The latest local news

Iowa joins other states in suing drug maker over OxyContin

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is joining four other states in suing a drug company and its former president over actions related to the marketing of the drug OxyContin.

Attorney General Tom Miller announced Thursday that Iowa had filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court against Purdue Pharma and Richard Sackler, the company’s former president and chairman.

The suit claims Purdue engaged in unfair, deceptive and unlawful practices in how it marketed OxyContin and that those actions helped cause a national opioid crisis.

Miller accused Purdue executives of being “recklessly indifferent to the impact of their actions, despite ever-mounting evidence that their deceptions were resulting in an epidemic of addiction and death.”

Read More: Maker of OxyContin agrees to $270M settlement in Oklahoma

Iowa joined Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing separate lawsuits Thursday . Another 39 states have already sued the company.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

The company denied the allegations, saying in a statement it would defend itself against what it called “misleading attacks.”

Jimmy Carter to teach Sunday school days after breaking hip

WQAD News -

ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter plans to teach Sunday school this weekend just days after undergoing surgery for a broken hip, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Carter, 94, was released Thursday morning from a Georgia hospital after getting a hip replacement. He plans to continue recuperating at his home in rural Plains, said a statement from Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo.

Carter's wife, Rosalynn Carter, went home with her husband after she was admitted to the hospital Wednesday for observation and testing after she "felt faint," Congileo said.

"Both President and Mrs. Carter extend their thanks to the many people who sent well wishes the past few days," Congileo's statement said.

Jimmy Carter suffered a broken hip Monday as he was leaving to go turkey hunting. Congileo said he will undergo physical therapy as part of his recovery.

She said Carter also plans to teach his regular Sunday school class this weekend at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains.

Carter became the longest-lived president in U.S. history in March when his age surpassed that of former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30 at the age of 94 years, 171 days.

Nearly four years have passed since Carter revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer. Carter said in August 2015 he had melanoma that had spread to his liver and brain. He received treatment for seven months until scans showed no sign of the disease.

John Deere announces second-quarter earnings

WQAD News -

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere & Co. (DE) on Friday reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of $1.13 billion.

The Moline, Illinois-based company said it had profit of $3.52 per share.  The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $3.58 per share.

The agricultural equipment manufacturer posted revenue of $11.34 billion in the period. Its adjusted revenue was $10.27 billion, which beat Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $10.15 billion.

Deere shares have declined 2% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 15%. The stock has declined nearly 1% in the last 12 months.

U.S. House of Representatives push bill strengthening health care and drug prices

WQAD News -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats pushed legislation strengthening the 2010 health care law and curbing prescription drug prices through the House Thursday, May 16, advancing a bill that has no chance of surviving in the Senate or getting President Donald Trump's signature and seemed engineered with next year's elections in mind.

The measure forced Republicans into the uncomfortable political position of casting a single vote on legislation that contained popular drug pricing restraints they support, plus language strengthening President Barack Obama's health care statute that they oppose.

In the end, all but five voting Republicans opposed the overall package as the measure passed by a mostly party-line 234-183.

Much of the bill focused on reversing steps — largely backed by GOP lawmakers — that Trump has taken to weaken Obama's law , a statute he has vowed to repeal ever since his presidential campaign. The measure would restore money Trump has cut to publicize the law and help patients enroll for its benefits, block Trump's expansion of the availability of low-cost, low-coverage plans and help states set up their own online marketplaces where policies are sold.

Democrats view Obama's law as one of their greatest recent achievements, and see efforts to strengthen it as perhaps their most effective issue going into next year's presidential and congressional elections. They said Trump's moves were part of his effort to erode the law, which has expanded coverage by about 20 million people.

"Here is the Democratic response," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the House Democratic leadership. "Keep your hands off of the health care of everyday Americans."

Democrats said that by giving states more leeway to make low-price plans with skimpy coverage available, Trump was enabling the sale of policies that don't cover people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats say a major factor in their takeover of the House in last November's elections was their hammering of Republicans for making such patients vulnerable to losing coverage.

