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Why Garth Brooks said no to the Trump inauguration

Garth Brooks has been getting some flack on social media in the past few days for not performing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. Until he set the record straight on his weekly Facebook Live show, we had no way of knowing if Brooks had even been asked to perform at the inauguration, though.

>> Read more trending stories  

It turns out Brooks was asked to perform at the inauguration by his good friend, casino mogul Steve Wynn, who is helping recruit talent for Trump’s big ceremony. A conflict in his tour schedule is going to keep Brooks in Cincinnati, Ohio, for inauguration weekend, though.

Brooks explained on Live from Studio G, “We left it up to karma. If Cincinnati goes two weekends instead of one, then of course we are out.”

Brooks ended up having three additional shows to play in Ohio at the same time as the inaugural festivities, but he is calling for Americans to come together in love and unity as they welcome a new president.

He added, “I’ll tell you with this whole presidential thing: We got one going out. Pray for him and his family. And for the president going in, pray for him and his family to guide this nation. Let’s stay together.”

This is the first time Brooks has revealed he was asked to perform at the inauguration. He did perform at the national Christmas tree lighting in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season, and a TMZ reporter asked him back then if we would perform at Trump’s inauguration.

Brooks explained, “They always stick a camera in your face — they go, ‘Hey man, what about the inauguration?’ And the response was, ‘It’s always an honor to serve.’ I wasn’t asked at that point.”

Brooks closed his comments on the matter saying, “We can’t thank the Obamas enough for serving this country. And may God hold Trump’s hand in the decisions that he makes in this country’s name as well.”

LOVE on #StudioG“Love is the most durable power in the world.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. #StudioGPosted by Garth Brooks on Monday, January 16, 2017

Teen survives crash that killed best friend by clinging to tree overnight

A teenage girl survived a car crash that killed her best friend after she swam to safety and spent the night in a tree.

>> Read more trending stories  

Jenna Santos and Natalie Griffin were driving back home to Castro Valley in early January after a road trip. According to KGO, their car veered off the highway and landed in a creek, where the car quickly began to sink.

“They were upside down and her friend was stuck and she tried to get out but couldn’t so she got out and survived, but her friend didn’t,” said Castro Valley High School student Kristina Galvin.

Santos escaped through the broken back window.

“She started to panic and told herself to calm down. That’s when she noticed a broken window in the back and showed Jenna. She told her to follow her,” Griffin’s cousin, Monica Keyser, told the East Bay Times. “When she surfaced, she wasn’t sure if she had made it out.”

Griffin, who is a runner and practices yoga, swam to some nearby trees and hoisted herself up. She made a shelter with her jacket to protect herself from wind and rain. The newspaper also reports she did stretches to keep warm through the night.

“She was hallucinating and hearing Jenna talking, telling her she was going to be OK. There were points where she thought Jenna was with her. She remembers thinking they found a phone,” Keyser said.

In the morning, Griffin swam across the creek, climbed a large hill covered in thorny shrubbery and flagged down a driver from the road.

First responders discovered that Santos never made it out of the car.

Griffin was taken to a nearby hospital and was treated for hypothermia and minor scrapes. She has since been released.

Loved ones set up a GoFundMe page in honor of Santos. If you would like to donate, click here.

Walmart adding 10,000 new jobs ahead of Trump inauguration

Walmart is adding 10,000 new jobs this year in the U.S., the retail giant announced on Tuesday.

The move comes ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday. Trump has been a big proponent of keeping and increasing American jobs.

>> Read more trending stories  

The new jobs will include hires at growing Walmart locations, in e-commerce services, and at new stores. The company also said it will create as many as 24,000 construction jobs as it opens new stores and remodels current locations.

“With a presence in thousands of communities and vast supplier network, we know we can play an important role in supporting and creating American jobs,” according to a statement from Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president for corporate affairs.

Walmart employs some 1.5 million employees in the U.S. with an average wage of between $9 and $24.

 

Lone zebra shark surprises scientists with pups

A zebra shark surprised researchers in Australia when she hatched a trio of eggs three years after she was last paired with a mating partner, according to a study published Monday in Scientific Reports.

>> Read more trending stories

Leonie the shark was separated from her partner in 2013, but in April 2016 managed to hatch the eggs. It is the first known time that a shark has switched from sexual to asexual reproduction, according to scientists at the University of Queensland.

"We thought she could be storing sperm, but when we tested the pups and the possible parent sharks using DNA fingerprinting, we found they only had cells from Leonie," said Christine Dudgeon, research officer at the University of Queensland's School of Biomedical Sciences. "Leonie adapted to her circumstances, and we believe she switched because she lost her mate."

Leonie was captured in the wild in 1999 and first introduced to a male shark at the Reef HQ aquarium in Queensland. The pairing wasn't fruitful until scientists again paired the two in 2006. Leonie started laying eggs in 2008 and continued to produce litters until 2013, according to researchers.

In 2013, Leonie's daughter, Lolly, was added to her tank. The next year, both sharks laid eggs.

