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Mother earns honorary degree after helping quadriplegic son through college

Judy O’Connor was a staple on the campus of Chapman University, escorting her son, who is a quadriplegic, to every class so he could earn his master’s of business administration degree.

Marty O’Connor recently graduated with his mother’s help, and she pushed him across the stage to receive his diploma, KTLA reported.

>> Read more trending news

But the announcer had a surprise for her, calling her a “special individual.” The university gave her a diploma of her own.

The faculty, administration and board of trustees agreed to give her an honorary degree.

The retired elementary school teacher attended all classes with her son, taking notes for him.

Her son is the one who came up with the idea.

“I was just so excited for her because she deserved it so much,” Marty O’Connor told KTLA.

Marty O’Connor became a quadriplegic after falling down a flight of stairs in 2012, two years after he received his undergrad degree from the University of Colorado, Chapman University officials said.

He went through physical therapy five days a week. He got stronger physically, but needed a mental challenge, so he decided to try graduate school.

Judy O’Connor, who was living and teaching in Florida when he was injured, moved across the country to help her son.

And while technology like voice recognition helped, he needed to take notes and handwritten tests. His mother served as his hands when writing was involved.

Marty O’Connor will be part of a sports startup called DIVERTcity as its head of corporate sponsorship and will have a professional assistant to help him, Chapman University said.

7 things to know now: Manchester bombing; Flynn invokes Fifth Amendment; South Korea

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

What to know now:

1. Manchester bombing: Twenty-two people were killed and more than 50 were injured in an apparent suicide bomber attack Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. The bomb exploded near the lobby of the city’s arena just after the concert ended. Pleas for help in finding loved ones who attended the concert were posted on social media. No one has been arrested in the attack. 

2. Trump at memorial: President Donald Trump visited the Yad Veshem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday, saying that the slaughter of 6 million Jews should be “burned into our memories.” Trump is on his first overseas trip as president. He will head to the Vatican next.

3. Flynn invokes Fifth: Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Monday, refusing to give the Senate Intelligence Committee documents that it subpoenaed. The documents for which the committee asked relate to Flynn’s dealings with Russian officials. The request was part of the committee’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 president election.

4. Brennan to testify: Former CIA director John Brennan will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, explaining why the Obama administration believed that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. He is also expected to answer questions about concerns over Flynn’s involvement with Russian officials.

5. Budget released: Congress will be getting a budget wish list from President Trump on Tuesday. The $4.1 trillion budget will seek cuts in some low-income support programs and funds to repair infrastructure and to bolster the military.

And one more

South Korean officials said early Tuesday that they had fired warning shots overnight at an object flying south from North Korea. According to reports, South Korean forces fired some 90 machine gun rounds toward the object, which might have been a drone.

In case you missed it

Mass. native opening for Ariana Grande in UK safe after explosion

A rising rap star and Medford native who was opening for Ariana Grande escaped a chaotic scene after an explosion killed at least 19 people and injured far more at the arena where they had been performing.

Bia, who graduated from Medford High School in 2008, was one of the opening acts for Grande in Manchester, U.K., on Monday night.

Toward the end of the concert, an explosion shook the Manchester Arena, sending thousands running.

Bia’s mother, Diana Tamasi, told Boston 25 News her daughter’s manager sent her a text message, providing some information and assuring her their entire crew was safe.

“My daughter is fine. They're all fine. They're safe. And I'm just - thank God for that,” an emotional Tamasi said over the phone Monday night. “They were just saying that there was an explosion at the very end of the concert when Ariana was doing her last song, and it kind of was just a lot of chaos. So they got out the back way, and they got to a hotel.”

Tamasi and her family still live in Medford.

Bia had been opening for Grande in the United States, her mother said, and now she is touring with her overseas.

While her family is anxious for her to come home, they are unsure if she will return soon, or if the tour will continue.

>> Read more trending news

“I pray for the families that have lost anybody this evening,” Tamasi said. “My heart is broken.” 

Donald Trump reportedly asked NSA and director of national intelligence to undermine FBI’s investigation

President Donald Trump sought to have Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers publicly discredit the FBI’s investigation into Russian ties to his campaign by denying the existence of any evidence of collusion.

That’s according to current and former intelligence officials who spoke to The Washington Post.

