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  • In celebration of the Orlando Magic's 30th anniversary, the team distributed $1.2 million in grants Friday to 16 different organizations. The foundation distributed 10 $30,000 grants and three $300,000 grants totaling $1,200,000 to 16 non-profit organizations through the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF)in a surprise ceremony at the Amway Center in Orlando.  The foundation raises the money through its annual golf tournaments, auctions held at Magic's game and, this year, a new weekend-long Orlando Wine Festival and Auction to be held March 15-17 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Magic CEO Alex Martins said the fundraising event patterned after successful wine festivals in other cities, could raise several million dollars.   Over the past 29 years, more than $24 million has been distributed to local nonprofit community organizations through the OMYF.   The DeVos family, which owns the Orlando Magic team, pays all the foundation’s administrative costs. The 2019 grant recipients and grants received:  Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida $30,000  Central Florida YMCA $30,000  Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida $30,000  Foundation for Orange County Public Schools $30,000  Advent Health Foundation/Hebni Nutrition Consultants $300,000*  The Gift of Swimming $30,000  Harbor House of Central Florida $30,000  Orlando Ballet $30,000  Orlando Repertory Theatre $30,000  Orlando Science Center/Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County $300,000*  Orlando Shakes (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre) $30,000  Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida/Grace Medical Home, Inc. $300,000*  Valencia College Foundation $30,000
  • After yet another day which featured no hints of progress in ending a funding fight that has to a partial government shutdown taking paychecks away from over 800,000 federal workers, President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday evening that he would make a ‘major announcement’ on Saturday about his push to get money to build a wall along the Mexican border, which has led to an ongoing standoff with Democrats in Congress. “I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown,” the President wrote on Twitter, giving no details about what he might announce. With no indications that Democrats in Congress are ready to give in on their opposition to a border wall, some Republicans have continued to urge the President to declare a ‘national emergency’ under existing laws, and move money around in the military’s budget to build a wall. I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019 “He ought to go ahead and declare an emergency, and it would be over,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). “I don’t know why he is reluctant to do that.” Inhofe – who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee – said Thursday that he would not oppose the President dipping into military construction funds to build the wall, though other Republicans have publicly opposed the idea. Democrats on Friday also pressed the Department of Homeland Security on another front – using eminent domain to take land away from landowners, in order to build the way – focusing on a case involving the Catholic Church in Texas, which owns land that the Trump Administration wants. “The federal government must exercise extreme caution when seizing private property,” wrote Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer to the Homeland Security Secretary. To @SecNielsen: The Trump Administration’s lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, raises important questions on the exercise of eminent domain to build a border wall. We ask you to respond to these questions by January 31: pic.twitter.com/MXcfoQib9E — Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 18, 2019 The President has asked for $5.7 billion in border security money for both fencing and a wall; Democrats in Congress have offered $1.6 billion – the original requests of the Trump Administration and Republicans – but Democrats want none of that to go to the wall.
  • Two Florida fifth-graders are accused of plotting to kill an 11-year-old classmate and escape in a golf cart last month. The plot unraveled Dec. 14 at Roberts Elementary School in Tallahassee, where the alleged victim and the accused students, ages 10 and 11, all attend school. A 32-page police report obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat details the plot, which resulted in both students’ suspension and civil citations for conspiracy to commit battery and bringing weapons on school grounds.  The students are also being recommended for expulsion, the Democrat reported.  “This obviously is a very serious matter,” Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement. “There is zero tolerance in our school system for violence or threats of violence. The individuals who participate in these types of behavior will suffer severe consequences, as (will) these two young boys.” The school’s principal, Kim McFarland, told investigators that the boys “planned and put into effect” a plot to kill their classmate, the Democrat reported.  >> Read more trending news According to the timeline laid out in the police report, one of the accused boys threatened the victim Dec. 10, telling him they would kill him. A few days later, a female classmate told the victim a secret and then went to the two suspected plotters and claimed the victim was spreading rumors about her.  The plotters again threatened the boy, saying they would “take care of him and kill him,” the Democrat reported.  Another student later told police investigators the boys drew a map of where on campus they would take the victim -- an area without security cameras, the newspaper reported. They ultimately changed their mind and planned to take the boy to the school’s garden instead, the police report said.  The day of the planned attack, one of the boys brought a backpack to school with what investigators believe was a murder kit: a wrench, adjustable clamp pliers, a multitool with a 3-inch blade on it and baseball batting gloves. According to police, the student showed the tools to classmates and one of the pair told them “snitches get stitches.” They also told at least one classmate they had the gloves so they would not leave fingerprints, the Democrat reported. They planned to use some of the tools to bust through a gate and flee on a golf cart.  During an after-school program on campus, the boys approached the alleged victim and asked if he wanted to go to the “secret hideout in the garden,” the police report said. He told investigators he refused because other students had told him the boys wanted to hurt him.  The alleged victim went to a teacher supervising the after-school program and told what the boys had planned, the newspaper reported. The boys were taken to the principal, who searched the backpack and found the tools, including the knife. The boys denied wanting to kill the victim, but admitted they planned to beat him up, the Democrat reported.  After the incident, McFarland sent parents an email, which was obtained by WCTV in Tallahassee. “Last Friday there was an incident, with alleged intent to harm a fellow student, that occurred in the afterschool program with a group of 5th grade students who had been developing a plan over a series of days,” McFarland said. “Some of you have reached out with concerns and questions. At this time, I cannot share details, but I can assure that your children are safe and the situation is being handled.” McFarland wrote that she met with the school’s fifth graders to discuss the importance of “see something, say something.”   “Many fifth grade students knew of the potential incident but did not tell teachers or their parents,” the principal said. “We discussed the importance of alerting adults when there is any concern for safety for themselves or their fellow students. Please discuss this with your children. It is imperative they learn this valuable skill now.”
