Pray for Vegas

Hotline: If you are looking to locate uncontactable, family members who attended the concert you can call the Red Cross provided hotline: 1-866-535-5654.

59 people are confirmed dead and more than 500 injured after a “lone wolf” gunman opened fire during Jason Aldean’s set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last night (Oct. 1).

The male suspect, a 64-year-old local resident, has been killed. The suspect fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay.

The three-day Route 91 Harvest festival started Friday and is reported to have attracted 30,000 attendees. The shooting began on the final night, during a performance by Jason Aldean.

After 49 people where killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June 2016, this is thought to be the worst mass shooting in U.S. History.

 


 

Country music artists who were performing last night at the festival or attending, including Chris Young, Jason Aldean, Jake Owen and more, have posted messages on social media.

 

 

Now words other than I’m lucky to be alive… prayers for those who lost people they love

A post shared by Chris Young (@chrisyoungmusic) on

Kim Kardashian West asks Texas governor to ‘do the right thing’ for death row inmate

Kim Kardashian West is joining the fight to save a Texas death row inmate set to be executed next month.

The reality-star-turned-criminal-justice-reform-advocate questioned Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday about the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed.

“PLEASE @GovAbbott How can you execute a man when since his trial, substantial evidence that would exonerate Rodney Reed has come forward and even implicates the other person of interest. I URGE YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING,” she tweeted.

Reed has spent over 21 years on death row for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas. Police say Reed assaulted, raped and strangled Stites, but he insists he’s innocent.

Reed is set to be executed on November 20.

Before tweeting her support for Reed, Kardashian West said she had been watching “Just Mercy,” an upcoming film based on attorney and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson’s memoir and his journey appealing the wrongful conviction of Walter McMillian, a man who had been serving time for murder.

CNN has reached out to Reed’s attorneys for comment.

Reed’s attorneys filed a motion earlier this month asking the Bastrop County District Court to withdraw his execution date as they need more time to review claims from two new witnesses who recently came forward.

It’s not the first time that questions have been raised around Reed’s murder conviction.

His legal team has fought for years to get a new trial and a court stayed his execution in 2015 because of new witness testimony and forensic analysis. The court eventually ruled against Reed, which led prosecutors to seek a new execution date.

The reality star has become a criminal justice reform advocate. She has been working with lawyers and activists in a national bipartisan advocacy group for criminal justice reform. Since 2018, she has helped commute the sentences of more than a dozen inmates whom she believes were unfairly sentenced.

She has also been working on a documentary focused on prison reform.

In April, the 38-year-old announced she is studying to become a lawyer so she can be better informed while advocating for reforms to the US justice system.

The ‘Joker’ stairs might be New York’s latest tourist attraction

Are the “Joker” stairs the new “Rocky” stairs? Maybe.

Fans of the “Joker,” which hit theaters earlier this month, are taking photos in front of those stairs.

You know the ones. Joker, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, dances down the stairs as Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” plays in the background. The scene is done so well, it’s even become a widely used GIF.

And it seems like those stairs, which connect Shakespeare and Anderson avenues at West 167th Street, are becoming a popular tourist attraction, potentially to the chagrin of actual Bronx residents.

Comedian Desus Nice, who co-hosts Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” tweeted about the flux of people visiting the stairs.

But it’s no secret the Bronx has had a rough reputation, one it’s struggled to shed. Though its associations with arson fires and crime may have lessened in recent years, it’s still not an area many tourists explore, despite being home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Gardens and Yankee Stadium.

Now, that could be changing — and the Instagram photos are proof. Here are a bunch of fans doing their best impressions of the Joker’s dance on location.

Nacho Montagna went all out, posting a video with a whole dance routine.

“Why so serious?” wrote Jenna Polignone, in the caption for her photo.

Erin Sauer’s photo has some bystanders in the background, but the effect is still strong.

“Always put a happy face…” wrote Arnaldo Silva in the caption of his “Joker” dance impression.

Not everyone tried to mimic the Joker. Shout out to James May, who went for the basic tourist photo standing in front of the stairs.

“Joker,” meanwhile, has shattered box office records, opening to $96 million, the highest-grossing October debut ever. The buzz hasn’t worn off, bringing in $55 million in its second weekend in North America alone. As of last weekend, the movie had brought in $543 million globally.

The film won the Venice Film Festival’s top prize before its public debut, which has led to Oscar buzz as well.

Cigarette cockroach is giving pizza rat a run for its money in New York

First there was pizza rat.

Then Hennessy rat came along.

