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Duke University to stop requiring SAT, ACT writing scores

Duke University will no longer require students to submit some testing scores when they apply for admission. 

>> Read more trending news

It will soon be optional for applicants to submit SAT essay scores or ACT writing scores. 

Officials said this change is to ensure every student has an opportunity to be fully considered during the application process. 

The change will begin with next year's incoming undergraduate class. 

Man succeeds in campaign to bring ‘Trump baby balloon’ to U.S.

A man who started a crowd source funding account to bring a balloon ridiculing President Donald Trump to the United States hopes to fly it near the president’s New Jersey golf club. 

>> Read more trending news

The “Fund To Bring Baby Trump To America” raised more than $5,800 as of Sunday evening, more than its $4,500 goal, since it was started Friday by Didier Jimenez-Castro, who wants to fly it at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster

“This is about doing some real activism,” Jimenez-Castro, who works at a homeless shelter, told WPHT. “We want to go on a tour. We will definitely bring (the balloon) to Central Park.”

Jimenez-Castro worked with the People’s Motorcade, a group that protests out front of Trump’s New Jersey golf club, to create the GoFundMe, after he found out about the anti-Trump effigy and wanted to bring it across the Atlantic. 

He expects to receive the 20-foot tall balloon, that features Trump as an angry, cell-phone carrying caricature, which has flown in London and Scotland during the president’s visit to the United Kingdom, in mid-August.

"The baby Trump is not just a piece of humor, but it is also a symbol of the administration,” Jimenez-Castro told The Star-Ledger. “It's symbolic of the children that are in cages, it's a symbol of racism, and we know that he hates to be ridiculed." 

CVS apologizes after white manager called police on black woman using coupon

CVS has apologized to a black woman and is investigating an incident in which a white manager called police on her after she tried to use a coupon at a Chicago store on Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Camilla Hudson, 53, who said her Facebook post detailing the incident was removed for unspecified reasons by the social media site, also shared video on Twitter of her interaction with the CVS manager who claimed she had forged a coupon.

Hudson said she shared her experience after other recent stories where police were called by white people because of minor or perceived infractions by black people.

“I was not yelling, I did not raise my voice, I did not use profanity, I did not call anyone outside of their name -- other than not accepting, basically, ‘Screw you,’ that was my offense, if you will,” Hudson told Block Club Chicago. “As a woman, as a black woman, as a native Chicagoan, I’m just tired of it. I’m tired of it.”

Police were called to the store for an assault in progress, according to Block Club Chicago. Hudson was told by police she had to leave or else it would be considered trespassing.

“They were not awful,” Hudson told Block Club Chicago regarding the interaction with police. “I explained to them what had happened and how it had happened, and they said, ‘When we get these calls we do have to respond … (but) you’re going to have to leave,’ and I said, ‘Why do I have to leave? I’m a customer here.’”

CVS reached out to Hudson Saturday as her post went viral.

“Our Region Director in Chicago contacted Ms. Hudson as soon as we were made aware of this incident,” CVS said in a statement, according to Block Club Chicago. “CVS has begun an investigation and we will take any corrective action that is warranted to prevent it from happening again. CVS Pharmacy does not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any customer and we are committed to maintaining a welcoming and diverse environment in our stores.”

Equipment malfunction leaves Taylor Swift stuck in basket during performance

An equipment malfunction, left Taylor Swift stuck in a basket during part of her performance Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Swift was in the middle of the song “Delicate” when the sparkling basket she was riding in got stuck mid-air at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I'm pretty sure I'm stuck up here," she said at one point to the crowd in videos posted to social media. "It's a nice view though."

She finished the song then she explained the technical difficulties to the crowd.

"So what you just saw was me going like straight up and down in this sparkly basket. It's supposed to take me to the other side of the stadium," she said. "So what happens now is basically I'm just chilling waiting to figure out what happens next."

As they waited, the pop star talked with the audience and started singing an acapella version of “Our Song.”

Eventually the stage crew was able to get her into a new basket and she continued the show.

Driver injured after car plunges from 4th floor of parking garage

A man was injured Sunday when the car he was driving crashed through a barrier and plunged to the ground from the fourth floor of a parking garage. 

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The driver of the silver Mercedes Benz SUV crashed through a barrier around 1:30 p.m., flying off the parking garage and landing on its roof on the sidewalk below, according to the Times-Picayune

A group of bystanders helped flip the vehicle back over, the Times-Picayune reported, and the driver, whose name has not been released, was conscious and taken to a hospital with unknown injuries. 

New Orleans police are investigating the incident.

3 Missouri police officers wounded in Kansas City shootout; suspect killed

Police in Missouri shot and killed a suspect they said wounded three officers and was a person of interest in the shooting death of a university student, The Kansas City Star reported.

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The man had barricaded himself in a residence, Kansas City police said. The three officers were expected to live, KCTV reported.

