chief Bruce Ure delivered:

“Dear Justin’s Boss,” Ure wrote, “The roads are bad and are going to get worse. Much worse. Please let him stay home, warm and safe and enjoy some Hulu or some cool shows on Netflix. And, he needs a raise. He rocks. Respectfully ~ Deputy Chief Ure.”

Garcia left a comment on the police Facebook page the next day, saying he had gotten the day off. 

Government shutdown: What would close; would you get your Social Security check; what would happen to SNAP, WIC

The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government up and running.

While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill.

“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. I"I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”

>>Read more trending news

What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:

First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.

Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.

What is a continuing resolution? A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.

CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:Air travel Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.Federal court For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.Food safety The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.Health Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.International travel  You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.Loans  The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. The mail You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.Military Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.National parks All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.School lunches, SNAP and WIC School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.Science The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.Social Security Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. Veterans services Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.Sources: The Associated Press; Politicothe Congressional Research Service

  

High-salt diet could cause dementia, study finds

Consuming too much salt can be dangerous for your health. It can cause your blood pressure and cholesterol to skyrocket, but it might also cause memory loss, according to a new report

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York recently conducted an experiment, published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, to determine if salt was linked with memory loss.

To do so, the researchers observed mice, which were split into two groups. One group was given food containing 4 percent salt, and the other was fed food with 8 percent salt. The amounts represented an “8- to 16-fold increase in salt compared to a normal mouse diet” and was comparable to a high-salt diet for humans, scientists noted. 

>> On AJC.com: These 5 'healthy' foods may have more salt than you think

After eight weeks, they examined the animals using magnetic resonance imaging, which captured photos of the anatomy and physiology of the brain. 

They discovered the high-salt diet reduced resting blood flow to the brain, causing dementia. They saw a 28 percent decrease in the blood flow in cortex and a 25 percent decrease in the hippocampus, which are two areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. 

Analysts also administered a recognition test, and the mice that consumed more salt performed significantly worse, compared to the mice on a regular diet. Mice with salty diets spent less time building nests and gathering materials. This was the case even for mice that had healthy blood pressure levels. 

>> Related: These are the best diets for 2018

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” senior author Costantino Iadecola said in a statement. “This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.”

Why is that?

The researchers discovered that the high-salt diet prompted an immune response in the gut, which increased a protein called interleukin 17. Its job is to regulate immune and inflammatory responses. But high levels of interleukin 17 can cause a reduction in the production of nitric oxide, which affects brain functions. 

>> On AJC.com: Here’s what we always get wrong about salt

Luckily, the scientists revealed they were able to reverse the immune signals by discontinuing the high-salt diets and prescribing drugs to lower the interleukin 17 levels.

Scientists now hope to continue their investigations by further exploring interleukin 17 and other ailments associated with it.

They said their findings may be able to “benefit people with diseases and conditions associated with elevated IL-17 levels, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases.”

Elderly Louisiana man freezes to death in home with no heat

An elderly Louisiana man whose home had no heat was found dead Wednesday morning, and his wife was hospitalized, after temperatures dropped into the teens overnight. 

Paul Maker, 84, of New Roads, was found lying on the floor of his home by sheriff’s deputies, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Both Maker and his wife were disabled and wheelchair-bound.

The house had no heat, and the couple was afraid to run their space heaters because of the fire hazard, law enforcement officials said. Deputies went to their home Wednesday morning after a neighbor who often checked on the Makers called 911 to request a welfare check. 

“He was in the house with his wife, and they were deathly afraid of running their space heaters overnight,” Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told the newspaper. “This is just a sad situation.”

The couple’s children live in New Orleans and, upon learning of their father’s death and their mother’s hospitalization, could not travel the more than 100 miles to New Roads because most roads in south Louisiana were shut down due to the weather.

“I tried to call them all day yesterday to check on them and never got an answer,” Wanda Curly, the couple’s daughter, told the Advocate. “I knew the weather was bad, and I knew they couldn’t do a lot for themselves.”

The temperature in the house was about 20 degrees when deputies got there, Pointe Coupee Chief Deputy Coroner Joe Gannon said. Maker died of hypothermia. 

Gannon said he believes Maker’s wife would have succumbed to the cold if the couple’s neighbor had not sought help.

“She would have been next, I think,” Gannon said

Maker’s wife told deputies that she heard her husband fall in their living room around midnight, but could not check on him because she could not get out of bed on her own, the newspaper reported. 

Curly said her parents moved to New Roads after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She and her siblings tried in vain to get them to relocate to New Orleans over the years, but the couple, who were together for more than 60 years, valued their independence. 

She said her mother would have to move to the city under this week’s tragic circumstances.

“She doesn’t have a choice now,” Curly said. “She can’t stay there by herself.”

Firefighters rescue dog from freezing waters in Colorado

Firefighters in Colorado recently rescued a German shepherd from a freezing river.

The Pueblo Fire Department posted the now-viral rescue on its Facebook page.

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

The 1-year-old pup, named Bill, was pulled from the Arkansas River by the department’s Ice Rescue team on Jan. 17.

