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'Jesus is Lord' billboard with Georgia mayor's name on it causes stir

A religious billboard in Brunswick is causing some to question the separation of church and state in the city.

It says, “Jesus is Lord! Welcome to Brunswick!” It then says, “Mayor Cornell Harvey and City Council.”

We found out that no public money was used for that religious message. The money came from a local business owner, who’s now taking the billboard down.

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She said even though she had permission from the mayor to use his name, she felt pressure from the city manager.

“I got a call from the city manager that said he had some calls and there were some issues with some people. They didn’t want it up, and something called separation of church and state,” said business owner Victoria Hightower.

Harvey said he didn't know the city manager even had a conversation with the billboard owner.

He said he didn't mean to make a statement by giving Hightower permission to include his name in the message. He said he liked the idea of welcoming people to the city.

The owner will take down the message by Oct. 1.

Police: Brinks employee stole at least $30K from ATMs on the job

A Brinks Security “money messenger” stole more than $31,000 while delivering cash to ATMs, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said after arresting him this week.

La Que Jefferson, of Vero Beach, told investigators he spent the money on medical bills, credit card payments and items for his family — like a new TV and an Xbox game system, according to a police report made public Friday.

Jefferson was booked Thursday on a charge of grand theft greater than $20,000. He was released from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting $7,500 bond.

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The sheriff’s office said Jefferson, 26, took the money from two SunTrust bank ATMS. As a “money messenger,” he delivered money bags from the Brinks Security office in Mangonia Park to ATMs and banks to replenish their cash.

Audits found money shortages to ATMs assigned to Jefferson of $1,900 on July 20, $11,800 on Aug. 3 and and $18,000 on Aug. 18. The amount of money missing totaled to $31,220, the report said. It did not specify the locations of the ATMs.

When confronted about the shortage by Brinks supervisors, Jefferson admitted that he “was sorry for his actions” and said he “used the money to pay for medical bills, to purchase things for family, and to pay credit cards,” the police report states.

A Brinks Security official offered not to report the incident to police if he was able to return the money in full. Jefferson said he could only give back some of it, because he spent most of it “and cannot get it back,” authorities said.

Jefferson was able to return around $10,560 in cash. Police then contacted Jefferson on Wednesday, and he agreed to surrender himself.

“He wishes he never took the money because of the situation that he has placed himself in at this time, and now (he has) lost a great job because of his mistake,” the report said.

Stephen Hawking: Be wary of answering if space aliens come calling

Physicist Stephen Hawking said he is convinced that humans are not the only intelligent life form in the universe.

In a newly released 25-minute film from Curiosity Stream — an online video on demand site — Hawking discusses his quest to find alien life.

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In “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places,” Hawking told USA Today that scientists have found thousands of planets outside our solar system in recent years. 

“Some are burning hells, gates of fire and lava, others are solid diamond made in deadly X-rays from a dying star, but some are more like home,” he said. 

Hawking takes viewers to Gliese 832c, which could be one of the closest habitable planets discovered so far.

He said one day we might receive a signal back from a planet like Gliese 832c.

“We should be wary of answering back,” he said.  “Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus — that didn’t turn out so well.”

Hawking said the discovery of intelligent life would be the greatest scientific discovery in history.

“It would force us to change,” he said. “We would have to give up the idea that we are unique and start acting with more compassion and humility."

Dodgers pay tribute to longtime broadcaster Vin Scully

The Dodgers paid tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully on Friday, and a crowd of 52,320 roared its approval during an hourlong ceremony on his appreciation night before Los Angeles’ 5-2 victory against Colorado.

Scully, holding hands with his wife, Sandi, walked from the dugout to home plate for a ceremony honoring his 67 years in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth. The 88-year-old Scully is retiring next weekend after Los Angeles concludes its regular season in San Francisco.

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"Hi everybody and a very pleasant good evening to you," Scully said in his signature greeting. "I thought I'd get that out of the way right away."

Scully thanked Dodger fans for making him feel like a child again.

"When you roar, when you cheer, when you are thrilled for a brief moment I'm 8 years old again," he said. "You have allowed me to be young at heart. I owe you everything."

The first 50,000 fans in attendance received a typed letter signed by Scully containing recollections from his career, which began in Brooklyn with the Dodgers and continued when the team moved west to California for the 1958 season.

"You were simply always there for me," Scully wrote. "I have always felt that I needed you more than you needed me and that holds true to this very day. I have been privileged to share in your passion and love for this great game."

Actor Kevin Costner, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw were among the speakers paying tribute to Scully.

Scully joked that he is often asked about his future. He turns 89 in November.

"I'm going to try to live," he said. "I'm looking for a much smaller house and a much larger medicine cabinet."

Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, former owner Peter O'Malley and former managers Tom Lasorda and Joe Torre, now an MLB executive, were among those on hand. O'Malley's father, Walter, first owned the team and was instrumental in bringing the Bronx-born Scully west when the Dodgers relocated to the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Walter said the team would add Scully’s name to the stadium “ring of honor,” next to the retired numbers. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave Scully a key to the city. Manfred said the league would donate $50,000 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation in honor of Scully.

Costner starred in the 1999 baseball movie "For Love of the Game," in which Scully narrated the play-by-play of his character's perfect game.

"We're all taking deep breaths, Vin," Costner said. "We're all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we're down to our last three outs with you. You're our George Bailey and it has been a wonderful life. You can't blame us for trying to hold on to you for as long as we can. And shame on us if you ever have to pay for another meal in public."

At the end of the tributes, Scully returned to the microphone.

