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Former hostage speaks survival at Rock Island Arsenal

WQAD News -

ROCK ISLAND - A former captive during the Iranian  hostage crisis says he relied on God, family, and country to survive his 444 days locked up in the Embassy in Tehran.

Dr. Paul Needham said he was placed in solitary confinement much of the time during the ordeal. To fill his day and stay sane, he exercised and did math problems.

"I joke about how I used to do 1,000 pushups and 1,000 sit ups a day. You could do ten, then take a break. You had 24 hours to do it.I would sit in the corner sometimes and I would do calculus problems," he said.

"We went through mock firing squads where they lined us up against the wall. You learn about the resiliency you have within yourself," he said.

Dr. Needham was a 28-year-old Air Force captain when he was among those taken hostage on November 4, 1979 during the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran.

He was on a temporary duty assignment at the time.

Speaking today at the Rock Island Arsenal on the topic of resiliency, he received a standing ovation at the start and end of his one hour presentation.

He teared up talking about the failed 1980 mission named Operation Eagle Claw to try and rescue Needham and the others.

"Eight men died, they're buried in Arlington Cemetery, Section 46,"he said.

The hostages were released on January 20, 1981, the day of Ronald Reagan's inauguration. And his, mother's birthday.

"I celebrate that day. And, I got to say Happy Birthday to my mom. It was pretty special," he said.

Davenport’s juvenile program is needed now more than ever

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT -  A program aimed at keeping kids out of the criminal system is expanding.

It comes as police receive more reports of teenagers stealing cars. Since last week a dozen teens have been arrested some as young as 13.

Davenport's Diversion program now has more room to grow. On Tuesday, October 31st, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate its new space located on W 4th Street in Davenport.

"It`s going to allow us the opportunity to work in a more treatment-type setting," said Jeremy Kaiser, Director of Scott County Juvenile Detention and Diversion Program.

With the new space, the program will be able to provide more detention alternative programs designed to keep juveniles from re-offending.

"We`re unfortunately filling beds all the time and there`s only so many beds available," said Scott County attorney Michael Walton.

Some say the growth of the program is needed now more than ever.

"I think it`s obvious we have a problem with juvenile crime right now going on in the Quad Cities," said Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane.

There's been an uptick in juvenile crime, especially with car thefts.

"I feel like a lot of these juveniles are good kids. They have good hearts, they`ve either just been caught up in the wrong people or they`ve just made a very poor decision and we don`t just want to lock them up and throw away the key. We want to talk to them about their future," said Kaiser.

Some of these kids will enter into the program. Instead of sending first-time offenders to juvenile court, they are diverted to the program that emphasizes education.

"If you take someone and you put them in a room and you put them in a room for a week, you take them out what did they learn? Other than they don`t want to be in that room. It`s not that effective. What`s effective is working with them and teaching them new patterns of thought and teaching them good new habits," said Kaiser.

Kaiser hopes this new way of thinking will not only keep crime down but turn someone's life around.

"I really feel like we can do so much more out in the community to help these kids learn, new ways of thinking and how to develop more positive behaviors," said Kaiser.

The program also helps teens with life after detention. It offers a program that helps them transition back into the community.

Police look to identify persons of interest in Downtown Davenport homicide

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Davenport Police Department needs the public’s help in identifying persons of interest in the murder of 29-year-old Dimitrius Summers in Downtown Davenport.

The shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 18th in the 300 block of East 2nd Street.

Police urge anyone with information about the identity of the below individuals to call 563-326-6125. You can also submit an anonymous tip via the mobile app “CrimeReports by Motorola” or contact Crime Stoppers of the Quad Cities at http://www.qccrimestoppers.com or call 309-762-9500 in reference to “Can You Identify? Subjects #35.

Missing Attachment

You can see the full release from Davenport Police here.

 

8 killed by New York motorist in ‘cowardly act of terror’

WQAD News -

NEW YORK (AP) — A man in a rented pickup truck drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial Tuesday, killing at least eight people and injuring several others in what the mayor called "a particularly cowardly act of terror."

The 29-year-old driver was shot by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand, officials said. He was taken into custody. His condition was not immediately disclosed.

Witnesses described a scene of panic and blood, with people screaming in fear and the path strewn with bodies and mangled bicycles.

Cities around the globe have been on alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles. The Islamic State has been encouraging its followers to mow down people, and Britain, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in recent months and years.

Police said the vehicle, a rented Home Depot truck, entered the bike path on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Center and mowed down several people. The truck also slammed into a small yellow school bus, injuring two adults and two children.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said.

"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

At least two bodies could be seen lying on the path beneath tarps, and the front end of the pickup was smashed in.

Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, "He has a gun! He has a gun!"

Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.

He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.

The attack closed roads across the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River and sent uniformed officers rushing to the neighborhood as people prepared for Halloween festivities, including an annual parade through Greenwich Village.

Eugene Duffy, 43, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said he was crossing West Street when he heard something, turned back and saw the white pickup on the bike path.

