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Australian priest reacts to Parkland shooting with swipe at US on church marquee 

A rector at a church in Australia sent a pointed message to the United States this week in the wake of the shooting deaths at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, The Washington Post reported.

On the marquee outside the Gosford Anglican Church, the Rev. Rod Bower posted the message, “When will they love their kids more than their guns.”

In a Facebook post of a photo of the billboard, Bower called the United States “a society destroying itself from within,” and “an empire in decline.” 

“A culture that loves guns more than children has no future other than corruption, decline and death,” Bower wrote.

Australia’s gun laws are among the toughest in the world. The country’s Parliament passed strict gun control legislation in 1996, banning the possession, manufacture and sale of semi-automatic weapons except in “exceptional circumstances,” the Post reported.

There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since its gun control laws were passed, the Post reported.

In an interview last week with Radio New Zealand, Bower said the church should make statements about politics.

“Politics is simply the way we human beings organize each other. So yeah, I think everybody ought to be involved in politics,” Bower said. “Religious leaders have a responsibility, I think ethically and morally, to speak into the life of the nation.” 

Bower did say, however, that while he believes the church “always should be involved in politics,” he added that it “should never be involved in government.”

Study: Common household chore just as damaging as smoking 20 cigarettes a day

Love to keep a tidy home? The chemicals in common cleaning sprays could be detrimental to your respiratory system, according to a new report. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from universities in Norway recently conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, to determine how cleaners may contribute to lung decline over time. 

"While the short-term effects of cleaning chemicals on asthma are becoming increasingly well-documented, we lack knowledge of the long-term impact," senior author Cecile Svanes said in a statement. "We feared that such chemicals, by steadily causing a little damage to the airways day after day, year after year, might accelerate the rate of lung function decline that occurs with age."

For their assessment, the researchers examined the lungs of more than 6,200 women and men from 22 health institutions, following them over a course of 20 years. During that time span, the participants were asked if they cleaned their homes and if they were professional cleaners. If so, they were also required to record how much they used typical liquid cleaning products. 

After analyzing the results, they found that women who cleaned as little as once a week had an accelerated lung decline risk. In fact, they said using cleaning products for 20 years is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 10 to 20 years for women. Men who cleaned did not see the same decline as women who cleaned.

The scientists said they were initially shocked by the results. "However, when you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all," they wrote.

They believe the cleaning chemicals irritate the mucous membranes that line the airways, which causes damage. To lower the risk, the British Lung Foundation suggests looking for products that are labeled "allergy friendly" as they have fewer chemicals. 

While the researchers acknowledge their study included very few people who did not clean, they said their findings are strong. 

"The take-home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs," they wrote. "These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.”

News of coach killed in Parkland shooting hit former player 'sideways'

As the investigation into the Parkland High School mass shooting continues in South Florida, more people in the Jacksonville, Florida, area with connections to the school are coming forward to talk about the people they lost, including like assistant football coach Aaron Feis.

>> Read more trending news

“Hearing the stories about Coach Feis, it just, it just totally hit me sideways,” Kaden Culpepper said.

Feis is being remembered as a hero after he shielded students from the shooter and was fatally shot. Culpepper spent four years with Feis and said he was not surprised by his heroism. 

“He just brought so much joy to all of us, the whole school. Coach Feis was the man,” he said.

Culpepper moved to Parkland with his mother at a young age. When he got older, he knew he wanted to play football but didn’t have a lot of money for equipment.

“(Feis) said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. I’ll take care of you,’” Culpepper said.

And he meant it.

>> Florida shooting heroes: 3 coaches, teachers gave lives for students

“Taking me to practice, and picking me up for practice and paying every school year for me to play football out of his own pocket,” Culpepper said.

Culpepper said Feis saw potential in everyone and inspired them to do their best, on and off the field.

“He saw something in me and so many of my brothers on the football team that we didn’t even realize. He brought out the fight in us, he brought out the best in us, and he brought out the men in us. If I didn’t meet Coach Feis, and I didn’t play football for him, I wouldn’t be here,” Culpepper said.

Culpepper doesn’t just admire Coach Feis. He also plans to follow in his footsteps, by becoming a teacher and coach.

“Having an idol like Coach Feis, I can do the same thing,” he said.

Tennessee authorities arrest 'King Pin Granny'

Authorities said they have caught the “King Pin Granny” in Tennessee.

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A 75-year-old woman was arrested Feb. 9 in a large drug bust in Decatur County, police said. Police raided the home of Betty Jean Jordan in Parsons and allegedly confiscated more than 1,000 prescription pills, including morphine, Xanex and Oxycodone, WZTV reported.

Law enforcement officials nicknamed Jordan the “King Pin Granny.” She was charged with three counts of drug manufacturing, delivery, sale and possessoin of schedule II, two counts of possession of a legend drug with intent, possession of a legend drug and evading arrest, WZTV reported.

Jordan was booked in the Decatur County Jail and is free after a $50,000 bond was posted, WZTV reported.

Photos: Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Day 9

Presidents Day 2018: When is it and how did the holiday get started?

To many Americans, Presidents Day means retail sales and discounts or even a day off, if they’re lucky. But what is the holiday really about?

>> Read more trending news

Even before then, Washington was revered as one of the most important figures in American history and his birthday became a perennial day of remembrance, according to History.com.

Sen. Steven Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose the federal holiday, and in 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. Initially, the holiday, called “Washington’s Birthday,” only applied to the District of Columbia. But in 1885, the celebration expanded to include the entire country.

