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Robert Kennedy assassination: Who is Sirhan Sirhan, the man who killed RFK?

Next week will mark 50 years since Robert F. Kennedy was shot in the dim kitchen of a Los Angeles hotel. 

Kennedy’s killer confronted him in the heady moments after the senator had scored a victory in the all-important California Democratic primary. 

It was there that Kennedy’s dream of being the next president of the United States would end with a bullet to the head. 

His assassin, Sirhan B. Sirhan, was 24. He was a young man who struggled not only with the violence he saw firsthand as a child in the Middle East but also with finding his place as an adult in one of the most seminal decades in U.S. history. 

The course of history would change just after midnight on June 5, 1968, as the two came face-to-face in the Ambassador Hotel’s kitchen pantry.

Who is Sirhan and why did he shoot Kennedy? Here’s what you may not know about him. 

Sirhan's early years 

Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was born into a Christian family in the Palestinian section of Jerusalem in 1944. By the time he turned 3, witnessing violent clashes stemming from the war for Israeli independence was a daily occurrence. 

His mother, Mary, said that as a youngster Sirhan had seen a man ripped to pieces by a bomb during an attack in his neighborhood. The image haunted her son, she said, and he would never be the same. 

When he was 12, his family emigrated to the United States on a special visa granted to Palestinian refugees. The family stayed briefly in New York and then moved on to California where Sirhan attended junior high, high school and community college. 

His faith was important to him, according to his mother. He even complained to her once that children of his age did not take religion seriously enough. 

He joined the Baptist church and was briefly a Seventh-day Adventist. In 1966, two years before he would kill Kennedy, he turned to an occult organization called the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis, or the Rosicrucians. The organization studies mystical and philosophical doctrines and how they apply to modern life. 

Sirhan never settled into a career but held a series of menial jobs. At one point, he was working at the Santa Anita racetrack, and at 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds, he had hopes of one day becoming a jockey. That plan had not panned out, and by the end of May 1968, Sirhan was adrift with no job prospects. 

Killing Kennedy 

Late on June 4, 1968, election returns in the California and South Dakota Democratic primaries for president were counted and Kennedy was declared the winner. As the people who had been crammed into the Embassy Ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles cheered, Kennedy’s victory speech recalled the themes that had propelled him to victory that night – resetting the moral compass of the country, the fight against poverty and hunger in the United States, peace in Vietnam. 

From the stage, he acknowledged supporters by name and thanked volunteers – many of them in their late teens and 20s – who had worked hard for him in California, a state vital to his run for the Democratic nomination. 

“My thanks to all of you. Now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there,” Kennedy said to the crowd. 

While Kennedy was ending his speech in the ballroom, Sirhan was in the hotel’s kitchen pantry area with a .22-caliber Iver-Johnson Cadet handgun in his pocket. Two hotel employees would later say they saw Sirhan near the service elevator close to the door that leads into the Embassy Ballroom as Kennedy came down earlier to give his victory speech. 

According to Jesus Perez and Martin Petrusky, Sirhan asked if Kennedy would be returning through the kitchen area, the same way as he had gone to the stage. Petrusky and Perez told him they did not know. Both men remembered that Sirhan lingered around the elevator area as Kennedy spoke from the stage. 

It was not the first time Sirhan had been in the hotel, according to testimony at his trial. The prosecution was able to place him there on June 3, two days before Kennedy was shot. According to testimony, he was noticed by someone who worked at the Ambassador because he seemed to be out of place.

Two days before he was spotted at the hotel, Sirhan visited the Lock, Stock ’N Barrel gun shop, according to testimony. He purchased two boxes of .22-caliber hollow point bullets. Early on June 4, hours before he would confront Kennedy in the hotel kitchen, he visited the San Gabriel Valley Gun Club to practice at its gun range. 

Sirhan was waiting with the gun in the service area as Kennedy finished speaking. Kennedy was led off the stage, through a door and down a hallway toward the Colonial Room of the hotel where the press was waiting to talk to him. 

According to witnesses, Kennedy was moving slowly through the pantry, shaking hands with some of the people who worked there. Kennedy reached out to shake the hand of a busboy, Juan Romero, when Sirhan, smiling, moved toward Kennedy, planted his right foot, raised his arm and shouted "Kennedy, you son of a bitch,” and began shooting. 

Kennedy was hit three times — one bullet went into his armpit,  a second hit him in the back and the third went into the back of his head behind his right ear. A fourth bullet tore a hole in his jacket. He fell to the floor bleeding as those in his entourage, including former NFL star Rosey Grier, writer George Plimpton, Olympic track star Rafer Johnson, journalist Pete Hamill and others, wrestled Sirhan down, pried the gun from his hand, grabbed him up and slammed him down on some metal steaming tables. 

"Let me explain!" Sirhan screamed. "I can explain. I did it for my country. I love my country." 

Before the gun was wrested from his hand, five others in the pantry — Paul Schrade, William Weisel, Ira Goldstein, Elizabeth Evans and Irwin Stroll — were shot. All five would recover from their wounds. 

Romero, an Ambassador busboy, knelt to help Kennedy, who was on the floor, bleeding from his head and back. According to Romero, he bent down to hear Kennedy reportedly ask, "Is everybody OK?” Romero told The Los Angeles Times, “I told him 'Yes, everybody's OK'. And then he turned away from me and said, 'Everything's going to be OK.” 

Those were the last words he spoke. Kennedy died about 26 hours later, never having regained consciousness. 

Tracking Kennedy 

After the assassination, investigators searched Sirhan’s apartment and found a diary he had been keeping. In the spiral notebook showed evidence of a growing rage against all Zionists, with Kennedy’s name mentioned throughout. 

One entry even named the date by which Sirhan said Kennedy should die. The date was June 5, the day Kennedy was shot. June 5, 1968, was the one-year anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. 

Sirhan was angry with Kennedy for his support of Israel and his support for the U.S. selling jet fighters to Israel. He said he had made the decision to kill Kennedy after he heard him say in a speech in the spring of 1968 that he would support giving the planes to Israel. 

The entry on May 18, 1968, read, "My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming the more and more of an unshakable obsession...Kennedy must die before June 5th.” Other entries more hauntingly read, “die, die, die, die, die.” 

Caught, confessed, convicted 

Sirhan refused to speak or to identify himself after he was taken into custody in the hotel’s pantry that night. It wasn’t until June 9, four days after the shooting, that he confessed to police that he was the one who shot Kennedy. Despite the confession, Sirhan pleaded not guilty in court. 

The trial was set for January 1969. 

Opening statements began in February, and, after a three-month trial in which his defense team argued he was mentally ill, Sirhan was found guilty of Kennedy’s murder. He was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber. 

Sirhan testified in his own defense, saying he had no memory of killing Kennedy, and that he had been drunk the night of the shooting. He testified that he had borne no “ill-will towards Kennedy.” 

After three years in prison, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned California’s death penalty law, and Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. He has remained an inmate of the state of California for more than 49 years. 

Conspiracy theories 

Through the years, Sirhan changed aspects of his story in some ways but has always repeated the claim that he does not remember what took place in the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. 

Conspiracy theories were born even as Sirhan was being restrained in the moments after the shooting According to Hamill, someone yelled as Sirhan was being slammed onto the table, “Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. No Jack Ruby!”

Many thought Sirhan a patsy, the same thing Lee Harvey Oswald called himself following JFK’s assassination. They said larger forces used him as a cover so someone else could kill another Kennedy. 

In 2011, Sirhan’s lawyers claimed in court papers that he had been speaking to and had been hypnotized by a psychiatrist. According to the filings, Sirhan revealed that while he shot Kennedy, he had not killed him and that he had seen a flash from the gun of the person who did kill him. The flash came from behind Kennedy, Sirhan said under hypnosis. 

One of his attorneys said Sirhan also revealed under hypnosis that a “girl in the polka-dot dress” tapped or pinched him on the arm and that when that happened he was conditioned to believe that he was on a weapons firing range and he was to begin firing. 

