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7 things to know now: Hernandez suicide; Paris attack; Galaxy S8; diet soda and strokes

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

What to know now:

1. Hernandez suicide: Officials at the jail where Aaron Hernandez was found dead Wednesday said the former NFL star scrawled “John 3:16” across his forehead and wrote three notes to family members, placing them next to a Bible, before he hanged himself with a bed sheet. Hernandez’s death was officially ruled a suicide by a medical examiner Thursday.

2. Arkansas execution: Ledell Lee was put to death in Arkansas late Thursday after a series of court rulings led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to block the execution. Lawyers for Lee argued that lethal injection, the method of execution in Arkansas, constituted cruel and unusual punishment because the drug used to render the person unconscious does not effectively prevent a painful death. The state says it hopes to execute seven more inmates before the end of April. Lee’s was the first execution in the state since 2005.

3. Galaxy S8 is out: The Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone goes on sale in stores Friday. The phone features a 5.8-inch display screen and will set customers back $720. The S8+, with a 6.2-inch screen, also goes on sale Friday. The phones are the first released by Samsung since the debut of the Galaxy Note 7, which was banned from planes and eventually recalled because of a fire risk.

4. Paris attack: A French police officer was killed and three others wounded by a gunman who opened fire on the Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris Thursday night. Police shot and killed the man who authorities said lived in a suburb of Paris. The Islamic State quickly took credit for the attack. The shooting came just days before France holds its presidential election.

5. Teacher arrested: A Tennessee school teacher was arrested in California Thursday after being on the run for more than a month with a 15-year-old student. Tad Cummins, 50, surrendered without incident in Cecilville, California, where he and the teen had been staying in a cabin. According to law enforcement authorities, a tip about the car Cummins was believed to be driving led to the arrest. 

And one more

A new study released Thursday links diet sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks to an increased chance of stroke and dementia. The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, suggest an association between the drinks and an increase in strokes but did not go as far as to say there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship. The study found no connection between stroke or dementia and sugar-sweetened drinks or fruit juice. "More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health," said the lead author of the study, Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine.

In case you missed it

All in a day’s work for Albert, the University of Florida’s mascot.

Wildlife groups want giraffes added to endangered list

A decline in the population of giraffes has prompted five wildlife groups to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday, asking the organization to classify the animal as an endangered species.

>> Read more trending news 

The population of the world’s tallest mammal has dropped from approximately 150,000 in 1985 to less than 100,000, NPR reported.

The wildlife groups claim the giraffe is facing increasing threats from habitat loss, illegal hunting for bush meat and an international trade in trophies and bone carvings.

Giraffes aren't native to the U.S., but FWS classifies foreign species, too, NPR reported.

>> Livesteam of April the giraffe to end

Jeffrey Flocken is regional director for International Fund for Animal Welfare, one of the groups behind the petition. He said that from 2006 to 2015, the U.S. was responsible for importing 3,744 giraffe hunting trophies. 

“The biggest reason to petition to list it under the U.S. Endangered Species Act,” Flocken told NPR, “is while we can't stop people from killing species in other countries, we can stop them bringing the parts back to the United States. So if this were successful, it would either limit or outright stop import of giraffe parts.”

FWS would not comment or confirm receipt of the petition, NPR reported.

Man arrested in Dortmund bomb attack on suspicion of stock plot

DORTMUND, Germany -- German officials arrested a 28-year-old German-Russian man on suspicion of carrying out last week's bomb attack on a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund soccer team, CNN reported Friday. Police said the man’s motivation  to collapse the club’s share price so he could profit from stock market speculation, The Guardian reported.

>> Read more trending news 

On April 11, the day of the attack, the, man, identified as Sergej W., had bought a put option on Borussia Dortmund’s shares, giving him the right to sell the shares for a specified price at a predetermined date.

Had the explosives killed a member of the team and if the club’s share price had dropped, the value of his stock would have increased significantly, the Guardian reported.

According to German media reports, Sergej W. bought 15,000 put warrants.

The suspect was staying at the Dortmund team hotel on the day of the attack, prosecutors said in a statement.

Sergej W. was arrested near the southwestern German city of Tuebingen, the BBC reported.

Two people needed medical help after three bombs exploded near the bus, the BBC reported. Spanish soccer player Marc Bartra underwent wrist surgery and a police officer was treated for shock.

Prosecutors told the BBC that the suspect did not have any links to a terrorist group, but was a market trader hoping to make money if the price of shares in the Dortmund team dropped.

Queen Elizabeth celebrates 91st birthday

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 91st birthday quietly Friday, with no formal engagements planned, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Artillery gun salutes at the Tower of London and in Hyde Park marked the occasion, as the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch spent her birthday privately.

Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, in Bruton Street in central London, Reuters reported. She became queen in 1952 at age 25, ascending to the throne upon the death of her father, George VI.

Despite her age, she still regularly carries out official duties. However, she has curtailed her engagements, passing them along to her son and heir, Prince Charles; and her grandsons, princes William and Harry.

Asked if she was feeling well during a trip to Northern Ireland last year, she quipped “Well, I'm still alive,” Reuters reported.

The queen has an official birthday in June which is publicly marked with a large parade of soldiers through central London, according to Reuters.

Huge iceberg in Newfoundland drawing large crowds

A tiny town in Canada is drawing crowds because of a giant iceberg that is hovering offshore from the Newfoundland town, Time magazine reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The residents of Ferryland, with a population of approximately 500 people on the east coast of Newfoundland, are used to seeing icebergs float past their town. But the one that appeared Easter weekend was huge, dwarfing people, boats and even houses in Ferryland.

“It's the biggest one I ever seen around here,” Ferryland Mayor Adrian Kavanagh told CTV News.

The Canadian Ice Service classified it as “large,” which means it has a height of 151-240 feet and is between 401 and 670 feet long, CNN reported.

Kaelam Power went mountain biking along the coast on Tuesday and paused to take pictures of the iceberg, CNN reported.

"It's quite powerful to see," he said. "You hear the waves crashing against the water line. From time to time, you may hear a cracking or banging sound.”

According to CTV, North Atlantic shipping lanes have already produced 616 icebergs this year. Last year, 687 were spotted from January through September, CTV reported.

Ferryland is located in an area known as “Iceberg Alley.”

Paris shooting: Deadly attack on police near Champs Elysees

A police officer was shot dead and a gunman killed near Paris’ famed Champs Elysees on Thursday night.

>> Read more trending news

The attacker, who was not identified, was killed by officers returning fire after he aimed at police before 9:30 p.m. local time and fired multiple shots, according to the French interior ministry.

Two other people were seriously injured.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack. Authorities have launched a counter-terrorism investigation.

Is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy getting ready to resign?

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), told an Iowa newspaper that he expects a Supreme Court justice will resign this year, opening up a seat that President Donald Trump will be able to nominate someone to fill. 

Grassley refused to name the justice he believes will resign but told the Muscatine Journal that he had heard rumors that a resignation is coming by summer. 

"I would expect a resignation this summer," Grassley said during a Q&A session with the newspaper.

While Grassley did not name the justice he believes will submit his or her resignation, others said Justice Anthony Kennedy has been quietly telling friends and colleagues that he intends to resign his seat this summer. 

Kennedy, 80, has talked with former law clerks and others about retirement, according to a story by CNN. The New York Times has reported that the Trump administration is already looking at its next nominee should Kennedy decide to leave the Court.

Bloomberg News reported last week that “Kennedy has given no public indication of his plans, but he has drawn attention with a handful of semiprivate scheduling decisions. Perhaps most significantly, his next law clerk reunion will take place during the last weekend of June, offering the possibility that he will spring a piece of news on the gathering. The timing is noteworthy because previous Kennedy reunions took place every five years, and this one comes four years after the 2013 event.”

Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News Supreme Court reporter and co-host of Bloomberg Radio’s "Bloomberg Law," offered both sides of the argument over Kennedy’s retirement in a podcast Monday. Stohr mentioned the timing of the clerk reunion as one of the signs Kennedy may be planning to retire. On the other side, Stohr said the power Kennedy wields on the court would be hard for anyone to walk away.

Kennedy has been considered the “swing” vote among the nine justices for many years. With four strong conservatives – Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and the late Antonin Scalia – and four equally strident liberals – Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – it often fell to the moderate Kennedy to cast a deciding vote on a case. 

For his part, Kennedy has kept mum on his future plans.

The next person to be nominated to serve on the court will face a different road to the bench. The vote on the “nuclear option” prior to the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this month, has changed the process for confirming justices. 

It now takes a simple majority of 51 votes – instead of a “supermajority” of 60 votes – to confirm a nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, so while Democrats can still drag out the confirmation process, if the Republicans vote together they can push through Trump’s nominee. 

Suspect arrested in 2015 bomb threats against Atlanta flights

More than two years after bomb threats sent via Twitter led the military to scramble fighter jets to escort planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a suspect has been arrested in the United Kingdom.

>> Read more trending news

The FBI in Atlanta released a statement Thursday saying an individual was arrested April 13 for making the threats in January 2015.

As a result of the threats, a Delta flight from Portland, Oregon, to Atlanta and a Southwest flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta were searched by a bomb squad at Hartsfield-Jackson on Jan. 24, 2015.

