Parents threaten to unenroll children over masks


A petition signed by more than 1,300 people all but threatens action if the Ankeny Community School District reinstates a mask mandate.It is a paragraph in an online petition that reads “Ankeny parents signing this petition are opposed to a mandatory mask policy and willing to unenroll their children for the Oct. 1 enrollment certification date if mask are mandated again.”Unenrolling a student from the district before Oct. 1 would come at a cost of more than $7,000 per student unenrolled.More than 1,000 students unenrolling from a school district could be devastating to the district and its students.The Ankeny Community School District is aware of the petition and responded with a statement, “We recognize that parents and guardians have the right to unenroll their student(s) from the district at any time for any reason.”A district parent tells us whether to mask or not should not be the schools decision.”I think it is 100% important, up to the parents I should say,” said Tyler Maldonado, parent of an Ankeny public school student.Maldonado says he has not signed the petition but has heard of it.He tells KCCI he will sit down with his family and they will make the decision whether or not his son wears a mask to school.

A petition signed by more than 1,300 people all but threatens action if the Ankeny Community School District reinstates a mask mandate.

It is a paragraph in an online petition that reads “Ankeny parents signing this petition are opposed to a mandatory mask policy and willing to unenroll their children for the Oct. 1 enrollment certification date if mask are mandated again.”

Unenrolling a student from the district before Oct. 1 would come at a cost of more than $7,000 per student unenrolled.

More than 1,000 students unenrolling from a school district could be devastating to the district and its students.

The Ankeny Community School District is aware of the petition and responded with a statement, “We recognize that parents and guardians have the right to unenroll their student(s) from the district at any time for any reason.”

A district parent tells us whether to mask or not should not be the schools decision.

“I think it is 100% important, up to the parents I should say,” said Tyler Maldonado, parent of an Ankeny public school student.

Maldonado says he has not signed the petition but has heard of it.

He tells KCCI he will sit down with his family and they will make the decision whether or not his son wears a mask to school.



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Wichita woman meets family of her heart donor 


WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – A heartfelt reunion Thursday happened as a Wichita woman met the family of her heart donor. Four years ago this week, Danecia Williams received the life-saving gift.

After exchanging letters and messages for the last few years, Thursday was the first time Williams met the family of Rylee Malone, the young woman who saved her life. Williams was diagnosed with heart failure as a result of childbirth. She suffered two strokes before she go the transplant four years ago.

Now, she’s able to watch her son grow up, thanks to Malone, a woman she never met. On Thursday, Rylee Malone’s parents, Piper and Bart Malone drove from Texas with their granddaughter to meet Williams.

“When you receive somebody else’s organ, it’s one thing, but then their heart, it’s something totally different because you think of the heart, you think of their very essence,” Williams said.

For Williams, meeting Rylee’s family is a chance to know the woman who gave her a second chance at life.

“It was just really important to me that I could connect to them,” Williams said.

Rylee Malone was 17 when she died in a car wreck. Her heart ensures that Williams can live.

“Every parent wants their child to grow up and make a difference in this world. This young lady is our validation that our daughter made a difference in this world,” Bart Piper said of Williams.

It was a difference that a stethoscope allowed Rylee’s family to hear.

“To hear Rylee’s heartbeat again, I had the same feeling the day she was born,” Bart said.

Rylee’s heart is making sure Williams is here for her son, Isaiah.

“It has just given me a chance to raise him and to be here with him,” she said.

Bart said Rylee was also an organ donor for three other recipients, including a four-year-old boy. That has Williams and the Malones encouraging people to become donors. Williams also is a volunteer with the American Heart Association, sharing the importance of organ transplants.

Copyright 2021 KWCH. All rights reserved.



