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    We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback in New York City,' said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking to the city's emergency powers in matters of public health during a press conference on April 9, 2019. There are limits to my belief in modern medicine. Currently only taking one prescription drug for elevated blood pressure, lots of supplements and CBD oil to deal with a chronic inflammatory illness. I'm a big believer in wellness, prevention, chiropractic, exercise and a near daily yoga practice to help maintain good health.  But the evidence is indisputable, that vaccines have prevented serious illness among hundreds of millions, saved lives and shrunk the world of many killer diseases into a deep freeze in petri dishes secured within vaults at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Undoubtedly, preventative vaccines have spared both my children most of the once more severe illnesses of childhood.  Yet I did note a significant increase in both the type and number of required vaccinations from the birth of daughter #1 in 1992 to daughter # 2 in 2007, both children have been spared the pleasure of the measles and its German cousin, chicken pox, mumps and many other maladies too numerous to mention.  And yet, in many parts of the first world, parents are increasingly vacillating or in many cases simply saying NO to childhood vaccinations. Some believe vaccinations harbor small amounts of heavy metals like mercury and other toxins as preservatives. Thiomersal, and it's trade name, Merthiolate (patented by Eli Lily in 1928), are a preservative, derived from Mercury, used in the manufacture of many medical vaccinations.  A not small number in the scientific community, thousands of parents and families, and several well-regarded studies have indicated that Thiomersal may contribute to or cause autism and other illnesses, including cancer, SIDS and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  While parents have the right to make these decisions for their families and children, we are at the same time, more and more congregating in cities, where population density and commonly used surfaces and gathering places are also more and more the societal norm, in the United States and elsewhere. A current resurgence of the measles in New York City, originating reportedly within Orthodox Jewish communities who do not vaccinate as a matter of faith, has moved into the broader public school system population.  New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio is leading a public awareness effort, 'Don't Wait...Vaccinate,' to slow the measles outbreak, already resulting in hundreds of hospitalizations, from developing into a pandemic. The Mayor and City Council have mandated the measles vaccine for school-age children within several Zip codes in Brooklyn where out-breaks first occurred. Prior to the public health emergency declaration, Orthodox Jewish families in the impacted neighborhoods and communities were simply urged to keep sick children at home.  Vaccinations, on a global scale, have all but eradicated the threats of small pox and polio...and yet without continued vaccinations among our new population, these crippling and fatal diseases may likely make a return just as measles, chicken pox and other ailments considered less threatening are occurring, even to the extent that some parents hold 'measles/pox parties' to intentionally expose their offspring, in hopes of naturally strengthening their immune systems.  The annual flu vaccine, as an example, is often administered without any preservatives, while still sparing millions of Americans from the serious and in some cases fatal malady of the flu. And yet, with that vaccine both inexpensive and almost universally available, thousands of adults continue to choose to avoid it, and Georgia was among the most flu-infested states in the nation yet again this year.  The pharmaceutical industry, coming off another year of near record profits, would do well to make the common sense decision to research and deliver other preservative options. Protective mothers, like bears and lionesses are not likely to simply accept assurances and admonitions of 'trust us.' Trust, once lost or broken must be earned. Let's not gamble again with global public health. Drugs are tweaked and re-patented every day at the molecular level by big pharma when seeking the protections of a new patent. It's time to step up, so that you help remove the doubts of thousands of families refusing to roll up their sleeves and point their child's foot, upper arm, thigh or other body part at the business end of a needle. How about a little bit of self-directed financial pain for a significant confidence and consumer trust gain? Don't vacillate, make the smart and easy choice.
  • Welcome to Arlington National Cemetery, Our Nation's Most Sacred Shrine. Please Remember: These Are Hallowed Grounds,' greeting inscribed at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. The American Civil War ended 154 years ago this week as Appomattox treaty meetings got underway on April 8, 1865. This ended five years of conflict, resulting in more than 1,000,000 U.S. casualties and 655,000+ deaths (Union troops - 364,000+, Confederate troops - 290,000+). The war gave America its greatest loss of life in the history of our nation, and the Confederacy lost what was then just under 25 percent of its white male population.