Over the years, some states adopted the holiday to celebrate either Washington or former presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

The day is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” but it became popularly known as Presidents Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to help the nation’s workers enjoy more three-day weekends.

It was the first holiday to celebrate the life of an individual American. The next would be Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which was signed into law in 1983.

Today, Presidents Day is considered a day to celebrate all American presidents, past and present. Around the country, patriotic and historical groups hold events and celebrations and schools often teach students about the accomplishments of American presidents.

Last year, however, thousands of protesters across the country used their Monday off to protest President Donald Trump in “Not My Presidents Day” rallies.

“While we acknowledge that Donald Trump holds the current title, the policies he’s trying to put in place are not the beliefs shared by the majority of the people,” Nova Calise, one of the organizers of the New York event, told USA Today.

Transgender wrestler will defend state title in Texas

A transgender wrestler from Texas will be defending the Class 6A girls championship at next week’s state tournament, WFAA reported.

>> Read more trending news

On Saturday, Mack Beggs, 18, of Euless Trinity will compete for a 6A Region II tournament title, which will determine bracket seeding for the state tournament. The top four finishers in each weight class advance.

Last year, a parent filed a lawsuit to prevent Beggs from wrestling in the female division.

Beggs began transitioning from female to male a few years ago by using testosterone, which was the reason the lawsuit was filed, WFAA reported. But according to the Texas University Interscholastic League, it is not a banned substance since it comes from a physician.

A state law passed in 2016 says that athletes must compete as the gender listed on their birth certificates, WFAA reported.

The state wrestling tournament will be in Cypress next week. Beggs is 29-0 this season and hopes to defend the state title he won last year.

Beggs is considering a men’s wrestling scholarship in college and is hoping to schedule a time for his “top surgery” by a doctor in Plano, The Dallas Morning News reported. 

"I know it's going to happen," Beggs told the Morning News "But if I stress about it too much, then I'm going to stress about it, so I'm just going with the flow."

Kentucky second-grader with Down syndrome qualifies for regional spelling bee

A Kentucky girl with Down syndrome qualified for a regional spelling bee, WLKY reported.

>> Read more trending news

Sosie Smith, a second-grader at Christian Academy of Louisville's Providence School, qualified after winning the bee in her class, with “joyous” the word that gave her the championship. She will compete in a regional event next week, WLKY reported.

Sosie’s mother, Tara Smith, told WLKY that her daughter has always loved words and reading.

"My job as a mom is to find those little gifts and accentuate them and try to bring them out as best as I can," she said.

Smith told WLKY that she hopes Sosie's story will encourage other special-needs children.

"She keeps hitting these milestones and exceeding my expectations," Smith said. "I just hope to open their eyes a little bit and enlighten them that the capabilities are there."

Texas school marshals allowed to carry guns on campus

Officials in two school districts in Texas believe they have a deterrent for incidents like this week’s shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. Selected employees are allowed to carry guns on campus, WFAA reported.

>> Read more trending news

The Argyle Independent School District implemented the rule in 2014, and the Keene Independent School District followed suit the following year.

Teachers packing heat is possible thanks to the passage of the Protection of Texas Children Law that was passed in 2013. The law permits districts to create “school marshals” for campuses, WFAA reported. The marshals must submit to extensive active shooter and firearms training with the state and must undergo a mental health evaluation, WFAA reported. Marshals must renew their licenses every two years.

>> Photos: Remembering Parkland Florida school shooting victims

Signs outside schools in the Argyle and Keene districts warn visitors that staff members are armed, WFAA reported.

Keene Superintendent Ricky Stephens said creating school marshals was needed.

“Administrators and teachers are going to be the first ones who arrive, so do you want them to arrive with a pencil or a pistol?” Stephens told WFAA.

According to the law, weapons must be in a safe -- or on the marshal at all times, WFAA reported.

New York dad emerges from 61-day coma

The last thing Robert Crain remembered was visiting the emergency room to have his nagging cough checked out.

>> Read more trending news

That was on Oct. 3, 2017. Sixty-one days later, the 47-year-old woke from a medically induced coma. And on Feb. 14, 2018, he was discharged from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York.

"For me, it just seemed like I woke up from a nap,'' Crain told Syracuse.com. "Then I realized I missed Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that time with my family."

Crain’s lungs and kidneys had shut down in October. He lost 50 pounds during his time in the hospital and now must use a cane to walk, Syracuse.com reported.

“It was awful,” said Crain’s wife of 10 years, Marcela Crain. “My brain heard them say he wasn't doing well and wasn't improving, but my heart wouldn't accept it. I went to the chapel every day at the hospital and prayed, and my daughter and I prayed every night.”

Robert Crain was kept alive by a heart/lung bypass machine, spending more time on it than any other patient in the hospital’s history, Syracuse.com reported.

Crain said he remembered nothing from Oct. 3 until Jan. 8. His doctors pulled him out of his coma gradually. When he came to, Crain said he was “stunned” when a nurse told him what day it was, Syracuse.com reported.

Robert Crain’s recovery and discharge from the hospital was a banner day for his wife and their 8-year-old daughter, Isabella. 

"This is the most amazing, special day,'' Marcela Crain said. “Never give up hope. I always believed he would come back to me."

Marcela Crain said the family put Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on hold, refusing to celebrate it without Robert. She told Syracuse.com the family would celebrate all three holidays into a single day when he is stronger.

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