On March 20, former FBI Director James Comey confirmed under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that there was an ongoing FBI investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interests.

>> Read more trending news

That, say intelligence officials, kicked off a series of attempts by Trump to have Coats and Rogers step forward to publicly undercut the investigation. Both believed the requests to be highly improper and did not cooperate, according to intelligence.

At least one of the conversations — with NSA Director Rogers — was documented in a memorandum retained by the NSA. The Washington Post reports that NSA officials are prepared to make it available to House and Senate committees investigating the issue as well as former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation.

This news comes on the same day that former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn invoked his Fifth Amendment rights by refusing to provide documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

When reached for comment, a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post, “The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals.”

This Harvard senior is the school’s first to write a rap album for his final thesis

For the first time in Harvard University history, a student submitted a senior thesis in the form of a rap album.

>> Read more trending news

Obasi R. Shaw, a 20-year-old senior from Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, presented his English thesis using rhyme and reason to illuminate the black experience in the U.S., tackling topical social issues in a 10-track record called “Liminal Minds,” The Harvard Crimson reported.

RELATED: Here’s why Harvard is holding an individual graduation ceremony for black students this month 

His project went on to earn an A-, paving the road for him to graduate with honors next week.

According to The Crimson, Shaw’s creative thesis was inspired by “The Canterbury Tales” and historical leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

One of his tracks, “Understand,” even incorporates lines from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

RELATED: Presidential order could help Atlanta’s historic black colleges and universities 

“Liminal Minds” also alludes to the Black Lives Matter movement, former President Barack Obama and segregation and slavery.

"Rap is a historically black form of art, and if I want to tell a story of black people, the most appropriate art form is to use their art form — to use our art form," he told the Crimson. "This is one of the very few forms of art that black people can claim as their own.”

When asked about his favorite lines, Shaw quoted a few from “Understand.”

“When the drugs got us hooked like the myth from Peter Pan / Getting high off the dust hoping we never land / Ain’t our own fault we lose our boys in the end.”

Shaw told The Crimson the wordplay in the last line, “in the end,” sounds like “Indian,” and alludes to the Native Americans who supposedly lived in Neverland.

Watch his performance of the track at Harvard’s first Battle of the Bands, where he won first place:

Florida DUI suspect sends patrol car into ‘don’t drink and drive’ cruiser

A Florida man accused of drunk driving earned a trip to jail and some ribbing from the sheriff’s office.

>> Read more trending news 

On Saturday night, Paul M. Wilkins, 63, of Crystal River drove his car into a parked patrol car that had its lights flashing, which was pushed into another patrol car, that had been freshly emblazoned with a “Don’t Drink and Drive” slogan, according to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol trooper’s report, Wilkins said he occasionally “doesn’t know what he’s doing” and had been drinking and hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning.

No one was injured in the incident at U.S. Highway 19 and Citrus Avenue during Pirate Fest. The next day, a post on the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page couldn’t help but note the amusing coincidence.

Wilkins was charged with DUI and remained in jail as of Monday afternoon on $1,000 bond.

Clark Howard on battling a life-threatening illness, ‘I felt like death’

 

Atlanta-based consumer advisor Clark Howard is speaking out about a mysterious and sudden illness that threatened his life recently.

The same disease killed a Georgia man after, just like Howard, taking a powerful antibiotic only days before falling ill.

>> Read more trending news

Howard was admitted to Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital three days after taking the generic antibiotic ciprofloxacin. The brand name is Cipro.

He took it to ward off an infection after a biopsy to monitor his prostate cancer.

There's no proof that what happened next is linked to the pill, but it has happened before.

“I felt like death,” Howard said. “It was a struggle to walk five steps.”

During his hospital stay, Howard’s system was flushed out with IV's. He said a doctor with 40 years of experience determined he had rhabdomyolysis.

“With rhabdo, your muscles are eating themselves, and then they destroy your kidneys and you die,” Howard said.

That's what happened to Gwinnett County, Georgia tri-athlete Chris Dannelly in 2013. The disease killed him five days after he took three pills of ciprofloxacin’s sister drug levofloxacin

Howard said Piedmont doctors have a working theory that the antibiotic combined with his cholesterol pill was a bad mix.

