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Debate grows over ban of herb supplement Kratom

Over fifty lawmakers in Congress have asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to delay a ban on kratom, a legal stimulant that is created from leaves of trees in Southeast Asia. Advocates said the herb can provide a safe pain relieving alternative to prescription pain medication and ease withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction.

In a letter to the DEA, the representatives, which included physicians, asked that the ban set to take place Friday be postponed to allow further research and public comment on the potential benefits of kratom.

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"The DEA's decision to place kratom as a schedule I substance will put a halt on federally funded research and innovation surrounding the treatment of individuals suffering from opioid and other addictions--a significant public health threat,” the letter read.

A Georgia store owner who sells kratom, but is not a consumer of the herb, believes it's a far safer natural alternative to pain medication.

“It's basically like drinking a coffee. Generally it's like mood enhancement. It gives you energy for the day. I think that there's been a severe over reaction to the product and there's no real reason," said Ali Parman.

In announcing its intention to federally ban kratom, the DEA last month said the compound was prone to abuse, severe side effects, and was linked to 15 deaths between 2014 and 2016.

A director at a residential drug treatment center in Marietta, Georgia said he supports a ban on kratom.

“It's too easily accessible to young kids, and with the epidemic we have presently, it can spark other addictions in the same way. I had the personal experience of working with someone who has experimenting with kratom and required the same detox as a heroin detox," said Robert Jordan, addiction counselor and men’s program director at The Extension.

Several states have banned the sale of kratom, although it is legal in Georgia. It is unclear whether the federal ban will take place Friday as scheduled or at a later time.

 

Earth's carbon dioxide levels reach record highs

The Earth has reached a global warming milestone it may never recover from. Climate scientists say carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million this month.

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That's 50 parts per million more than what most experts consider "safe." And there's little hope that we will ever get our planet's levels back to that number again.

The last time Earth consistently saw CO2 levels like these was millions of years ago, so humans have likely never experienced something like this before.

And that means scientists aren't entirely sure what's going to happen next.

But we do know CO2 emissions have been one of the main sources of climate change since the Industrial Revolution, and it has caused the Earth's temperature to rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since then.

That's already led to record-breaking global temperatures, extreme weather and other effects.

Experts say we might see small dips in atmospheric CO2 levels in the near future, but it won't be enough to make a difference.

Still, scientists are urging people to take this news as a wake-up call to get serious about reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte compares himself to Hitler

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte just compared himself to Adolf Hitler.

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"Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there is 3 million, there's 3 million drug addicts. There are. I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said.

Duterte made the connection between his campaign to kill suspected criminals and the Holocaust during a speech in Davao on Friday morning.

Ever since he took office in June, Duterte has overseen a bloody campaign against anyone and everyone he believes is involved in the drug trade, including addicts.

More than 3,000 people have reportedly died in police operations and vigilante killings since he became president.

Duterte has said in the past that his many threats against drug dealers and users are meant to scare them from participating in the trade.

But Jewish groups say his comments Friday went way too far.

The president of the World Jewish Congress told the BBC, "What President Duterte said is not only profoundly inhumane, but it demonstrates an appalling disrespect for human life."

According to historians, at least 6 million Jewish people and 11 million people overall were killed in the Holocaust.

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Police officer charged with theft over dog dispute

A dog dispute between two neighbors has left a Baldwin police officer facing theft charges.

Phil DiLucente, Baldwin police Officer Tim Kreger’s attorney, told WPXI the dog in question wandered from its home.

He said Kreger found the dog and kept it, thinking it was being neglected. 

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DiLucente said Kreger told the dog’s owner that he’d return the animal if it was given proper attention.

The owner filed a complaint against Kreger, which resulted in the theft charge.  

DiLucente called the charge “bizarre and ridiculous.”   

Ranch costume nets teen Hidden Valley swag

A homecoming spirit week joke has become quite profitable for a South Dakota high school student.

Carson Haase took "Ranch Day" to another level recently. Students were asked to wear western style one day during the week leading up to homecoming.

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Haase decided that cowboy boots and a hat wasn't enough, she went to school dressed as a bottle of ranch dressing, the Argus Leader reported

Her take on the theme caught the attention of Hidden Valley, the company that invented the popular dressing.

Hidden Valley sent Haase a box full of ranch dressing and other gifts. It also made a $500 donation to a scholarship in her name for a friend who died in March.

Haase said she chose the unusual costume to honor her friend Brittany Corcoran.

Man deters Trump sign stealers with a shock

An unidentified man who says he is Donald Trump supporter claims he is tired of people stealing his yard signs, so he took matters into his own hands and set up a booby trap to catch the perpetrator.

And it was all caught on surveillance camera. 

The video showed a man in a blue hoodie walk past the home pushing a stroller. What looks like the same man returned about 10 minutes later, alone, Fox News reported.

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When the man tried to swipe the sign, he apparently received an electric shock.