  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts is back at Walt Disney World Resorts with a fresh lineup of  musical performances, creative foods and visual artistry beginning Jan. 18 through Feb. 25 2019. New this year, different pairs of Disney on Broadway stars will sing musical hits on the America Gardens Theater stage seven days a week during the festival. Performers this year include: Kerry Butler (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”) Meredith Inglesby (“The Little Mermaid”) and Steve Blanchard (“Beauty and the Beast”) Arielle Jacobs and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”) Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”) Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”) The concert series is included with park admission with showtimes are 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. nightly.  For the taste buds, an expanded selection of culinary arts. Here’s just a few: Smoked salmon and cream gâteau with egg yolk cream, paddlefish caviar and micro-herbs is sure to be a new favorite at The Painter’s Palate Red wine-braised short rib with parsnip purée, broccolini, baby tomatoes and aged balsamic will be available at Cuisine Classique The 2019 event rolls out  performance art, complimentary seminars, hands-on activities and much more: A variety of workshops led by professionals will teach different artistic techniques, such as floral design, ink and paint, mixed-media art and more (offered Friday-Monday for an additional fee). As a memento of what they learned, participants will take their creations home with them. Complimentary 30-minute seminars will give budding artists helpful instruction for producing their own artwork at home. More than 50 visiting artists participating in the festival will be available to meet with festival goers and share insights on their work  
  • Homicide investigators in California have finally put a name to a young woman found brutally slain near Anaheim more than 31 years ago.  The remains of Tracey Coreen Hobson, 20, of Anaheim, were positively identified Tuesday, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The identification was made using DNA technology and forensic odontology. “Forensic genealogy has provided a new tool for investigators to work cases from a different angle to bring closure to families,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement. “We will never stop investigating these types of cases and seeking justice for victims of crime.” A passerby stumbled upon Hobson’s skeletal remains Aug. 30, 1987, in a grassy area about 50 feet off Santa Ana Canyon Road in unincorporated Anaheim, Sheriff’s Office officials said. The body, which investigators believe had been in that location for about two months, was found with no identification and the only items recovered in the area were a length of cord and a red handkerchief. >> Read more trending news Hobson had been stabbed in the torso and her hands had been removed, authorities said in a news release. Clumps of her blonde hair were found at the scene.   Extensive investigation -- including Orange County’s first clay model facial reconstruction -- failed to either identify the victim or determine who killed her and, despite periodic reviews of the case, it went cold, the news release said.  The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services was able to extract DNA from the remains in May 2005, at which time it was uploaded to national and California databases of missing people. The sample was compared to that of several possible candidates over the years, but no match was found.  Investigators again tried to identify the victim in 2017 by developing new images of the woman in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, and the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, also known as NamUs. Still, Hobson remained unidentified, authorities said.  It wasn’t until August 2018 that investigators decided to try investigative genealogy, the breakthrough technique that has helped solve several cases, including that of the notorious Golden State Killer. They partnered with the DNA Doe Project, a nonprofit, volunteer-run forensic genealogy group that works to identify victims of crime who have gone nameless for years.  Since its inception in 2017, the organization has positively identified six men and women.  The DNA Doe Project tentatively identified Hobson on Nov. 14, after obtaining DNA believed to be from a family member and matching it to the sample taken from her remains, the news release said. Odontology, or the study of her teeth and bite pattern, confirmed the match.  Hobson’s family has been notified of the identification, authorities said.  DNA Doe Project officials thanked the Sheriff’s Department for entrusting them with the case, which was called Anaheim Jane Doe before Hobson was identified. They also thanked the NCMEC and NamUs for their help, as well as the experts and lab workers who worked to bring closure to Hobson’s loved ones.  “Our condolences go out to Tracey’s family,” a statement on the group’s Facebook page read. Sheriff’s Department investigators are now focusing on the last months of Hobson’s life in an effort to find her killer. Anyone with information on her or the case is asked to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS, or 855-847-6227, or visit the Crime Stoppers website at occrimestoppers.org.