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  • Police say they are hot on trail of Ladd gunman and believe he ditched gun in Troy football player’s car

    MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Police are getting close to arresting the alleged Ladd-Peebles Stadium gunman, who authorities say got help from a Troy University football player, according to Mobile’s top police officer.

    Police Chief Paul Prine told FOX10 News that investigators have received good information about Hezekiah Kaniel Belfon’s movements after Friday night’s shooting that left five people wounded.

    “We’re still looking for Mr. Belfon,” he said. “And, you know, we are tracking his whereabouts earnestly. And we have got some information. We’re not far from apprehending him.”

    Authorities alleged that Belfon, 19, was at the game between Williamson and Vigor high schools and that he went to the parking lot late in that contest to get a gun. A 17-year-old who also was armed but did not shoot, according to police, appeared for a bond hearing Thursday on five counts of attempted murder. A judge set bail at $250,000.

    third person charged with attempted murder, Jai Montrell Scott, is out on bail.

    Law enforcement authorities say that after the shooting, Belfon went to Troy, where he hooked up with Reginald Leon Todd, a wide receiver who grew up in Mobile County and graduated from Blount High School.

    Pike County prosecutors have charged Todd with hindering prosecution, alleging that he harbored Belfon. Court documents in that case accuse him of allowing Belfon to come to his house, leave a gun there and use his cell phone. The criminal complaint also alleges that Todd cut Belfon’s hair.

    Those are allegations that Todd’s attorney, Willie Huntley, adamantly denied on Thursday.

    “That’s all inaccurate,” he told FOX10 News. “My client, as I can tell, waived his constitutional rights and told the police everything they wanted to know. They didn’t like what he told them.”

    Mobile police have said they have not determined whether the gun received in Troy is the same one used in the Ladd shooting.

    Huntley said Todd, 24, returned from his team’s road trip to Texas on Saturday to find Belfon had broken into his home.

    It was not the first time Belfon had visited Todd, Huntley said. He said his client’s brother is a friend of Belfon. But Huntley added that Belfon was uninvited that night.

    Huntley said the two went out Saturday night and that it is likely his client allowed Belfon to use his phone. And he acknowledged that police found Belfon’s gun in Todd’s car but said his client did not even know it was there.

    Huntley said Todd made no effort to harbor Belfon when he found out Sunday what had happened at Ladd. He said Belfon told Todd he was headed for Louisiana.

    “As soon as my client found out that he, the other guy – (Belfon) – was involved in it, he directed him to leave,” he said. “And we adamantly deny that he ever cut that man’s hair. He did not do that.”

    Todd, a senior, has been suspended from the Troy football team. Prior to that, he had caught 23 passes for 291 yards. Huntley said he hopes to get the criminal charge dismissed after a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 2 so that he can return to the team.

    “It’s my understanding from talking to his coaches that he is a pro prospect,” he said. “And of course, all this does is hinder his prospects as an NFL player, a potential NFL player.”

    Police say they are hot on trail of Ladd gunman and believe he ditched gun in Troy football player’s car | Mobile County Alabama News | fox10tv.com

  • NIH admits US funded gain-of-function in Wuhan — despite Fauci’s denials

    It’s another Fauci flub.

    The National Institutes of Health has stunningly admitted to funding gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at China’s Wuhan lab — despite Dr. Anthony Fauci repeatedly insisting to Congress that no such thing happened.

    In a letter to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) on Wednesday, a top NIH official blamed EcoHealth Alliance — the New York City-based nonprofit that has funneled US funds to the Wuhan lab — for not being transparent about the work it was doing.

    NIH’s principal deputy director, Lawrence A. Tabak, wrote in the letter that EcoHealth’s “limited experiment” tested whether “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model.”

     The lab mice infected with the modified virus “became sicker” than those that were given the unmodified virus, according to Tabak.

    “As sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do,” Tabak said.

    Gain-of-function research refers to viruses being taken from animals before they are genetically altered in a lab to make them more transmissible to humans.

    The admission from the NIH official directly contradicts Fauci’s testimony to Congress in May and July, when he denied the US had funded gain-of-function projects in Wuhan.

