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Florida homeowner told she has to take down Blue Lives Matter flag

Jeff Gaddie says the Blue Lives Matter flag has flown outside his daughter’s home in St. Johns County, Florida, for years.

Gaddie told Action News Jax it’s flown to honor him -- and many other family members -- who are law enforcement.

The homeowner is asking the St. Johns County neighborhood not be identified for fear of backlash.

“If you drive by and see that flag, it kind of makes you feel a little bit better that there’s a family that supports what I’m doing,” Gaddie said. 

Recently, his daughter received a letter asking her to remove the flag, saying it doesn’t fit the rules and regulations of the homeowners association.

"She called to ask why," Gaddie said. "They told her they had received a complaint that it was considered racist, offensive and anti-black lives matter.”

She was asked to submit a form for permission to fly to flag -- so she sent in the request.

The request was denied. 

To learn more about the neighborhood’s rules, we called First Coast Association Management, the company who enforces the regulations.

The company said only American and military-themed flags are allowed to fly in the neighborhood, but other flags are being displayed in the neighborhood.

Portions of the neighborhood code say no flags will be displayed without approval.

Gaddie wants neighbors to know the flag is nothing but a show of support.

“We’ve got black officers, we’ve got Asian officers, we’re got every race," Gaddie said. "I mean for them to say it’s racist, blue is not a race, it’s the furthest thing from it.”

The family is planning to appeal the decision at next month’s homeowners association meeting.

Prom dates chosen by sheer luck

There’s no pressure to find the right date at an Illinois high school: Everyone can go and everyone can have a date.

Aquin High School in Freeport, Illinois, has a tradition: Prom dates are chosen by a drawing. 

>> Read more trending news 

The boys go to the library and pull a name out of the pile, WREX reported.

The girls wait in the gym.

Once everyone is paired up, the boys head to the gym to put on a skit before the girls accept their promposals.

Those couples who have significant others still participate in the lottery making the night less about romance and more about fun with their friends.

The tradition started in 1926 when children who were living in an orphanage across the street were invited to the event, giving them a chance to attend the teenage right of passage, “The Today Show” reported.

Click here to read more.

Drive a tank, shoot a flame thrower at Texas ranch

About two hours west of San Antonio, an 18,000-acre ranch offers a vacation getaway unlike any other.

A portion of the OX Hunting Ranch has been converted into a battlefield, a military buff’s fantasy camp, giving nearly anyone the chance to operate a tank, shoot a flame thrower or fire an artillery or other large gun at DriveTanks.com

"There's an element of ‘Yeah, let's shoot 'em up and have fun’ but I think even a bigger element is coming out and getting a feel for how these things operate -- the power, the majesty of these systems," owner Todd DeGidio told KTRK

The experience isn’t cheap. All-day tank packages can cost more than $8,000.

Prices range from $40 to fire a machine gun; $125 to fire a mortar to nearly $3,000 to operate a World War II-era Sherman tank, and fire its 76 mm main gun. 

DeGidio gives participants a run-through on the equipment and guides them through the courses, according to ABC News.

>> Read more trending news

The tanks seat up to five people, but there is only one operator. It takes about 15-20 minutes to maneuver through the course. If the tank’s gun is going to be fired, the course can take up to an hour to complete. Tanks and other tracked vehicles available include an American Sherman tank similar to the one Brad Pitt used in the movie “Fury,” a Russian T-34 tank that saw duty on the Eastern Front in 1945 during World War II and a German Kettenkrad tracked motorcycle that was captured in Belgium in 1944.

There is no age limit. Owners leave that up to the discretion of parents. They have had children as young as 8 shoot and as young as 12 operate a tank. 

“We see everyone from single moms bringing their kids for their birthday to the top 1 percent income earners,” DeGidio told the Houston Chronicle. “This allows our demographic to open up to virtually everyone, and we are very happy to have been able to do that.”

He said one group could not get enough and spent $30,000 for the day.

“That’s everything we had and shooting everything we had,” DeGidio told ABC News. “It was even hard for us to keep up with them.”

DeGidio, a former Houston police officer and Green Beret, opened the immersive experience in 2016. 