The suspect was being investigated in the July 7 shooting death of Sharath Koppu, 25, a University of Missouri-Kansas City student, earlier this month, the Star reported.

According to police, undercover detectives were conducting an investigation at the Sky-Vu Motel in Kansas CIty when the officers were hit by gunfire, KCTV reported.

Police spokesman Sgt. Jacob Becchina said both men  were rushed to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspect fled the area with another person in a vehicle, Becchina said. The vehicle was found and an accomplice was arrested, the Star reported.

Police confronted the suspect at a residence, and after gunfire was exchanged, a third officer was wounded, the Star reported.

Trump-Putin summit: What time do they meet, where, what will they be talking about?

President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland, days after 12 Russian military officers were indicted for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

It will be the first time the two men have met in a stand-alone meeting.According to Trump, he has “low expectations” for the meeting, but said “nothing bad” and “maybe something good” would come out of it. He said the summit “may be the easiest" meeting of a Europe trip that ended Sunday with Trump calling the European Union a “foe.”

“Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly a foe.”

While some have called for the meeting to be canceled in light of the indictments, Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said the meeting “is really the first time for both presidents to actually sit across the table and have a conversation and I hope it’s a detailed conversation about where we might be able to find some overlapping and shared interests.”

Here’s what you need to know about the meeting.

What time: The meeting starts at 1:15 p.m. Helsinki time. That’s 6:15 a.m. ET.

Where: The two will meet Finnish leader Sauli Niinistö at the Presidential Palace. He will greet Putin first, then Trump. The talks take place in the palace’s Gothic Hall. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet for discussions at the Presidential Palace while Trump and Putin meet. After Trump and Putin finish their meeting, a working lunch will be held in the Hall of Mirrors. Later in the afternoon, the two men will participate in a press conference in the Hall of State.

What will they talk about: The official agenda has not been released. National security issues such as the militarization of Crimea will be among the topics discussed, along with bilateral relations.

Will the indictment of 12 Russians for interfering in the 2016 election be discussed: Trump, in an interview Saturday, said he “hadn’t thought” about asking Putin to extradite the dozen Russian military intelligence officers indicted Friday.

Later in the interview, he said, “Certainly I’ll be asking about it.”

World Cup final delayed by protesters; Russian punk band claims responsibility

Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Croatia was disrupted briefly Sunday when four people dressed in old-fashioned police uniforms ran onto the pitch, The Independent reported.

>> Read more trending news

The Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the suspension of play at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which occurred during the 52nd minute of Sunday’s match.

“News Flash! Just a few minutes ago four Pussy Riot members performed in the FIFA World Cup final match — ‘Policeman enters the Game,’” the band posted on its Twitter feed.

>> France cruises past Croatia in World Cup final

France was leading 2-1 when three women and a man charged onto the pitch, The Associated Press reported. The protesters were wrestled to the ground by police. Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed the male protester, which allowed police to subdue him, the AP reported.

The protesters were dressed in black pants and white shirts. They entered the pitch from behind the net guarded by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, The Independent reported. One of the women reached the center of the pitch and high-fived French forward Kylian Mbappe.

On Twitter, the group released a statement urging the Russian government to release political prisoners and to end “illegal arrests” of protesters.

>> Photos: 2018 World Cup final -- France vs. Croatia

Russian President Vladimir Putin was watching Sunday’s match at the stadium, along with French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, according to the AP.

France cruises past Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

France cruised to its first World Cup title in 20 years and its second soccer crown overall, dominating Croatia 4-2 in Sunday’s championship game in Moscow.

>> Read more trending news 

The French, winning the Cup for the first time since 1998, scored first and then outran the Croatian squad, the smallest country to play in a World Cup final since 1950, when Uruguay defeated Brazil 2-1 in Rio de Janeiro.

France opened the scoring in the 18th minute thanks to an own goal by Croatia. On a set piece after a free kick, Frances Antoine Griezmann kicked the ball toward the goal. The ball glanced off Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic and past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Croatia tied the match 10 minutes later when Ivan Perisic rocketed a left-footed shot past Hugo Lloris.

France was awarded a penalty kick when Perisic handled the ball in the box. After a video review, referee Nestor Pitana in favor of the kick.

Griezmann buried his shot past Subasic to give France a 2-1 lead, which it took into the half.

>> Photos: 2018 World Cup final -- France vs. Croatia

France increased its lead to 3-1 in the second half, with Paul Pogba controlling his own rebound of a blocked shot and converting a left-footed shot in the 59th minute.

Six minutes later, Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Brazil’s Pele did it in 1958. That gave the French a commanding 4-1 lead.

>> World Cup final delayed by protesters

Croatia cut the deficit to 4-2 in the 69th minute when Mandzukic sent a shot past Lloris.

13-year-old girl beheaded after seeing grandmother killed in Alabama cemetery

An Alabama 13-year-old found dead in a wooded area last month was beheaded after she saw two men stab her grandmother to death, an investigator testified Thursday. 