The department is reportedly unsure how Bill ended up in the river, but he was reported as OK and reunited with his owner.

Woman shot, killed at Mississippi Walmart by on-again, off-again boyfriend

A man is facing a capital murder charge after Starkville police accused him of shooting and killing a woman described as his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend at a Mississippi Walmart where she worked as an optometrist, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in Starkville. Police Chief Frank Nichols said a man fired several shots after walking into the store and confronting a woman, identified as Walmart Vision Center employee Shauna Witt, 42, the Starkville Daily News reported.

No other injuries were reported.

Witt was taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said.

Police said they confronted a man at the scene of the shooting and detained him after a brief struggle. The man, identified as William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a domestic situation. According to witnesses, Chisholm and Witt were in an on-again, off-again dating relationship.

After the shooting, Justin Blaylock, who said he knew Witt for nearly two decades, described her as “a generous, kind soul,” the Daily News reported.

“She will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “(She was) just a genuine friend that cared at all times and was willing to lend a hand at any time.”

At the time of the killing, police said, Chisholm was out on felony bond for an incident related to the victim.

Police continue to investigate the shooting.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Police: Man crashed car in icy river, left girlfriend to drown

A New Jersey man has been charged in connection with his girlfriend’s death after police say he left her to drown following a crash in the Delaware River.

Jacob T. Garrett, 24, of Burlington City, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing a death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. He is being held in the Burlington County Jail. 

Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, was killed in the crash.

Burlington City police investigators said that Garrett was speeding around 1 p.m. Sunday when his vehicle struck a parked minivan and went over a river wall into the water. The front end of the car broke through the ice on the surface and the vehicle became submerged.

Bystanders told detectives that they found Garrett standing on the roof of the car, yelling, “Help my girlfriend.” Then he fled the scene on foot.

“He left his girlfriend in the water to die,” Burlington City police Capt. John Fine told NBC New York

>> Read more trending news

Videos from the scene, including one obtained by NJ.com, show firefighters working to extract White from the car, a Ford Taurus. They had to go in through the rear window of the Taurus, which jutted from the icy surface of the river. 

One video, which can be found here, shows the entire rescue, including the moment when rescuers pulled White’s body from the car. 

First responders found White in the passenger seat, her seat belt still on, prosecutors said in a news release. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

A police K-9 officer tracked Garrett from the river to a nearby light rail platform, officials said. Investigators had the train he was on stopped at the next station, where he was taken into custody.

Garrett was soaking wet when he was found, NBC New York reported

White’s friends and family mourned her on social media. Her mother, Ina White, posted a video tribute someone made in her daughter’s memory. 

“Love and miss my daughter. My heart is broken,” White wrote. “Thank you for this tribute. I'll hold it dear to my heart always.”

“I love you, sis, Steph Birdy White. Words can't even explain,” another woman wrote. “You meant everything to me . You had a big heart inside and out. I miss you and you will never be forgotten.” 

GoFundMe page established by White’s aunt to help pay for her funeral expenses described the young woman as “loving, kind, soft spoken, (a) hard worker and loved by all that knew her.”

“She had so much innocence in her presence, and always smiled when she greet(ed) you,” Rosie White wrote about her niece. “Her mother can not financially afford funeral expenses for this, and any amount will help with burial costs.”

Stephanie White’s wishes were to be buried next to her grandmother in Maplewood Cemetery in Freehold, where she grew up.

The case against Garrett remains under investigation, and additional charges may be filed, prosecutors said. 

NJ.com reported that Garrett has two previous criminal convictions, including a 2016 conviction of criminal sexual contact. He also served 93 days in jail, and received two years’ probation, the year before for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. 

Details of those crimes were not immediately available. 

Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

Officials with technology giant Amazon on Thursday announced that the company has narrowed down its list of possible sites for its second headquarters to 20 metropolitan areas.

>> Read more trending news

The company said it got nearly 240 proposals from across the U.S. Canada and Mexico.

“All the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan, with Amazon Public Policy. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

U.S. marshal killed, officers wounded while serving warrant in Pennsylvania

A deputy U.S. marshal was killed and two police officers were injured Thursday morning when authorities said they were shot while serving a search warrant, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Former U.S. Navy officers face negligent homicide charges in collisions

The U.S. Navy has announced that five officers, including two commanders, will face negligent homicide charges connected to separate incidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that cost 17 sailors their lives.

>> Watch the news report here

A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.

The disciplinary actions were decided by Adm. Frank Caldwell and are the latest in a series of moves the Navy has made in the aftermath of the deadly collisions, which investigators concluded were avoidable. It fired several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and several other senior commanders in the Pacific.

>> Read more trending news 

The Navy said it is filing at least three charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, who was Cmdr. Bryce Benson at the time. Benson suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship’s bridge before the collision. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed. The Navy said all four face criminal charges, including negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.

Fewer officers from the McCain are being charged. The Navy said the ship’s commander at the time, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. A chief petty officer, whose name was not disclosed, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.

In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is “not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”

In June, the 7th Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.

Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.

The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.

The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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