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Bus driver gets big homecoming after Covid battle


A Braymer, Missouri, bus driver has finally been discharged from the hospital following a long battle with COVID-19. On Thursday, Phil Clevenger left his Kansas City area hospital for a big homecoming back in his community. Wade Schroeder the Superintendent of the Braymer C-4 School District says that the community is excited to have him back after so long. “He’s had a long road,” Schroeder said. Clevenger checked out of St. Luke’s Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas. He’s been battling COVID-19 for 266 days. He was first administered to the hospital in January. Clevenger’s mother, Beverly Clevenger is overwhelmed to finally have her son out of the hospital “There’s no words to express how you feel,” Clevenger said. His fellow bus drivers shared a similarly familial sentiment.“It’s like having a brother gone,” Fellow bus driver Tomme Sue Feil said. Feil took on Clevenger’s routes when he left for the hospital. He says he’s been hoping for the best.“There was times that you know all we can do is pray.” Feil said. With his old bus in tow, the entire town of Braymer came out to chant Clevenger’s name and welcome him home. Clevenger didn’t see the huge response coming. “It’s a little bit emotional. Just overwhelming, more than I realized,” Clevenger said. He says the battle was hard and that it’s certainly something he doesn’t want to do again. However, Clevenger does look forward to finally being able to get behind the wheel of a bus. His mother says that Clevenger loves the kids he takes to school. Based on the warm response at his homecoming, they appear to love him right back. “Struggles that he’s had has been pretty inspirational,” Schroeder said. Clevenger still faces a long recovery, and it could be quite some time before he gets to drive his bus. He says the community support and their motivation helped him beat COVID-19.

A Braymer, Missouri, bus driver has finally been discharged from the hospital following a long battle with COVID-19. On Thursday, Phil Clevenger left his Kansas City area hospital for a big homecoming back in his community.

Wade Schroeder the Superintendent of the Braymer C-4 School District says that the community is excited to have him back after so long.

“He’s had a long road,” Schroeder said.

Clevenger checked out of St. Luke’s Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas. He’s been battling COVID-19 for 266 days. He was first administered to the hospital in January.

Clevenger’s mother, Beverly Clevenger is overwhelmed to finally have her son out of the hospital

“There’s no words to express how you feel,” Clevenger said.

His fellow bus drivers shared a similarly familial sentiment.

“It’s like having a brother gone,” Fellow bus driver Tomme Sue Feil said.

Feil took on Clevenger’s routes when he left for the hospital. He says he’s been hoping for the best.

“There was times that you know all we can do is pray.” Feil said.

With his old bus in tow, the entire town of Braymer came out to chant Clevenger’s name and welcome him home. Clevenger didn’t see the huge response coming.

“It’s a little bit emotional. Just overwhelming, more than I realized,” Clevenger said.

He says the battle was hard and that it’s certainly something he doesn’t want to do again. However, Clevenger does look forward to finally being able to get behind the wheel of a bus.

His mother says that Clevenger loves the kids he takes to school. Based on the warm response at his homecoming, they appear to love him right back.

“Struggles that he’s had has been pretty inspirational,” Schroeder said.

Clevenger still faces a long recovery, and it could be quite some time before he gets to drive his bus. He says the community support and their motivation helped him beat COVID-19.



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Police officer's dog saves neighbor's life from dog attack



FERGUSON (KMOV.com) — A Ferguson woman is grateful to be alive, and the credit to her survival goes to a local police officer and his loyal dog.

”I’m trying to stay strong but it’s so hard,” said Katherine Rose.

On Wednesday afternoon, she was outside her home when a neighbor’s dog got out of the house and attacked her.

“My finger’s ate up so bad that its deep down, close to the bone, to where I have to go to a surgeon,” she said.

She was screaming for her life and the dog hung onto her arm.

“I mean the worst scream I ever heard. It was a blood curdling scream,” said Drew Canaday.

That scream woke up neighbor and off-duty Ferguson officer Drew Canaday from his sleep. He and his four-legged dog Ozzie sprung into action.

“I grab my robe, because I was in my underwear, and I go running out the door,” said Canaday. “Her son Reggie had a broom and he’s trying to hit the dog with the broom to get him off. [I] didn’t feel safe discharging my weapon with her arm in this dog’s mouth and her son right there.”

That is when Ozzie, his Czechoslovakian shepherd dog, took over.

“[I] opened the door, said, ‘Ozzie get him’, and he knew exactly what to do. He went straight for that dog and he hit that dog full force, getting that dog to release her arm,” said Canaday.