"Much like a chicken, they will lay eggs if the conditions are good, whether they are fertile or infertile," Dudgeon told The Guardian Australia.

Despite the lack of male sharks, six of Leonie's 47 eggs had live embryos inside. However, by the third month of incubation, all six had died.

Again, both sharks laid eggs last year. Four of them hatched – three from Leonie's clutch and one from Lolly's.

It's incredibly rare for females of a species to switch from sexual to asexual reproduction. There are only two other documented cases, according to The Guardian. An eagle ray who was separated from her partner for a year managed to reproduce and a boa constrictor asexually reproduced, although she was caged with a male boa constrictor, according to the newspaper.

It's not clear what caused Leonie to switch from sexual to asexual reproduction.

"What we want to know now is, could this occur in the wild and, if so, how often does it?" Dudgeon said. "This has big implications for conservation and shows us how flexible the shark's reproductive system really is."

However, she warned The Guardian, the switch is unlikely to herald a turning point for the endangered species. She described the case to the newspaper as similar to "a severe case of inbreeding."

Scientists will watch Leonie's offspring to determine whether they can reproduce despite their odd beginnings.

"You lose genetic diversity with generations of asexual reproduction, so we'll be seeing if these offspring can mate sexually themselves," Dudgeon said.

Pulse nightclub shooter's wife, Noor Salman, appears in court

The wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen made her first appearance Tuesday in a California court, one day after FBI agents arrested her on a pair of charges related to the deadly attack.

Noor Zahi Salman, 30, is expected back in court Wednesday for her arraignment. She was apprehended at her parents' home in Dublin, California, where she was living with her 6-year-old son.

Noor salman will make another appearance in court tomorrow #wftv. Deciding on lawyer— Shannon Butler (@SButlerWFTV) January 17, 2017

>> Read more trending stories

Her husband, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group during a standoff last June at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He fatally shot 49 people and injured dozens more.

Federal prosecutors allege that Salman knew about Mateen's radicalization and attempted to help him get "material support" for the Islamic State group. She faces charges of aiding and abetting the attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.

>> Related: Indictment: Wife knowingly aided Pulse nightclub shooter's attempt to send 'material support' to ISIS

She said little in court on Tuesday.

Noor salman said very little in court only answered judges questions. She will invoke her 5th and 6th amendment rights. #wftv— Shannon Butler (@SButlerWFTV) January 17, 2017

However, her uncle, Al Salman, spoke with reporters outside the federal courthouse in Oakland after her appearance. He denied that she had any connection to Mateen's attack and said she was instead focused on her son.

"She had no idea what that crazy guy (was) doing," he said. "She's innocent (and a) simple person. She would not hurt a fly."

He claimed that Noor Salman was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Mateen and that she was afraid to leave the relationship because of her child, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"If she (knew) what that crazy guy would do, she wouldn't be here," he said. "She would take her son and run away from him."

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that Noor Salman attempted to help Mateen get resources for the Islamic State group starting no later than the end of April 2016, about a month before the deadly shooting at Pulse. Prosecutors claim that she lied to FBI agents and Fort Pierce police before the attack.

"(Salman) did knowingly engage in misleading conduct ... with the intent to hinder, delay and prevent the communication to federal law enforcement officers and judges of the United States of information relating to the commission and possible commission of a federal offense," authorities wrote in an indictment.

If convicted, Noor Salman could face life in prison. She is being held without bond ahead of Wednesday's hearing.

WFTV.com contributed to this report.

Another great white shark pinged in Florida waters

Add George to the list of great white sharks venturing south along Florida's Atlantic shoreline.

>> Read more trending stories

While Katharine surfaced long enough to ping about 10 miles off of Lake Worth, George, a 9-foot, 702-pound white shark, surfaced Monday, allowing his satellite tracker to tag him about 20 miles off the coast just north of Daytona Beach.

According to OCEARCH, the ocean conservation group that tags and tracks sharks, George is the first mature male white shark spot tagged in the North Atlantic Ocean.

And he's new to the tracking game. George was just tagged in October off Nantucket, Massachusetts.

>> Related: Katharine the great white shark returns to Florida waters 

While George and Katharine have so far stayed far offshore, in 2013 another shark ventured closer to shore.

Mary Lee, a more than 16-foot long mature female, came close enough to shore that OCEARCH posted a note on its Facebook page alerting Jacksonville residents that the 3,500-pound shark was in the surf break off 6th Avenue South and 1st Street S.

Jacksonville Beach, FL residents and beach users please read. Mary Lee is a 16 1/2 ft, 3,500lbs mature female white...Posted by OCEARCH on Monday, January 7, 2013

That George is joining Katharine in Florida's winter waters is no news to shark researchers who published a paper in 2014 that looked at great white migrations. The research found many great whites spend their summer's in the northeast, and winter in the south from the Carolinas into the Gulf of Mexico.

"White sharks are generally a cool water species so that's why we see them down here mostly in the winter," said Dean Grubbs, associate director of research at Florida State University's Coastal and Marine Lab. "They may be following a food source. It's a pretty common migration for everything."