Now, cigarette cockroach is the latest pest in New York caught on video indulging in its favorite vice.

On Friday, attorney Tom Kretchmar tweeted the video that shows the insect dragging a cigarette across a sewer grate, at times struggling but seemingly determined to get its nicotine fix.

The video, shot at the intersection of 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, has garnered 19,000 retweets and 86,000 likes.

Kretchmar said he watched the cockroach for 90 seconds before moving on.

The Twittersphere responded with a mix of fascination and disgust.

“Whose ex boyfriend is this?” tweeted one user.

Others showed a strange empathy toward cigarette cockroach.

“I guess if you have a lifespan of only 160 days, you might think, ‘Why not?'” NPR host Scott Simon tweeted.

“Been a hell of a week for us all,” Josh Grubbs tweeted.

Many others joked about the bug’s desire to smoke.

“This is what happens when you ban vaping flavors,” Hannah C.M. tweeted.

Then there were the select few who couldn’t pass up the chance for a pun.

“ah yes, the Pallmallo bug,” Mat Valek tweeted.

Sadly, no one knows how the story ended. Kretchmar said he wasn’t able to see if the cockroach took a puff.

‘Haunted Car Wash’ delivers clean but creepy fun

Drivers lined up outside the Rainforest Car Wash in Brunswick, Ohio, are being greeted by ghosts and goblins, and have demons keeping creepy company with them while their vehicles are scrubbed down and rinsed inside the car wash.

The ghouls possessed the “Haunted Car Wash” on Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, and will return next weekend before Halloween, according to a Facebook post.

CNN affiliate WEWS showed video of evil clowns lurking amongst the machinery, and at times wiping suds off the car windows to get a look inside at the passengers.

“We have people in various positions throughout the tunnel peeling soap away, scaring people, we have various props and scenes set up,” one of the employees told WEWS.

Haunted car washes have popped up in several other places around the country this year, including in Daphne, Alabama, and Wichita Falls, Texas.

At another haunted car wash in Spring, Texas, CNN affiliate KTRK broadcasted video from a viewer who filmed a young boy getting royally spooked.

“I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” he screamed. And another kid hid on the floor of the car.

Florida authorities bust trafficking ring smuggling thousands of native turtles

Two men have been charged for poaching thousands of Florida turtles and selling them illegally, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The “charges represent the state’s largest seizure of turtles in recent history,” the FWC said in a statement on Friday.

More than 4,000 turtles comprising a range of native species were illegally captured and sold over six months, the commission said. The turtles were worth $200,000 on the black market.

“The illegal trade of turtles is having a global impact on many turtle species and our ecosystems,” said Eric Sutton, the FWC’s executive director.

After receiving a tip in February 2018, the FWC launched an undercover investigation where they discovered a ring of traffickers who were selling wild turtles to reptile dealers and distributors.

The suspects had taken so many turtles from targeted habitats that populations were depleted, the commission said.

“Wild turtle populations cannot sustain the level of harvest that took place here,” said Brooke Talley, the FWC’s reptile and amphibian conservation coordinator. “This will likely have consequences for the entire ecosystem and is a detriment for our citizens and future generations.”

Investigators served a search warrant on August 12, during which they found hundreds of turtles and the skull and shell of a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, the most endangered species of sea turtles.

The suspects sold the turtles for cash and marijuana products, the commission said. Both suspects face a variety of poaching-related charges.

While the turtles were sold in Florida, they were sold to buyers who shipped them overseas, specifically in Asia where they were bought as pets. Depending upon the species, the commission said the poached turtles sold wholesale for up to $300 each and retailed for as much as $10,000 each in Asia.

“Over 600 turtles were returned to the wild, two dozen were quarantined and released at a later date, and a handful were retained by a captive wildlife licensee since they were not native to the area,” the commission said.

“We commend our law enforcement’s work to address the crisis of illegal wildlife trafficking,” said Sutton.

This football coach disarmed a student with a gun. Then he hugged him

A high school football and track coach in Portland, Oregon, was celebrated as a hero earlier this year after he disarmed a student with a shotgun.

The student walked into a classroom at Parkrose High School in May, intending to use the firearm to take his own life, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said in a statement last week.

At the time, reports said the coach, Keanon Lowe, tackled the student. But according to emotional surveillance footage released by the district attorney’s office Friday, Lowe did nothing of the sort.

Instead, he embraced the student.

Footage shows the student, identified as Angel Granados-Diaz, walking down the hallway where the camera is filming. He moves out of view as he enters the classroom, right behind Lowe. Seconds later, people begin running through the hallways.