    Fauci has repeatedly clashed with Republican senators, including Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have accused him of lying about the gain-of-function research.

    Paul erupted on Twitter following the emergence of the NIH letter, saying: “’I told you so’ doesn’t even begin to cover it here.”

    Tabak, who did not use the term gain-of-function in his letter but alluded to it, said EcoHealth — which is run by British scientist Peter Daszak — failed to comply with the terms of the grant, which required it to “report immediately a one log increase in growth.”

    “EcoHealth failed to report this finding right away, as was required by the terms of the grant. EcoHealth is being notified that they have five days from today to submit to NIH any and all unpublished data from the experiments and work conducted under this award,” Tabak said.

    According to Tabak, the NIH had reviewed EcoHealth’s research plan in advance of approving the grant but claims it wasn’t subjected to additional review at the time as it didn’t fit the definition of “research involving enhanced pathogens of pandemic potential because these bat coronaviruses had not been shown to infect human.”

    Tabak said if EcoHealth had alerted NIH to the growth, it would have prompted a review to determine if the research plan should be re-evaluated.

    He insisted the bat coronaviruses studied under the NIH grant could not have become COVID-19 because the “sequences of the viruses are genetically very distant.”

    As recently as last month, Fauci was accused of lying about gain-of-function research after documents, obtained by the Intercept, detailed grants given to EcoHealth Alliance for bat coronavirus studies.

    That grant proposal detailed in the trove of documents was for a project titled “Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence,” which involved screening thousands of bat samples, as well as people who worked with live animals, for novel coronaviruses.

    The $3.1 million grant was awarded for a five-year period between 2014 and 2019. After the funding was renewed in 2019, it was suspended by the Trump administration in April 2020.

    The grant directed $599,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bat coronavirus research.

    The proposal acknowledged the risks of such research, saying: “Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled.”

    NIH admits US funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan (nypost.com)

  • Alabama consumers projected to spend nearly $15B during 2021 holiday season

    Alabama could see holiday sales grow by double digits for the second straight year, according to recent trends.

    The months of November and December last year saw Alabamians spend 11.6% more than they did during the same period in 2019, which recorded the highest holiday growth rate in state history.

    In 2021 thus far, the state has experienced taxed sales grow nearly 20% over 2020. The three most recent months for which statistics are available show sales growth sitting at 12%.

    According to the Alabama Retail Association, Alabama consumers could grow 2021 holiday sales up to 11% over the previous year’s traditional holiday spending months. The estimates are much higher than those of early projections by national economists, who predicted sales would grow by approximately 7% in 2021.

    A growth rate of 7% would place taxed spending in the Yellowhammer State for November and December at $14.796 billion, while 11% growth would bring the total to $14.802 billion. At any rate, Alabama is projected to record historic spending levels during the 2021 holiday season.

    All holiday taxed sales and remote sellers are included in the Alabama Retail Association’s prediction.

    The association noted that consumers began shopping for the holiday season in October so as to ensure their purchases were delivered in a timely manner. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing and delivery continue to experience a higher degree of delay than in years past. Given this fact, the association suggests Alabamians execute their shopping earlier than later.

    Owner of Fairhope’s Fantasy Island Toys Ginger Milligan recommends consumers employ the aforementioned strategy.

    “If you see something, go ahead and get it or take advantage of layaway,” she advised.

    George Jones, owner of Snoozy’s Kids in Mountain Brook, agrees with the approach.

    “If you see something, jump on it, wrap it and be done,” said Jones. “You’ll be glad you did, because when you come back it might not be here.”

    The association noted that just as the rest of Americans, Alabamians will visit more brick and mortar stores in 2021 than they did last season. Additionally, individuals are expected to expend more dollars on entertainment and travel this holiday season than in 2020.

    The Alabama Retail Association encourages Yellowhammer State residents to shop at stores operated and owned within the state to provide a boost to the local and state economy.

    Alabama consumers projected to spend nearly $15B during 2021 holiday season - Yellowhammer News

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