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Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB, wins Heisman Trophy

Add Lamar Jackson's name to the Pantheon of college football history. 

>> Read more trending stories

The former Boynton Beach, Florida, quarterback, who became the hottest athlete in college football with the Louisville Cardinals this season, was named the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner at the award ceremony in New York City Saturday night. Jackson finished ahead of the other four finalists: Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook. Jackson, a sophomore at Louisville, finished the regular season with 3,390 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns while throwing only nine interceptions. In addition, he ran for another 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns. His 51 total touchdowns is more than 89 Football Bowl Subdivision teams managed so far this season.

Jackson, who was picked as the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, dazzled fans and media members alike with highlight-reel plays -- a skill he mastered while playing for the Tigers.

“They came into my office, and the kids introduced him to me. They knew him from the past. And they said he was our new quarterback -- the very first day he got there," Jackson's former coach, Rick Swain, told the Palm Beach Post in September. "I looked at him and said, ‘Well, you haven’t scored a touchdown for me yet. You haven’t thrown a pass, you haven’t run one.’ I told him he wasn’t my quarterback, but he could try out to be my quarterback. He made me eat those words real quick that spring when I realized what I had."

Competitive eater first to conquer 'Anaconda burrito'

A competitive eater is the first to conquer the latest food challenge by devouring a massive 5 1/2-pound burrito. Pablo Martinez, ranked 20th by Major League Eating, took about 13 minutes to eat the 3-foot-long folded food at Taquiera Yarelis in Fresno, California. "Burritos are my specialty," Martinez said before sitting down and eating it. "So hopefully I won't have a problem. But this one's pretty long. This is the longest burrito I've done." >> Read more trending stories The $23 concoction is typically cut into pieces and served to a family of four. It is made from five large tortillas, rice, refried beans, cheese, beef fajita, onions and topped with three different kinds of salsa and lime juice. The burrito is browned on a griddle and served in a long aluminum pan. >>Read 'Anaconda Burrito' a sensation at California restaurant  Since Martinez finished it, the burrito was free. "Mark my words, I won't be the last,” Martinez said.” There will be others who will come to do this." <iframe width="500" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5e-lrQIBo30" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

American pandas experience culture shock on return to China

Twin giant pandas who returned to China are experiencing a language barrier working with their new trainers.

Mei Lun and Mei Huan are also adjusting to their new diet, which does not include their favorite American crackers, according to the People’s Daily, a state-run Chinese newspaper.

They were sent to China with 375 pounds of bamboo and 25 pounds of their favorite crackers to help with the transition, according to CNN.

>> Read more trending stories

The pandas were born and raised at Zoo Atlanta until they were mature enough to be returned to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding as part of a loan agreement.

Mei Lun is very lively and often jumps on the roof and hangs upside down. Mei Hun is much calmer, sitting and watching, according to the Chinese media.

They understand when trainers call their names however, they do not know other commands in the Sichuan dialect.

 

"Language is not the only means their care staff have of communicating with them,” Rachel Davis, spokeswoman at Zoo Atlanta, told CNN. “There are also a number of hand signals, learned through positive reinforcement training while here in the U.S., which are universal to both their U.S. and their Chinese care teams and don't rely on language.”

Bill would allow guns in Washington sports stadiums

In addition to foam fingers, Washington sports fans may one day be allowed to bring concealed weapons into sports stadiums.

Legislators are proposing a bill that would allow gun owners with a legal concealed weapons license to carry their firearm inside any facility that is considered a public district, like sports stadiums.

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While Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field are privately owned and have strict no-gun policies, the legislation would prohibit them from barring legally carrying gun owners to bring their pistols.