Lowe is seen backing out of the classroom, with the shotgun in his right hand. With his other arm, the coach holds the student at arm’s length. Another staff member enters the hallway and takes the gun from Lowe.

Then Lowe wraps the student in his arms. The coach rubs his back and holds him close. They’re later seen sitting on the floor of the hallway as police arrive and arrest the student.

Lowe, who was a standout wide receiver for the University of Oregon between 2010 and 2014, told reporters at the time that they had an “emotional” moment together, according to CNN affiliate KATU.

“In that time, I felt compassion for him,” Lowe said. “A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you don’t realize what you’re doing until it’s over.”

The district attorney’s office said Granados-Diaz had made suicidal statements to another student. He never pointed the shotgun at anyone but himself and never fired the gun on campus, the district attorney’s office said. He did try to pull the trigger, but the shotgun, which only had one round, did not fire. That is when Lowe took the firearm from him.

Granados-Diaz eventually pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in a public building and one count of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in public, the office said. He was sentenced last week to three years of probation.

“Through the course of the investigation it became clear to law enforcement and our office that Mr. Granados-Diaz did not have the intent to hurt anyone other than himself while at Parkrose High School,” Deputy District Attorney Parakram Singh said.

Under the agreement, Granados-Diaz will receive mental health and substance abuse treatment, the district attorney’s office said.

Demolition of New Orleans cranes delayed once more. Halloween parade is back on

The implosion of two cranes at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, which partially collapsed during construction, has been delayed yet again — at least until Sunday, officials said.

Saturday evening’s Krewe of Boo event downtown, the city’s official Halloween parade, had been canceled because of the expected demotion, but now it’s back on.

“After consulting with the explosive experts, we have a shift in our timeline,” New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell told reporters Saturday, adding that the soonest the demolition could take place is about noon Sunday.

“They’re working to get it done,” he said of the engineers. “We’ve told you this is a very dangerous building. The cranes are still in a precarious situation.”

Crews had hoped to bring the cranes down Friday evening but that was delayed because of a tropical storm, officials said.

The demolition appeared to be set for Saturday but the experts discovered the cranes were more damaged than previously thought.

“So they need to do things that are a little bit safer,” McConnell said. “Once again, safety is the No. 1 concern.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she canceled the popular Halloween event but decided to let it happen after the latest briefing from experts.

“This will not change,” she said. “So it is official.”

Heavy winds Friday led to the first delay, the fire chief said.

Tropical Storm Nestor was tracking east and has potential to bring 35 mph winds, said Collin Arnold, director of the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Cantrell had issued a state of emergency.

Arnold said officials will need the public’s cooperation during the demolition because people will want to watch, but he urged against it.

“If you are in line of sight of this, you’re too close,” Arnold said.

Door-knocking and clearing the evacuation area will begin four hours before demolition, McConnell said.

Experts plan to strategically place explosives onto the cranes, hoping the debris lands in a certain area, avoiding major gas and power lines, according to McConnell.

Two bodies remain in the rubble

Portions of the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed last Saturday. More than 100 construction workers were there, according to one of the construction companies.

Video footage showed workers emerging from a giant cloud of dust after the upper floors collapsed and debris filled the street.

At least two people were killed and 30 hospitalized, authorities said. All but one of the injured have been discharged.

Cantrell said Friday she attended the funeral of Anthony Magrette, 49, whose body was removed from the site on Sunday. Cantrell emphasized the importance of finding and removing the two bodies authorities believe are still in the rubble.

Documents and paperwork from the offices of contractors in the hotel have been collected and put in storage as evidence, Cantrell said.

10 injured in the collapse are suing the construction companies

Ten people who were injured sued Thursday.

The lawsuit accuses the construction companies of failing “to take reasonable care in planning, assessing, and monitoring the construction of the collapsed structure.” It also claims that “it was apparent that the structural supports at the building were inadequate to support the weight of the concrete slabs on the upper floors.”

“The primary goal is to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and make sure that nothing like this ever happens again,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

‘Murder Kroger’ has long lived in Atlanta lore. A major rehab may finally put the painful nickname to rest

Nothing can keep Damon Parker from shopping at this city’s newest Kroger, not even the awful memory of a fatal shooting he witnessed there 28 years ago.

Parker, his cousin Stephanie Buffington and their friend Cynthia Prioleau were nearly inside the Atlanta supermarket when a gunman in a car approached and began shooting in broad daylight.