Under hypnosis, he remembered meeting the girl that night and that she led him to the pantry, according to an Associated Press report

"I am trying to figure out how to hit on her.... That's all that I can think about," he said in one interview cited in the documents. "I was fascinated with her looks .... She never said much. It was very erotic. I was consumed by her. She was a seductress with an unspoken unavailability." 

When he was not under hypnosis, he remembered nothing about the shooting, according to his attorneys. 

Sirhan’s defense team in 1969 claimed Kennedy’s autopsy proved that he could not have killed the senator because the fatal shot entered his head from behind his right ear. Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy. 

In his last parole hearing in 2016, Paul Schrade, one of the five other people injured in the shooting, apologized to Sirhan for not helping him before by testifying at his parole hearings. It was the first time Schrade had seen Sirhan since 1969. Schrade said the evidence clearly showed a second gunman had been in the kitchen pantry. 

“I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me,” Schrade said in the hearing.

Schrade since called for the investigation into Kennedy’s shooting be reopened. 

Other conspiracy theories claim: 

  • The CIA was involved in Kennedy’s death. According to a story in the Guardian, a CIA agent named David Morales once bragged to friends while talking about the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard." 
  • Still, others have wondered how Sirhan shot Kennedy in the back if he was standing in front of him as he fired the gun. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2005 that Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi found: “Eyewitnesses put Sirhan no closer than 18 inches from Kennedy, but Noguchi testified that when the fatal wound was inflicted the gun was 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches from Kennedy’s ear. His testimony fed conspiracy theories that Sirhan had not acted alone.” “Based solely on the examination of the remains and the scene afterwards, I came to the conclusion that Senator Bobby Kennedy was shot by a small caliber gun from the right side of the back of the head,” Noguchi said. 
  • A radio reporter recorded the sound of 13 shots being fired in the pantry. Sirhan’s gun held only eight bullets.  An actress and Kennedy campaign volunteer, Nina Rhodes-Hughes, was in the pantry when the shooting started and she reported to the FBI that she heard anywhere from 12-14 shots that night. "There were at least 12, maybe 14. And I know there were because I heard the rhythm in my head," Rhodes-Hughes told CNN in 2012. She says she believes senior FBI officials altered statements she made to the agents to "conform with what they wanted the public to believe, period." 
  • According to some witnesses, a security guard standing behind Kennedy at the time was seen drawing his weapon. That man, Thane Cesar, later passed a polygraph test that included questions about whether he shot Kennedy. 

Through the years other theories have been advanced and even members of Kennedy’s family have wondered if the right man is in prison for the assassination. 

Robert Kennedy’s son, Robert Kennedy Jr., told The Washington Post last week that he believes that there were two shooters in the kitchen pantry that night. “There were too many bullets,” Kennedy said. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”

‘Roseanne’ canceled: Who is Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment Group?

The first African-American president of a major TV network in the United States, Channing Dungey, made the call Tuesday to cancel the wildly popular reboot of “Roseanne,” after its star, Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist joke about former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett.

>> Read more trending news 

Who is Channing Dungey and how did she rise through the ranks of television executives to become the network’s first black president of ABC Entertainment Group?

Dungey became the first African-American president of a major TV network on Feb. 17, 2016, when she took over for the departing Paul Lee, according to ABC.

Before taking over as president of ABC Entertainment Group, Dungey was ABC’s executive vice president for drama development, movies & miniseries at ABC Entertainment Group and served as senior vice president of drama development since June of 2009, Bloomberg reported.

She started her career as a development assistant for Davis Entertainment at 20th Century Fox, then worked as a story editor for Steamroller Productions and as a production executive at Warner Bros.

By 2004, when she met with network officials to pitch a program to Touchstone Television, now ABC Studios, they hired her and she’s been with ABC ever since, Variety reported.

She’s behind such TV shows as “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “American Crime,” “Nashville” and “Quantico,” to name a few.

Dungey graduated magna cum laude from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.

>> Related: ABC cancels 'Roseanne' reboot amid outrage over tweet

She was born in Sacramento, California, on March 14, 1969, and is 49 years old.

She has two children, according to her biography.

Dungey is also a founding member and current board member of Step Up, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to helping girls from under-resourced communities fulfill their potential.

Starbucks shutdown: Everything you need to know about Starbucks pausing operations today 


Starbucks coffee stores will close down Tuesday afternoon for a company-wide training session on racial bias following an incident in April involving two African American men at a Philadelphia store.

Here’s what you need to know about today’s store closings and what will be done in the training sessions.

>> Read more trending news

When is it happening?

Tuesday for three hours beginning either at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. local time.

Why is Starbucks closing Tuesday?

Starbucks will be giving anti-bias training to some 180,000 employees at its 8,000 stores. 

Why are they doing this? What happened to prompt it?

The training comes after a confrontation at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April where a store manager called the police on two African-American men sitting in the store waiting to meet a friend. The manager complained that the two men had not purchased anything and had wanted to use the restaurant’s restroom. 

The men were arrested by Philadelphia police for trespassing. They were released later, without been charged.   

How did that lead to the training?

Starbucks officials apologized and compensated the men following the incident. They then pledged to provide employees with anti-bias training. That is the training taking place Tuesday.

What will the training include?

Not much detail has been released about the training, but it is expected to include messages from executives of the company and from hip-hop artist Common.

Input from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Equal Justice Initiative helped to create the curriculum for the training day, according to officials with the company.

“Our hope is that these learning sessions and discussions will make a difference within and beyond our stores. After May 29, we will make the curriculum available to the public and share it with the regions as well as our licensed and business partners … May 29 isn’t a solution, it’s a first step,” Rossann Williams, Starbucks executive vice president, said in a note to the company on May 22.

Here is a video preview of the training released from the company:

Has Starbucks ever suspended business like this before?

Yes, in 2008, the company closed down for several hours one day for training that company officials said was to “enhance the Starbucks’ experience.” Training included ways to interact with customers and re-education in the "art of espresso." 

How much will it cost Starbucks to close for three hours?

It will cost the chain an estimated $12 million in lost profit.



Memorial Day 2018: Macy’s, Best Buy, Kohls, others offering deals, freebies

Monday is Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who died in military service to the United States.

In addition to being a day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, the last day in May is also seen as the “unofficial start of summer.”

Retailers are not letting that opportunity for a long weekend of shopping pass without offering a few deals.

Here are some Memorial Day deals, freebies and advice:

  • Ace Hardware: Ace Hardware pledges to give away 1 million free 8-inch by 12-inch American flags this Memorial Day. A second flag is donated to a local VFW post to be used to mark the graves of those who once served. No purchase necessary, while supplies last.
  • Academy Sports + Outdoors – Among other deals, get a Mosaic six-piece dining set for $99.99; a trampoline for $199.99 and round above-ground pool for $199.99.
  • American Tourister: Get an extra 40 percent off select items.
  • Ann Taylor: Get an extra 40 percent off regularly priced items.
  • Ashley Home Store: Up to 35 percent off sitewide plus an additional 15 percent off with the code “Freedom15.”
  • Ashley Stewart: Up to 50 percent off select styles.
  • Backcountry: Save an extra 20 percent off one full-price item.
  • Barneys Warehouse: Get an extra 25 percent off “Style Score” items.
  • Best Buy: Get up to 40 percent off appliances, plus other deals here
  • Blue Star Museums: Participating museums across the country offer free admission for active duty military families from Monday, May 28, through Labor Day, Sept. 3.
  • Boston Market: Get a whole rotisserie chicken, a half-rack of ribs, four sides and four pieces of cornbread for $29.99.
  • Callaway Apparel: Get an extra 40 percent off clearance items.
  • CanvasPop: Get 50 percent off all canvas and framed prints with the code MEMORIAL50 at check out.
  • Calvin Klein: Get an extra 40 percent off sitewide.
  • Carters: Get an extra 50 percent off sitewide.
  • Coleman: Get an extra 25 percent off on select items.
  • Crocs: Get an extra 30 percent off sitewide.
  • eBags: Get up to 50 percent off select items.
  • Ebay: Get an extra 15 percent off select items.
  • Eddie Bauer: Get 40 percent off sitewide using the code TRIBUTE. Exclusions apply.
  • Einstein Bagels: Beginning Saturday, May 26, until Monday, May 28, guests who present proof of local residence at participating locations will receive a buy-one, get-one offer on the company’s new Flavors Across America menu. The offer will return during Fourth of July week and Labor Day weekend.
  • EMS: Get up to 50 percent off select items.
  • Famous Footwear: Up to 40 percent off sandals.
  • Finish Line: Up to 50 percent off select styles.
  • Firebirds: Veterans and active duty military will get their meal for free on Memorial Day at Firebirds.
  • Fogo de Chao : Military veterans and active duty personnel will receive 50 percent off their meal Monday. Accompanying diners (up to three) will get 10 percent off their meals. Present your military ID to get this offer. 
  • Ford: Military members and first responders can get a special deal from Ford. This offer is valid at any time. Enter your ZIP code to find the nearest Ford dealer.
  • Home Depot: A 10 percent discount is offered in-store to all military veterans on Memorial Day. A year-round 10 percent discount is available at all U.S. locations to active duty personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans, and their immediate dependents. You must present a valid military ID. Some limitations may apply.
  • J.Crew: Get an extra 40 percent your purchase.
  • Kohls: Get up to 50 percent off outdoor furniture and décor.
  • LaMar’s Donuts: Active duty or retired service men and women get a free doughnut and cup of coffee Monday.
  • Land’s End: Get an extra 30 percent off one item.
  • Lenovo: Save up to 50 percent off gaming machines, plus up to 30 percent on select tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
  • LongHorn Steakhouse: The Grill US Hotline returns Memorial Day to offer free grilling advice. Call 1-855-LH-GRILL on Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET for advice ranging from “grilling basics to hard-core techniques.”
  • Lowe's: Grills, mowers, gardening material and outdoor furniture are among the items on sale at Lowe's through the holiday weekend.
  • Lucky Brand: Get 30-50 percent off the entire site.
  • Macy's: In addition to several deals, you can get up to 50 percent off on select items.
  • Marie Callender’s: On Monday, get a free slice of pie with the purchase of an entree. Certain desserts are excluded from this offer.
  • Moosejaw: Get up to 30 percent off select items.
  • Musicians Friend: Get an extra 15 percent off an order of $199 or more.
  • McCormick and Schmick’s: Military personnel, including Gold Star honorees, veterans and National Guard can get a free entree Monday.
  • Nautica: Get an extra 40 percent off clearance items.
  • Nectar: Get $125 off your purchase, plus two premium pillows free. The offer expires Thursday.
  • Nautica: Get an extra 40 percent off sale items.
  • Ninety-Nine Restaurant: Present your proof of service on Monday, purchase a meal and receive a free entree from the “9 Real Size Entrees for $9.99” menu.
  • Oneida: Get an extra 30 percent off the entire site. Sale ends Thursday.
  • OshKoshB’gosh: Get an extra 50 percent off sitewide.
  • Through Monday, take an get an extra 20 percent off select outdoor dining products, and 15 percent off select summer bedding.
  • Perry Ellis: Get an extra 50 percent off all sale items and 40 percent off full-priced items.
  • Pier 1: Get up to 50 percent off on select items. All outdoor items are on sale.
  • Perkins Restaurant and Bakery: On any Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., enjoy a free slice of pie with purchase of an entree. Valid only at participating locations. Restrictions apply.
  • Samsonite: Save up to 50 percent on select items.
  • Sears: Save up to 60 percent on the “Red, White & You Event.”
  • Sherwin-Williams: During the month of May, active duty military and veterans save an additional 10 percent on paints and stains. Valid military-issued identification required.
  • Sperry: Get an up to 50 percent off select styles.
  • Stride Rite: Get an extra 40 percent off select styles.
  • Texas de Brazil: Active duty military and veterans will receive 50 percent off their lunch or dinner Monday. Additional accompanying diners (up to seven) will also receive 20 percent off their dinner or lunch.
  • The Children's Place: takes 60 percent off summer apparel 
  • TOBI: TOBI is offering up to 80 percent off select styles through May 31.
  • Under Armour: Veterans and active duty service members receive 15 percent off with a valid TroopID.
  • Vera Bradley: Get up to 40 percent off select patterns.
  • Walgreens: Active military and veterans get 20 percent off regular-priced eligible items with Balance Rewards Card on Monday.
  • Wilsons Leather: Get an extra 50 percent off sitewide. 
  • Zutano: Get 25 percent off the entire site from Friday through Monday.   

Alberto: What is a subtropical storm?

Days away from the official start of Atlantic hurricane season, the first tropical system of 2018 formed Friday in the Caribbean Sea. 

The National Hurricane Center has begun to issue warnings on Subtropical Storm Alberto as the system makes its way over the Yucatan and into the Gulf of Mexico.

>> Read more trending news 

At 11 a.m. Friday, forecasters put Alberto 55 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico. The storm’s sustained winds were 40 mph and it was moving northeast at 6 mph. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the storm Friday afternoon. 

The NHC classified the storm as a “preseason subtropical storm.” While there is a difference in the classification of storms – from extratropical, to subtropical, to tropical – they are all capable of threatening life and property.

Here’s a look at the characteristics of both subtropical and tropical systems. 

Subtropical storms:

  • A subtropical storm is basically a low-pressure system that is partially a winter-type storm and partially a tropical storm. 
  • They are colder than tropical storms, meaning the core temperature is lower than a tropical storm’s core temperature. Warm water feeds tropical systems making them spin faster and become stronger. 
  • There is a closed low-pressure center of circulation with the storms, just as with tropical storms, but the rains and wind are not near the center. Instead, thunderstorm activity and strong winds are miles (sometimes hundreds of miles) from the center of circulation. Think of the shape of a comma.
  • Subtropical storms can and often do organize into tropical storms.
  • They are less likely to become hurricanes, though they can.
  • They are generally large storms. 

Tropical systems

  • Tropical storms are powered by very warm water, and are well-connected to the upper atmosphere. The warm water is drawn up into the system through the upper atmosphere and pushed down again as the cycle repeats, causing a heat pump effect that fuels the storm.
  • Tropical storms gain strength by thunderstorm activity around the eye, or center of circulation.

For  more  information on tropical systems, see:

>>Hurricane season: What is the Saffir-Simpson scale; how does it work; is there a Category 6?

>>What is a storm surge and why is it dangerous? 

>>How to use internet during a storm when your internet is down 

>>9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane 

>>15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane 

>>Hurricane evacuation: Helpful apps for finding gas, hotel rooms, traffic routes 

>>Here's how to keep your pets safe during a hurricane 

Hurricane season: What is the Saffir-Simpson scale; how does it work; is there a Category 6?

One was a structural engineer who thought in the ways engineers are trained to – logically and result-oriented. 

The other, a meteorologist who, at age 6, had survived one of the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States, and was eager to warn others of the destructive potential of a tropical weather system. 

Together, engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson developed a system that offered people who live in storm-prone areas a clear early warning of trouble to come. 

It’s been 45 years since the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale was unveiled, and the names of the monster storms it classifies are still referenced today – Camille, Andrew, Hugo, Mitch.

As hurricane season approaches on June 1, here’s a look at the system that ranks tropical cyclones by their potential destructive power, how it works and the men who invented it.

What is the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale?

The scale rates the potential for damage from hurricanes based on the storm’s sustained wind speed. 

Who are Saffir and Simpson?

Herbert Saffir was a structural engineer who moved to Florida to become a county engineer after graduating from Georgia Tech and serving in World War II. 

After living in South Florida for a while, Saffir became interested in the effects of hurricane-force winds on coastal structures, and in 1959 opened a structural engineering firm in Coral Gables, Florida.

He quickly became an expert on the forces that damage buildings during a storm and was asked to help develop building codes for the region.

His expertise led to an appointment to head a United Nations project looking for a way to reduce damage to low-cost buildings in hurricane-prone areas. The work he did on that project became the basis for Saffir’s scale of wind damage. 

Saffir continued to work in structural engineering until four weeks before his death at age 90 in 2007.

Robert Simpson had first-hand knowledge of hurricanes from an early age. In 1919, when he was 6, he and his family survived a massive hurricane that made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas. The family had to swim down the streets of the town to safety as the waters rose to 8 feet above street level. 

“The family had to swim — with me on my father’s back — three blocks in near hurricane force winds to safe shelter in the courthouse,” Simpson said. “A lot of what I saw frightened me, but also supplied a fascination that left me with a lifelong interest in hurricanes.”

After graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and then earning a master’s degree at Emory University in Atlanta, he worked as a music teacher in Texas high schools because he could not find work as a physicist. Finally, in 1940, he was hired by the U.S. Weather Bureau as a meteorologist. Simpson worked all over the world for the Weather Bureau, with stints in New Orleans, Panama, Miami, Hawaii and Washington D.C. 

In the 1950s, he lobbied officials at the Weather  Bureau (the forerunner of the National Weather Service) to do more research into tropical systems and the effects they have on coastal areas. His arguments worked, and in 1955, he was appointed to lead the National Hurricane Research Project.

He headed up the project for four years then left to get a doctorate at the University of Chicago. In the 1960s, he was in charge of Project Stormfury, an experiment in which clouds were seeded with silver iodide in the hopes of diminishing hurricane intensity. 

In 1967, Simpson became the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center. In 1968, he was named the center’s director. He stayed at NHC until 1973.

He retired to Washington to start a weather consulting firm with his wife, Joanne.

How was the Saffir-Simpson scale developed?

The system of categories that became the National Hurricane Center’s way of conveying the strength and destructive potential of a storm did not start out as an NHC project. 

Saffir’s United Nations project work led him to creating a rating system for hurricanes that the U.N.  could use to try to match buildings with their potential risks for damage. At the time, hurricanes were classified as either “minor” or “major” storms. In 1969, Saffir came up with a rating system that included five categories using wind speed, barometric pressure, likely flooding and storm surge as determining factors.

Saffir took his work to Simpson who was the head of the NHC at the time. Simpson wanted to have a system that gave people common sense information about storms to help them make a decision about staying put or evacuating a coastal area.

Neil Frank, who seceded Simpson as NHC director, told The Washington Post Simpson was, “very sensitive to being able to communicate to the public in meaningful terminology.”

Simpson and Saffir worked together and Simpson assigned a range of wind speeds and storm surges for each category, and the Saffir-Simpson scale was born. 

The NHC released the scale to the public in 1973 and began classifying storms the following season.

The system remained as it was developed until 2009 when the NHC eliminated storm surge, pressure and potential flooding from the factors that make up the categories. Those factors, the NHC explained, did not always match up with the damage that storms can inflict. 

Another change was made in 2012 when the wind speed for a Category 4 storm was changed by 1 mph at both ends of the category. That was done because winds speeds are measured in 5-knot increments by the NHC, and the conversion to a miles-per-hour-measurement was incorrectly classifying storms as either Category 3 or Category 5.

How does the Saffir-Simpson scale work?

The scale has five categories ranging from Category 1 – with winds from 74 mph to 95 mph to a Category 5 – with sustained winds in excess of 155 mph. The National Hurricane Center uses a one-minute averaging time to establish a measure of sustained winds. In other words, the highest winds speed maintained for a full minute would be the highest sustained wind speed for a storm.

Here, from the National Hurricane Center, are the categories for the scale:

Category 1: Maximum sustained winds are at 74-95 mph. Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2: Maximum sustained winds are at 96-110 mph. Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3: Maximum sustained winds are at 111-129 mph. Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4: Maximum sustained winds are at 130-156 mph. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category 5: Maximum sustained winds are at 157 or higher. Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Can there be a Category 6 hurricane?

With stronger storms of the past decade, some have questioned whether there should be another category for hurricanes, a Category 6 that would be made up of storms with sustained winds of 158 mph-180 mph. 

Before his death in 2014, Simpson argued that there was no need for another category since what is measured is the potential damage a hurricane’s winds can inflict on human-made structures. Simpson once told The Washington Post that "...when you get up into winds in excess of 155 mph (249 km/h) you have enough damage if that extreme wind sustains itself for as much as six seconds on a building, it's going to cause rupturing damages that are serious no matter how well it's engineered." 

In other words, winds from a Category 5 storm will be sufficient to severely damage or destroy most man-made structures.  

For more information on hurricanes, see:

>>What is a storm surge and why is it dangerous? 

>>How to use internet during a storm when your internet is down 

>>Why you should never use a generator during a storm 

>>9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane 

>>15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane 

>>Hurricane evacuation: Helpful apps for finding gas, hotel rooms, traffic routes 

Texas shooting: Who is Dimitrios Pagourtzis, suspect in the Santa Fe High School attack?

A 17-year-old has been charged with capital murder after he allegedly opened fire Friday at a Texas high school, killing at least 10 people -- nine students and one teacher.

Police have told CBS News that Dimitrios Pagourtzis shot students and school staff at Santa Fe High School, where he was a student. 

In addition to those killed, at least 10 were transferred to hospitals with injuries. 

>> Read more trending news

Santa Fe High School is in Santa Fe, Texas, just northwest of Galveston, Texas. 

Pagourtzis was taken into custody after the shooting.

>>Read: What are the worst school shootings in modern US history?

The attack began shortly after school started Friday. 

 A second person, also a student at the school, is said to have helped Pagourtzis’ with the attack, according to law enforcement. Police are also speaking with a third person about the shooting.

Here is what we know about Pagourtzis:

  • He was wearing “trenchcoat and big boots,” according to a student who said he saw the shooter. Police have not confirmed what he was wearing.
  • He is 17 years old.
  • He was injured in the attack.
  • He gave himself up to police at the school after the attack.
  • He is in the 11th grade at Santa Fe High School.
  • He threw pipe bombs into some classrooms, witnesses say. Devices were found in and around the school, officials said.
  • The weapon Pagourtzis used was described as a shotgun by witnesses, but police have not confirmed that.
  • Law enforcement says a pressure cooker with an explosive device was found at the scene.
  • A Facebook page under the same name as Pagourtzis, has been taken down.
  • A witness said students and coaches at the school would bully Pagourtzis and “call him names.”
  • He used a shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun in the attack. The weapons belonged to Pagourtzis’ father, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference.
  • This story will be updated as more  information becomes available.

    Queen Elizabeth: What happens when the queen of England dies?

    Queen Elizabeth, the longest-ruling monarch in the history of England, turned 92 last month.

    And while she has enjoyed excellent health during her life, no one lives forever.

    So what happens when the inevitable day comes and the queen passes into history? A story published in The Guardian last year laid out in detail what will happen when that day comes. No one interviewed in the Guardian story would go on the record about what will happen, so guarded are the plans for her funeral and the succession of Prince Charles to the throne.

    >> Read more trending news

    Obviously, there has been a plan in place. It is scripted and set down to the minute in some parts. Here are some of the details about what will happen in England and around the world in the minutes, hours and days after Elizabeth’s death.

    1. Prince Charles immediately becomes king. While the coronation for a monarch takes place months after he or she assumes the throne, the country requires a ruler and on the death of a queen or king, his or her successor is automatically the monarch. His siblings will kiss his ring soon after the queen’s death.

    2. The queen’s private secretary will inform the prime minister of her passing. A secret code phrase (many believe it is “London Bridge Down”) will be used to alert the governments of 15 other countries of which the queen is the head of state. She is also the symbolic figurehead of 36 other nations. 

    Those governments will be notified as well.

    3. The news will be shared with the world when the palace releases confirmation of the queen’s death to the British Press Association then other media outlets across the world.

    4. At the moment the news is released to media outlets, a footman, dressed in mourning clothes, will pin a black-edged death announcement to the gates of Buckingham Palace.