"I think it's important for us to keep this part of our history alive," DeGidio told KTRK.

Teacher has white students ‘sell’ black student in mock slave auction

A New Jersey school district is under fire for the second time this month after a substitute teacher allowed fifth-graders to “sell” a fellow student during a mock slave auction that was filmed. 

The incident was reported at Jefferson Elementary School in the South Orange Maplewood School District, the same district in which students studying colonial America this month at another school drew slave auction posters and hung them in the school’s hallways. 

In the latest incident, students studying the triangular slave trade presented a project in which they held a mock slave auction and asked fellow classmates to participate, according to NJ.com. They filmed the project, which was part of their own unit on colonization. 

>> Read more trending stories

The class was being led by a substitute teacher while their regular teacher was out having dental surgery. When she returned and learned about the project, she sent a note to parents. 

“While I understand the creative effort, and the impact it had upon the students who viewed this, I used it as a teachable moment to elaborate on the gravity of this part of our history," the teacher wrote to parents in the letter, obtained by NJ.com. “I was concerned about the students who viewed and participated in this re-enactment and would like to convey this event to you so we can address the students' perceptions as a whole.”

Some parents were angry and upset over the issue.

“There was a sale of a black child by white children in the classroom,” parent Tracey Jarmon-Woods told CBS New York. “If you’re demoralized -- sold on a block in 2017 -- it may affect you (for) the rest of your life.”

“I’m disgusted, really disgusted (that) a child was bought,” another parent told the news station. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

A school district spokeswoman said administrators are looking into better training and “improved supervisory protocols” for substitute teachers. 

“The activity was not part of the curriculum, not part of the teacher’s assignment, not condoned by the teacher and not authorized by the district,” Suzanne Turner told NJ.com. 

The latest controversy comes on the heels of the slave auction poster debacle at South Mountain Elementary School, where students were told to draw events that would have occurred during their assigned colonial time period. The assignment included “a poster for a lecture, speech, protest or slave auction.”

The posters were initially hung around the school, but were taken down after complaints from parents and members of the community. 

Dr. John Ramos, superintendent of the school district that includes both schools, said earlier this month that the district will rethink its colonial America project. Ramos told CBS New York on Monday that the district is planning a town hall event with parents and students to discuss the topic. 

London terror attack: What we know

Four people died and at least 20 others were injured Wednesday when a man rammed into several pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before attacking a police officer stationed outside the British Parliament, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Mark Rowley, national head of counter-terrorism and policing for London metropolitan police and acting deputy commissioner, said the attacker and a police officer who he stabbed were among those killed.

Police were called at 2:40 p.m. GMT to respond to reports of a “firearms incident” at the bridge, just down the street from Parliament’s home at the Palace of Westminster, London metropolitan police said.

Here’s what we know so far:

Officials believe that a man mowed down several pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer who was guarding the Parliament building.

The attacker crashed near Parliament before getting out of the car armed with a knife and attacking the officer, Rowley said.

Police opened fire on the man, killing him. The stabbed police officer died as a result of the attack, Rowley said.

The officer’s family has been notified, although police did not immediately release the officer’s identity.

Police Cmdr. B.J. Harrington said authorities got multiple calls about the incident, including one about a woman in the River Thames. Authorities believe that she might have been on the bridge during the attack. 

She was pulled from the water alive and was being treated by paramedics, according to ITV News.

“Five people in total have died” and at least 40 people were injured in the attack, Rowley said. 

In a news conference Wednesday at 10:26 p.m. GMT, Rowley offered more infomation on the deaths and injuries.

“One of those who died was a police officer from our Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command who had 15 years of service,” Rowley said.

“Three members of the public also lost their lives in this attack. Specially trained officers will support them.”

“The suspected attacker was shot dead by an armed officer, meaning five people in total have died,” he said.

Those injured in the bridge attack included three police officers who were on the way back from a commendation ceremony.

“At this stage -- but it may change -- we believe approx 40 people were injured including three police officers,” Rowley said at the news conference.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed on social media that French students were also among the injured. The students, between 15 and 16 years old, were visiting from Concarneau High School in Brittany, French newspaper Le Telegramme reported.