  • At Goodwill, we try and meet our clients where they are...and then with training and the tools we have developed, we help them get to here they want to be, and hopefully on their way to a successful career,' said Keith Parker, CEO Goodwill of North Georgia, at a Goodwill “Atlanta Works” panel discussion at the Commerce Club of Atlanta.   Long-standing legacy charitable organizations have their challenges. Public attention and favoritism are often fickle, and many local and regional charities and non-profits now also compete for limited resources with their own national chapters.  Missions change, expand and shift, and often competition arises, sometimes within the same space, from newer, smaller and even hyper local entities, with the same good intentions, but little of the long term experience or success in delivering results.  One of those most visible, and in Georgia, among the largest in the non-profit arena is Goodwill. You most likely have seen and possibly shopped in their thrift stores. They collectively generated nearly $150-million in revenue during 2018. Goodwill received more than 3-million donations during the same period, interacting with 7.5 million customers, donors and clients. Most stores are now staffed and managed by former Goodwill clients. Long known for offering job-training for the developmentally disabled and in some markets sheltered-workshops (where the disabled could be trained and respectfully employed in a safe, albeit somewhat segregated surroundings), providing a modest income, the self-respect which comes from regular employment and the measured independence which follows.  Goodwill of North Georgia (45-county service territory) is led by its CEO, Keith Parker, until recently the man who turned around metro Atlanta's long-troubled mass transit system, MARTA. At MARTA, Parker stabilized finances (now more than a quarter-billion in operating reserves), improved morale and overall operational efficiency, strengthened a police force which has helped MARTA become one of the nation's safest transit systems, as well as won the confidence of the state's business leadership, statehouse and numerous city halls. If this Parker had chosen to stay at MARTA, I would have wagered heavily in favor of the recent unsuccessful transit expansion referendum in Gwinnett County to already be counting that new penny of sales tax revenue this week. Parker is a catalytic leader and change agent. He also walks the factory floor...at MARTA he road those trains to and from work himself, most every weekday.  At Goodwill, Parker understands that that humble worker or disabled adult who walks through their doors may not know where they are heading...or just how they will get there. Fortunately Goodwill does know, and provides the tools, hand up (versus hand-out) and help to identify opportunities to begin that climb up a career ladder and hopefully to a middle-class or better lifestyle and standard of living. Parker believes that wage inequity is a challenge for most urban areas, and at Goodwill, he is trying to do something about that as well. But during Goodwill’s “Atlanta Works” panel discussion, Parker was not suggesting massive taxation or re-distribution of wealth. He was simply suggesting greater investment in human capital and more work force training, in this case privately funded.  Along with Metro Atlanta Chamber CEO Hala Moddelmog, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta CEO Raphael Bostic and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms...Parker and the panel agreed it is incumbent upon all of the business community to help lift and hire those most challenged and vulnerable, as an employed worker is not only productive and contributing to society, but also no longer a potentially dependent burden, living life on the edge in the safety net or on the streets. This was not only a noble calling to hear, but impressive to note again, that Parker, less than a year into his new gig, is already shifting the landscape, changing the conversation and building community consensus while defining the new mission to lead. The man who re-opened MARTA for business is now going to try and re-open business minds to not only employing, but training and promoting non-traditional employees.  Having a child with Down syndrome, who is blossoming more recently in school thanks to a gifted educator, we are already looking ahead to transitioning to adulthood, higher education and later employment opportunities. I don't know if Mr. Parker will still be running this show by the time our child graduates high school, but if he is, I have faith and confidence that the developmentally disabled seeking employment opportunities in north Georgia have their future in good hands...and that is more than goodwill.
