Top 5 Live-WURD Tuesday October 20
1. Campbell convicted of manslaughter in collapse deaths
Philadelphia demolition contractor Griffin Campbell was acquitted of murder but convicted of six counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 collapse of a Salvation Army thrift shop in Center City that left six dead and 13 others injured.
The Common Pleas Court jury also convicted him on all counts reckless endangerment and one count of aggravated assault in the case of a woman who lost her legs after being trapped in the rubble for hours and one count of causing a catastrophe.
The panel returned its verdict rejecting the more serious six counts of third-degree murder after less than a full day of deliberations. Earlier Monday, it asked to view two videos shown at the trial.One from June 2, 2013 showed an excavator pulling down the facade of the Hoagie City building at 2136-38 Market St. The second, taken by a SEPTA bus, captured the three-story masonry wall crushing the Salvation Army building at 22d and Market Streets at 10:41 a.m. on June 5, 2013.
2. Thousands of Philly students still without permanent teachers
Seven weeks into the school year, thousands of Philadelphia schoolchildren have yet to be assigned permanent teachers. On top of a substitute-teaching predicament that leaves hundreds of jobs unfilled every day, the Philadelphia School District – with 190 vacancies – has created a crisis, “either through neglect or incompetence,” union president Jerry Jordan said Monday.
At Northeast High School alone, 1,815 students are affected by 11 unfilled teaching jobs and three vacancies created by long-term medical leaves, most of which were known about months ago, officials said. Some students have no permanent teacher in four out of five of their major subjects.
Jordan, speaking at a news conference outside Northeast, laid the blame squarely at the feet of Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., whose administration Jordan said knew about many of the vacancies and failed to fill them.
“The very least the district can do is provide a very basic management function – staffing our schools,” Jordan said.
3. Oprah paying $43.2M for Weight Watchers stake, joining board
Oprah Winfrey is paying about $43.2 million for a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers and is joining the weight management company’s board. Shares of Weight Watchers nearly doubled after the deal was announced.
Weight Watchers International Inc. said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that as part of a five-year agreement, Winfrey has given the company the right to use her name, image, likeness and endorsement for the company, its programs, products and services, subject to her approval. She will also make personal appearances on the company’s behalf.
For her part, Winfrey has the right to use Weight Watchers marks to collaborate with and promote the company, its programs, products and services. Winfrey will consult with Weight Watchers and help in the development, planning and execution of its program and related initiatives.
“We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life,” said Weight Watchers President and CEO Jim Chambers said in a written statement.
4. Email account linked to CIA director may have been hacked
The FBI and Secret Service are investigating reports that non-government email accounts associated with CIA Director John Brennan as well as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson were hacked, law enforcement officials told CNN.
The New York Post interviewed the alleged hacker, who said he accessed an AOL account associated with Brennan that included files regarding his security clearance application, and the hacker also claims to have accessed a Comcast account associated with Johnson.
The CIA issued a statement Monday saying they are aware of the report. A DHS spokesman also issued a statement saying, “We don’t discuss the Secretary’s security information. We have forwarded this matter to the appropriate authorities.” The FBI declined to comment.
It does not appear that any classified information was accessed, according to a law enforcement official.
The reports highlight the sensitivity of government officials using personal email addresses whether or not they use them for government purposes, an issue thrust into the spotlight in part by Hillary Clinton’s use of private email when she was secretary of state.
5. Six Fires at St. Louis-Area Churches Under Investigation
Someone has been setting fire to predominantly black churches in the St. Louis area, and investigators are trying to determine if the arsonist is targeting either religion or race.
The blazes have happened in an area still reeling from the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown last year by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and a grand jury’s subsequent decision not to charge Wilson. Brown, who was black, was unarmed when he was shot by Wilson, who is white.
The fires began Oct. 8 and have all happened within a few miles of each other in north St. Louis city and county. Six churches have been damaged; five of the churches are predominantly black and one is racially mixed. In each case, the front doors were set on fire.
John Ham, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the agency is investigating, along with St. Louis city and county arson squads. The ATF has jurisdiction over fires at all houses of worship, Ham said.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon