Blog Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Plane arrives in W. Africa to evacuate Americans infected with Ebola

    State Department: 'Safety and security of U.S. citizens is our paramount concern'

    [Updated at 6 p.m. ET]

    A U.S. medical rescue team has arrived in West Africa to evacuate two Americans seriously ill with the deadly Ebola virus, doctors with Emory University Hospital said on Friday.

    Medics from the air ambulance have deemed Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol stable enough to transport. The small private jet can carry only one patient at a time. It was undetermined on Friday who would come back first.

    The patients will land at Dobbins Air Reserve Base before being transported 16 miles to a high-security isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Officials expect both will arrive by early next week. 

    The medical evacuations were arranged by the faith-based humanitarian group Samaritan's Purse, but are being facilitated by the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    It will mark the first time that an Ebola patient has been known to be treated in the United States.

    “The safety and security of U.S. citizens is our

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  • American missionaries infected with Ebola to be brought home

    Arrival will mark first known case of the virus in the U.S.

    Dr. Kent Brantly (R) carrying in an Ebola patient before he became contaminated with the disease himself. (Courtesy Samaritan's Purse)Dr. Kent Brantly (R) carrying in an Ebola patient before he became contaminated with the disease himself. (Courtesy Samaritan's Purse)
    An Atlanta hospital is preparing to treat one of the two American aid workers who contracted the highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

    It will be the first time that a patient diagnosed with Ebola will be known to be in the United States.

    Emory University Hospital said in an email to Yahoo News late Thursday that it “has been informed that there are plans to transfer a patient with Ebola virus infection to its special facility containment unit within the next several days. We do not know at this time when the patient will arrive.”

    But CNN reported that a long-range business jet is already en route to Monrovia, Liberia, where medical missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol have been under quarantine for several days and are struggling to survive.

    SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, have served in Africa for 10 years. (Courtesy photo)SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, have served in Africa for 10 years. (Courtesy photo)

    Citing privacy laws, the hospital declined to say if either Brantly, 33, or Writebol, 59, will be cared for in a special isolation unit. The facility, one of four of its kind in the country, was built in

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  • Ebola-infected doctor's extraordinary sacrifice

    One of two sick U.S. aid workers being brought to Atlanta, officials say

    Dr. Kent Brantly in Liberia before he contracted Ebola. (Courtesy Samaritan's Purse)Dr. Kent Brantly in Liberia before he contracted Ebola. (Courtesy Samaritan's Purse)

    [Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET]

    Even from his own sickbed in Africa, American physician Kent Brantly continues putting the well-being of others before his own.

    Brantly, a medical missionary in West Africa, and fellow American Nancy Writebol both contracted Ebola last weekend. They spent the past several days under quarantine and are struggling to survive.

    On Wednesday, an experimental serum arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, but there was only enough dosage for one patient.

    SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, have served in Africa for 10 years. (Courtesy photo)SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, have served in Africa for 10 years. (Courtesy photo)“Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian humanitarian organization Brantly is working for.

    Late Thursday, officials at Emory University Hospital near the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed that one of the two aid workers will soon be brought to a special high-security ward there. The name of the patient was not revealed.

    Brantly's gesture of letting Writebol have the serum fits the description of selflessness and

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  • Tribute flag found at flea market to be given to fallen Marine's mother

    'That is a piece of my son coming back to me,' grieving mother says

    In the stack of worn American flags, this one stood out: stars, stripes and dozens of heartfelt inscriptions.

    Wally and Lanie Mae Brown were recently rummaging at a Texas flea market when one particular cloth caught their attention.

    “I was shocked to see dedications from Marines all over this flag to a lance corporal named 'Fred,'” Lanie Mae writes in a Facebook message. “While scouring the many heartfelt messages to this young man, simultaneously we saw 'RIP Fred' and again, simultaneously we said, 'we have to get this flag to his mama.'”

    Lance Cpl. Fred L. Maciel, 20, of Spring, Texas, was killed Jan. 26, 2005, when the helicopter he was riding in crashed in Iraq.

    His mother, Patsy Maciel, received the burial flag that draped his casket nine years ago. But it wasn’t until the Browns tracked her down through Facebook that she learned a second flag existed.

    The tribute flag bears the final expressions from Marines in his unit.

    “I can’t wait to read what they wrote,” Maciel told

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  • Cops nab criminal who taunted them on Facebook

    'Y’all will never catch me,' he commented under wanted poster

    Roger Ray Ireland (Anne Arundel County Police Department)Roger Ray Ireland (Anne Arundel County Police Department)The wide-eyed look on career criminal Roger Ray Ireland’s mug shot says it all.

    On Wednesday, police in suburban Baltimore featured Ireland on their Facebook page as part of their “#WantedWednesday” effort to locate suspects with outstanding arrest warrants.

    Ireland, 28, got wind of the cybersleuthing and posted a comment on the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Facebook page.

    “Y’all will never catch me,” Ireland boasted in a message under his wanted poster.

    But they did. A day later he was back in the pokey.

    “It didn’t work out in his favor,” Capt. Ed Smith of Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Department told Yahoo News. “He should have kept his mouth shut.”

    The police Facebook post prompted residents to tag Ireland’s family members in the comments section.

    Ireland, who had been sought since July 8 for violating probation on a theft conviction, wasn’t pleased.

    “Yo all yall people tagging my hole family bout my [business] stay ... out,” he wrote.

    His presence in the comment thread

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  • Online rants, anti-government radicals fuel fear of U.S. cop killings

    Slayings of Las Vegas officers were praised in social media

    CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Online rants, right-wing extremists fuel fears for US cops. (AP Photo/John Locher)CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Online rants, anti-government extremists fuel fears for US cops. (AP Photo/John Locher)

    The celebrating began before the coroner could collect the bodies of Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, the Las Vegas patrol officers ambushed and executed while eating at a pizzeria last month.

    “The good news is, there are two less police in the world,” read an entry on the Facebook page for CopBlock.org.

    The post was visible for less than a day, but it attracted at least 6,300 likes and comments by the time the page’s administrators removed it.

    Jerad Miller who along with his wife, Amanda, gunned down the Vegas police officers before dying during a shootout with police was one of Cop Block’s 780,000-plus Facebook fans.

    The decentralized advocacy group says it disavows violence while spreading a belief that “badges don’t grant extra rights.”

    But the Millers, described by investigators as anti-government extremists, had a deadly animosity for authority.

    Officer Alyn Beck was remembered as a loyal husband and dedicated father to his three children. (AP)Officer Alyn Beck was remembered as a loyal husband and dedicated father to his three children. (AP)

    “Bout time to start killing cops, eh?” Miller, 31, wrote in May when he shared a viral video of police brutality on Facebook. “Maybe if

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  • Military action in Iraq creates new anxiety for hard-hit Fort Hood, Texas

    Army Sgt. Daniel Methvin was among the post's previous record casualty count

    The Iraq war claimed the lives of 519 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, more than any other U.S. military post. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)The Iraq war claimed the lives of 519 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, more than any other U.S. military post. (Jason Sickles/Yahoo News)

    KILLEEN, Texas — There are days when George and Linda Methvin still tiptoe around their home in nearby Belton like it’s an emotional minefield.

    Eleven years ago next month Army officers came to the two-story redbrick with word that their 22-year-old son, Sgt. Daniel Methvin, had been killed by an insurgent’s grenade in Iraq.

    The Methvins have learned to cope with the loss, but as George says, “Don’t let the facade fool you. It’s always there.”

    That’s why a wooden box beside their bed is latched and coated in dust. The letters inside, sent from Daniel in Iraq, haven’t been read since his death.

    “It’s just too tender, too bittersweet,” Linda, 61, told Yahoo News.