  • Nothing short, in my opinion, of an attempted theft from the people of Atlanta, and the city of Atlanta,' said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms following passage in the Georgia State Senate of a bill to create a state airport authority, to oversee operations of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and other major commercial airports across Georgia.It was legendary Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield who wined and dined a former U.S. Postmaster General into selecting Atlanta over Birmingham for locating one of the first major U.S. airmail depots, south of the city at the Atlanta Municipal Airport, a formerly abandoned auto race track, still called Candler Field into the early 1940s.
  • I'm not telling you that it is going to be easy. I am telling you that it is going to be worth it,' said Art Williams, father of a child with Down syndrome. Thursday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. WDSD is a global celebration and day of recognition and awareness for the children and adults, as well as their families and friends living in the world of Down Syndrome. Activities and social media awareness efforts will continue worldwide throughout the week.  English physician Dr. John Langdon Down, first identified what he is perceived as a distinct mental health diagnosis in 1862. It was not until early 1959 that French pediatrician and early geneticist, Dr. Jerome Lejeune along with colleague Martha Gautier, discovered that Down syndrome patients carried an additional chromosome on their 21st pair of 23 chromosomes. This gave us the name Trisomy 21, and the genetic marker for Down syndrome, which remains the world's most common genetic abnormality at birth, typically 8 out of every 1000 live births in the United States. Among the most unfortunate aspect which readily comes to mind about the world of Down syndrome, and spending time with infants, children and adults with this genetic abnormality, is that the name of the discovering physician was not Up.  My youngest daughter is a pre-teen with Down syndrome. Whenever I pick her up at the end of a long school day, she still runs and practically jumps into my arms. This welcome is followed by a long hug and inquiry about how my day has been. As we walk to the car, typically hand in hand...she shares the measure of her day, its brief high and sometimes low points, and we plan the rest of our afternoon or evening. Though casting no aspersions, this simply would not happen with a typical pre-teen, boy or girl. Her general kindness and treatment of others routinely brings joy. On a recent grocery trip, she noted the customer ahead of us, a nurse, had apparently had a particularly challenging and long shift. Olivia instinctively stroked her lower back, told her things would get better, and then began to unload her buggy, quickly moving to the end of the same line to bag her order and place it in her cart. Olivia is 11, she has never been trained nor worked in a grocery store, though she regularly visits with her mother, step-father or myself. The nurse was over-whelmed with gratitude, and though she had just previously paid forward a portion of the order of the customer preceding her, she reached back into her purse and handed Olivia two crisp dollar bills and said, 'Pick out something fun, just for you.' It was $2 dollars, generously given, and Olivia's face lit up like a Christmas tree. We didn't make it home before the reward had been purposed and two reward trinkets made the ride home us. I worked for nearly 9 years in the grocery business, during high school and college, and I can't remember how many thousand customers who I helped bag or carry groceries out to their car...but I can't remember a single exchange that felt quite like this one. Our children are not seeking special treatment, a parade or the level of financial support we rightly raise to fight cancer, diabetes or many other chronic health conditions. What they seek, and we advocate on their behalf is pretty simple. They want acceptance, inclusion, friendship, independence and a life largely being treated just like everyone else. They may work years to perfect simple tasks which their own brain can trip them up on. But more than the joy of mastering that skill, they bask in the glow of friendship, consideration and love from others. If you have occasion to interact with someone of special needs this week, perhaps realize for a moment how much they prefer that you treat them normally, that you speak to, include and embrace their presence in your community, workplace or place of worship. And if you make that choice, let me know how you feel, as well as the smile which you most likely receive as instant payment, or perhaps a simple hug which greatly improves your day. I can’t promise that every inter-action will bring joy or perfection, but I can guarantee that over-time you will be the better for those inter-actions. Happy World Down Syndrome Day!
  • With a bit of work ethic and any kind of training or certification in our construction trades, you can be employed in days, ranging from a paid apprenticeship learning a craft up to starting salaries in the $80,000 a year range,' Michael Dunham, CEO, Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Inc. (AGC).