Ozzie kept fighting the other neighbor’s dog for over 20 minutes before that dog’s owners came out to try and restrain him.

“When Poncho first let go of Ozzie, he turned around and grabbed his own owner, bit his own owner in the calf,” said Canaday. “This dog is super aggressive, and why the door was left open for him to get out I don’t know.”

One of the owners of the dog who started the attack spoke to News 4 outside their home today. He declined to speak on camera but did want to say their family is grateful Canaday and Ozzie stepped in to help Rose.

They have since put their dog down after the attack and because of the injuries he sustained during his fight with Ozzie.

“I’m alive,” said Rose. “Thank god for Drew the police officer that stayed next to me, and his dog. His dog saved my life.”

Ozzie also sustained serious puncture wounds following the fight, but the good boy is recovering well and remains in good spirits.  

“I’m a very proud poppa,” said Canaday.

Canaday says Ozzie is not a K9 dog, but he has been trained to defend his home and respond to commands.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

 

 



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Family says 10-year-old died after TikTok challenge


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Situation becoming 'dire' at US airbase in Germany housing approximately 2,000 pregnant Afghan refugees


Already 22 babies have been born to Afghan mothers at Ramstein, and that number will rise very soon with roughly two thirds of the 3,000 women being housed there pregnant, requiring the time and effort of medical personnel from Ramstein and other bases, two US sources familiar with the situation at the base told CNN.

Even though it’s one of the largest US bases in Europe, Ramstein was never designed to handle such a large transient population especially when there are better equipped and larger facilities in the US.

One of the sources called the Afghans at Ramstein “the forgotten 10,” as the focus has shifted away from the almost 10,000 who remain stuck in limbo in Germany towards some 53,000 Afghan evacuees already housed at eight military bases across the US.

Ramstein called it a “temporary humanitarian city” on social media, built to handle the surge of Afghan evacuees fleeing Kabul. The Afghan families, some with as many as 20 men, women, and children, were only supposed to be at the base for 10 days for screening and processing under an agreement with Germany, the commander of European Command, Gen. Tod Wolters, said on September 1.

Now the remaining Afghans have been in Germany for several weeks and are set to stay longer after a confirmed case of measles among the Afghan evacuee population in the US led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pause the flights for 21 days. The interruption is scheduled to last until October 9, but the challenges of housing such a large population on an overseas military base have grown exponentially, the sources said.

Two-thirds of tents are currently heated

Nighttime temperatures have dipped to near freezing and are set to keep dropping, forcing the base to find generators and heaters for hundreds of tents set up on aircraft taxiways and parking spots. So far, approximately two-thirds of the tents are heated, one source said, and the rest should be within days, but it underscores the magnitude of the problem that was never supposed to be handled at Ramstein.

The base has dealt with some illnesses but is in “a good state” now, one source said. Since Afghans began arriving in late-August, there have been nine Covid cases, as well as a very small number of mumps, chicken pox, and norovirus cases, the sources said. There has also been a case of malaria.

But it was the confirmed case of measles in the US that prompted the CDC to issue guidance that flights of Afghan evacuees from Europe should be paused until the entire Afghan population could be vaccinated. The CDC then added another three-week delay after inoculation to ensure the population is fully vaccinated.

About the only job women can do for the Kabul government is clean female bathrooms, acting mayor says

The CDC representative at Ramstein recommended moving Afghans to the United States once they had been vaccinated, but the sources said CDC headquarters overruled the representative, effectively halting the flights.

CNN has reached out to the CDC for comment.

One flight did go from Ramstein to Chicago, but it was an exception.

An Omni Air flight landed in Chicago on Wednesday morning, bringing 58 unaccompanied Afghan children for a new start in the United States, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN. A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomed their arrival, saying on social media the minors had given up “their homes, their families, their lives as they know them for a chance to survive.”

The flight, chartered by the State Department, made stops at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany before touching down in the United States. The children received some vaccinations before flying to the US and will receive Covid and chicken pox vaccinations in America.

“This flight took place to ensure children are unified with vetted sponsors and family members as quickly as possible and was done in accordance with public health guidelines,” the DHS spokesman said.