The threats “resulted in the deployment of significant resources including the use of military jets to escort the planes to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and searches by a police bomb squad and the FBI that found nothing threatening,” according to the statement from FBI Atlanta spokesman Stephen Emmett.

The person on the Twitter account called himself “King Zortic” when he posted the messages to Delta saying: “I have a bomb on one of your planes, but I forgot which one when I left the airport. Can you help me find it?” and referring to a flight from Portland to Atlanta.

Another tweet read: “It was smuggled through one of the back entrances because the airport didn’t have much security around one of the entrances so the bomb is at the back of the plane. Everyone will known when it’s detonated.”

A later tweet sent to Southwest read: “A bomb was placed on SWA2492. It will be detonated at a random time of my choosing.”

At the time, a Twitter spokesman told the AJC that the company may disclose a user’s account information to law enforcement in response to a valid emergency request.

7 things to know now: O'Reilly is out; Williams is pregnant; Hernandez suicide

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

What to know now:

Dow wants study scrapped: Dow Chemical wants the White House to dismiss a study that suggests pesticides the company use are harmful to 1,800 endangered or threatened species. The Associated Press is reporting that Dow sent letters to the White House claiming the study is flawed. Dow’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, is an adviser to President Donald Trump, and leads a White House manufacturing work group.

O’Reilly is out: Fox News announced Wednesday that it is cutting ties with Bill O’Reilly after more women have come forward to accuse the network’s biggest star of sexual harassment. A statement from the company read in part, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.” The New York Times reported on April 1 that $13 million had been paid to settle five cases of alleged sexual misconduct involving O’Reilly. More than half of O’Reilly’s advertisers pulled out of “The O’Reilly Factor” soon after the story appeared in the Times.

Williams is pregnant: Serena Williams is expecting her first child this fall, according to the tennis star’s spokeswoman. Williams posted a picture of herself on Snapchat Wednesday, wearing a one-piece bathing suit with a caption that read "20 weeks." She is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Hernandez suicide: Family and friends of Aaron Hernandez said they saw no indication that the former NFL star and convicted murderer was intending to kill himself. Hernandez was found dead in his cell early Wednesday, hanging from a bed sheet that was tied to his cell window. Hernandez took his own life five days after he was acquitted of a 2012 double murder. He was serving a prison term of life without the possibility of parole for another murder.

Pilot program for vets: The Department of Defense has announced a pilot program that allows some veterans to use their health care benefits at CVS drug stores. The program, being tested in Phoenix, Arizona, allows vets to use CVS "MinuteClinics" for the treatment of mild injuries or minor illnesses.

And one more

Today is April 20, or 4/20, a day on which marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. There are events planned in cities across the country and around the world Thursday.

In case you missed it

What does '420' mean? Here are 10 things you may not know about the term

You may not realize it, but Thursday is a holiday, of sorts.On April 20 – or 4/20 – marijuana advocates around the world gather to celebrate, in a variety of ways, the cannabis plant. Last year, thousands gathered in cities across the United States to consume marijuana in places where it is legal to do so, as well as places where it isn’t.

If you are not familiar with the term “420” as it is used in the marijuana culture, here’s a look at its origins and its meaning.

1. The term “420” was first associated with marijuana use in 1971.

2. It was the time of day when a group of California high school students who called themselves the “Waldos” decided to meet to hunt for a rumored abandoned stash of cannabis. The students would meet at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur on the grounds of San Rafael High School to go to search for the crop. If one of the Waldos called for a “4:20 Louis” it meant that everyone was to meet at the statue to search for the marijuana.

3. Eventually, “4:20 Louis” became just “4:20,” and the number was recognized not as a call to hunt for the abandoned cannabis, but as a code word for smoking pot.

4. The members of the band the Grateful Dead moved to the San Rafael area from San Francisco in 1970. They had connections to some of the parents of the Waldos, and eventually picked up the phrase and began using it.

5. The term spread past San Rafael with the help of the Grateful Dead and after a story about the Waldos appeared in “High Times.” Another story in the magazine suggested that 4:20 was an “accepted” hour to use cannabis.

6. April 20 is observed around the country and around the world as a time to gather together to smoke pot. In places where it is illegal to sell it, it is often given away on that day.

7. Some believe that the number 420 refers to the anniversary of the deaths of Bob Marley or Jimi Hendrix. It does not. Neither died on April 20.

8. It is not a police code for someone smoking marijuana, either.

9. Snapchat is expected to allow users to display a 420 graphic on Thursday.

10. Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream and Sour Patch Kids candy were the top two requested “munchies” delivered by goPuff last April 20. The on-demand delivery company saw an 80 percent increase in orders for food such as chips, cookies, candy and beef jerky on April 20, 2016, according to company officials. 

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