    5. The palace website will show a single-page announcement that is the same as the notice posted on the palace gate.

    6. Parliament will be recalled. The thrones at the House of Lords – one for husband, Phillip, and one for the queen -- will be replaced with a chair that features a cushion with the outline of a crown on it.

    7. All flags will be placed at half-staff and condolence books will be distributed throughout the country for anyone wishing to express sympathy may do so.

    8. If the queen does not die at Buckingham Palace, her body will be brought there as soon as possible after her death. The coffin will be placed in the throne room of Buckingham Palace to lie in state.

    9. Charles will make his first address as head of state on the evening of his mother’s death. At 11 a.m. on the following day, he will be proclaimed king of England. The Accession Council will hold a meeting to declare Charles king and will read a formal declaration to that end. Camilla, Charles’ wife, by law will become queen.

    10. After the proclamation is read, trumpets will sound and a 41-gun salute will be fired off in Hyde Park near Buckingham Palace.

    11. The new king will then go on a four-day tour of the country, attending services and meeting his subjects.

    12. The queen will lie in state for four days at Buckingham Palace then will be moved to Westminster Hall to lie in state for another four days. Moving the body to Westminster will involve a military parade. The queen’s remains will reach Westminster at precisely 11 a.m. Big Ben will ring out at that moment. Mourners will be able to pay their respects 23 hours a day on those four days.

    13. On the ninth day, the funeral will be held. Jewels placed on the coffin will be taken off and cleaned. Shops and business will be closed and much of the country will be off from work. The stock market will be closed.

    Big Ben will strike at 9 a.m that morning, it’s hammer padded so the sound will be muffled. The queen’s service will be in Westminster Abbey – the first for a monarch since 1760. The Abbey holds 2,000 people. At 11 a.m. precisely, the coffin will reach the Abbey’s doors and activity in the country is to stand still and fall quiet.

    Following the service, the coffin will be placed on a gun carriage and taken to a waiting hearse. The hearse will drive the queen’s body to Windsor Castle. She will be buried in the royal vault at the family chapel in a private service. 

    As her body is lowered into the vault, Charles will reach into a silver bowl and get a handful of red earth to drop onto the queen’s coffin.

    The Preakness Stakes 2018: What time, who is running what are the odds?

    Kentucky Derby winner Justify will be in the field of eight for the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

    The second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown will see a smaller field than the Kentucky Derby with the eight horses running the mile-and-3/16-course.

    Here’s what you need to know about the 2018 Run for the Black-Eyed Susans at Pimlico.

    When is the 2018 Preakness?  

    The race is always held on the third Saturday in May. That is this Saturday.

    What time does it start?

    Coverage of the race begins at 5 p.m. ET. Post time for the race is 6:45 p.m. ET. NBC will provide TV coverage from 5-7:15 p.m. ET. 

    What channel is it on? 

    NBC will broadcast pre-race activities in addition to the race.

    Is it livestreamed? 

    Yes. Click here, NBC Sports Live, to watch on Saturday. The events can also be live-streamed on fuboTV.

    How far do the horses run? 

    1 3/16 miles.

    What is the track surface?  


    What is the record at the track?  

    Secretariat holds the record. In 1973, Secretariat ran the 9.5 furlongs in 1:53.

    What’s the purse for this year’s Preakness? 

    The purse is $1.5 million.

    Which horses are running in the 2018 Preakness Stakes?  

    Here are the horses and their post positions:

    1. #Quip
    2. #LoneSailor
    3. #SportingChance
    4. #DiamondKing
    5. #GoodMagic
    6. #Tenfold
    7. #Justify
    8. #Bravazo

    Who is the favorite to win the 2017 Preakness?  

    As of Thursday, here are the odds for the race:

    1. Quip (12-1)
    2. Lone Sailor (15-1)
    3. Sporting Chance (30-1)
    4. Diamond King (30-1)
    5. Good Magic (3-1)
    6. Tenfold (20-1)
    7. Justify (1-2)
    8. Bravazo (20-1) 

    What is the special song they sing?

    Just after the horses are called to the post, the song "Maryland, My Maryland" is played. The official state song of Maryland is led by the United States Naval Academy Glee Club.

    Here are the lyrics if you want to sing along.  There are nine verses, here are the first three:

    The despot's heel is on thy shore,


    His torch is at thy temple door,


    Avenge the patriotic gore 

    That flecked the streets of Baltimore, 

    And be the battle queen of yore,

    Maryland! My Maryland!


    Hark to an exiled son's appeal,


    My mother State! to thee I kneel,


    For life and death, for woe and weal, 

    Thy peerless chivalry reveal,  

    And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,

    Maryland! My Maryland!

      Thou wilt not cower in the dust,


    Thy beaming sword shall never rust,


    Remember Carroll's sacred trust, 

    Remember Howard's warlike thrust,- 

    And all thy slumberers with the just,

    Maryland! My Maryland!

    What’s the weather going to be like? 

    The Preakness could be a soggy one, with meteorologists predicting an 80 percent chance of rain on Saturday. Temperatures will be in the 60s to lower 70s.

    Where can you find the Preakness Stakes Facebook and Twitter accounts?

    For Facebook, click here. For Twitter, click here.

    Yanny or Laurel debate: This is what you heard and why

    A 4-second audio clip has taken the internet by storm as people across social media ask: Is that robotic voice saying “Yanny” or “Laurel?”

    >> Read more trending news

    Opinions have been divided since the clip surfaced this week in a way unseen since the great dress debacle of 2015, in which internet users couldn’t agree about whether a dress was white and gold or black and blue.

    >> Yanny or Laurel? Viral audio clip leaves internet divided

    The audio clip in question went viral after it was posted to Reddit and subsequently shared on Twitter.

    To the dismay of roughly half the internet, The New York Times reported Wednesday that the audio was originally sourced from a page for the word “laurel.”

    The newspaper traced the clip back to high school student Roland Szabo, 18, of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Szabo told the newspaper that he came across the clip as he was working on a school project. When the voice came through his computer’s speakers, it sparked a debate in the room over what the voice was saying.

    He told the Times he shared the recording with a friend, who in turn created a poll on Instagram.

    But the question remains: Why can’t people agree on what’s being said?

    David Alais, a professor at the University of Sydney’s school of psychology, told The Guardian that he heard “Yanny” without ambiguity when he first listened to the clip but that the clip itself was an example of a “perceptually ambiguous stimulus.”

    “They can be seen in two ways, and often the mind flips back and forth between the two interpretations,” Alais told The Guardian. “If there is little ambiguity, the brain locks on to a single perceptual interpretation. Here, the Yanny/Laurel sound is meant to be ambiguous because each sound has a similar timing and energy content – so in principle it’s confusable.

    “All of this goes to highlight just how much the brain is an active interpreter of sensory input, and thus that the external world is less objective than we like to believe.”

    A person’s age can also greatly affect what they hear, as it’s natural during the aging process for a person to lose his or her sensitivity to high frequencies, he said.

    Brad Story, a professor of speech, language and hearing at the University of Arizona, told CNN that the quality of the recording itself left much to interpretation.

    “It’s not a very high quality,” he said. “That in itself allows there to be some ambiguity.”

    Interpretations can also be affected by the device a person uses to listen to the clip, he said.

    Hurricane evacuation: Helpful apps for finding gas, hotel rooms, traffic routes

    If you are looking for information needed when evacuating before a storm, here is a list of apps and websites that may help.

    For Federal Aviation Administration major airport status, see

    For gas availability, see GasBuddy at

    For a map of Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots, which are located both indoors and outdoors in places such as shopping districts, parks and businesses, visit

    For traffic slowdowns or wrecks, road closures and other real-time traffic issues, go to Waze.

    To find a hotel room, see

    If you need information about weather, public alerts, shelters, forecasts and more, go to’s crisis maps.

    If you want money transfer or storm tracking apps, or just want to network, try the App Store’s "Stay Safe After the Hurricane” collection.

    Various hurricane apps are available from a collection Google put together.