Greg Skomal, a scientist with the Massachusetts division of marine fisheries, said it's unusual for white sharks to come close to the beaches in Florida.

Unlike Massachusetts, where seals are shark prey and lure them close to shore, that's not the case in Florida where white shark meals are likely further out to sea.

"There is nothing to draw the white sharks that tight to shore in Florida," Skomal said. "There are not a lot of sightings right on the beach."

Man finds unusually wily burglars in basement of home

A Michigan man who heard glass breaking in his basement on Sunday found some particularly wily burglars in his condo.  

John Osborne discovered not one, but two coyotes who had broken into his Washington Township home, according to Local 4 News.

Osborne, 71, told the Detroit-area news station that the sound of breaking glass awakened him Sunday night. When he went downstairs to the basement, he found a ground-level window broken out and belongings scattered around the room.

Osborne spotted a coyote curled up near an artificial tree that the wild animal had knocked over. He hurried back upstairs and dialed 911.

Local 4 News reported that animal control officers secured the animal and released it on a nearby golf course.

>> Read more trending stories

Osborne was in for another surprise when he returned to the basement and found a second coyote, the news station said. Officers returned for the second animal and, like the first, released it onto the golf course.

Each coyote weighed about 45 pounds, the news station reported

Children abducted in 1985 found, mother arrested, Rhode Island police say

More than 30 years after two young girls were reported missing, investigators say they've been found and their mother has been arrested.

>> Read more trending stories

Rhode Island State Police announced Tuesday morning that the girls, who disappeared in 1985, had been found and Elaine Yates, their mother, had been arrested for their abduction.

Yates is accused of abducting Kimberly and Kelly from Warwick, Rhode Island, on Aug. 26, 1985. She did not have custody of the girls at the time.

A warrant was issued for Yates' arrest in 1988, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Kimberly was 4 years old and Kelly was 10 months old when they were kidnapped, according to WPRI.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Here's how many people are expected to attend Trump's inauguration

While an inauguration is known to draw hundreds of thousands of Americans to Washington D.C. to watch the president officially be sworn into office, it's unclear just how many people will show up. 

>> Read more trending stories  

In 2009, an estimated 1.8 million people attended President Barack Obama's first inauguration. That record number of people beat the previous record, which had been set by Lyndon Johnson's 1965 inauguration, which had an estimated 1.2 million attendees. About 1 million people attended the event at the National Mall for Obama's second term.

This year, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president on Jan. 20.

On Tuesday, the President-elect said that "people are pouring into Washington in record numbers," and he previously said that Inauguration Day is "turning out to be even bigger than expected."

People are pouring into Washington in record numbers. Bikers for Trump are on their way. It will be a great Thursday, Friday and Saturday!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017

Inauguration Day is turning out to be even bigger than expected. January 20th, Washington D.C. Have fun!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017

But different agencies estimate crowds that vary in number by the hundred thousand. 

According to WRC-TV, planners expect no more than 900,000 people to attend Trump's weekend events. 

The District of Columbia's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is expecting 800,000 to 900,000 people to attend the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural parade, WRC-TV reported. The news organization says the U.S. Armed Forces Joint Task Force National Capital Region, which provides support for the ceremonies, is expecting 800,000 people. The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Activities, which plans and executes all ceremonies, is expecting 700,000 to 750,000 people.

Destination D.C., which manages and promotes the city as a tourism and special events destination, estimates about 1 million people will be in the city for inaugural festivities.

It's unclear if those numbers include protesters.

"Anybody who is just saying there were a million people there without saying what method they used, that's just public relations being offered," Arizona State University journalism professor Steve Doig told WRC-TV. "Take any estimate with a grain of salt. What you need to do is look carefully at how the estimate was done and how transparent the group who did it is about their methods."

An estimated 800,000 and 250,000 people showed up for Bill Clinton's 1993 and 1997 inaugurations respectively. About 300,000 people attended the inauguration for George W. Bush in 2001, and an estimated 400,000 people were recorded for his 2005 inauguration.

Read more at WRC-TV.

Woman used kids, ages 7 and 8, to steal from Macy’s, police say

A Delray Beach, Florida, woman was arrested Thursday after she allegedly used two young children to help her shoplift more than $1,700 worth of merchandise from a department store in Boca Raton, according to an arrest report.

>> Read more trending stories

Minnie Earnestine Walker, 29, is facing charges of grand theft between $300 and $5,000 and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She was released Friday from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting a $3,000 bond.

Walker allegedly selected several items from the Macy’s store at Town Center of Boca Raton and walked into a third-floor fitting room with the two children, ages 7 and 8. The relationship between Walker and the children was blacked out in the report.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

When Walker and the children emerged from the fitting room, they were carrying shopping bags that appeared to be full. Walker and the kids walked out of the store without paying before they were approached by loss prevention officers, the report said.

Walker told Boca Raton police that the children were unaware of her intent to steal the items.

Police said that Walker attempted to steal 39 pieces of merchandise — including Nike and Ralph Lauren brand clothing — worth $1,754.49.

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