>> Related: Woman says popular antibiotic levofloxacin killer her husband

“The generic Lipitor acted as a catalyst. That caused the supposed problems with Cipro to magnify and give me the rhabdomylosis,” Howard said.

Ten months ago, doctors in Scotland published a similar case involving the two types of pills and a case of rhabdo.

Their conclusion: the consequences of this interaction can have potentially serious outcomes.

Howard said he plans to ask about a substitute pill.

“Even not knowing for sure whether Cipro was a villain in this or not, why would I want to be dead?”   Howard’s cancer doctor is also his cousin. Dr. Skip Holden said Howard has had Cipro before with ill health affect and that he uses it because the risk of infection with a prostate biopsy is so great.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

Holden said he’s looking for input in Howard’s case and has asked doctors at UCLA Medical Center to weigh in.

‘Doomsday’ tunnel entrance in Arctic flooded by melting permafrost

The entrance tunnel to the world’s largest seed storage facility built into the permafrost in a mountain in a remote area of the Arctic Circle in Norway has been flooded by melting permafrost. 

>> Read more trending news

The storage facility, which opened in 2008, was supposed to be an impregnable rock vault protecting the world’s food supply in the event of a global catastrophe, either man-made or natural, but The Guardian reports permafrost meltwater inundated the entrance to the tunnel leading to the seed vault after extremely warm winter temperatures in the Arctic.

The Norwegian government owns the vault, and a government official admitted builders did not foresee the impact of climate change.

“It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” Hege Njaa Aschim told The Guardian.

Luckily no seeds were lost. The water that breached the entrance to the tunnel froze and Hege said the ice has been removed.

Officials are now trying to figure out new solutions to make the vault self-sufficient, something that’s necessary for it to serve its purpose. 

Conspiracy-theory website InfoWars gets White House press pass

The website owned by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, InfoWars, received a press credential to cover the White House, its man in Washington tweeted Monday.

The pass was apparently a temporary, one-day pass but that did little to tamp down the outrage.

It’s the latest entrée into the mainstream for Jones, a man who turned a show on an Austin, Texas, public access channel into a conspiracy theory-pumping media empire, funded by hawking survivalists products — and who has come under increasing scrutiny as his fame has grown. 

>> Read more trending news

Jones shot to national prominence after declaring the 2012 shooting deaths of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was a government hoax designed to take away gun rights. Connecticut’s U.S. senator, Chris Murphy, took to Twitter to blast InfoWars getting the press credential. 

Beyond the Sandy Hook conspiracy, Jones recently retracted two conspiracy theories he peddled under threat of legal action: One claimed that the basement of a local Washington, D.C., pizza joint served as the nerve-center of a child abuse ring allegedly linked to Hillary Clinton. (For starters, the building has no basement.) The other claimed that Idaho yogurt company Chobani was caught “importing migrant rapists.”

Those retractions came as Jones fought to retain sole custody of his children in a Travis County family court, where his attorneys argued that his show persona was just an act. (Jones’ ex-wife would go on to win joint custody.)

Meanwhile, Jones’ man in Washington, Jerome Corsi has a long and controversial track record as well. In 2011, he authored “Where’s The Birth Certificate?" which was published three weeks after President Barack Obama released his birth certificate to combat the conspiracy theory he was not born in the United States.

That theory was promoted by Jones and made famous by now-President Donald Trump.

Years earlier, in 2004, Corsi was a central figure in the “Swift Boat” attacks on then-Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts that included co-authoring a book questioning Kerry’s war record.

Megachurch pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen criticized for throwing ‘Hook ‘Em’ hand sign

Thousands of students graduated this past weekend from the University of Texas at Austin, flooding social media with photos of proud new alumni and their families.

>> Read more trending news 

For most parents, documenting the occasion with a photo means throwing up the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign, too, usually without much fuss. But when your parents are the first couple of televangelism, a spirited hand gesture can take on a whole other meaning. 

>> Photos: Longhorns arriving for UT graduation ceremony May 20 

Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria, draw thousands every week to their massive Lakewood Church in Houston, and millions tune in from across the globe to watch. The pair also head a massive multi-million dollar empire stemming from book deals and tours. Their son, Jonathan, recently graduated from UT, and he posed with each of his parents for a pretty common photo taken during commencement weekend: the graduate and his mom and dad both making the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign. 

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