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Louisiana veteran entertains motorists with saxophone

A Vietnam War veteran has become a fixture for music lovers in his Louisiana town.

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Donald Givens plays saxophone for several hours daily in his gazebo at his Monroe residence. His yard is located near the corner of two overpasses and commuters can listen to his daily jam sessions, the News-Star reported.

Strangers pull up to his home and ask Givens to play, sometimes handing the 67-year-old money for music requests. Some residents in Monroe simply refer to him as the saxophone man.

"I don't feel famous,” he told the News-Star.

He may not be as famous as another Monroe native -- jazz tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson -- but Givens loves to create music.

In addition to the saxophone, he can also play the piano and guitar. Givens became entranced with the saxophone after hearing it during a church service, the News-Star reported.

At the same time, he started learning guitar.

"Once you know how to read music, I think you've got well over half of the battle won because you can recognize the notes to any instrument,” Givens told the News-Star. “I just needed to know where B or C was on the saxophone. I could recognize it on the sheet music.”

He started trying to copy Kenny G and other well-known saxophonists.

“When I first started, I would play inside the house. When I got pretty decent I went out to the driveway, and when I thought I was pretty good, I went out to the gazebo,” he said.

His favorite pieces to play include "Jesus, You're the Center of My Joy," " You Are So Beautiful," "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," and "Memory."

Givens said he can play four to five hours without getting winded now, and he loves to keep practicing because there is no end goal with music.

“You can never master it,” he said. “It's unending.”

Stolen Van Halen guitar returned to Hard Rock Cafe in Texas

A guitar owned by rock ’n’ roll legend Eddie Van Halen worth more than $100,000 was recovered Friday, hours after it was stolen from a Hard Rock Cafe in San Antonio, Texas, KSAT reported.

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The guitar, nicknamed “Frankenstrat,” had been reported stolen around 1 a.m. Friday. It was returned later in the day, but it is unclear how the restaurant was able to retrieve the instrument.

According to San Antonio police, someone walked in a side door of the Hard Rock Cafe and took the red, white and black guitar off the wall, and then exited the building. An employee noticed the guitar was missing after the Hard Rock Cafe closed, police said.

The Frankenstrat guitar was one of several that Van Halen had custom built for him during his career, the San Antonio Express reported. 

Van Halen is considered one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen eighth on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

Florida church posts warning: 'This is not a gun-free zone'

Members of a Florida church congregation will not turn the other cheek to those who might wish them harm.

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They are armed and ready to retaliate.

That is according to a sign outside the River of Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, which warns in all capital letters that the sanctuary “is not a gun-free zone.”

The sign continues with a deadly warning: “We are heavily armed -- any attempt will be dealt with deadly force. Yes we are a church and we will protect our people.”

It is signed by “The Pastors.”

The sign at the 21-year-old church was erected about a year ago, Associated Pastor Allen Hawes told The Tampa Bay Times.

However, the warning drew more attention when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard Browne posted a photo of it on his Instagram account. The minister was responding to the deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which 26 people were killed and 20 more were injured.

“It is a deterrent," Hawes told the Times. “Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone.”

Hawes has a concealed weapons permit and said his congregation of nearly 1,200 people has “many armed members” ready to use force if necessary.

“If you walk through the door with the intention to harm, that sign serves as a deterrent to you," Hawes told the Times. "We are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.”

Hawes said his congregation is also paying close attention to the string of four unsolved murders recently in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa.

"I think just collectively, we pay very close attention," he said. "Look at Seminole Heights. Someone is murdering people. This stuff is happening all the time. Do you wait for another shooting to take precautions?"

Musicians pay tribute to young rapper Lil Peep after his tragic death

New York SoundCloud rapper Lil Peep — whose real name was Gustav Åhr — passed away on Wednesday at the age of 21. He was reportedly found in an unresponsive state by his manager on his tour bus, according to The Guardian.

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In a video posted on Instagram just a few hours before his death, he said he had consumed some prescription drugs as well as some other substances, saying: “I’m good, I’m not sick.”

In the wake of the young artist’s untimely death, tributes poured in from fans and peers alike.

“I am shocked and heartbroken,” said Sarah Sennett — the CEO of First Access Entertainment, a management company that represented Lil Peep last — in a statement released on Twitter. “I do not believe Peep wanted to die, this is so tragic. He had big goals and dreams for the future which he had shared with me, his team, his family and his friends. He was highly intelligent, hugely creative, massively charismatic, gentle and charming. He had huge ambition and his career was flourishing.”

Fellow rapper Post Malone said Åhr was “a great friend to me and a great person. your music changed the world and it’ll never be the same.”

EDM composer Diplo wrote on Twitter that Åhr “had so much more to do man he was constantly inspiring me,” and fellow producer Marshmello said, “We were just talking last week about working on a song together and now you’re gone. You will be missed, R.I.P.”