Prioleau, 25, was the only person hit. She died that day. Her killer has not been found. Since then, at least two more unrelated killings and a series of assaults have gone down at the Kroger and a neighboring apartment complex, the Atlanta Police Department told CNN.

The violence paved the way for a nickname that some directly affected by the crimes hope will vanish as the store reopens this October after a top-to-bottom rebuild: “Murder Kroger.”

While it’s not unusual for a business’ local reputation to earn it an informal moniker, the proliferation of Murder Kroger on T-shirts, stickers and even in song lyrics has been particularly painful for those with personal ties to the attacks.

Each repetition of the eerie phrase can gnaw at grief that’s still quite raw, even if that’s not the intention.

For those not connected to the killings and attacks, the phrase may just be a throwaway punchline. It also, more deeply, could reflect a community’s use of humor to cope with tragedy or, conversely, reveal a society that’s grown numb to the emotional pain that stems from too-common violence, experts told CNN.

“At this point I’m desensitized to it,” Parker said of his gut reaction to the nonchalant way some people mention Murder Kroger. Still, he wishes the nickname would disappear.

“Take some kind of responsibility, don’t treat it like it’s some kind of trivial thing,” he said. “Just think about any tragedy we’ve seen since 2016 and anyone who has trivialized it in public. The Orlando nightclub shooting and the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso: Would you make a T-shirt for that?”

A vigil for a doomed grocery site

By the time Joshua Richey, a construction worker, was killed in 2015 in the Kroger’s parking lot by two men trying to break into his truck, the lore of Murder Kroger was near its zenith.

The Atlanta-based band Attractive Eighties Women in 2007 recorded a song titled “Murder Kroger.” Its lyrics include: “It’s a grocery store with a deadly twist / You’ll get shot in the head for your shopping list / Murder Kroger / it’s the worst place to shop in all of Atlanta / you could lose your life over 12 pack of Fanta.”

During Conan O’Brien’s 2010 “The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour,” members of his crew stopped by the Kroger for a blog post on TeamCoco.

And on Wikipedia, the Murder Kroger page since mid-2015 has collected more than 250,000 page views and 70 edits.

When the Cincinnati-based grocery chain owner announced in October 2016 it would shutter the location to make way for 725 Ponce, a huge, multipurpose development with a new 65,000-square-foot Kroger store, two people refused to let it go quietly.

Rachel Bowen and Rowyn Hirsch organized a satiric candlelight vigil held in the grocery’s parking lot a day before it closed. Roughly 50 people attended. A moment of silence was held for victims of crimes there. Some people lit candles. Others wore Murder Kroger T-shirts, while one woman sported a Kroger paper bag with the word “murder” written on it in a blood-like font.

“I had just turned 19 at the time and had started the event as a sort of joke with a friend because I, not unlike a lot of people, use humor to cope with tragic things,” Hirsch told CNN. “Suddenly, our joke had turned into a news story.

“We had people who knew the original victim reaching out and telling us that we were being insensitive, sending us threatening messages and calling us names,” she said. “Mind you, we were just the face of it. The whole city had been calling it Murder Kroger for years. It all was a bit overwhelming.”

Parker did not find the vigil’s atmosphere respectful. The event inspired him to share his experience at the store in the story, “Surviving Murder Kroger,” published the following month.

“It was a party,” he said. “Everything was mockery. There was nothing serious about the whole thing.”

The roots of Atlanta’s fascination

Social and economic factors might explain the disconnect between some of those who attended the vigil and the victims’ loved ones, said Sarah Cook, a psychology professor at Georgia State University (GSU), which has a downtown campus about three miles from the Kroger.

These sorts of differences may have allowed vigil attendees to put social distance between themselves and the victims and thus to ignore the costs or consequences of the event for their survivors, Cook told CNN.

The event and the nickname that inspired it may also mirror the effects of violence in America, GSU’s John Burrison, an English professor who studies folklore, told CNN in an email.

“I think ‘Murder Kroger’ also reflects a fascination with crime and violence (as evidenced by the number of ‘cop shows’ on commercial TV, and in folklore, the large number of American murder ballads). I wouldn’t call that fascination uniquely American, but ours is certainly a violent country compared with many others,” Burrison said in an email.

For Buffington, who witnessed Prioleau’s shooting, the Murder Kroger fascination has a simpler explanation: The moniker and its trappings exemplify people’s “very morbid minds,” she said.

“Murder should never be a joke. What if it was one of their loved ones?” she said. “These individuals are profiting financially off the murder of someone’s love one.”

The rise of ‘BeltLine Kroger’

The new Kroger reopened on October 16 along the Atlanta BeltLine, a popular multiuse trail. It features a large outdoor seating area, a Starbucks and a BBQ restaurant. Local headlines dubbed the store “Beltline Kroger,” while others refused to let “Murder Kroger” die.

“The store signifies Kroger’s ongoing commitment to the community and the ongoing economic prosperity of Atlanta,” Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard told CNN. “The City of Atlanta, community leaders, residents and businesses have come together to create and nurture a very special and safe place for residents and visitors.”

She declined to comment on the store’s long-held nickname.

A lot has changed in Atlanta since the first killing at Kroger in 1991, when Fulton County recorded 231 murders, data from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation show. In 2017, that tally was 124.

As the murder rate has dropped across the county, the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, along which the new Kroger sits, has transformed neighborhoods around it into some of the most desirable and pricey places to live in the city thanks to millions sunk into commercial development.

One of the many patrons who will visit the new Kroger is Parker, now 47, who plans to frequent it with his two goddaughters.

The various Murder Kroger paraphernalia don’t bother him as much as they used to. Still, his community’s tacit acceptance of the store’s violent characterization still does.

“There’s nothing they can do at this point,” Parker said. “They’ve let it go on too long. It’s kind of too late. It’s something that should have been addressed a long time ago.”

Watch Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon reenact a scene from ‘Friends’

It’s been almost 20 years, but Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston still got it.

The two reenacted a scene from the hit TV show “Friends” in a press interview, which Witherspoon later posted on Instagram.

Do we need to say it’s amazing?

Witherspoon briefly played Jill Green on the show, the sister of Rachel Green, Aniston’s character. During their interview, they were shown a photo of one scene, where their characters are sitting on the couch in Central Perk, arguing.

Aniston didn’t really remember her line, but Witherspoon helped her out.

Aniston begins: “I say, ‘You can’t have Ross.'”

And then there’s Witherspoon, with that great line: “Can’t have? Can’t have? The only thing I can’t have is dairy.”

Mic. Drop. Even Aniston gasped.

The two were promoting their upcoming web show, “The Morning Show,” which is set to premiere on Apple TV+ on November 1. CNN’s Brian Stelter is a consultant on the project, for which his book was used as background.

To fan’s delight, Witherspoon posted the clip from the interview Friday, with the caption, “One of the best parts of working with Jen is reliving my favorite lines from #FRIENDS!”

State employee claims Delaware discriminates against her over hijab

A Delaware woman says she was prevented from wearing a hijab at her state job, according to a discrimination complaint filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Madinah Brown says supervisors have prevented her from working at the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families because of her head scarf. The complaint was filed Thursday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Brown, who has been with the department since 2012, claims one of her supervisors told her she was “looking like a terrorist” in the presence of other employees in August.

At a press conference Thursday, Brown said she has been without her regular salary for four months. When she arrives at work, she says she is asked to remove the scarf or clock out and leave the office. Because of that, she has only worked sporadically and has received paychecks as low as $1.

“This has been very hard for me and my family,” she said. “I just want answers.”

Without addressing her specific claim, the department issued a statement Thursday saying it champions religious expression and provides religious items such as Qurans and prayer rugs in its locations.

“The situation is more complicated when the safety of our staff and our youth is impacted by a proposed deviation from policy,” the statement said.

“We must carefully balance our strong support of religious freedom with the need to keep youth and staff safe. In some instances, a person’s job may require them to do certain actions, such as the physical restraint of a youth, that makes wearing some religious clothing unsafe. In those instances, the Department would entertain alternative or modified clothing, as long as the safety risks are mitigated. We would urge anyone with concerns to follow our accommodation process and make efforts to reach a mutually agreeable and safe compromise.”

CAIR Staff Attorney, Zanah Ghalawanji, says she does not believe the state agency is prohibiting Brown from wearing the hijab because it’s a security issue.

“Madinah has been wearing her hijab without incident,” Ghalawanji told CNN Friday.

“There are employees who wear lanyards around their necks and another employee who wore a headwrap for a couple of years and wasn’t made to remove that headwrap until they started cracking down on Madinah. It’s just a shame to see a single mother put in a position where she has to choose between her faith and supporting her family.”

Brown and CAIR are waiting for the EEOC to conduct its investigation, saying they hope the state agency would be open to mediation. Once the EEOC comes back with its findings, CAIR and Brown will decide if they will file a lawsuit.

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