  • My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.' from Donald Trump's autobiographical memoir, 'The Art of the Deal,' published in 1987. As an entrepreneur, reality TV star, later presidential aspirant and now President, Donald Trump frequently reminds us all, on Twitter and elsewhere of his powers of persuasion and big deal making. I give President Trump credit for opening discussions with North Korea, and its odd dictator, Kim Jong Un. Three generations of the Kim family have ruled North Korea since 1948. And standing down the nuclear weapons program of the tiny first world regime has vexed U.S. presidents ever since. Following the first summit, Trump was able to cause Kim to halt missile launches over allies like Japan as well as actively testing his nuclear arsenal. Kim was also persuaded, by Trump or by history, to take the first steps across his border and the de-militarized zone, to walk and talk with his South Korean counter-part, and to possibly begin what might actually become the full armistice and end of the Korean War.
  • The summertime highlights of my childhood were often spent on the beaches of Jekyll Island. In addition to hundreds of sand castles, thousands of miles of beach walks and bike rides...my family has very strong and singular memories of assisting sea turtles. During evening beach walks we would often note sea turtle mama's depositing their eggs near the sea wall, or struggling to make their way back out to sea. Nearing five decades later, I am thrilled to know that a corps of volunteers, now mark and protect those baby turtle eggs and nests, and the work of Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center is known nationwide.
  • America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves,' President Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865). As has been documented in numerous public opinion surveys, Millennials, who as of this year became the largest demographic age group and population block in our nation, have a clouded understanding of the meaning of socialism. When asked, in multiple formats, if our nation would be better off if all incomes were collected by the government, and then redistributed in equal amounts to all citizens...an overwhelming nearly 80 percent of those surveyed emphatically said, Yes. I frankly find this more disturbing than the ongoing Opioid Crisis, which took the lives of nearly 48,000 Americans during 2018. Since elementary school, I have been a student of history, our republic and the conflicts which helped build our nation into the world's strongest economy, and the only place I know where personal freedom reigns supreme. And with that said, I want my children, your children and our grandchildren to better understand that even freedom is not 'free.' The parade of U.S. presidential candidates for 2020 already sounds like a sweepstakes race, with each trying to top the other with their Get Out, No Jail Everything is FREE card. Free college, free Medicare for all, free Daycare, free Basic Income... and the list goes on. I purchase healthcare coverage via the federal Market Place Exchange, and though I can't say I have been pleased with many aspects of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, I had no coverage at all for a few years prior to that, due to a pre-existing medical condition. That said, me having health care coverage remains and should be my responsibility not my employer's, the federal government nor my neighbor. I support subsidized and on-site employer sponsored day care, as an employee amenity, and deductible expense for the employer, but NOT mandated, federally organized and funded child care. If you think otherwise, pay a visit to your nearest local Head Start program. Georgia's lottery provides pre-K funding, but that program funds local schools and even private daycare facilities, leaving placement choices and related staffing concerns in the hands of parents, as it should be. Much example is made of socialist programs in many Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway and Finland. Neither is a true socialist state, but both offer much higher income tax rates, greater redistribution of income and a larger safety net than the U.S. Having traveled to Iceland and other neighboring nations, the populations there are smaller, much more Euro-centric and generally less diverse. Tourism is easy and encouraged, immigration, non-native born citizenship, or the ownership of property is not particularly encouraged and in some cases practically impossible. The immediate prior President of France raised the income tax rate for wage earners there to 75 percent. Almost overnight the top 300 wealthiest citizens of France became citizens of Belgium and other neighboring low and no-tax neighbors within the European Union.  More recently stateside, Trump administration tax cuts removed a long-treasured tax haven of the full deductibility of state income and property taxes. Not surprisingly, with the cap on deductible residential property taxes now $10,000, hundreds of thousands of residents in high tax states have sold their property and homesteads, relocating to lower and no property tax states. Not having served in uniform in our nation's military is perhaps my largest single life regret. Although time spent in the Georgia Defense Force (the Reserve's reserve) was worthwhile, it's not the same, and particularly not the same as serving during a time of military conflict. Those who have lost life, limb or a family member in combat, paying the ultimate price, know more than any others that the price of our continuing freedom is truly not free. A warm visit just over a year ago to the land of fire and ice (Iceland) was followed by my more recent discovery that the world's tiniest nation strictly controls the birth rates of any fetus determined to test positive for a genetic marker for Down syndrome. Nearly 100 percent of those pregnancies are then terminated. Having a child with Down syndrome of our own, we can unequivocally state that this is a choice and price which the people of Iceland are collectively paying, and which they may not fully appreciate for decades, but it also makes the price of any return trip to that lovely island nation a bit too high for me.  