The grisly details of Mariah Lopez’s slaying came out during the preliminary hearing of Yoni Martinez Aguilar, AL.com reported. Aguilar, 26, and Israel Gonzalez Palomino, 34, are each charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Lopez and her 49-year-old grandmother and legal guardian, Oralia Mendoza.

Palomino is also charged with possession of methamphetamine. 

Members of the middle schooler’s family wept as Investigator Stacy Rutherford testified about the details Aguilar, who was Mendoza’s live-in boyfriend, gave in a statement following his June 14 arrest. 

Related story: Police: 13-year-old girl dead in ‘brutal’ killing, grandmother’s body also found

According to AL.com, Aguilar told detectives that Mendoza was involved with the Sinaloa cartel, considered to be the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization. 

Rutherford testified that the defendant told investigators that he, Palomino, Mendoza and a woman named Leticia Garcia traveled June 2 to Norcross, Georgia, where they picked up a quarter kilo of meth for the cartel. Along the way, something went wrong and Palomino became suspicious that Mendoza and Garcia, who was also tied to the cartel, might be setting him up, Aguilar said in his statement. 

WAAY in Huntsville reported that Rutherford testified that sometime after the group returned to Huntsville, Palomino learned that Mendoza had removed the SIM card from her cellphone. He also found a text she sent during the drug run to Georgia, in which she asked an unknown woman to pick up her granddaughter, who was with Palomino’s wife, because she feared that she and her granddaughter were in danger. 

Early on June 4, the men woke Mendoza at their Huntsville home and told her that they were taking her and Lopez, who had special needs, somewhere safe, AL.com reported. Rutherford testified that they were instead taken to Moon Cemetery, located about 15 miles southeast of the city in Owens Cross Roads. 

Palomino and Mendoza argued in the cemetery about the drug deal and Palomino stabbed the grandmother multiple times, leaving her for dead, Aguilar told investigators. 

Lopez, who witnessed her grandmother’s slaying, was taken to a wooded area about 2½ miles from the cemetery, where Aguilar said Palomino forced him to kill the girl.

Rutherford testified that Aguilar told investigators he was holding the knife when Palomino grabbed his arm and moved it back and forth in a “sawing motion,” with which the girl was beheaded. 

Aguilar said he participated in the slayings out of fear. 

“He said he was fearful of Israel,” Rutherford testified, according to AL.com

>> Read more trending news

The men left the teen’s body where she was killed and stopped to clean Palomino’s car, the detective said. 

Mendoza was reported missing two days later by worried relatives, WAFF in Huntsville reported last month. Lopez’s body was found the following day.

Madison County investigators released information describing the items the body was clothed in: red pajama pants with gingerbread men on them, as well as a pink undershirt and black tank top. The news release also indicated that the young victim had a cerebral shunt. 

Lopez’s mother -- who is also Mendoza’s daughter -- showed up at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office a short time after the description was released and told investigators that the body might be that of her daughter, Sheriff’s Office officials said. Dental records provided a positive identification a week later. 

Mendoza’s body was found at the cemetery June 15, after Aguilar gave his statement to investigators. She was also identified through dental records, Sheriff’s Office officials announced June 27

Aside from Aguilar’s alleged confession, investigators have collected physical evidence they say links the men to the slayings -- including the suspected murder weapons. AL.com reported that Rutherford testified one knife was found under Palomino’s mattress and the other was found under Aguilar’s mattress. 

Despite the men’s cleanup efforts, blood was also found in Palomino’s car, the investigator said. 

Both men’s cellphones also “pinged” in the area of the killings during that time frame, the news site said. 

The slayings shocked the community, particularly those at Challenger Middle School, where Lopez was a student. The school’s Parent-Teacher Association last month set up a memorial account to help her family pay for her and her grandmother’s funerals.

“No one is prepared to lose a child or other relative at such young ages,” a statement from the PTA said. “With the untimely passing of two family members, one can imagine the mounting costs of funeral and burial expenses that the family faces in addition to the unparalleled grief that is felt as well.”

The “Mariah Lopez and Oralia Mendoza Memorial Account” was established at Wells Fargo, with donations set to go directly to the funeral home. 

“Anything in excess of those costs will be given to the immediate family to assist with other expenses and needs,” the PTA statement said

Lt. Donny Shaw, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, last month credited the community with helping to quickly bring the search for Lopez’s and Mendoza’s killers to an end. 

“For a murder where there were no indications, no witnesses, nothing to lean on when we began with it, the Hispanic community, the partners, the media, we’ve been able to do a phenomenal thing in just a little over seven days by coming to the arrests of two individuals,” Shaw told WAFF

Both Aguilar and Palomino are being held without bail in the Madison County Jail. Palomino is also being detained on a hold for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

His preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday. 

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