Teachers save choking girl's life with Heimlich maneuver

Teachers at a Pennsylvania school are being credited with saving a girl’s life. A 7-year old girl named Aubrey was eating breakfast Wednesday morning at Lockley Early Learning Center when she started to choke. As she ran to the bathroom, a teacher saw that she was in trouble. “She was flushed. She was red, and couldn’t get any breath,” said teacher Beth Stanley. “I rushed her to the nurse’s office.” Stanley called 911, and then she and other teachers and staff members took turns giving the girl the Heimlich maneuver, trying to dislodge the food from her throat.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

 “It was exhausting,” said Brian Popovich, the assistant principal.  After several minutes of trying, the little girl went limp, but the staff didn't give up.  Popovich said he told the other teachers to pick her up so he could get more leverage. He tried a few more times, and on the eighth thrust, the food flew out.  Aubrey was taken to a hospital to be checked out. She's going to be fine, doctors said. Aubrey’s mother, Valarie Speers, said the teachers are lifesavers, heroes walking the hallways. She said she can’t thank them enough. “These folks are awesome. They are special,” Speers said. “They saved my baby’s life.” Aubrey is now giving lots of hugs and kisses to the teachers and staff who saved her life. The superintendent is using the incident as a teachable moment. Next week, the district will hold a CPR session for its staff.

Inmates record 'Mannequin Challenge' video inside California prison

Inmates used a smuggled cellphone to create their own “Mannequin Challenge” video inside a California state prison.

The video was filmed inside the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, Terry Thornton, with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, confirmed Thursday, according to KNSD.

“Inmates are not supposed to have cellphones, that is considered contraband in California state prisons,” Thornton told KGTV. “Cellphone possession in prison is illegal.”

>> Read more trending stories

The one-minute clip features about a dozen inmates. It starts with one seated on the toilet then pans to others sitting and standing around the cell. It shows two inmates holding a shirt over another with fists clenched in a mock fight. It was uploaded to YouTube Nov. 13.

Authorities are investigating the incident, including how the inmates got cellphones, which are not allowed in the prison.

“An inmate caught with an illegal cellphone can lose up to 90 days of good time credit,” Thornton told the San Diego Tribune. “There could be other sanctions as well.”

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Single mother goes to dialysis, comes home to find Christmas gifts stolen

Authorities are investigating after a single mother left her apartment in Pittsburgh to go to dialysis and returned home to find that all of her son’s Christmas gifts had been stolen. Tasha Wade said that she came home from her dialysis treatment Friday to find a window smashed in. “I just couldn't believe it,” she said. Someone had broken through a bedroom window next to her apartment’s fire escape.

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 “The first thing I worried about was my son's stuff that I had just gotten him for Christmas,” Wade said. She said she had to have her leg amputated last year and has been struggling to get healthy. Wade said it has only been a few months since she left the hospital, where she spent last Christmas.  “I've been struggling. I have a bed, but I don't have any furniture. I'm trying to take steps to build myself up to the old Tasha that I was,” she said. Wade said she isn’t working because she’s on disability and now realizes she’s not going to be able to replace the hundreds of dollars in video games and clothes that she bought for her son. “I still promised him he was going to have a good Christmas. I don't know what to tell him. I don't know what to tell him,” she said. Police confirmed that they are investigating the burglary. Wade said that she thinks someone who is aware of her schedule may have broken in, knowing that she goes to dialysis three times a week.

Therapy dog in festive van delivers holiday cheer to hospital

Santo the therapy dog is looking more like Santa these days.

He even has his own transportation, though Santo rides in a festive van, not a sleigh. This month, Santo is delivering holiday cheer to patients and staff at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center in California. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  A Twitter user whose mother works at the hospital posted images of the adorable pooch. 

My mom works at a hospital & they have this service dog go around to cheer up patients. Here he is earlier today with the Christmas spirit pic.twitter.com/5J6f9tlOp4— juliee. (@jewelsssm) December 6, 2016

A hospital spokesperson told Buzzfeed that Santo and another therapy dog visit the hospital regularly. Santo even has his own hospital ID badge. The spokesperson said that Santo's handler decorates the dog's VW van for other holidays as well, and Santo has been seen in the past sporting a Hawaiian shirt. 