  • It doesn't matter whether he was in the photo, or not in the photo at this point. We have to close that chapter,' said former Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who aided, supported and assisted in the election of current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on CNN's 'State of the Union.’ Since the low-bar was set during the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the weaponizing of high school and other yearbooks as part of opposition research and background checks is now fully underway. With an expected field of more than 20 Democrats lining up to seek the White House in 2020, you can rest assured that dozens of interns working for the nation's top political consulting firms are fanning out across the country into high school and college libraries to locate and identify the poor decision making in youth of our potential future leaders.  Virginia Governor (as of this writing) Ralph Northam, is someone I've never met, and will not spend time defending. Though I will draw a distinction, between an expectation of maturity and adult reasoning in a Med School student, versus an adolescent in high school. It is more than likely that Democratic Governor Northam, who used race as an issue against his GOP opponent, Ed Gillespie, will be driven from office, in a matter of days or weeks, largely over a photograph on his Med School yearbook page, along with a later admission of donning shoe polish on his face in a staged tribute to Michael Jackson in 1994.  Northam, previously Virginia's Lt. Governor, won the office narrowly, largely on the back of voters in metro Washington, D.C.. The Virginia Commonwealth out-state is a largely conservative and Red State, much like Georgia and metro Atlanta, the politics of its largest MSA, in this case Washington, D.C., often tip the ballot scales in a different direction. But again, if Northam is to be run out on a rail following this trolling stroll down memory lane, it should be for his current or at least more recent poor choices in public life, as well as bad actions or intentions to implement poor public policy...and not simply for stupid costume decision making in youth.  Northam recently endorsed a failed bill in the Virginia General Assembly which would have all but legalized infanticide and extended legal abortion procedures to post-birth. During his campaign, Northam used race as a wedge issue to link his opponent, former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie with some of the bad answer choices of President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the tragic riots and protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. These are the kinds of decisions which Virginians should be holding up for closer scrutiny and review. Christ was not perfect. My main challenge with the Catholic Church of my birth and christening is the insistence that our Pope is a practical deity. He is a man. With all the good and bad that comes with that, selected by other men...again to lead. I know many people including myself, with lives well and charitably lived, who have had bad nights, made poor decisions and on occasion had those moments captured for posterity. Should one black mark or bad costume decision erase decades of good choices? Whatever happened to second chances, or acknowledging the onset of maturity, personal growth or even simply becoming a better human being, generally considered one of the true benefits of aging? Accountability courts now give non-violent criminal offenders a second chance. Florida and other states are having ongoing discussions about restoring the voting rights of felons. If we are such a forgiving people, and so willing to give second chances, shouldn't we start by acknowledging the folly of judging the mindset of a public official today by their youth and costume choices of decades ago? And given the proliferation of electronic photography, are we ready for the likely slutty Mrs. Santa and naughty nurse photos yet to come in a post Me-Too era of the hundreds of women entering elected life?  Having weathered a healthy number of youthful indiscretions as well as more recent bad decisions of my own, I remain glad that we are able to build our cumulative life's work and reputation on the back of a series of good choices and decisions as well as knowing that when we are finally judged by a higher authority, what is truly in our heart, minds and expressed in our faith matters for something. While I wish Governor Northam and his family well, I suspect they are in for a challenging set of years. I would urge my friends and the citizens of the great Commonwealth of Virginia to not rush to judgement and to fully comprehend the reasons for the decision which they are considering, as well as noting the sound of yearbooks rustling and memory sticks moving into vaults, while even the Jefferson Dorm on the UVA campus has walls which contain stories of bad choices and memories. Thankfully though, those walls can't talk.    