One half-empty flight has left recently

But the flight was more than half empty when it left Ramstein, far short of the capacity of the 767-300, which can hold more than 200 people. According to the two sources, the State Department denied a request to put more Afghan evacuees, including women, children, and late-term pregnancies on the flight, frustrating efforts to resettle the population.

The State Department has not responded to a request for comment.

Ramstein has been vaccinating Afghans against measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and chicken pox, and a “preponderance” are vaccinated now. In addition, a sample test of disease immunity found that 95% of Afghans at Ramstein had long-term immunity to MMR, one source said, indicating that they had likely either received the vaccine already or had the disease as children.

US Air Force Airmen evaluate evacuees waiting to be vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella and varicella vaccines at Ramstein Air Base.

Few, if any, Afghans have much more than a set of clothing, let alone a copy of their vaccination records.

The extended stay at Ramstein has compelled officials to offer education on hygiene, including the use of bathroom facilities and washing hands.

The massive tent city has begun to take on a less temporary feel, including the opening of a barbershop, since some Afghans “were very concerned that they were starting to look like the Taliban,” one of the sources said. The base set up wi-fi as well, so the Afghans could communicate with family members already in the US or elsewhere.

Ramstein has relied on the surrounding community for the supply of water and food. The German embassy in the US downplayed any concern over the longer-than-expected stay.

“It remains our mutual understanding that Ramstein airbase can be used as a transit point for evacuees from Afghanistan on their way to the US for a limited amount of time. We are confident that the air operations will restart soon,” a spokesman for the embassy told CNN.



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Even Biden caught off guard by his administration's foreign policy crises


After days of angry phone calls and public statements from the French, Macron took the extraordinary step of recalling the French ambassador to the US for the first time in modern history. Biden was receiving regular briefings on the fallout by national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and by Sunday the President told his advisers he wanted to speak with Macron, believing a direct conversation could help smooth things over.

The debacle is the latest in a series of foreign policy crises that have erupted over the past several weeks for Biden, ones that both foreign diplomats and US officials have said were completely avoidable. The gaffes have left sources inside and outside the administration frustrated and perplexed, with some even comparing the lapses to what they’d expect from former President Trump.

US and foreign officials say they have been bewildered and appalled by the Biden administration’s two recent, major diplomatic failures — first in the execution of its withdrawal from Afghanistan and then by enraging its oldest ally, France, by keeping the country in the dark about the submarine deal, known as AUKUS.

Some administration officials have countered that the French would have been angry regardless of when and how the US notified them of the deal, with one going so far as to describe the French reaction as a “temper tantrum.”

But many acknowledge that it could have been handled better.

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told franceinfo radio. “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies.”

President Joe Biden, President of France, Emmanuel Macron and European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speak during the G7 Summit on June 11, 2021.
These diplomats say there is intense interest in their capitals as to why this is happening, given the fact that Biden and many of his senior officials served in the Obama administration, an experience that should have left them seasoned enough to communicate more clearly, plan more carefully and execute more effectively. But recently, there have been too many surprises, the biggest being the rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. The chaotic and deadly withdrawal was also capped by a major tragedy when a US drone strike mistakenly targeted an Afghan NGO worker and killed 10 civilians.

Addressing the nation last month, Biden said his administration had not expected Kabul to fall so quickly. “We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people I would be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”

One administration official said that despite the criticism around the Afghanistan withdrawal, the administration kept NATO allies abreast of its plans for the withdrawal.

“Not enough people in their chairs”

Some sources pointed to failures in coordination and communication between the National Security Council and the State Department, which is usually the main point of contact for foreign partners. But others said that they believe a key problem has been the lack of Senate-confirmed ambassadors and State Department officials who could serve as a check on the hugely powerful NSC inside the White House.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing this week that nearly 80 nominations are still on hold.

“The slow pace and many obstacles to moving nominees is unacceptable,” he said. “It’s dangerous. We’re less safe when our national security agencies are so short staffed. We have to fix this problem.”

One diplomat said that overseas, too, there is a perception that with the agonizingly slow pace of Senate confirmations of State Department officials, some foreign policy decision-making is more concentrated in the NSC. A source close to the White House echoed that assessment, noting that the NSC has tended to “micromanage” important national security decisions primarily because there are simply “not enough people in their chairs.”