After seeing the mangled bikes, he ran south, seeing the school bus that appeared to have been T-boned, and officers at the scene, guns drawn, ducked behind patrol cars.

"So many police came and they didn't know what was happening," Duffy said. "People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs."

Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plow into people on a popular bike path adjacent to the West Side Highway. He said he then heard seven to eight shots and then police pointing a gun at a man kneeling on the pavement.

"I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground," Yi said.

Video footage of the school bus showed its right side bashed in, and firefighters surrounding it as they worked to free children inside.

The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the attack.

‘Kill them all’ — Russian-linked Facebook accounts called for violence

WQAD News -

(CNN Money) — Facebook accounts run by Russian trolls repeatedly called for violence against different social and political groups in the U.S., including police officers, Black Lives Matter activists and undocumented immigrants.

Posts from three now-removed Facebook groups created by the Russian Internet Research Agency suggest Russia sought not only to meddle in U.S. politics but to encourage ideologically opposed groups to act out violently against one another. The posts are part of a database compiled by Jonathan Albright, the research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, who tracks and analyzes Russian propaganda.

For example, “Being Patriotic,” a group that regularly posted content praising Donald Trump’s candidacy, stated in an April 2016 post that Black Lives Matter activists who disrespected the American flag should be “be immediately shot.” The account accrued about 200,000 followers before it was shut down.

Another Russia-linked group, “Blacktivist,” described police brutality in a November 2016 post weeks after the election, and stated, “Black people have to do something. An eye for an eye. The law enforcement officers keep harassing and killing us without consequences.”

The group “Secured Borders” had the most violent rhetoric, some of it well after the presidential election. A post in March 2017 described the threat of “dangerous illegal aliens” and said, “The only way to deal with them is to kill them all.” Another post about immigrants called for a draconian new law, saying, “if you get deported that’s your only warning. You come back you get shot and rolled into a ditch… BANG, problem solved.” And a post about refugees said, “the state department needs to be burned to the ground and the rubble reduced to ashes.”

Related: Facebook estimates 126 million people were served content from Russia-linked pages

More than two dozen messages encouraging violence are among thousands of controversial posts from Russia-linked Facebook accounts that analysts say sought to increase hostility — both ideological and physical — in the U.S. in an effort to further divide American society along political, religious or racial lines.

Mark R. Jacobson, a Georgetown University professor and expert on Russian influence operations, said Russia strategically seeks to undermine U.S. political cohesion by promoting extremist views within opposing political or social groups, and hoping chaos—and violence — ensues.

“The Russians don’t want groups like Black Lives Matter [and] the Alt-Right to sit there and have discussions and debates about the future of America. They want violent clashes,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson noted that, during the Cold War, Russia sought to enhance extremist ideas within the civil rights movement in hopes of sparking race-based warfare in the U.S.

“If we start to see violent rallies… we should start to look for the hidden hand of Russian influence behind it,” he said.

Columbia University’s Albright said even if only a fraction of the accounts’ posts called for physical violence, the overall messaging sought to push audiences toward more radical viewpoints that they would act on.

“These posts contained psychological calls to action toward both online and physical behavior,” he said.

Some of the violent posts received tens of thousands of likes, comments, shares, or reactions, according to a database of messages Albright compiled from six now-deleted Russia-linked accounts, which included the accounts that posted the violent messages reviewed by CNN.

One post by Secured Borders shared in October 2016, which was interacted with more than 100,000 times, stated, “if Killary wins there will be riots nationwide, not seen since the times of Revolutionary war!!”

Albright said this post was likely amplified through paid advertising because the overwhelming majority of Secured Borders’ messages received only a few thousand interactions.

Facebook has said it identified 3,000 ads tied to the Russian troll farm that ran between June 2015 and May 2017, though it’s unclear if those ads included any of the messages calling for violence. Facebook shared those ads with Congress, but they have not yet been publicly released.

Related: Even Pokémon Go used by extensive Russian-linked meddling effort

Susan Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project and a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said violent messages like this could increase the possibility of audiences condoning or participating in violence against members of targeted groups.

“People can be heavily influenced by content online even when they don’t know where it comes from,” Benesch said. “In these cases, we can’t know if anyone was actually influenced toward violence, but this type of speech could increase that risk.”

Facebook’s terms of service prohibit content that is “hate speech, threatening, or… incites violence.”

Asked for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN, “We don’t allow the promotion of violence on Facebook but know we need to do better. We are hiring thousands of new people to our review teams, building better tools to keep our community safe, and investing in new technologies to help locate more banned content and bad actors.”

Facebook’s Vice President of Policy and Communications, Elliot Schrage, has said the company is working to develop greater safeguards against election interference and other forms of abuse. In a blog post earlier this month, Schrage said Facebook is “still looking for abuse and bad actors on our platform — our internal investigation continues.”

The Internet Research Agency, a secretive company based in St. Petersburg, which the US intelligence community has linked to the Kremlin, appears to be the source of 470 inauthentic Facebook accounts that shared a wide range of controversial messages. Documents obtained by CNN show the IRA included a “Department of Provocations” that sought to spread fake news and social divisions in the West.

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