    15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane

    Here are some safety tips emergency management and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are offering that could save your life during a hurricane:Evacuation

    1. If you are ordered to evacuate, you need to evacuate. The best way to stay safe is to be away from the storm's landfall. The orders to evacuate are issued based on historical flood maps and the strength of the storm. 

    2. A Category 5 hurricane will bring “catastrophic damage,” officials with the National Hurricane Center warn, adding that “a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

    3.  If you are in a mobile home, leave. Mobile homes will not survive a Category 5 hurricane.

    4. Do not leave your pets at home, especially if they are outside.

    If you stay

    If you choose not to evacuate, or cannot leave, here are a few things you should do:

    1. Get in a more secure room in your home – a closet or a bathroom without a window.

    2. Stay on the bottom floor of your home unless water is rising.

    3.  Do not go into your attic to escape rising water because you could get trapped. If you absolutely have to get in the attic to survive rising water, make sure you take an ax with you so you can cut a hole in the roof to escape.

    4. If you are in an area that will flood, turn off electricity at the main breaker before water gets in your home to reduce the risk of electrocution.

    5. Of course, do not try to go outside during the storm. Pieces of buildings, roofs, trees and other objects will be flying through the air.

    6. Do not use candles as a light source – flashlights are what you need to use.

    7. When you lose power, click here to see how you can use the internet.

    During or after the storm

    1. Do not use a generator during a storm.

    2.  Never use portable generators inside a home, in your garage, in your basement or in a crawl space.

    3. Generators produce carbon monoxide and if they are inside your house, your home can fill up with carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide will kill you if you breathe too much of it. If you are using a portable generator to power appliances in your home following the storm, make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm. Appliances should be plugged directly into a generator. Do not hook the generator to your household electrical system. You can hurt yourself and kill utility workers when they begin to reconnect electricity to homes.

    4. Do not get anywhere near standing water. It could contain live electric wires. If you come in contact with it, you could be electrocuted. If you see wires on the ground after the storm, assume they are live.

    Here are some other tips from the Twitter feed of if you are evacuating or if you are staying home.

     The 5 ‘p’s of evacuation

     Don’t’ go farther than you have to

    Royal wedding: What is a fascinator and where can I get one? 

    With the Royal Wedding nearly upon us, all eyes will be turning to the fashion of the day at Prince Harry and Meghan Merkle’s wedding. 

    Of course, the star of the event will be Merkle’s dress, but the guests could show up wearing something that comes in at a close second:  A fashion accessory called a fascinator.

    >> Read more trending news

    The fascinator is worn on your head, but isn’t exactly a hat. Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew, made headlines at her cousin Prince William’s wedding when her fascinator proved to be a little too fascinating.

    Here’s a look at fascinators, their history and where you can get one.

    What are they?

    A fascinator is “a small adornment for the head, attached to a comb, wire, or clip, that perches on the head. No brim, no crown. The term today refers to anything attached to a clip, a headband, or a comb,” according to Philip Treacy, an Irish milliner (hat maker) who is one of two men credited with making fascinators popular. Think of

    them as hair decorations, rather than hats.

    Where did they get the name? 

    Fascinators have a long history. They started out as a piece of lacy fabric that women wore to cover their heads. The origin of this type of headwear can be traced back to 1600s Europe.

    It’s believed the head coverings were called fascinators because they had to be fastened to one’s head with a clip or pin.

    What is the history behind them?

    After first being noted in the 1600s in Europe, the fashion trend jumped the pond to make an appearance in the United States. By the late 1800s, the fascinator turned up in America, according to

    By the 1930s, fascinators fell out of vogue and were replaced by cocktail hats.

    The fascinator had a rebirth in the 1960s, when designer John P. John began designing hats without brims made of veiling so they could sit atop women’s ever-higher hairstyles without crushing them.

    From there, designers such as Treacy and British milliner Stephen Jones have continued the tradition of making fascinators the sought-after accessory they are today.

    Any rules for wearing them?

    There are a few rules for wearing fascinators, according to the Meredith Sweetpea blog. They are generally worn on the front or side of your head, just above the eyebrow. You should keep the fascinator in proportion to your body size – don’t let the fascinator wear you.

    Your hair shouldn’t compete with the fascinator, either. Keep the hairstyle simple. 

    Sweetpea also suggests you remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear a fascinator to the symphony, for instance, or any other place where there is the chance for stadium seating.

    Where can I get one?

    It is not difficult to find fascinators. Macy’sDillard’s and Amazon carry them, as does J.C. Penney and several online retailers.


    Why you should never use a generator during a storm

    If you are in a mandatory evacuation area, you need to leave. If you feel unsafe in your home,  you should get out. If you are making a decision to stay, safety in the home should obviously be your No. 1 priority.

    For many, a portable generator feels like a guarantee of a semblance of normalcy following a storm. While it can keep refrigerators on and fans or a small air conditioner running, there are dangers associated with using it.

    Here are some tips on generators and why you should never use one during a storm.

    From the National Safety Council

    1. Always read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions before running generator.

    2. Engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, and neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air. 

    3. Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors. 

    4. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area in which you’re running a generator. 

    5. Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least two minutes before refueling, and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer. 

    6. Maintain your generator according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety. 

    7. Never operate the generator near combustible materials. 

    8. If you have to use extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them in flat, open locations. 

    9. Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. That’s known as “backfeeding” and puts people in risk of electrocution – especially utility workers trying to reconnect electric power after the storm.

    10. Generators produce powerful voltage. Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain.

    11. Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated, in watts or amps, at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.  


    How to use internet during a storm when your internet is down

    If you are near the forecasted path of a hurricane and you fear the loss of communications that will come when power and internet service is disrupted, don’t worry.

    >> Read more trending news

    While there’s not an app for that, there is a workaround, as long as you have cellular service.

    During and after the storm, you may find that making phone calls becomes impossible, and that 3G and 4G internet service isn’t working, or at least not working well. The good news is that you may still be receiving text messages. 

    A story from The Washington Post offers some tips on how to use Twitter in a situation where internet service is spotty. Twitter was originally a text-based service, so it lends itself well to such a use.

    Here are a few other ways to keep in touch with the outside world:

    Every phone has an email address, and every provider offers something called an email “gateway.” The gateway allows you to send and receive emails via the text message function on your phone.

    Here, courtesy of HumanInet, is how to find your phone’s email address:

    If you’re on Verizon, it’s (as in, or if that doesn’t work,

    If you’re on AT&T, it’s, or if that doesn’t work

    If you’re on Sprint, it’s

    If you’re on T-Mobile, it’s

    (For other carriers, or to troubleshoot yours, check here.)

    Once you have your gateway address, you’ll need to forward your email via SMS to that address.

    To do that, go into “settings” in your phone and look for something like “add a forwarding address.” When you find that, type in your phone’s email address.

    According to HumanInet, that method may not work on some phones. If you have a problem with your phone, you can use an automated forwarding service like TXTJet, they suggest.

    If you want to send an email via text, you can enter you email address instead of a phone number.

    If you want to get updates from Twitter accounts when the internet gets spotty, you can set up a SMS “Fast Follow.” You don’t even have to have a Twitter account to get updates from those you choose to follow.

    You do this by texting “Follow (username)” to 40404. (Follow@nhc_atlantic to follow the National Hurricane Center, for instance).

    You cannot use this function to post on Twitter, only to receive notices.

    To post something on Twitter, the social media company says to do this:

    Send a text to Twitter code [40404] with the word START.

    Twitter will reply and ask you to text YES to the Twitter short code.

    Text your username to the same number. Do not use the @ symbol or quotation marks. Send your username only. For example: larrybird

    Next, text your password. This is case sensitive, so be sure you are sending your password correctly.

    Then you can text messages to go out on your Twitter account.

    If you can’t go without Facebook, even during a storm, activate Facebook via SMS by going to Facebook account settings and clicking “Mobile,” it’s on the left side of the page.

    Turn on Facebook Message Forwarding and Notifications. After it’s set up, post by texting to 32665 or FBOOK.

    You can even search Google by adding 466453 (GOOGLE) to your phonebook, then text to it to search.