News

  • “Boyz n the Hood” director John Singleton suffered a stroke last week and remains hospitalized, according to his family. >> Read more trending news In a statement released Saturday, Singleton’s family announced that the 51-year-old filmmaker was in a hospital intensive care unit and “under great medical care.” “On Wednesday, April 17th our beloved son/father, John Singleton, suffered a stroke while at the hospital,” the statement reads. “We ask that privacy be given to him and our family at this time and appreciate all of the prayers that have been pouring in from his fans, friends and colleagues.” Author Neil deGrasse Tyson and actor Omar Epps have been among those tweeting wishes Saturday for a quick recovery. Singleton became the first black filmmaker to receive an Oscar nomination when he was cited for his debut feature, “Boyz n the Hood,” which was set in his native Los Angeles and released in 1991. His other films include “Poetic Justice,” which starred Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur, and “Rosewood.” Singleton’s recent projects include the TV series “Snowfall,” a crime drama set in 1980s Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A former football coach and fitness instructor in Bellingham, Washington, pleaded guilty last month to the November 2017 murder of his wife in Park City, Utah.  >> Read more trending news According to a story posted in March by KSTU in Salt Lake City, Anthony Darnel McClanahan’s guilty plea was part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors agreed to remove a domestic violence designation and an enhanced penalty for the use of a dangerous weapon. Prosecutors also agreed to drop a child kidnapping case against him 30 days after his sentencing, according to KSTU. McClanahan is expected to be sentenced on April 29.  McClanahan’s wife, Keri Colleen McClanahan, was found dead at the Park Regency Resort in Park City on Nov. 2, 2017.  “Nothing will ever bring her back,” Heather Gauf, Keri McClanahan's sister, told The Bellingham Herald. “That’s the unfortunate part of this. We have to continue without her, and her children have to grow up without her. He murdered her in a brutal and savage way.” Police found Anthony McClanahan covered in blood and crawling on his stomach outside early in the morning on Nov. 2, according to charging documents. He lifted himself up just enough to flag down a police officer, and then dropped back down and began convulsing, his arms making a 'snow angel motion,' the officer at the scene told prosecutors. Click here to read more.  Originally from Bakersfield, California, McClanahan played four years with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in the mid-1990s after a collegiate football career at Washington State University. He was in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL in 1994 but never played in a game. McClanahan started 41 sports fitness boot camps in Bellingham in 2009 and hosted youth football camps in Whatcom County from 2012 to 2016, according to The Bellingham Herald.  Keri McClanahan, who went by KC, had been planning to leave her husband but wanted to help him get on his feet first, Gauf said in 2017. The couple had met when he was working as a personal trainer in Bellingham, and he pushed for a fast wedding, Gauf said. 'It worried me a lot,'' she said, but 'he kind of had us fooled.' After the January 2017 wedding, the McClanahans moved to Arizona together and began traveling to volunteer in areas that had been affected by hurricanes. But his jealousy began to emerge and, in September 2017, he got frustrated about a missed donation and punched his wife, Gauf said. He'd sometimes refer to the effects of head injuries he'd suffered during his football career, though Gauf said she doubts they were the root cause of the violence. After the punch, Keri McClanahan returned home to Washington, but her husband continued to contact her even as he left Arizona with his son. Anthony McClanahan ended up in Utah because he has family there and wanted his son to be an extra in a Disney TV production, Gauf said. Keri McClanahan eventually met him in Utah to help with his son, and stayed to help him get back on his feet after his arrest in October 2017, Gauf said. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report. 