"It's time for Dodger baseball," he said.

Triple suicide bombing kills 11 in Iraq

A provincial spokesman in Iraq said a triple suicide bombing killed at least 11 members of the security forces, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

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Col. Mohammed al-Jabouri, the spokesman for the Salahuddin province police force, said three militants rammed explosives-laden vehicles into a checkpoint. Al-Jabouri confirmed that 34 other security officers were wounded.

The attack occurred as the local police chief and head of the provincial security committee were visiting the site, al-Jabouri said. Both officials escaped unharmed.

No group has claimed responsibility.

Study: Smoking permanently damages DNA

Smoking scars DNA in clear patterns, researchers reported this week. And while most of the damage fades after five years if people quit smoking, researchers found that not all of it does.

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NBC News reported that information based on a study of 16,000 people. The patterns are made in a process called methylation, which is an alteration of DNA that can inactivate a gene or change how it functions — often causing cancer and other diseases, researchers said.

Heart disease and cancer are caused by genetic damage — some of it inherited, but most of it caused by day-to-day living. Smoking is one of the biggest causes, researchers said.

The research team examined blood samples given by 16,000 people taking part in various studies since 1971. In all of the studies, people have given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, lifestyle and their health histories.

They found smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes, or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes had known links to heart disease and cancers known to be caused by smoking.

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness, killing more than 480,000 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monty Python's Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia

Terry Jones of the Monty Python comedy troupe has been diagnosed with dementia.

A representative for the writer and director told The Telegraph that “Terry has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a variant of frontotemporal dementia.”

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The representative added that the illness affects Jones’ ability to communicate and prevented him from giving interviews.

Jones, 74, and the other Pythons organized in 1969 and wrote and performed the television series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” until 1974.

He co-directed the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with Terry Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Monty Python movies, “Life of Brian” and “Monty Python's The Meaning of Life”, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Original Song Written for a Film in 1984.

Washington mall shooting: What we know now

Five people are dead after a man with a rifle opened fire Friday night at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington.

The shootings occurred in the makeup department at a Macy's in the mall at approximately 7 p.m. PT, Washington State Patrol spokesman Mark Francis said. 

The suspect is still at large. Francis said authorities are looking for a Hispanic man wearing a black T-shirt, who was last seen walking west toward Interstate 5 from Cascade Mall. The shooter was armed with a "long gun," Francis said, " a hunting-type rifle." 

Burlington is located approximately 65 miles north of Seattle.

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According to troopers, the shooter left the scene before police arrived.

The names of the dead were not immediately released.

Tari Caswell told the Skagit Valley Herald that she was in the Macy’s women’s dressing room when she heard “what sounded like four balloons popping, and I thought that was strange because I hadn’t seen any balloons.”

“Then I heard seven or eight more, and I just stayed quiet in the dressing room because it just didn’t feel right. And it got very quiet. And then I heard a lady yelling for help, and a man came and got me and another lady, and we ran out of the store.”

Stephanie Bose, an assistant general manager at Johnny Carino's Italian restaurant near the Macy's, told The Associated Press that she immediately locked the doors to the restaurant after hearing about the shooting from an employee's boyfriend.

"He was trying to go to the mall and people were screaming," she said. "It was frantic."

She said he could see police at the doors with assault rifles and said they were no longer guarding the doors as of 9:30 p.m.

Brandi Montreuil told CNN she was at the movies when attendants told them to leave. "I didn't know anything," she said. "The theater attendant came in and apologized for stopping the movie and said they (theater staff) were asked to have everyone leave immediately."

Doc Barron, who had been teaching a boxing class at the mall, told the Skagit Valley Herald that he heard a commotion outside and a bunch of people yelling and screaming for help.

“Someone ran by and said, ‘There’s an active shooter in the mall,’ and told us to lock our gate,” said Barron, who was able to get out of the mall and was interviewed in the parking lot.

The Cascade Mall is an enclosed shopping mall that opened in 1990, according to the mall's website. In addition to Macy's and the theater, it features J.C. Penney, TJ Maxx, and several restaurants. On its Twitter account, mall officials said the facility would be closed on Saturday "out of respect" for the victims and their families.

<iframe src="//storify.com/kiro7seattle/wsp-4-dead-in-shooting-at-cascade-mall-authorities/embed" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/kiro7seattle/wsp-4-dead-in-shooting-at-cascade-mall-authorities.js"></script>[View the story "WSP: 4 dead in shooting at Cascade Mall, authorities searching for gunman" on Storify]

Teen who walked 2 hours to work given bike by police officer

Sometimes taking the long road really is the road to success.

At least that's the case for Jourdan Duncan, a Vallejo, California, teen who had been walking a 2-hour roundtrip each day to work since May after his car broke down.

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"I don’t want to feel like I’m a burden to people so I take the initiative to handle myself and where I need to go from point A to point B," Duncan told KTVU in an interview.

He wanted to avoid the dangers of walking on the highway, so his daily commute from Vallejo, California, to Benicia, California, consisted of hills and city streets. Duncan's luck changed on Sept. 17 when he was spotted by Benicia Police Corporal Kirk Keffer, who offered him a ride.

According to KTVU, Keffer was so impressed with Duncan's fortitude and goals that "he and the members of the Benicia Police Officers Association surprised Duncan" with a new mountain bike.

"This bike is my best friend," Duncan said to KTVU.

"There’s not a lot of 18-year-olds out there that have this dedication (and) we just wanted to make sure he know how much I appreciated what he’s doing," Keffer told KTVU.

Duncan also said his work commute takes half the time it used to.

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