The London Ambulance Service said it treated at least 10 people for injuries on the bridge.

An unidentified doctor who responded to the incident on the bridge told Britain’s Channel 4 News that those who were injured when the attacker’s car rammed several pedestrians suffered a variety of injuries.

Authorities are treating the incident as terrorist-related “until we know otherwise,” police said.

An unidentified European security official told The Associated Press that chatter increased Tuesday on jihadi networks in response to the United Kingdom’s decision to ban electronics aboard flights from some Muslim-majority countries. The United States has adopted a similar measure.

The official told the wire service that there were no early indications that Wednesday’s attack was terror-related.

“Our investigation is continuing and is moving at a fast pace this evening - we will work through the night,” Rowley said. 

The attack took place on the one-year anniversary of the deadly Brussels Airport bombing.

>> Related: Brussels terror attacks: What we know now

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. American officials are monitoring the situation.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned the “sick and depraved” attack, The Associated Press reported.

In her statement about the attack, she said tomorrow will go on as normal. 

Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal. And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.

Pregnant couple to deliver two boys three weeks apart

A pregnant couple in California is looking forward to welcoming two new bundles of joy in the next few weeks.

The boys, separated in age by three weeks, will be the same age most of the year, but they’re not twins. 

>> Read more trending news

Partners Toby Fleischman and Lindsay Lanciault became pregnant within weeks of one another after the two decided to expand their family, but a plan for how they’d do it went off course. 

The plan was that Fleischman, the older of the two, was to get pregnant first. A few years later, Lanciault would do the same. 

But after a year of failed attempts and a miscarriage, Fleischman was unable to conceive. That’s when Lanciault started trying.  

“We decided she should still try anyway since I had previously suffered a miscarriage and we just didn’t know what the outcome would be,” Fleischman told The Huffington Post.

In November, Fleischman learned that she was pregnant. The couple decided that Lanciault, who was ovulating, should try to get pregnant too. In the event that Fleischman had another miscarriage, maybe the couple could count on Lanciault conceiving, they thought. 

But Fleischman didn’t have a miscarriage. And within weeks of trying, Lanciault found out that she was pregnant too.

“We both joked, though, this would be the time Lindsay gets pregnant,” Fleischman told HuffPost. “And that’s exactly what happened. So yes, we were prepared for the positive result, but it was still a shock. We were of course so excited and we kind of just laughed. This was the way the universe had it in store for us all along.”

Fleischman is due at the end of July , and Lanciault is due in early August.  

“I think we definitely are more understanding and a little more tolerant with each other since we know what the other is going through,” the women told HuffPost, adding that the experience has been “surreal.”

The baby boys will have the same father. Both Fleischman and Lanciault were inseminated at home using sperm from a childhood friend of Lanciault’s.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

Stunt SUV rises above traffic

Forget a car periscope to see above stopped vehicles; this SUV has a specially designed suspension that offers the ability to drive over snarled traffic.

The one-of-a-kind Hum Rider uses specially designed hydraulics to rise several feet, widen the vehicle’s stance and drive above other cars. 

The cartoonish vehicle, based on a Jeep Grand Cherokee, was designed to promote Verizon Telematic’s Hum, a dongle that, once connected to a vehicle, can give real-time diagnostics and offer roadside assistance and location/speed tracking, according to Mashable.

>> Read more trending news

"In many respects, (the Hum Rider is) a bit of a metaphor, taking the ordinary driving experience and making it extraordinary,” Verizon vice president of marketing Jay Jaffin told Mashable. “Kind of what we're illustrating with that crazy car that drives over cars.”

The Hum Rider weighs 8,500 pounds, almost double the weight of a standard Grand Cherokee, and features 300 feet of hydraulic lines. A gas-powered generator drives electricity to the hydraulic pumps at the wheels.

The concept for the vehicle came from viral marketing agency Thinkmodo and was built by fabricators A2ZFX in California. 

In the video, the driver comes to a line of stopped traffic. He hits a button on the dashboard and the SUV quickly rises to drive over the unmoving vehicle. With a push of a button, the vehicle then folds back and continues on its way.