  • A man was shot multiple times at a popular Atlanta diner Saturday morning, police said. Officers responded to the Landmark Diner along Broad Street about 2:40 a.m. to find a 31-year-old lying on the floor with “an unidentified number of gunshot wounds,” Atlanta police spokeswoman Officer Stephanie Brown said.  The man, who was alert when officers arrived, refused to tell the police where he was shot or anything about the altercation that led to it, police said.  Another witness told officers the man was shot at by one of three juveniles riding a red Jump bicycle, Brown said. Officers searched the area but were unable to locate any suspects, she said.  In other news: 
  • A Gordon County youth minister who also managed a frozen yogurt shop was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to solicit sex from a person he presumed was a teenage boy. Zachary Michael Baker, 29, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, sexual exploitation of a child by use of a computer and obscene internet contact with a child, the Rome News-Tribune reported.  According to the newspaper, Baker thought he was chatting with a 14-year-old named Aidan, but was actually speaking with Floyd County police Capt. Ojilvia Lom when he arranged to meet the teen for oral sex. Authorities began the undercover sting after Baker reportedly posted a Craigslist ad seeking other men to experiment with. The sweetFrog yogurt shop manager was arrested in January after showing up at a location to have sex with the teen. Prosecutors said Baker didn’t initially ask for sex, but slowly “groomed” the teen by building a relationship with him. At one point, Baker asked “Aidan” if his mom could bring him by the yogurt shop so they could see each other and Baker could make sure the teen wasn’t a law enforcement officer, according to the news report. Baker’s attorney sought a reduced sentence since his client didn’t have previous arrests and there wasn’t actually a minor involved, the paper reported. He argued that Baker works two jobs, attended 16 weeks of group therapy and is a part of a men’s support group.The 29-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by 17 years on probation. Once he’s released, Baker must register as a sex offender. In other news: 
  • A family camping in a remote area of an Australian island was sleeping in its trailer when two dingoes entered and tried to take off with a 14-month-old boy early Friday. >> Read more trending news  The boy suffered puncture wounds to his head and neck after one of the wild dogs tried dragging the boy into some bushes on Fraser Island, which is off the Queensland coast. The parents awoke to the child’s cries fading in the distance as he was being taken away. The father ran outside and fought off several dingoes. “He was apparently grabbed around the back of the neck area and dragged away. So, if it wasn’t for the parents and their quick thinking and fighting off the dingoes, he probably would have had more severe injuries,” Frank Bertoli, a pilot for RACQ Life Flight, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The boy was flown to a hospital, where he is in stable condition, 9News reported. His parents told 9News he is recovering after undergoing two rounds of surgeries.  This is the third dingo attack on Fraser Island this year. A 9-year-old boy was chased and mauled in February and a 6-year-old boy was bitten on the legs in January, 9News reported. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • A driver was pulled over on the way to a job interview and, instead of getting a citation, he was given a ride by the officer. >> Read more trending news  Ka’Shawn Baldwin, 22, was pulled over for expired plates. He also had an expired driver’s license, according to a social media post by the mayor’s assistant.  Baldwin told Cahokia police Officer Roger Gemoules that he was on his way to a job interview and did not have another way to get there.  'I thought it was over,' Baldwin told CNN. 'The main thing that was running through my mind (was): I'm fixin' to miss the job interview and get the car towed that wasn't even mine.' Rather than write a ticket, Gemoules, a high school resource officer, followed Baldwin as he parked the car at a safe location, and then gave him a ride to the interview, CNN reported.  'He was very respectful when I pulled him over and you could just tell. I could feel that he really was wanting to get to this job interview,' Gemoules told CNN. Baldwin got the job as a package handler at FedEx. He also works at McDonald’s, KSDK reported.  Baldwin told KSDK he will be taking the bus to and from work until he gets his license back.