Ted Cruz is blocking diplomats from being confirmed, and it has nothing to do with their qualifications

The source noted, for example, that Karen Donfried — Biden’s nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs — would have been an important voice in shaping the AUKUS deal and avoiding a diplomatic dust-up with France. But Donfried, along with dozens of other nominees, has not yet been confirmed, and the NSC took the lead on the negotiations, several officials said.

“We have an extremely powerful NSC because there are so few confirmed ambassadors and experienced diplomats who can offer an alternate view,” the source said. “It’s not enough to just have done a few years at a think tank.”

‘Hugely imbalanced’

Even within the NSC, some voices are more powerful than others, one official said. “The NSC is hugely imbalanced in terms of personalities,” the official said. “On the one hand, you have people like (NSC Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs) Kurt Campbell and (NSC Coordinator for the Middle East) Brett McGurk who are very larger-than-life and powerful, who can communicate with heads of state and have wide ranging contacts in their regions.” They are also politically savvy, the official said.

But as of now, the official noted, there are no real equivalent bigwigs directing the Europe or South and Central Asia portfolios across the administration.

One diplomat said that indeed, a perception among many foreign allies is that inside the NSC, there are a lot of civil servants who are “super brainy” but may lack “political instincts.” This diplomat said it wasn’t clear to European envoys in Washington that the Asia team at the NSC, which worked on the AUKUS deal, even involved or briefed their colleagues who worked on France and Europe.

The confirmation process is, of course, out of Biden’s hands. But many of the nominations have been held up by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz because of the administration’s perceived mishandling of another major foreign policy issue — the Russia-Germany gas pipeline called Nord Stream 2, which Biden decided against sanctioning directly because of how it might impact U.S.-Germany relations. That decision was also driven by the NSC, sources said, and sparked immediate bipartisan backlash.

US military admits it killed 10 civilians and targeted wrong vehicle in Kabul airstrike

As such, an ongoing debate among some European diplomats is how much the recent missteps are actually just driven by attitude — the high-handed entitlement of a global superpower — versus a lack of personnel.

“If it’s not a lack of personnel, that’s a very different conversation,” said a second diplomat.

Intense focus on China

US officials and lawmakers told CNN that they believe that, more broadly, the administration’s intensified focus on China has resulted in other crucial issues — like proper planning ahead of the Afghanistan withdrawal and tough diplomatic work with European allies — being neglected.

The White House is working to arrange a summit between Biden and Macron in Europe next month, likely on the margins of the Group of 20 summit in Rome. Biden’s aides had once hoped to arrange an in-person meeting with Xi Jinping at that gathering, in another sign — along with the AUKUS partnership — of Biden’s desire to refocus American foreign policy on countering China. But Xi has signaled he won’t attend the conference in person.

“There are a lot of terrible things happening in the world, most of which are not Joe Biden’s fault, but which do argue for the US doing something bold and beautiful to get our mojo back and reassure friends and allies that the US is willing to play its role,” said Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, vice chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served in the State Department while Biden was vice president.

An erosion of trust

In any case, multiple diplomats said that events in Afghanistan — where the Biden administration pulled out hastily from Bagram Air Base, giving allies little or no warning — and the AUUKUS debacle have badly eroded trust in the US. The chaotic rush of the Afghanistan withdrawal in particular left US allies scrambling to ensure the safety of their own citizens and feeling deeply disadvantaged by the seemingly poor US planning.

While the Biden administration received a warm welcome from international partners during its first few months, foreign diplomats are now second-guessing their assumption that the Biden administration will be tremendously better than the Trump administration across the board, multiple European diplomats told CNN.

There is a real concern, for example, following the AUKUS debacle, that the US might step in and steal military deals from Europe, one diplomat said. (The EU is the second largest arms trader in the world after the US, according to a September 2020 statement by the European Parliament.)

The lapses have been all the more shocking, the diplomats say, because the Biden administration was seen as more competent and sympathetic than the Trump administration.

“It’s not the decision-making style we expected,” one diplomat said.



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