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Rallying around boy orphaned in mass shooting

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Highland Park, Illinois, rallied to help a toddler after his parents were killed in the parade shooting. President Joe Biden is working on getting Brittney Griner out of Russian jail. And some doctors are feeling optimistic about the future of treatment for a deadly cancer.

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$2.5M raised for toddler orphaned in Highland Park 

After a mass shooting that killed seven people Monday in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, a small boy wandered the street, bloody and alone. Strangers found him and mobilized the community to find the boy's family. But soon after, they received heartbreaking news: Both his parents had died in the shooting. Aiden McCarthy was orphaned at 2 years old. After Aiden was reunited with his grandparents, people also organized to raise more than $2.5 million on GoFundMe by Wednesday afternoon. Keep reading.

More updates: The man accused of the deadly rampage has confessed – and considered another attack in Wisconsin, prosecutors said Wednesday. No motive has been revealed. A judge ordered the defendant held without bail Wednesday on seven counts of first-degree murder. Here's the latest

Local, State and Federal police work the scene where a mass shooting took place at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill. Monday, July 4, 2022. (Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)
Local, State and Federal police work the scene where a mass shooting took place at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill. Monday, July 4, 2022. (Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

'Cheer' star Jerry Harris sentenced to 12 years in federal prison

Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix docuseries "Cheer," was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for soliciting sex from minors and pressuring young boys to send him nude photos and videos, according to an attorney for two of the boys Harris abused. The 22-year-old pleaded guilty in February to one count of receiving child pornography and one count of traveling with the intent to engage in a sex act with a minor. USA TODAY in September 2020 reported that Harris was under federal investigation as part of a broader investigation into pervasive youth protection failures in competitive cheerleading. How did we get here? Take a look inside the investigation.

Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix docuseries "Cheer," was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for soliciting sex from minors and pressuring young boys to send him nude photos and videos.
Jerry Harris, former star of the Netflix docuseries "Cheer," was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for soliciting sex from minors and pressuring young boys to send him nude photos and videos.

Biden: Working to secure Brittney Griner's release

President Joe Biden spoke by phone Wednesday with Cherelle Griner, the wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, and read her a letter that he plans to send the basketball player while she remains detained in Russia. "The president called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible," the White House said in a statement. Biden is facing increasing pressure to help Griner, who has been held in custody in Russia for 139 days following an arrest on charges of possessing cannabis oil while returning to play for a Russian team. Keep reading.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 1, 2022.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 1, 2022.

What everyone's talking about

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Doctors finding new hope in treatments for pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is poised to pass lung cancer as the deadliest tumor type, already surpassing colon, breast and prostate cancers. And while other tumor types have seen treatment improvements in recent years, the death rate from pancreatic cancer has remained stubbornly unchanged. So, what needs to happen? We need a breakthrough. That's where a few cutting-edge advances and some seemingly small changes come in, giving doctors reasons for optimism. Read what they had to say about the future of pancreatic cancer treatment.

Embracing body art in support of abortion rights

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling denying a constitutional right to abortion, some abortion-rights supporters are turning to body art — including tattoos of vaginas, uteruses and coat hangers — to vent their frustrations, state their positions and ease their grief. Meanwhile, tattoo artists and shops around the country are conducting flash sales, with proceeds benefiting abortion-rights advocacy organizations. "It’s to let them know they can have their voice heard in the area of bodily autonomy," said Maiah Bennett, a tattoo artist at Bohemian Tattoo in California. Keep reading.

At Lady Magnolia Tattoo in Dallas, Texas, artist Andrea Patterson, 31, colors in an image of an ammonite for patron Kate Pelusio, 34, on Friday, July 1, 2022. Patterson planned to take part in the shop's pro-choice flash sale later in the month to benefit abortion-rights advocacy organizations.
At Lady Magnolia Tattoo in Dallas, Texas, artist Andrea Patterson, 31, colors in an image of an ammonite for patron Kate Pelusio, 34, on Friday, July 1, 2022. Patterson planned to take part in the shop's pro-choice flash sale later in the month to benefit abortion-rights advocacy organizations.

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Freaky green skies seen in South Dakota

Before severe weather swept through South Dakota on Tuesday, residents around Sioux Falls witnessed a haunting, rare phenomenon: a green sky. Yes, the sky was green. And not a light green — the green that's the color of the sky before aliens arrive in a sci-fi movie. The National Weather Service confirmed that a derecho — an type of intense, long-lasting wind storm — barreled through much of the region, leaving thousands without power. Along with the heavy rain, the storm brought black, blue, gray and those murky green skies around southeastern South Dakota. See more photos here.

Skies in downtown Sioux Falls turn black and green as a powerful storm system moves across the area Tuesday afternoon, July 5, 2022. Winds reached more than 75 mph, according to the NWS.
Skies in downtown Sioux Falls turn black and green as a powerful storm system moves across the area Tuesday afternoon, July 5, 2022. Winds reached more than 75 mph, according to the NWS.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Highland Park shooting, Jerry Harris 'Cheer' sentencing, Brittney Griner, pancreatic cancer treatment. It's Wednesday's news.