The man was not electrocuted as the graphics on the video suggest. He was only shocked.

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The man, who was named as a neighbor by the person who created the video, was charged with trespassing, Fox News reported.

Special ed teacher invites students to wedding

When a Kentucky special education teacher got married on June 3, she invited a group of students to be part of her special day.

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Kinsey French teaches at Christian Academy's Providence School, designed for children with Down syndrome.

“They were like family to me.  They were my first class and they've been my only class and so I knew I couldn't have a special day without them," French told WLKY.

The students are in a regular classroom for 95 percent of the day, and they receive speech and occupational therapy. 

Many of the students told WLKY that the best part of French's wedding was the dancing.

French said having her students attend her wedding was “so exciting.”

“It was really special for Josh and myself just to have them a part of the day, and have them come with us and celebrate with us," she told WLKY.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>What an exciting morning for our Providence students! WLKY News Reporter Christina Mora visited Rock Creek to interview...Posted by Christian Academy of Louisville - Rock Creek Campus on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

7 things to know now: Peres funeral; Halloween ride controversy; Lady GaGa

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Peres funeral: World leaders gathered Friday at the funeral of former Israeli leader Shimon Peres. Peres, who died from a stroke this week, was the last of the generation that founded the State of Israeli in 1948. Peres, who was 93, served in his country’s government in some form for nearly 60 years. President Obama said in his eulogy, "A free life in a homeland regained. A secure life in a nation that can defend itself, by itself. A full life in friendship with nations that can be counted on as allies, always. "This was Shimon Peres's life. This is the State of Israel. This is the story of the Jewish people during the last century."

2. Duterte and Hitler: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing criticism over a remark he made in which he likened himself to Hitler and the slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War II. Duterte has lead a crackdown on drug dealers and users in his country since he took office in June. Some 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers have been executed in the Philippines, many without the benefit of a trial. Duterte came under fire for saying that "Hitler massacred three million Jews... there's three million drug addicts. I'd be happy to slaughter them.”

 3. Ride controversy: A petition on Change.org is asking a California amusement park to reopen a Halloween attraction closed after complaints it was insensitive to the mentally ill. Knott’s Berry Farm closed the attraction, which was named after a California code that allows for the committal of those with dangerous psychiatric problems, earlier this week after the park came under fire from mental health advocates.

4. Lady GaGa at the Super Bowl: Lady GaGa has been chosen to perform at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. The game is set for Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston. 

5. Investigation continues: At least 100 people were injured in Thursday’s train derailment in Hoboken,  N.J. One person was killed  when the commuter train slammed into the concourse during the morning commute. No word yet as to the cause of the crash.

And one more

It’s a rare event people will have a tough time seeing. A “black moon” is set to rise on Friday night at 8:11 (ET). The second new moon of the month is considered a black moon. It’s difficult to see because with a new moon a shadow covers the side of the moon facing Earth.    

In case you missed it

Florida students face punishment for wearing KKK costumes

Three Florida students are facing disciplinary action after wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes to school Thursday during a Spirit Week dress up day.

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Pictures of the Wiregrass Ranch High School students dressed in white sheets with white pointed hoods appeared on social media.

Pasco County School District officials said two of the students are Hispanic and one is Middle Eastern.

Another student wore a Confederate flag as a cape. He was asked to take it off and was not disciplined, officials said.

“Nothing surprises me now,” parent Michael Gadson told WFTS.

“It’s kind of sick,” student Vanessa Dorsey told the station.

Initial reports from Wiregrass Ranch said they were ghost costumes.

 “Usually ghosts don’t have pointed hoods,” Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning told WFTS.

The three students, who were not identified, posted a photo of themselves dressed up in white sheets on social media with the caption, “BRUHHHHHHHHH,” WTVT reported. 

On its Facebook page, the Pasco County School district wrote that it “will not tolerate such offensive harassment!”

“The last thing we need is to have any student regardless of race dressed up in that type of costume,” Browning said.

The district has not said how the three students are being punished, but told WFTS it could include up to a 10-day out of school suspension.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Three Wiregrass Ranch High School students wore costumes for spirit week resembling KKK robes. We will not tolerate such offensive harassment!Posted by Pasco County Schools on Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hurricane Matthew intensifies in Caribbean

Hurricane Matthew intensified to a Category 2 storm early Friday, and forecasters said it could become a major hurricane by Friday night, with its front arriving at Jamaica early Monday.

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At 2 a.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds near 100 mph. It was centered about 125 miles north of Curacao and 565 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and was moving west at 14 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extended out for 45 miles, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 185 miles, the NHC said.

According to The Associated Press, Matthew has caused at least one death when it entered the Caribbean on Wednesday, with officials in St. Vincent reporting a 16-year-old boy was crushed by a boulder as he tried to clear a blocked drain.

Matthew is forecast to turn to the north sometime Saturday and head toward Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica.

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