In remarks she aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has vowed to be "the grim reaper" for Democratic initiatives in his GOP-controlled chamber, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned, "The support for this legislation, these bills, is alive and well among the American people, and he will be hearing from them."

Republicans defended Trump's moves, saying government funds that go to outside organizations to help them sign up people for coverage often produce scant results. They also Trump's effort to increase the availability of low-price policies with bare bones coverage made sense because such policies are all some people can get.

"Is it what we want people to have? I would tell you no, it's not," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. "But it's sure better than nothing."

GOP lawmakers also accused Democrats of purposely packaging the legislation to force Republicans to vote "no," including against its constraints on rising prescription drug prices. The growing costs of medicine are a major public concern, and Republicans said Democrats were undermining steps to make drugs more affordable by putting them in a bill they knew was going nowhere.

"It is the opposite of what elected officials are supposed to do," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "They're supposed to fill in the potholes, not dig them."

Democrats said they wrapped the bills together so that when combined, savings from some provisions would pay for increased costs from other sections. The government would save money by paying less for generic drugs, but spend more to find consumers to purchase policies.

The legislation would make it illegal for brand-name drug manufacturers to pay producers of lower-cost generic drugs to keep their versions off the market. It would make it harder for generic producers to thwart rivals from selling their drugs, and make it easier for generic companies to get samples of brand-name drugs for testing.

The White House distributed a statement this week warning that Trump would veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. Since the measure won't likely see the light of day in the Senate, Trump won't have to bother, but the battle gave him a chance to state his views.

The letter said that while the legislation includes steps to control drug prices that Trump backs, it also has provisions "that would restrict access to health care coverage for many Americans and impede efforts to reduce inefficient spending on health care programs."

Korean War soldier, MIA since the conflict, to be buried

WQAD News -

STERLING, Ill. (AP) — A soldier who was killed during the Korean War has been returned to Illinois and will be buried next to his twin, who was killed during the same battle.

The remains of Cpl. John G. Krebs will be buried Friday at Sterling's Calvary Cemetery, next to his brother George. The 19-year-old orphans were killed during a battle in Chochiwon, South Korea on July 11, 1950.

Watch: MIA soldier killed in Korea returns to Sterling nearly 70 years later

Reports indicate George Krebs was killed after returning to the field to find John.

John Krebs was listed as missing in action because he couldn't be accounted for after that battle. His remains were identified in December.

A motorcycle group will lead an afternoon procession from the Schilling Funeral Home in Sterling to the cemetery.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports of the 8,156 Korean War personnel missing in action, only 494 have been identified.

Driver’s quick decision helps her dodge metal beam that crashed through windshield

WQAD News -

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — A near miss on a Utah interstate left a driver rattled and thankful to be alive.

Nicci Sanders was headed north toward Ogden Monday morning when she noticed an object flying toward her car.

“Everything happened in slow motion,” Sanders recalled.  “I saw the beam coming lengthwise at me and just thought, 'I am going to die.  I am going to die.'”

Sanders had just seconds to react.

“I really didn’t know what to do other than to try to keep my car in control,” Sanders said.  “I moved to the left as much as I could without going off the edge of the freeway.”

That quick thinking moved the car just enough so the 4-foot metal beam missed hitting the driver’s side.  Instead, it slammed into the passenger side of the windshield.

“It exploded. I was covered in glass from head to toe.  It was spilling out of my ears this morning,” Sanders said.

She didn’t even suffer a scratch.  She’s thankful she was paying attention and fears this could have had a much darker outcome if she had been driving distracted.

“It just could have been so terribly wrong,” Sanders said.  “That’s the miracle."

She hopes this serves as a wake-up call for anyone transporting heavy items or cargo.

“Any service vehicle needs to be inspected," she said.  "Body inspections need to be done.”

Utah Highway Patrol eventually caught up with the truck, and the driver was cited for failing to secure a load.  

