Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

  • Once upon a time, snail mail was missile mail

    Fair or not, the postal service isn't exactly known for innovation. But 55 years ago, they tried something very different — maybe a little too different: delivery via guided missile.

    The missile wasn't intended to replace your friendly neighborhood mail carrier, make 53 different stops on Main Street, and develop an irrational fear of dogs. Instead, it was tested as a new way of getting large amounts of mail from point A to point B, where it would then be delivered the old-fashioned way, CBS News explains.

    The method was tested on June 8, 1959, when an unmanned missile was launched from a submarine off the coast of Florida. Inside the missile were 3,000 pieces of mail to various VIPs around the country, including one letter from Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield to President Dwight Eisenhower.

    The missile took off without a hitch, landed as planned, and the mail was then delivered. In the letter to Eisenhower, Summerfield wrote about how this new technology will "be utilized in

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  • Non-verbal teen with autism gets standing ovation for graduation speech

    A teen with autism who has trouble expressing himself verbally addressed his fellow middle school graduates with the help of an iPad and a speech synthesizer on Thursday.

    Dillan Barmache's speech was unconventional, but undeniably successful. It resulted in a standing ovation from classmates, teachers and family.

    Dillan's mother, Tami Barmache, told KABC, "Up until the age of 10, we were trying a lot of the interventions that are very common for an autistic child, but at 10 we realized that speech wasn't really coming in." That led to anxiety and frustration.

    Things began to improve when Dillan's family sought the help of a communication support aide who attends classes with Dillan. According to KABC, Dillan spells out his words on a letter board. His aide runs them through the iPad, which vocalizes them into words so Dillan can be a part of the conversation and express himself.

    Dillan's graduation speech touched on the challenges he has had as well as the opportunities that he and

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  • Unlikely bond between student, mentor culminates in graduation, bright future

    Van Kpa, 17, first met Pat Edmondson, 72, while they were tutoring young children near Charlotte, North Carolina. Van was 12 at the time. Despite their age difference, they became friends and Edmondson became a mentor to Van, who was struggling with school and family life.

    This past week, that mentorship came to a triumphant conclusion when Van graduated from Charlotte High School, with Edmondson in the stands, cheering him on, WCNC.com reports.

    "It was a feeling of tremendous accomplishment,” Edmondson told WCNC. “It was just the completion of a dream."

    When they first crossed paths, Van told Edmondson that he was thinking about dropping out of school.

    Edmondson, a former lawyer, took it upon herself to help Van, the youngest of 10 children, to realize a different type of future for himself.

    Van and his family came to the U.S. from Vietnam when he was 9. He told Edmondson that he was having a rough time. He had missed a whopping 116 days of school. Despite those troubles and absences,

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  • A homeless high school valedictorian offers inspiring words

    Griffin Furlong says the death of his mother gave him a sense of purpose

    Graduating as high school Valedictorian? Impressive. Doing so while homeless? Staggering.

    Clearly Griffin Furlong is not your typical teen. Despite spending much of his high school career hungry and living on couches and depending on the kindness of friends and family, the Jacksonville, Fla., resident managed to graduate with a 4.65 GPA.

    He, his older brother, and father have lived in shelters and rental homes. In April, they lost their home, and Griffin ended up staying with his girlfriend's family before moving to be with his aunt and uncle.

    The 18-year-old spoke to NBC News about how the loss of his mother, who died of leukemia when he was 6, inspired him to live a life of purpose.

    "Everyone thinks I try to make good grades because I’m smart. Not true. I perform the way that I do in the classroom because I have everything to lose," Griffin told his classmates at graduation. "I make the grades I do because I was once lost and had nothing.”

    Griffin never missed a day of class or

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  • Royal purple: Whirlpool Galaxy a sight to behold

    The Whirlpool Galaxy as photographed by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory (NASA).The Whirlpool Galaxy as photographed by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory (NASA).

    This just in: The universe is an amazing, mysterious and — as it turns out — largely purple place.

    A new photograph of the Whirlpool Galaxy taken by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory gives amateur astronomers a stunning look at the swirl of stars and space.

    Also known as M51, the galaxy is 30 million light years away from Earth, in the constellation Canes Venatici in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Not surprisingly, the image wasn't taken on an iPhone. The picture combines data from more than 232 hours of observation time, according to NASA.

    The image is a composite. Purple indicates regions that feature X-ray sources. Red, green and blue indicate optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Previous studies of M51 revealed about 100 X-ray sources, according to NASA. This newest study indicated nearly 500.

