Oh, Florida
April 24, 2014

Everyone knows that the best way to get kids to perform better on standardized tests isn't to teach them the material, but to give them a jolt of sugar and caffeine right before the test. So why is this Florida elementary school making headlines?

Creel Elementary School was serving each student three tablespoons of Mountain Dew before the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test until Brevard County administrators found out and stopped the tradition. The school's principal, Kathryn Eward, told Florida Today that they'd been administering the soda to students for 10 years.

"We don't think we were giving them enough to really get into" the negative impacts of sugar highs and lows, Eward said. "We've done it for years. The kids look forward to the treats."

Perhaps they can also look forward to diabetes. Meghan DeMaria

1:42 a.m. ET

It's official: Nothing in this world — not even a glittery hair tie — is safe.

Audree Kopp of Louisville, Kentucky, never thought twice about leaving a hair band around her wrist. About two weeks ago, Kopp noticed she had a bump on the back of her wrist, and when it didn't go away, she went to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics. That didn't help, and finally, as the bump grew and became redder, Kopp went to the hospital. There, she found out she needed to have emergency surgery. "Thank God I caught it in time, or I could have had sepsis," she told WLKY.

Dr. Amit Gupta says Kopp's abscess was most likely caused by bacteria from the hair tie that got under her skin through pores and hair follicles. "Be careful, you can't put all these hair ties around the wrist, particularly because it can cause problems with the skin, it can cause infection," Gupta said. Kopp, who at first believed she had been bit by a spider, ended up with three different types of infections, and she's vowed to never again wear a hair tie around her wrist. "It could have been a whole different ballgame," Kopp told WLKY. "Once it gets into your bloodstream, people have been known to go into a coma, your body shuts down. It could have been way worse." Catherine Garcia

Fatal errors
1:36 a.m. ET

A homeowner in Huron, California, knew something was wrong when he heard the screaming, he told Fresno County law enforcement. The unidentified homeowner called 911 on Saturday afternoon after lighting a fire in his fireplace, then quickly tried to put out the fire once he figured out the screaming was coming from the fireplace and smoke started pouring into the house. Sheriff's deputies and firefighters had to break open the chimney to get the suspected robber out, but he was dead by the time they reached him.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tony Botti said Sunday night that the coroner has identified the man in the chimney as Cody Caldwell, 19, and his cause of death was smoke inhalation and burns. Lt. Brandon Pursell of the county sheriff's office said that investigators believe that Caldwell tried to break into the house late on Friday night, then spent hours trapped in the chimney.

Europe's Migration Crisis
12:50 a.m. ET

In Brussels on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and European leaders struck a deal in which the European Union will pay Turkey up to 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to help reduce the flow of migrants to Europe. The EU says the money is intended to raise the quality of life for the 2.2. million Syrians currently in Turkey, providing them an incentive to stay, and it will be paid out as Turkey meets certain benchmarks. Most of the 720,000 migrants who have entered Europe through Greece this year from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere came through Turkey, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Turkey also negotiated a new round of talks on joining the 28-member union, and visa-free travel to and within the EU by October 2016 if Ankara meets certain conditions. "Today is a historic day in our accession process to the EU," Davutoglu said at the beginning of the talks. "I am grateful to all European leaders for this new beginning." European Union leaders said the agreement is first and foremost about migration. "As Turkey is making an effort to take in refugees — who will not come to Europe — it's reasonable that Turkey receive help from Europe to accommodate those refugees," French President Francois Hollande told reporters. Reuters has more on the deal in the video below:

Many European Union leaders are uncomfortable with the anti-secular and authoritarian bent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says BBC Istanbul correspondent Mark Lowen. After the editor of Turkey's main center-left newspaper, arrested last week apparently for publishing an article Erdogan disliked, urged EU leaders to keep human rights in Turkey a priority, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker insisted the migrant pact "would not lead to a situation where we forget about the main differences and divergences we have with Turkey — human rights and freedom of the press." Peter Weber

fight against ISIS
12:49 a.m. ET
Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. military officials say the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State is causing mass defections and forcing elite fighters to take on roles usually reserved for low-ranking militants.

Army Col. Steve Warren said surveillance drones have captured footage showing checkpoints with fewer fighters, and because of weakened checkpoints, more civilians have been able to escape from ISIS-held territory; recently, 22 people were able to flee from Ramadi, Iraq. Checkpoints are also increasingly being manned by foreign militants who are trained to seize land and engage in battle, not inspect people and vehicles. There's also talk of more defections in places like Kirkuk, Iraq; last week, 90 ISIS fighters there — local men who were coerced into joining the group — surrendered to Kurdish peshmerga forces, USA Today reports.

Military officials estimate that 23,000 ISIS fighters have been killed since the campaign started in 2014, including 3,000 since mid-October; they also believe there are 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS fighters still in Syria and Iraq. Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institute, told USA Today "these anecdotes and snippets of information sound promising, but just remain a bit more skeptical until we see some more indicators and see what happens when more time passes." Catherine Garcia

November 29, 2015

The two civilian victims killed Friday during the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs have been identified by their families as Jennifer Markovsky, 36, and Ke'Arre Stewart, 29.

Markovsky was a mother of two, The Denver Post reports, and Stewart, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, was a father of two. Family members told Hawaii News Now that Markovsky accompanied a friend to an appointment at the clinic; the friend was shot in the hand. Authorities in Colorado Springs said they are waiting until the autopsies are completed before formally identifying the two victims.

Also killed in the shooting was Garrett Swasey, 44, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs police officer who responded to the scene after the shooting began Friday morning. Nine people were injured, and all are expected to recover, The Guardian reports. Catherine Garcia

November 29, 2015

Citing "recent tragic events at other campuses across the country," University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer announced Sunday that after receiving information from the FBI about an online threat, the school was canceling all Monday classes and activities on its Hyde Park campus.

In a statement, Zimmer wrote that counterterrorism officials informed the university that "an unknown individual posted an online threat of gun violence against the University of Chicago, specifically mentioning 'the campus quad' on Monday morning at 10 a.m." Students, non-essential staff, and non-medical faculty are being asked to stay off campus, and there will be an "increased police and security presence on and around campus, including police personnel with visible weapons and other additional measures." The FBI is continuing to investigate the threat, Zimmer said. Catherine Garcia

November 29, 2015
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Instead of fighting crowds for doorbuster deals, more people shopped for bargains this Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend from the comfort of their own home.

The National Retail Federation estimates that more than 103 million Americans shopped online, and almost 102 million shopped in brick-and-mortar stores. Adobe Systems Inc. says consumers spent around $4.45 billion online during Black Friday, up 14 percent from 2014. Adobe also estimates that more than 50 percent of those shoppers used mobile devices to make purchases. "This holiday may be a wake-up call for store-based retailers to recognize they are going to have to transform their store models to compete with online retailers," Steve Barr, a retail consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told The Wall Street Journal.

Several retailers offered the same promotions online and in store, and some, like Walmart, put major deals up online hours before they were available in stores. It's not just big box stores trying to woo shoppers online; companies like Expedia are also offering special deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. "Ultimately, retailers are in a race to capture their share of consumer spending," Barr said. Catherine Garcia

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