    A burial flag the Army gave them sits in the garage. They dodge TV news, especially war stories, when possible.

    “My stomach and chest tighten up,” said George, 62.

    Army Sgt. Daniel Methvin and his son, Elijah, before the soldier was killed in Iraq in 2003. (Family photo)Army Sgt. Daniel Methvin and his son, Elijah, before the soldier was killed in Iraq in 2003. (Family photo)

    But living in a military community makes it hard to escape everything. Fort Hood, which covers 340 square miles of Central Texas, is home to 40,000 Army soldiers.

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  • Muslim reporter describes being ridiculed at the Texas GOP convention

    Republican chairman: 'Would the state party ever condone that? Absolutely not.'

    A delegate wears a decorated hat during the Texas GOP convention. (Getty, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)A delegate wears a decorated hat during the Texas GOP convention. (Getty, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)

    The Texas Republican Party's annual convention ended a week ago, but it’s still managing to make headlines.

    The GOP gathering first attracted national attention by fast-tracking a new platform that includes endorsing “reparative therapy” for gays. Some of the more moderate Republicans in attendance had hoped to address the matter, but the anti-gay topic was never allowed to come up for debate.

    Now, a reporter who was covering the convention says she was targeted and taunted because of her Muslim headdress.

    Heba Said, a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington, is the opinion editor of the school paper, The Shorthorn. The 22-year-old said she applied for media credentials and attended the convention hoping to share with her readers what it was like to sit in on panel discussions with delegates.

    Instead, Said writes, “I discovered a cult-like hatred that is simply disgusting.” From her report:

    As I walked through the halls, people stopped in their tracks and frowned and shook

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  • Social media accounts paint chilling portrait of Las Vegas cop killers

    Posts before rampage warned of 'coming sacrifices' and 'bloodshed'

    Jerad and Amanda Miller during Christmas 2013. (Facebook)Jerad and Amanda Miller during Christmas 2013. (Facebook)

    A day before going on a shooting rampage that left two Las Vegas police officers and a bystander dead, Jerad Miller, one of the gunmen, posted this on Facebook:

    “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”

    Witnesses reportedly said Miller, 31, and his wife, Amanda, shouted, “This is a revolution” and “We're freedom fighters” when they ambushed the officers who were on their lunch break at a pizza restaurant.

    If their social media accounts are any indication, rants about attacks and disgust with authority were a common thread in their lives.

    “To the people in the world...your lucky i can't kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose and i'll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other,” Amanda Miller posted on Facebook on May 23, 2011.

    Amanda Miller created and posted this Bitstrip comic to her Facebook six months ago. (Facebook)Amanda Miller created and posted this Bitstrip comic to her Facebook six months ago. (Facebook)

    After killing Police Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, and taking their weapons, police said, the Millers fled across the

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  • Trayvon Martin's friend keeps commitment to slain teen

    Memorable witness from George Zimmerman's trial puts in extra effort, proves people wrong

    CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Rachel Jeantel – Keeping a commitment to Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool)CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Rachel Jeantel – Keeping a commitment to Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool)

    In a Miami auditorium less than three miles from where slain teen Trayvon Martin is buried, his friend Rachel Jeantel on Friday was presented her high school diploma, fulfilling the promise she said she made him.

    The moment was even more poignant with Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, looking on.

    “Her coming is like having Trayvon there saying, ‘You did it. You proved people wrong,’” Jeantel told Yahoo News.

    Jeantel was talking on the phone with Martin, 17, in the last moments of his life on Feb. 26, 2012. The unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, then 28, as the two fought on a dark neighborhood sidewalk in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. The case roused a national conversation about racial profiling, self-defense, gun control, vigilantism, civil rights and more.

    Zimmerman, the community’s volunteer crime watchman, maintained he shot in self-defense and was found not guilty during a nationally televised trial last July.

    Jeantel was a key prosecution

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