    Sources: Twitter, The Washington Post; HumanInet; Facebook; Google


    What is storm surge and why is it dangerous?

    What is storm surge, how does it happen and why should you be wary of it? Here is a quick look at storm surge.

    What is storm surge?

    A storm surge is water pushed inland as a hurricane advances and makes landfall.

    How does it form?

    Imagine a bowl of water. Put your hand in the middle of the bowl and cup it. Now slowly push your hand toward the edge of the bowl. Those are the same dynamics as storm surge. The ocean water is pushed by winds and waves, and is also sucked into the air near the eye of the hurricane by low pressure.

    Is it a “wall of water” that rushes in?

    Rarely. It is usually a rise of water that can happen quickly, moving at the same rate as the forward speed of a hurricane. 

    How powerful is a storm surge?

    Very powerful. Only 1 cubic yard of sea water weighs 1,728 pounds. A 6-inch surge can knock a person down.

    How dangerous is it?

    Storm surge kills more people in a hurricane than all other components of the storm. The overwhelming majority of deaths in the 10 deadliest U.S. landfalling hurricanes were the result of storm surge.

    How can I stay safe?

    Get away from it. A surge 1 foot deep can take a car off a road. Get out early, because the surge can begin up to 24 hours before landfall. During Hurricane Katrina, people stayed in their homes and died there when the surge filled their homes with water and they could not escape. Also, don’t leave pets at home. Many animals died when people left them in their homes during Hurricane Katrina.

    Melania Trump: What is a kidney embolization and why is it done?

    First lady Melania Trump underwent a procedure on one of her kidneys Monday at Walter Reed Hospital that is designed to cut off the blood supply to a tumor or abnormal growth.

    The procedure, called an embolization, was performed on the first lady Monday morning, a White House press release said. The procedure, according to WebMD, is non-invasive and recovery is generally quick. The White House said the first lady was suffering from a “benign condition.”

    >> Read more trending news

    Trump is said to be doing well following the embolization.

    Here’s a look at the procedure she underwent.

    What is an embolization procedure?

    The procedure is performed to cut off the blood supply to a tumor or abnormal growth in the liver or kidney. When the blood supply is cut off, the mass will shrink.

    How is it done?

    A radiologist uses imaging guidance to insert a catheter into an artery. The catheter is moved through the artery and into blood vessels that feed the tumor or abnormal growth, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. The vessels are cauterized, and blood supply to the tumor is then cut off.

    "Kidney embolization procedures are generally well-tolerated," Dr. John Friedewald, M.D., of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told Women's Health. 

    Why is it done?

    The procedure can be done for many reasons, including relieving pain or cutting off blood supply to a tumor to reduce bleeding if there is a surgery to remove the mass.

    According to the Cancer Centers of American website, “Embolization may often be used to treat internal bleeding and help prevent heavy bleeding during surgery. In some cases, embolization may be a treatment option for difficult-to-reach, inoperable tumors. It may also be used to treat tumors that are too large to be ablated.”

    There are two types of benign kidney tumors that could require embolization. One is angiomyolipoma, a mass made up of a collection of blood vessels and fat cells.

    The other one is an arteriovenous malformation or AVM. AVMs are common and are made up of a collection of veins and arteries that combine to create a mass. 

    The White House said the first lady’s condition is “benign.” What does that mean?

    A benign condition means that whatever is wrong – and the White House has not revealed what that is – it is not cancerous and it is contained, meaning it has not spread. Common benign conditions can be kidney cysts or unusual growths such as the angiomyolipoma or AVMs.

    Jerusalem embassy opening: Why the controversy?

    The United States will hold an opening ceremony for the American embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the 70th anniversary of the recognition of the state of Israel. 

    The move comes after President Donald Trump announced in December his plans to move the embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declaring the ancient city the capital of Israel. 

    >> Read more trending news

    “President Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem affirms a great and simple truth: Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years. It’s been the capital of our state for the past 70 years. It will remain our capital for all time,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. 

    Here is a look at the move and what it means.

    Who is moving? 

    The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will move to the existing U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, along with a small core staff.  

    The building he will be moving to was opened in 2010.

    A new embassy will be built in Jerusalem over the next seven to 10 years. When that is completed, most of the 850 or so staff in the Tel Aviv embassy now will be moved to Jerusalem

    Why is the U.S. moving the embassy? 

    One of Trump’s campaign promises was to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6. 

    When Trump announced the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and move the U.S. embassy there, he cited the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel claims the city as its capital. 

    The three presidents who came before Trump, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, sidestepped the issue by signing waivers citing security concerns if the embassy is moved. 

    Trump said in December of his predecessors, “They failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

    Why hasn’t the embassy moved before? 

    The United States has not moved the embassy to Jerusalem before now because for 70 years countries around the world have mostly stayed out of the conflict over who owns the city. 

    In 1989, however, the U.S. began leasing a plot of land in Jerusalem that was to be the spot where a new embassy was to be built. The 99-year lease costs the United States $1 a year. The land remains undeveloped.

    Why is that causing so much commotion? 

    Jerusalem is the center of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israel has called Jerusalem its undivided capital, while Palestine claims the eastern half of the city as its capital. 

    In 1947, the United Nations worked to create a homeland for Jews in the Middle East with the idea that Jerusalem would be a separate “international city.” However, the war to establish an Israeli state led to the city being divided. 

    In 1949, the “Green Line” (a border created through negotiations at the end of the war) was established, giving Israel the western half of Jerusalem and Jordan the eastern half. 

    That arrangement lasted for nearly 20 years until the Six-Day War in 1967, at which time Israel occupied East Jerusalem and has kept it since then.  

    In 1980, Israel passed a law stating Jerusalem was the united capital of Israel. While Israel claims Jerusalem, the rest of the world has refrained from assigning capital status to either side until and unless Israel and Palestine can come to an agreement on who owns what. Resolving that issue is perhaps the most difficult part of finding a peaceful end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

    The United States is the first country since Israel's inception in 1948 to officially declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

    Does any other country have an embassy in Jerusalem? 

    Guatemala will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this week. Paraguay will do the same later this month.

    Who would be against it? 

    Palestine and other Arab countries.  

    In May 2017, the Palestinian group Hamas proposed the formation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Saudi Arabia has called the idea a “flagrant provocation to Muslims.” The majority of European Union members have refused to support the move. 

    On Tuesday, Palestinians also mark the "Nakba," or the day of “catastrophe.” On the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were evicted from their homes.

    What time is the ceremony Monday? 

    The event recognizing the opening of the embassy is scheduled to start at 9 a.m, ET (4 p.m., local time).

    Who will be at the ceremony? 

    Trump will not be attending the ceremony in person. He will offer comments in a video message that is to be played at the opening. (See above) 

    The president’s daughter, Ivanka, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, will be representing Trump at the ceremony. In addition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be at the ceremony, as will Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. David Friedman, the ambassador to Israel, will preside over the ceremony. Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Baptist preacher from Dallas, will offer a prayer at the ceremony. Jeffress has been called out by some for disparaging other religions, in particular, Islam.  

    Dozens of foreign diplomats have said they will attend the ceremony. Here’s a list of the countries with representatives at the ceremony: 

    Albania, Angola, Austria, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Macedonia, Burma, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Paraguay, Tanzania and Zambia.

    Who won’t be there? 

    Leaders and diplomats from the European Union will not attend. And, obviously, no one representing the Palestinians – who called Trump’s decision “the slap of the century” – will be there. 

    On Monday prior to the ceremony, Israeli forces killed 37 Palestinians and wounded at least 500 in Gaza, according to The Associated Press.

    Why does Jerusalem draw so much contention?

    Jerusalem is a sacred city to three of the world's religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

    The hill in the center of the city is the Temple Mount or Har ha-Bayit to the Jews. It was the site of many Jewish temples. It is now the site of the Western Wall, a place of sacred prayer. 

    To Muslims, the hill is The Noble Sanctuary or al-Haram al-Sharif. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are nearby. 

    For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected.Sources: The Associated Press; The BBC; Reuters;

    Teacher pay: Which states pay teachers the most?