British pop stars Charlie XCX and Sam Smith also shared their sympathies:

Tim McGraw weighs in on Blake Shelton’s new ‘sexy’ title

You can tell from Blake Shelton’s reaction to winning People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” honors that the award is one to be taken lightly. The tall and talented Okie has been appreciative yet modest about the recognition and, at times, he’s even self-deprecating. But his good friends, including Tim McGraw, have got his back.

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Sort of.

McGraw and wife Faith Hill appeared on the nationally syndicated “Ty, Kelly & Chuck” radio show Thursday, and it turns out there are several country fans who would have liked to see the “Humble and Kind” singer win the magazine cover instead.

And those country fans aren’t shy about sharing their feelings.

McGraw read one tweet from a fan who said, “We all know that Blake Shelton is not the sexiest man alive, especially in country music. We know that nobody holds a candle to George Strait or Tim McGraw, so how about we redo the Sexiest Man Alive thing?”

After a solid chuckle, McGraw admitted, “I think Blake is pretty sexy,” and Hill added, “He has a great sense of humor, and that is sexy.”

No doubt!

Host Ty Bentli also shared a tweet that read, “Blake Shelton looks like the dad in a drug commercial where they list the side effects at the end while you watch him build a birdhouse.”

OK, we love Shelton to pieces, but that’s hilarious, y’all!

And we imagine Shelton would find it funny, too, because as Bentli confirmed, “The best part is, he was just in here and he totally will take this and he loves it.”

McGraw added, “When you’re the sexiest man alive, you can take anything.”

Also true.

Shelton is sexy, McGraw is sexy, Hill is sexy, Bentli, Kelly and Chuck are sexy … there’s just a whole lotta sexy goin’ on in country music. But of that group, only Shelton, McGraw and Hill are nominated for Rare Country Awards.

Hill leads with four nominations, while Shelton and McGraw are tied with three apiece. It’s up to you to decide the winners! Vote now through Dec. 13 at RareCountryAwards.com. Winners will be revealed during a livestreamed concert event on Dec. 14 in Nashville.

Expert details how to best handle an active shooter situation

Mass shootings have been becoming more common in America, with one happening nearly every week. But have you considered what to do if you're in a dangerous situation with someone opening fire and attacking you? 

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a video recommending "run, hide, fight" for active shooter situations.

WPXI sat down with security expert Terrence Brown, who trains people and companies on how to handle emergencies.

"So, running's fine, but the issue with running ... is that you need to know where you're running to," said Brown.

Brown is retired from the U.S. military and is a former Pittsburgh police officer. He said a lot of people instinctively "fight, flight and freeze" in a crisis, which is understandable, but not good.

"You're fighting yourself. You're in disbelief that this is actually happening," said Brown.

Brown said it's important to be prepared and have a plan. That means before running, you should identify a safe place to shelter. David Johnson and Brown walked through WPXI, with Brown identifying what to look for: rooms and doors with no glass, and rooms that open to the inside, so they can be barricaded against an intruder.

When it comes to going to large outdoor events, it's just as important to be prepared.

"Get to know the areas, get to know the buildings that will be open late," said Brown. "To my right, I see a parking garage ... multiple levels, so that's wonderful."

Good places to run and hide are thick and solid, and don't have glass. That provides you safety from someone firing a gun at ground level or from up above. And when you're at an event where everyone is focused on one thing, like a performer, force yourself to look away and scan the crowd every once in a while.

Brown said it's all about awareness, whether in your workplace, in any other building or outdoors, especially where there are large crowds. 

As for the last recommendation, fight, that's for when all else fails. In that case, you're trying to save your life, and the lives of others, in any way you can.

Trump delays lifting ban on import of elephant trophies from Africa

Update (Friday, November 17)

President Donald Trump said in a tweet Friday he’s delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review “all conservation facts.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.

Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the “wrong move at the wrong time.”

Trump said that the policy had been “under study for years.” He says he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Earlier

The Trump administration plans to lift a ban on Friday that barred big game hunters from bringing trophies from elephants killed in a pair of African nations to America, according to multiple reports.

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A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made after officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia provided them with information to support a reversal of the ban.

"Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," the spokesperson told ABC News.

The decision will overturn a 2014 ban implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration in response to falling elephant populations. 

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A provision in the act, however, allows for the government to give permits that let people import trophies from such animals if evidence shows that hunting them helps conservation efforts, according to NBC News.

The rule reversal will apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2018, the news station reported. It will also apply to elephants killed in Zambia in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and “applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told NBC News.

According to the 2016 Great Elephant Census, Savanna elephant populations fell by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014. About 352,000 elephants were spotted during the survey, 82,300 in Zimbabwe and 21,700 in Zambia.

Both countries had areas that saw substantial declines in elephant populations along the Zambezi river in Zambia and in Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region, according to the census.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Student Snapchatted high-speed police chase that exceed 100 mph

A University of Georgia student was arrested early Thursday morning after a high-speed chase in Athens.

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According to police, Hunter Ty Wilkerson, 19, reached speeds of 110 mph during the chase before he was eventually taken into custody. They said he was speeding because he had just stolen five traffic signs off the UGA campus.

Athens-Clarke County police got involved when they noticed Wilkerson going 90 mph in a 35-mph zone around 3:30 a.m.

"At that point in itself he's reckless. He's putting lives in danger, to include his own and anyone else who's on the roadway," said Epifanio Rodriguez with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

Police said the chase ended less than 10 minutes later when Wilkerson's truck went airborne.

It crashed into several cars parked in front of the UGA police headquarters.

Police bodycam video obtained by WSB-TV shows several officers taking the suspect into custody.

Police said Wilkerson was on Snapchat during the chase.

"An officer looks through his phone and sees he was active on social media, Snapchat, and was sending out updates saying that he was in a pursuit with the police officer," Rodriguez said.

Wilkerson faces 25 charges, including fleeing a police officer, DUI and reckless driving.

Airbags like ‘grenade’ in car, but fewer than half fixed, report says

Years into the largest and most complex vehicle recall in U.S. history, fewer than half of recalled Takata airbag inflators are fixed.

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The overall repair rate for driver and passenger airbags stands at about 46.8 percent, a government website shows.

The most critical warnings involve certain 2001 to 2003 Honda and Acura models, and the risks are considered highest in high-humidity regions.

The recall is so huge some phases of it will not roll out until 2019, with up to 70 million airbags affected. Currently there are an estimated 46 million defective airbag inflators under recall in approximately 34 million U.S. vehicles from 19 manufacturers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

About 19.6 million airbags had been repaired by late October.

“The words ‘grenade’ and ‘ticking time bomb’ accurately convey the lethal potential of these defective inflators,” says a status report by an independent monitor released this week. “To date, at least 13 people in the U.S. have died from injuries inflicted by defective Takata airbag inflators.”

The status report sees “meaningful progress” by automakers and regulators but finds “much room for improvement.’

In the fatalities, the report notes, the Takata airbag inflator, “instead of properly inflating to cushion the victim and prevent injury, has detonated in an explosion that tore apart its steel inflator housing and sprayed high-velocity metal shards at the victim. The victims have died from blunt head trauma, severance of the spine at the neck or extreme blood loss from lacerations to the chest, neck or face.”

Hundreds more have been seriously injured.

Visit NHSTA.gov to see if your vehicle is under recall. If so, repairs are free, but talk to your dealer to see if replacement parts are available.

Father stabbed to death defending young son from sneaker-stealing teens

A New Jersey man was stabbed to death in his home Tuesday night when he tried to defend his 8-year-old son from a group of teens trying to steal the boy’s sneakers, according to family.

Jose “Migue” Malave, 30, of Jersey City, was stabbed around 7 p.m. at his home, according to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. He was pronounced dead about 25 minutes later at the scene. 

A 17-year-old boy was arrested at the scene and charged as a juvenile, prosecutors said. The unidentified teen is charged with murder, felony murder, armed burglary, conspiracy and multiple weapons charges. 

A second suspect, Nasiar Day, 19, of Newark, was taken into custody Thursday, NJ.com reported. Day is also charged with murder, felony murder, armed burglary, weapons charges and conspiracy. 

NJ.com reported that Malave died in front of his girlfriend and four of his 11 children. Malave had just returned home to drop off his son before heading to his construction job. 

Responding police officers found him lying in a “lifeless state” in the doorway of the family’s apartment, prosecutors said

Malave’s 8-year-old son had reportedly been targeted earlier in the day by a group of teens who tried to steal his sneakers. The teens later went to the boy’s home because they assumed he had other nice belongings, Jose Malave’s sister, Yesenia Malave, told NJ.com.

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Yesenia Malave described her brother as a man who always tried to brighten people’s days.

“He was always outgoing, always happy, always trying to help people,” she said. “You could be down and he was the one who could bring your life up.”

In a Facebook post on Thursday, the grieving sister said she could not adequately express her grief. 

“I wish I would have one more day with my little brother to tell him I love him,” Yesenia Malave wrote. “I miss his 3 a.m. call; (who’s) going to call me now?”

Friends and family members have established crowdfunding pages to help the Malave family with funeral arrangements and to help financially support Jose Malave’s children. Petitions have also been established to urge prosecutors to charge both suspects as adults in the slaying.

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