"We saw this one (and said), 'Wow, that is crazy,' We loved the idea," Jaffin said.

Costco to offer home grocery delivery in 50 cities by the end of 2017

Costco customers across the country will soon be able to get groceries delivered to their doors, according to the company that will make the deliveries. 

Shipt, a subscription delivery service, said in a news release Tuesday that it has begun delivering orders for Costco customers in the Tampa area.

According to Costco, the company plans to extend the service to 50 U.S. markets, serving more than 30 million households, by the end of 2017.

According to a story from Fortune, the move comes as grocery retailers work to figure out the growing home delivery market in an industry with stiff competition.

Online grocery sales hit $7 billion in 2015. That number is expected to more than double by 2020, according to Statista.

Shipt will charge members $99 a year for unlimited grocery delivery, and will offer free delivery for two weeks for Tampa-area customers, according to the news release. Customers will also get $15 off their first Costco order. Shoppers can download and place orders using the Shipt app.

Costco has already teamed up with the company Instacart, which delivers groceries from the retailer to customers in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Watch: April the giraffe still not in labor but ‘in the home stretch’

Caretakers at Animal Adventure Park in New York are reporting that viral sensation April the giraffe is "in the home stretch” of giving birth to her fourth calf.

>> Read more trending news

According to vet reports posted on the park’s Facebook page Tuesday, she is still not in labor but close. However, they were skeptical to voice their opinions, because they wrote, “we’ve been wrong before.” 

Not much has changed since the last update, but keepers have encouraged viewers to compare today’s belly to a week ago.

On Thursday morning, vets noted that her stomach had noticeably dropped further.

>> Related: 5 things to know about giraffe births

The little one continued to do “calf giraffe cartwheels,” and they witnessed April napping beside her bundle of joy with her extended back head onto her abdomen.

Millions of people around the world have been tuning into the much-anticipated live birth, which first started making headlines last month after YouTube briefly took the zoo's livestream down after animal activists complained the video violated policies against “nudity and sexual content.”

But after the zoo urged commenters to voice their frustrations — and thousands did — YouTube restored the stream within an hour.

The park said it expects the calf, which will be born to April and 5-year-old Oliver, will weigh about 150 pounds and will be nearly six feet tall when it is born.

Continue watching the live cam of April the giraffe below:

Paul Manafort's Russia ties: 5 things to know

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, secretly worked a decade ago to help Russian President Vladmir Putin at the behest of a Russian billionaire, The Associated Press reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

The Trump administration and Manafort himself have denied that he previously worked for Russian interests, but documents and interviews obtained by the AP appeared to contradict that claim.

Manafort, a lobbyist and political consultant, worked for the Trump campaign from March to August 2016. He resigned after an AP report revealed he had coordinated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling pro-Russia political party until 2014.

Here are five things to know about the latest allegations:

  1. In a confidential strategy plan obtained by the AP, Manafort pitched a plan to Russian aluminum magnate and close Putin ally Oleg Deripaska aimed at influencing “politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government.”The plan existed as early as June 2005, the wire service reported."We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success," Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo obtained by the AP. Manafort wrote that the effort "will be offering a great service that can refocus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government."
  2. Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska in 2006, but it was unclear how much work he did under that contact, according to the AP.A person familiar with the work that Manafort did for Deripaska told the AP that the two maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.A spokesman for Deripaska declined to answer questions from the AP.
  3. Manafort denied that his work for Deripaska was “inappropriate or nefarious” in a statement released to the AP.“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago, representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort told the wire service. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia’s political interests.” 
  4. The report comes as the Trump administration deals with increased scrutiny of its ties with Russia. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday, FBI director James Comey confirmed that authorities are investigating whether Trump associates and Russian officials worked together to influence the November presidential election in Trump’s favor.“The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” Comey said, according to The New York Times.Comey declined to say whether Manafort was a target of the investigation.
  5. The situation could prove criminal if authorities determine that Manafort violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The act requires lobbyists who work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments and leaders to report to the Justice Department about their actions.Manafort did not disclose his pro-Putin work to the Justice Department, according to the AP.Failure to register as a foreign agent is a felony that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
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