    Teachers across the country are rallying for better pay and more funding for their classrooms, and in some cases, they are striking for it

    Educators in West Virginia and Oklahoma have walked off the job, and teachers in Colorado are threatening to do the same.

    The average public school teacher salary for 2016-2017 was $59,660, according to the National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the United States. That number was up from $58,353 in 2015-16. The NEA estimated that the average salary for this school year (2017-18) will be $60,483.

    In the report, average teacher salaries ranged from a high in New York ($81,902), California ($79,128), and Massachusetts ($78,100), to a low in Mississippi ($42,925), Oklahoma ($45,292) and West Virginia ($45,555). 

    The study showed that while salaries went up an average of 2 percent from school year 2008-2009 to the estimated salaries for school year 2017-2018, when adjusted for inflation, overall teacher salaries decreased by 4 percent during that time period.

    One-fifth of new public school educators leave the profession by the end of their first year of teaching, according to the NEA. Nearly half will leave within five years. 

    Low starting wages and pay increases that fail to match others in jobs that require similar education and experience is often cited as a reason for leaving the job. 

    In no state are teachers paid more than comparable college graduates, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The EPI reports that, on average, teachers make 77 percent of what other college graduates make.

    While several organizations track teacher salaries by state, the numbers can be a bit different depending on the criteria used to gather the information. Some organizations include private schools in the calculation and some do not, for instance.

    Here is a list of teacher salaries for 2017 from the NEA:

    1. Alabama: $50,391
    2. Alaska: $68,138
    3. Arizona: $47,403 
    4. Arkansas: $48,304  
    5. California: $79,128 
    6. Colorado: $51,808  
    7. Connecticut: $73,147 
    8. Delaware: $60,214
    9. District of Columbia: $75,692 
    10. Florida: $47,267
    11. Georgia: $55,532 
    12. Hawaii: $56,651
    13. Idaho: $47,504
    14. Illinois: $64,933 
    15. Indiana: $54,308
    16. Iowa: $55,647
    17. Kansas: $49,422
    18. Kentucky: $52,338
    19. Louisiana: $50,000
    20. Maine: $51,077 
    21. Maryland: $68,357
    22. Massachusetts: $78,100
    23. Michigan: $62,287
    24. Minnesota: $57,346
    25. Mississippi: $42,925
    26. Missouri: $48,618
    27. Montana: $51,422
    28. Nebraska: $52,338
    29. Nevada: $57,376
    30. New Hampshire: $57,522
    31. New Jersey: $69,623 
    32. New Mexico: $47,122
    33. New York: $81,902
    34. North Carolina: $49,970 
    35. North Dakota: $52,968
    36. Ohio: $58,202
    37. Oklahoma: $45,292 
    38. Oregon: $61,862
    39. Pennsylvania: $66,265
    40. Rhode Island: $66,477 
    41. South Carolina: $50,000
    42. South Dakota: $46,979
    43. Tennessee: $50,099
    44. Texas: $52,575 
    45. Utah: $47,244
    46. Vermont: $57,349
    47. Virginia: $51,049
    48. Washington: $54,433
    49. West Virginia: $45,555 
    50. Wisconsin: $54,998
    51. Wyoming: $58,187

    For the 2016-2017 school year, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics has the average salary for high school (secondary) teachers between $42,970 in Oklahoma and $87,260 in New York. Those numbers are culled from an average of salaries paid to all types of schools and other types of businesses that hire teachers.

    The BLS found that the median annual pay for elementary school teachers, excluding special education teachers, was $57,160. For kindergarten and elementary school teachers it was $56,900. For preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers together the median annual wage was $55,790. 

    A median wage is the wage at which half the workers earned more than that amount and half earned less.

    Here is the NBLS list of teacher salaries by state for secondary teachers. The list does not include salaries for special education teachers.

    1. Alabama: $49,790
    2. Alaska: $85,420
    3. Arizona: $48,050
    4. Arkansas: $50,990
    5. California: $77,390
    6. Colorado: $54,460
    7. Connecticut: $78,810
    8. Delaware: $63,640
    9. District of Columbia: $64,420
    10. Florida: $51,800
    11. Georgia: $56,850
    12. Hawaii: $59,250
    13. Idaho: $48,540
    14. Illinois: $68,380
    15. Indiana: $52,670
    16. Iowa: $54,490
    17. Kansas: $50,470
    18. Kentucky: $55,300
    19. Louisiana: $50,700
    20. Maine: $52,940
    21. Maryland: $69,070
    22. Massachusetts: $76,170
    23. Michigan: $62,910
    24. Minnesota: $65,290
    25. Mississippi: $46,370
    26. Missouri: $51,720
    27. Montana: $51,290
    28. Nebraska: $55,870
    29. Nevada: $57,210
    30. New Hampshire: $60,070
    31. New Jersey: $76,430
    32. New Mexico: $56,060
    33. New York: $83,360
    34. North Carolina: $46,370
    35. North Dakota: $51,400
    36. Ohio: $60,810
    37. Oklahoma: $41,880
    38. Oregon: $69,660
    39. Pennsylvania: $66,020
    40. Rhode Island: $67,620
    41. South Carolina: $53,960
    42. South Dakota: $41,980
    43. Tennessee: $51,390
    44. Texas: $57,830
    45. Utah: $55,540
    46. Vermont: $61,590
    47. Virginia: $69,890
    48. Washington: $64,760
    49. West Virginia: $46,560
    50. Wisconsin: $57,320
    51. Wyoming: $59,780

    The National Center for Education Statistics has kindergarten through grade 12 teachers making an estimated average salary of $58,064 in current dollars, meaning not adjusted for inflation. 

    The state with the highest average 2016-2017 salary for teachers on the list was New York with $79,637. California was second with $78,711. At the bottom of the NCES list was Oklahoma with an average salary of $45,245. South Dakota teachers made an average of $42,668, and Mississippi teachers made an average of $42,925.

    Click here for the complete list of NCES statistics for teacher salaries from 1969 to 2017. 

    Teacher Appreciation Week: Here are a few last-minute gift ideas

    It’s the middle of Teacher Appreciation Week and if you have not yet offered some form of appreciation for your child’s teacher, it’s not too late.

    >> Read more trending news

    Here are a few ideas – most from teachers – for useful gifts if you would like to recognize the work they do in the classroom.

    >>Teacher Appreciation Day 2018: Here are deals, freebies for teachers

    From, a website with tips, deals and advice for teachers, below are a few suggestions from a teacher about what would be lovely to receive as gifts as the school year winds down:

    • A note from students (and former students). One from the heart about the students time in that teacher’s classroom.
    • A note from the parents wouldn’t hurt either.
    • Supplies would be most appreciated. Teachers dig into their own pockets to come up with things their students need and things that make the learning experience more relevant or just more fun.
    • Coffee is a great gift, the story points out. It gets you through the day.

    Some teachers told that they could use art supplies (again, this is something teachers often pay for out of their own pockets).

    You can never go wrong with gift cards. Cards for Amazon or other online products and services is great. Gift cards for local goods and services – nails, coffee, an oil job – are even better.

    Some other ideas:

    Gift baskets are always nice. Just hold up on all the apple-themed gifts and mugs. It’s probably a good bet that your teacher has more than a few mugs and apple-shaped items. Think “practical.”

    Pencils, pens and crayons are always useful. If your child’s teacher has a favorite type of pen – you child will probably know – get him or her a pack of them.

    A note to the principal can make someone’s day. If you are going to send the teacher a note of appreciation, either copy it to the principal or send another one to him or her.

    Some things you may want to stay away from:

    • As was mentioned earlier, ease up on the mugs and apple-themed gifts. They are thoughtful, but your child’s teacher likely has a bunch of them.
    • Knickknacks that have to be displayed or stored.
    • Certain foods may not work as well as others. Something that has to be refrigerated, or, worse, something a teacher is allergic to, could be tricky. Again, check with the teacher, or if there is a room mom or dad try asking them what the teacher might enjoy.
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