5 things to know about Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson

It was reported Saturday that Exxon Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state. The report came just a day after former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani removed himself from consideration for the position. Giuliani had been on Trump’s shortlist of secretary of state candidates, along with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will be named as Trump's secretary of state: sources https://t.co/BFXBXIUgOr— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) December 10, 2016

Trump team communications director Jason Miller said an official announcement would not come until next week, at the earliest.

Transition Update: No announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) December 10, 2016

>> Read more trending stories 

1. Who is Tillerson?

Tillerson, 64, was born in Texas. He received a civil engineering degree from the University of Texas. Tillerson resides in Texas and is married with four children.

2. How long has Tillerson worked for Exxon?

Tillerson has spent his entire career at Exxon. He was hired as an engineer by Exxon in 1975 and rose through the ranks, becoming CEO in 2006. He earned $27 million in 2015. Exxon has a mandatory retirement age of 65.

3. What organizations is Tillerson involved with in his business and personal life?

According to his Exxon biography page, Tillerson is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the National Petroleum Council. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council, and a trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an honorary trustee of the Business Council for International Understanding, and a member of the Emergency Committee for American Trade. Tillerson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2013.

Mr. Tillerson is a past national president of the Boy Scouts of America, a former United Negro College Fund director and is the vice-chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Society.

4. What are Tillerson’s political views?

A longtime Republican supporter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson supported Jeb Bush during the primaries, and did not donate to the Trump campaign. Tillerson’s past public statements suggest that he is in favor of free trade and leery of government regulations and sanctions.

5. What are Tillerson’s ties to Russia?

In 2011, Tillerson signed an agreement with Russia, worth up to $300 billion, that allows ExxonMobil to drill in the offshore Arctic Kara Sea oil field, but the agreement hasn’t taken affect due to U.S. sanctions against Russia over actions in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship in 2013. 

Obamas send last White House Christmas card

As Barack Obama's presidency comes to a close, the first family has sent out its last Christmas card from the White House.

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The president, along with first lady Michelle Obama and first daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, appear on the card in a photo originally taken in March at a state dinner honoring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, The Huffington Post reported.

The card was signed by the entire family, including their pets, Bo and Sunny.

According to People.com, holiday cards from the White House are given to friends, family, donors and certain members of the media. Since President Obama is a Democrat, the cards were paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

Mystery Christmas tree reappears in Arizona

Christmas decorations once again adorn a tree in the median of an Arizona highway.

The juniper tree along I-17, north of the Sunset Point rest stop, is anonymously decorated each year during the Christmas season.

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The Mystery Tree is back along I-17 near Sunset Point. The ADOT Blog shares the history of this holiday tradition: http://bit.ly/2he5mICPosted by Arizona Department of Transportation on Friday, December 9, 2016

The Arizona Department of Transportation posted a history of the mystery Christmas tree on its website, and said based on photos from previous years, the decorations are the same each time.What is a greater mystery to the Arizona DOT is how the tree has survived numerous brush fires over the years.

LeBron James leads Cavaliers in rickrolling of fans during '80s night

The Cleveland Cavaliers had some fun with fans Friday night, which was designated '80s night at Quicken Loans Arena.As the standard team introduction played, it was interrupted by a music video of the team singing along to the Rick Astley hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up." The phenomenon is known as rickrolling. 

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LeBron James was joined by J.R. Smith, Kevin Love and other teammates, who sported oversized coats, Jheri curls and other 1980s fashion statements.At the end of the video, a message read, "You've been Cavs Roll'd."

Samsung to disable Galaxy Note 7 devices on Dec. 19

In an effort to get U.S. customers to turn off their devices, Samsung will be issuing a software update next week that will make the Galaxy Note 7 inoperable.

On Friday, Samsung confirmed that it plans to release the final update for the device on December 19, rendering the Note 7 devices useless. The update will prevent the phones from charging and will “eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices.” 

According to the company, 93 percent of the Note 7 devices have been turned in after they were recalled three months ago following reports of phones bursting into flames. The phone’s battery was determined to be the issue, and some malfunctioning devices were responsible for fires in homes, cars and, in a few cases, their owner’s pockets or purses.

According to the company, there are roughly 133,000 Galaxy Note7 devices unaccounted for in the United States.

Samsung said in the statement Friday, “Together with our carrier partners, we will be notifying consumers through multiple touchpoints to encourage any remaining Galaxy Note7 owners to participate in the program and to take advantage of the financial incentives available.”

Samsung issued a recall for the Note 7 in September. Customers were asked to return the device for a refund or a replacement phone. In October, it expanded the recall in the United States to include all replacement devices the company offered.

The Note 7 is banned on airlines and on other U.S. public transit systems over the fire concerns.

While other carriers have announced when the software update will be passed along to customers, Verizon says it will not release the update that will make phones unusable because of concerns that customers may need the device in the event of an emergency. 

“Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to,” according to a statement from the company. “We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.”

According to a story from CNET, T-Mobile's update will come Dec. 27, AT&T’s on Jan. 5, and Sprint’s on Jan. 8.

Former MLB pitcher graduates from police academy

Former major-league relief pitcher Anthony Varvaro is switching jerseys. He won’t be pitching to batters, though. The right-hander will be catching criminals, the New York Daily News reported.

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Varvaro, 32, who pitched for three teams between 2010 and 2015, graduated from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police academy on Friday.

Varvaro pitched for the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners. He went 7-9 in 166 relief appearances before an arm injury sidelined him for most of 2015.

The Staten Island native graduated in a ceremony in Elizabeth along with 79 others.

In an interview with The Torch, St. John’s student newspaper, Varvaro said he was set to pitch again for a Red Sox Triple-A team, but decided to switch careers and become a cop.

“I kind of felt like my body was breaking down a bit, I felt like my career may have been coming to an end,” he told the newspaper in a Dec. 2 interview. “I probably could have played little longer, but that’s when an opportunity with the Port Authority Police Department arrived.”

The Port Authority Police Department patrols the New York region's airports, tunnels, bridges and a transit system.

Deputies: Florida man claims he downed 18 beers, Xanax before setting house fire

A Florida man was arrested Wednesday after police said he vandalized a vacant house during the summer while high on Xanax and drunk on 18 beers.

Michael Lee, 31, faces charges of residential unoccupied burglary and arson to a home. He remained in the Palm Beach County Jail on Saturday morning with his bail set at $16,000.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Lee set multiple fires inside the home, which was for sale when it was vandalized in the early hours of June 22. He smashed almost all the windows and flooded the kitchen and bathrooms by plugging the sink drains and leaving the faucets on, according to the arrest report.

Deputies responded to the home around 3 a.m. when a neighbor called about a disturbance. The neighbor said the house was for sale and should be empty, the police report said.

>> Read more trending stories  

Officers then heard Lee, who lives next door to the vacant home, yelling from the back of the home. He appeared intoxicated and had fresh cuts and bruises on his right hand, the police report said.

When asked about the injuries, Lee said he had been upset at his girlfriend for not coming to visit and that he had punched a bedroom wall in his own home, the report said. He also said he had never been to the vacant home and refused to give a DNA sample.

Police searched the home and found blood on the kitchen and front windows. Police then visited Lee’s home and asked him again about the incident.

Lee again said he did not know what happened to the house, but this time agreed to give a DNA sample. On Nov. 29, the DNA results revealed that the blood in the house belonged to Lee and officers went back to his residence.

Lee finally admitted to officers that he had vandalized the home because the mother of his child did not stop by to see him so he took two Xanax pills, drank 18 beers and decided to go for a walk, the police report said.

He then said he “took his anger out” on the vacant house by smashing the windows with his right hand and setting small fires with a lighter. Police asked Lee if someone was with him during the incident, and he replied that he was alone because “he has no friends and that the only friend he ever had died,” the report states.

Since Lee cooperated with officers, police did not arrest him until Dec. 7 when the homeowner reported $63,000 in damages that his insurance company could not cover.

Now there will be 24 Fields of Dreams at iconic Iowa site

They got the OK to build it. Now they will come to play — in droves.

>> Read more trending stories

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for a 24-field baseball complex at the “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville, upholding a lower court's decision that the City Council properly rezoned the property from agricultural to commercial.

Some residents tried to block development of the All-Star Ballpark Heaven youth baseball and softball complex. They were concerned the complex would increase traffic and disrupt surrounding farm operations, The Associated Press reported.

The complex is to be built on the site where the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner, was shot.

The Iowa Supreme Court relied on its rulings in previous cases to side with the City Council, saying the council's rezoning decision did not weigh the legal rights of one party versus the other, the AP reported.

"The council weighed all of the information, reports, and comments available to it in order to determine whether rezoning was in the best interest of the city as a whole," Justice Bruce Zager wrote.

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Pit bull pup honored after preventing rape in NYC

Apollo is a 5-month-old pit bull puppy who took a bite out of crime, preventing a New York City woman from being raped. Thursday, the dog was honored with chew toys and spa treatment, the New York Daily News reported.

 >> Read more trending stories

Apollo saved 18-year-old Maya Fairweather from a man who forced her to the ground in a Brooklyn park on Nov. 28, the News reported.

Apollo, whom Fairweather had been walking, bit the attacker’s leg. The man quickly ran away.

“Thanks, Apollo, for saving my life,” Fairweather said during the ceremony. Apollo had been taken to a ceremony in a limousine and to the penthouse suite of the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan, where a specially made cake was waiting.

New York socialite Jean Shafiroff cooked up the idea of the award, presented by the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“This is such a great story,” she told the Daily News. “I knew I had to do something for this dog.”

“He's a great dog. I actually am proud because I wasn't there, that was actually my job to be there and help her out on that occasion, but at least Apollo was with her," Carlos Guzman, Apollo's owner, told KABC.

The Nassau County Sheriff has offered to help train Apollo and he's also being awarded a $500 gift card to a local pet store, KABC reported.

Broncos’ Brandon Marshall receives racist, threatening letter

Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, explaining that he wanted to expose the racism that exists in society, posted on social media a racist, profanity laced letter that denounced him for taking a knee during the national anthem earlier this season.

 >> Read more trending stories

Marshall told The Associated Press and other media outlets that he received the letter a couple of weeks ago and turned it over to the team's security department. The team also has been in contact with the NFL and local law enforcement. Marshall posted copies of the letter on his Instagram account.

Marshall posted the letter written along with his caption: “The hatred by some against people of color is one of the reasons we are where we're at in the world today, and they wonder why we feel the way we do and take the stances that we take.”

"I just wanted to expose that racism still exists," Marshall told reporters in the locker room Friday. "I wanted to expose that people still hate each other. We still hate each other, whether it's because of your belief system or the color of your skin, whatever the case may be."

Marshall said he quickly received hundreds of messages of support, although one detractor suggested he shouldn't have posted it because it gave voice to the author.

"No, I did the right thing because it needs to be seen," Marshall said.

Nora the polar bear cub enjoys first snow in Oregon

Call her Nora the explorer.

The young polar bear that arrived at the Oregon Zoo a few months ago, enjoyed a day frolicking in the snow during a winter storm in Portland. A YouTube video shows the 13-month old bear playing and checking out the snow and the sights in her new home. Nora was born in Ohio last November at the Columbus Zoo and was moved to Portland in October.

Nora peeks at a hammock, tries climbing into it and generally has a good time while playing in the Oregon snow for the first time.

“She's been very playful,” Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey, the senior marine animal keeper, told KATU. "It's like having a new puppy on exhibit, she's been a lot of fun to have.”

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