Sanders is still trying to get over the shock of what happened.

“It was just terrifying. I had a lot of anxiety when I got home,” she said.  “I’ve been up since 12:30 this morning.  I couldn’t sleep last night.”

It may take some time before she feels comfortable driving on the freeway again.

“I drove today, and there is some doubt,” Sanders said.  “I’m just scared to death now.”

Cafeteria worker says she was fired for letting student who couldn’t afford lunch take food

WQAD News -

WEST CANAAN, N.H. – When a student at a New Hampshire high school put items on his tray that he didn’t have the money for, lunchroom employee Bonnie Kimball didn’t think it was a big deal.

She told the student to make sure to pay the next day. She wasn’t worried as she had known the boy’s parents since they were children, and had no doubt that the $8 lunch tab would soon be taken care of. And the next morning, she told CNN, that’s exactly what happened.

Students and staff are rallying behind a Mascoma Valley Regional High School lunch lady fired for allowing a boy to run up an $8 lunch debt rather than go hungy. Bonnie Kimball thought she was doing the right thing and the parent did eventually pay. https://t.co/y65rc8oGjX pic.twitter.com/eds9teHG2m

— UnionLeader.com (@UnionLeader) May 15, 2019

About a week later though, she was fired by the district manager of Café Services, the food services company that employed her.

“‘Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft,'” Kimball says she was told.

A photo of her termination letter provided to CNN shows that the company accused her of violating its procedures as well as federal and school policies. The letter was dated April 9 and said Kimball was fired on April 4.

“On March 28, a District Manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items that you did not charge him for. This in strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals,” the letter reads. “Your final has been processed and disbursed to you.”

Jaime Matheson, human resources director for Café Services, said in a statement that the student wouldn’t have gone without a meal.

“The student in question did receive a lunch. Students who come up to the lunch line without money receive a lunch of an entrée or sandwich plus side dishes or fresh fruit and milk. An employee of the company would not be let go because they provide this lunch to a student,” Matheson said.

“We can’t get into specifics because personnel decisions are confidential to honor privacy, however employees receive and sign their acknowledgment to company policies. When these aren’t followed, corrective action is put in place, up to and including termination. We’re all proud of our ability to provide meals to those in need,” the statement continued.

Kimball had worked at Mascoma Valley Regional High School for 4½ years, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. She also said that two other employees in the lunchroom quit in protest of her firing.

“We miss them very much and wish we could still feed them every day,” she said.

CNN has reached out to the school but it has not yet returned a request for comment.

YOUR HEALTH: Trying an HIV drug to help Alzheimer’s patients

WQAD News -

LA JOLLA, California – Today, Kristina Short is reading a story about Ellen DeGeneres to her mom.

Bobbie Heidt has Alzheimer's disease, accelerated by a bad fall six years ago.

"We've had a very nice life together and the kids are just perfect children," said Heidt.

They help Bobbie live her best life, but it's been tough for her husband and six children to watch her decline.

"We've all had to adjust to a new person, my mom and I still miss my old mom," said Kristina.

"It's probably the hardest part."

Sanford Burnham Prebys scientist Jerold Chun and his team's research shows that the brain recombines or mis-shuffles DNA in Alzheimer's patients, creating thousands of new gene variations.

"We believe that is the process which hasn't been recognized before, that could give rise over time to the most common form of Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Chun.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:   New research suggests that an enzyme found in HIV could help Alzheimer's.   The disease rearranges genes in the neurons of the brain like the immune system does when it creates antibodies.   The inhibitors could help prevent those with Down syndrome from getting the disease.   The enzyme is naturally in the body and it helps copy the genomes from normal cells into infected cells to block the process.

The Alzheimer's gene, A.P.P., is recombined by an enzyme found in HIV called reverse transcriptase.  HIV patients have been taking FDA approved inhibitors to stop the virus from replicating itself for years.

Dr. Chun wants to see if Alzheimer's patients could get the same benefit.

"This mechanism could extend beyond Alzheimer's disease and actually be relevant to a number of other types of brain disorders."

Dr. Chun wants to begin trials testing the drugs with Alzheimer's patients right away.

In his research, Dr. Chun has found that virtually no HIV patients who`d been taking medications that include the reverse transcriptase inhibitors developed Alzheimer's.

He believes the HIV drugs could prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

Family speaks out on Davenport’s treatment of child with special needs

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Davenport's schools have been under pressure by the state to address its treatment of both minority students and those with special needs.

In a report released by the State Board of Education last week, May 9, 2019, auditors found 14 new instances of noncompliance, in addition to 11 issued last year. The report noted that “disproportionality remains a significant barrier to student success.”

Disproportionality refers to the overrepresentation of minority students in special education, something Brittany Washington said her son has had to deal with dozens of times.

Her seven-year-old son Joshua has autism. During his kindergarden and first-grade years at Jackson Elementary, "he was suspended 10 times, he was sent to the seclusion room more than 40 times," said his mother.

"The first thing they turn to is discipline versus nurturing," she said.

Washington and her mother, Mamie Williamson, say several incidents at Jackson have given them cause for concern.

"One one incident they used a seclusion room. He had to use the bathroom. There was nobody to tell, so he peed on the floor. They made him clean up his pee with microfiber wipes and some cleaner, and no gloves."

The family say there have been other instances involving their child being bullied or choked, but in communication and reports from the district and provided to News 8 by Brittany Washington, staff indicated the situations were resolved or the complaints were unfounded.

Interim Superintendent TJ Schneckloth said the district recognizes there is disproportionality problem.

As part of its report, the state issued conditional accreditation to Davenport Community Schools.

"I have no doubt we are going to get full accreditation back," Schneckloth said.

He sees the latest state report as an opportunity to fix it: "That audit gave us a plan to move forward, how to address these areas of noncompliance. The great part of it is that the state is going to help us."

Schneckloth said the district is working with the Department of Education to come up with milestones to address the citations and bringing in experts to train staff and implement a Positive Behavior Intervention System and early literacy programs to help students like Joshua.

"We truly feel that the state is trying to support us through this," he said.

Parents and educators acknowledge the systemic issues will take time to fix.

But the Washington family said they don't have faith Joshua will be safe and cared at school.

"My grandson’s rights are basically nonexistent when you go somewhere and you’re expecting your child to be safe and you’re scared every day they walk out the door, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen to him," Williamson said.

Joshua's mom has taken her child out of school and the family is looking at homeschooling options.

Three charged after pregnant woman strangled, baby cut from her womb: Chicago police

WQAD News -

CHICAGO — Three people have been charged after a missing pregnant woman was found dead on Chicago’s Southwest Side, according to police.

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and police officials announced the charges Thursday afternoon while updating the investigation into the death of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Uriostegui, whose mutilated body was found just after midnight Tuesday in a trash bin behind a home on the 4100 block of West 77th Place.

Left to right: Piotr Bobak, 40. Desiree Figueroa, 24. Clarisa Figueroa, 46. (Chicago Police Dept.)

Clarisa Figueroa, 46, and her daughter, Desiree Figueroa, 24, were charged with first-degree murder and felony aggravated battery to a child less than 13 years old causing permanent disability.

Figueroa’s boyfriend, Piotr Bobak, 40, was charged with concealing a homicide.

Police said Figueroa’s daughter confessed to helping her mother strangle the 19-year-old, who was nine months pregnant when she went missing. Police said a cable was used to strangle the teen.

On Wednesday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the body found at the home on West 77th Place as that of the missing teen. The medical examiner, which identified her as Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, ruled her death a homicide.

Police said Ochoa-Lopez was strangled and that her baby boy was cut from her womb after the murder. Sources said the home had a hidden room in the basement.

Fire officials confirm responding to the home on West 77th Place on April 23, the day Ochoa-Lopez went missing. She went missing less than two weeks before her due date. The 19-year-old was likely dead when an emergency call was made by someone in the home.

Police said that on May 7 one of Ochoa-Lopez’s friends told detectives that she was on a “chat site” on Facebook. The teen’s family said it was a Facebook group called “Help a Sister Out.”

Ochoa-Lopez’s family said she went to the home on West 77th Place to swap items arranged through the group. The group has since been archived.

A 46-year-old woman, now identified as Figueroa, claimed to have a stroller and other baby items.

“She was giving clothes away, supposedly under the pretenses that her daughters had been given clothes and they had all these extra boy clothes. That’s the false pretenses that we believe led her to that house,” Cecelia Garcia, a spokeswoman for Ochoa-Uriostegui’s family, said.

Hours later that same day, neighbors said the 46-year-old woman came running out of the home claiming that she had just given birth to a baby boy and that he wasn’t breathing.

The baby was transported to Christ Hospital, Chicago fire officials confirmed. He remains hospitalized in intensive care.

Ochoa-Lopez’s family named the baby boy Yovani Yadiel Lopez. Police confirmed that DNA testing proved Yadiel belongs to Ochoa-Lopez, but they don’t expect him to survive.

Just before 11 a.m. Thursday, the 19-year-old’s family was spotted by WGN cameras, visibly emotional, entering the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

 

Trade students build a new boat ramp at Lake George

WQAD News -

ILLINOIS CITY, Illinois -- Black Hawk College trade students are finishing construction of a new boat ramp at Loud Thunder Forest Reserve. It will improve access to Lake George, which was drained last year for a dam and spillway construction project.

Students could be seen spreading the cool, wet concrete as it spilled out the chute, using a long-handled tool.

"It's called a come-along," said Logan Oaks, who hopes to become a union electrician. "And so we we'll bring some back, and now see I just created a low spot, so we'll push some forward," he said.

They've learned that they have to move quickly in the hot sun.

"It's a pretty tough job because you know the concrete settles, especially when it's hot outside," said Daejon Thorpe, who said he hoped to join the finishing trades union.

He said the three-month Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Black Hawk College would help him prepare.

"It's hard work but it's good pay, and I could definitely see myself doing it in the future," said Thorpe.

This was the perfect chance to pull off this project -- with Lake George drained several feet below its normal level and with summer, and graduation, right around the corner.

"We want them out there, doing something in the community," said HCCTP program manager Paul Fessler. "In fact, then maybe they can come back years later and say you know, that was one of my first projects," he said.

More than 600,000 people want ‘Game of Thrones’ final season remade

WQAD News -

(CNN) — There are more than a few people out there who want winter to come again, but differently.

As of Thursday morning a Change.org petition titled “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.” had more than 350,000 signatures.

it’s since bumped to more than 600,000.

“[Showrunners] David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on,” the petition reads. “This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!”

The goal is to gather 500,000 signatures of people dissatisfied with how the eighth and final season of the show is playing out.

Even if some people aren’t digging it, they certainly are watching it.

According to HBO (which is owned by CNN’s parent company), Season 8 of the series is averaging 43 million viewers per episode in gross audience, an increase of more than ten million viewers compared to Season 7.

“Game of Thrones” penultimate episode, titled “The Bells,” which Sunday, was watched by a record 18.4 million viewers across all of HBO’s platforms.

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 5 recap: Just one long 80-minute ‘AAAAHHH!!!’

That exceeded the previous series high of 17.8 million viewers two weeks ago for “The Long Night” episode which focused on the Battle of Winterfell.

The much anticipated series finale is set to air this Sunday.

The showrunners knew there would be plenty of debate over the final season.

Benioff and Weiss talked to Entertainment Weekly before it started airing and Benioff told EW, “From the beginning, we’ve talked about how the show would end.”

‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners worried about the ending

“A good story isn’t a good story if you have a bad ending,” he said. “Of course we worry.”

CNN has reached out to HBO for comment.

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