    The majority of the X-ray sources are X-ray binaries, NASA explains. "These systems consist of pairs of objects where a compact star, either a neutron star or, more rarely, a black hole,

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  • Wild weather in Iowa and Nebraska as hailstones pummel heartland

    Thunderstorms and hailstones the size of baseballs struck states throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, leaving a path of destruction across America's heartland.

    The storms are expected to continue through Wednesday as they move east toward Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, according to Weather.com.

    As demonstrated in harrowing videos posted online, the severe storms caused extensive damage to buildings and vehicles. Homes were flooded and many had to seek emergency shelter, according to CBS News. Police used boats to rescue motorists trapped in vehicles, the AP reported.

    In the above video, posted by Jered Klug, hail rains down across Norfolk, Nebraska, on Wednesday. While capturing the footage from inside a garage, one person — understandably shocked by the storm's fury — whispers, "Ho-ly cow." At another point, somebody utters a four-letter word or two.

    In Council Bluffs, Iowa, a similar scene was playing out. The video, credited to Matt Thompson, offers viewers an alarming look at

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  • Five injured birds could equal six months behind bars for tree trimmer

    File photo of black crowned night heron (Thinkstock).File photo of black crowned night heron (Thinkstock).

    When 26-year-old Ernesto Pulido accepted a job to trim the trees near a post office in downtown Oakland, Calif., he couldn't have known that he was about to begin a surreal journey involving injured birds, enraged aviary advocates, and the possibility of spending six months behind bars and a $15,000 fine.

    It all started when, while trimming trees on May 3, Pulido reportedly damaged the nests of five baby black-crowned night herons.

    Pulido was reportedly asked to trim the trees by the post office because the birds were leaving their marks (and a lot of them) on mail trucks parked under the branches.

    The birds fell to the ground and were injured. One's beak was broken.

    A woman who captured the incident on video called the police, and a movement to punish Pulido quickly picked up steam, The New York Times reports.

    Local residents demanded justice after rumors (which later proved untrue) spread that the birds were killed in a wood chipper. An online petition was created and signed by

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  • 70 years after parachuting into Normandy, WWII vet plans to jump again

    Jim Martin thinks the jump will give him "a great deal of satisfaction."

    As a 23-year-old private in the 101st Airborne, Jim Martin parachuted into Normandy, France, and helped the Allied Forces liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny.

    Now, nearly 70 years after the invasion of Normandy, Martin intends to make the same jump, this time without the bullets whizzing past his head, the risk of his airplane exploding, and the fate of the free world resting on his shoulders.

    Martin was one of the first Americans to fight in the European theater. "They called us the tip of the spear," he told CBS News. Martin said that he and his fellow solders couldn't wait to jump because "planes were blowing up."

    Martin's mission back in 1944 was to stop the German forces from being able to reinforce troops on the dunes of Normandy. Unfortunately, Martin and his fellow troops landed among the German reinforcements, which led to "a slaughterhouse." Martin lost his colonel and company commander.

    "The fighting was savage," Martin said in a separate interview with War Memories From

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  • After missing soldier's exchange for 5 Taliban, some troubling questions

    Some who served with Bowe Bergdahl say he was either a deserter or considering it

    President Barack Obama called the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years' captivity in Afghanistan "a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield," but some of his fellow soldiers are continuing to claim he deserted his post in 2009.

    Javier Ortiz, for one. The Army combat medic told the Washington Post he believes Bergdahl should be tried for desertion. Former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing, told CNN, "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him."

    And Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served with Bergdahl, wrote that he "was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down" in a recent column for the Daily Beast.

    Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Saturday, after months of negotiation led by the government of Qatar. Republicans, among them specifically

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  • High school security guard charged in abuse of boy in wheelchair

    A security guard at an Oakland, California, high school was reportedly fired and charged with felony child abuse after he allegedly handcuffed, punched and threw a student from his wheelchair, according to CBS San Francisco.

    Security footage of the incident, in which a man reported to be Marchell Mitchell, 23, can be seen punching a student — identified by the San Francisco Chronicle as Francisco Martinez — in a school hallway, was released to news stations. The man identified as Mitchell then dumps the student from his wheelchair and appears as if he is preparing to strike the child again when another security guard restrains him.

    The incident occurred on May 19 at Oakland High School. In a statement, school Principal Matin Abdel-Qawi said, "I’m shocked and deeply hurt by this behavior and apologize on behalf of the staff at Oakland High. This incident is not reflective of the kind of culture we cherish at our school or how we treat one another."

    Mitchell and a co-worker were

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