Baltimore ‘hero mom’ Toya Graham, family homeless after fire

— Toya Graham first made headlines after a televised smackdown of her teenage son during the Baltimore riots last year.

More than a year later, she’s in the spotlight again — but for a more somber reason.

The single mother of six was left homeless after the same son, Michael Singleton, started an accidental fire that displaced the family Saturday.

Singleton, 17, was frying chicken tenders and had stepped away to use the bathroom when the fire broke out, he told CNN affiliate WBFF.

The fire gutted their kitchen, and has forced the family to stay in a hotel while the home is undergoing repairs. With no renters’ insurance, Graham said, it’s unclear whether their landlord will allow them to return.

“I’m I upset with my son … yes. But he’s alive. At the end of the day, I want him to know that I’m glad it wasn’t worse,” Graham told the affiliate.

‘Tired of struggle’

The fire left Graham feeling beaten down and discouraged, she said.

“I’m tired of struggle, I feel broken,” she told the affiliate. “You try to hold on, you try to do everything, you try to be strong for your children. But this is a lot.”

The family has started a GoFundMe page, which has raised about $9,000 so far.

‘Hero mom’

Graham was hailed nationwide as a “hero mom” after she was videotaped slapping and yanking Singleton away from the Baltimore riots protesting the death of Freddie Gray, the man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody.

During the protests in April last year, Graham lost it when she saw Singleton wearing a mask and a hoodie, holding a rock. She followed him into the crowd, gave him a series of slaps and hauled him away.

“I was so angry with him that he had made a decision to do some harm to the police officers,” she said at the time.

After the video emerged, many people praised her for getting her son away from the escalating violence.

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former NAACP chairman, dies at 75

— Julian Bond, a lifelong civil rights leader and former board chairman of the NAACP, has died. He was 75.

Bond died Saturday night after a brief illness in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which he served as founding president in the 1970s.

“Not only has the country lost a hero today, we’ve lost a great friend,” the legal advocacy group said in a statement.

The Tennessee native was on the forefront of the 1960s civil rights movement and was among activists who demanded equal rights for African-Americans.

“With Julian’s passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice,” said Morris Dees, co-founder of the SPLC.

Champion of equal rights

Bond campaigned for equal rights for minorities beyond the United States.

In 1985, police arrested him outside the South African Embassy in Washington, where he was protesting against apartheid, the legalized racial segregation enforced by South Africa at the time.

“He advocated not just for African-Americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination because he recognized the common humanity in us all,” Dees said.

Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but his white colleagues in the House refused to let him take his seat because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. A year later, the Supreme Court accused the Legislature of violating his freedom of speech and ordered it to seat him.

Lawmaker, educator

In addition to the Georgia House, he served in the state Senate for years.

The former lawmaker also taught at various universities, including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, and was chairman of the NAACP for a decade.

“The NAACP mourns the passing of chairman Julian Bond, civil rights titan and our brother,” the civil rights group said in a tweet. “May he rest in eternal peace.”

Bond is survived by his wife, Pamela Horowitz, and five children.

CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report


Blues legend B.B. King hospitalized

— Blues legend B.B. King was hospitalized for dehydration, though the ailment didn’t keep him out for long.

King’s dehydration was caused by his Type II diabetes, but he “is much better,” his daughter, Claudette King, told the Los Angeles Times.

The legendary guitarist and vocalist released a statement thanking those who have expressed their concerns.

“I’m feeling much better and am leaving the hospital today,” King said in a message Tuesday.

Angela Moore, a publicist for Claudette King, said later in the day that he was back home resting and enjoying time with his grandchildren.

“He was struggling before, and he is a trouper,” Moore said. “He wasn’t going to let his fans down.”

No more information on King’s condition or where he was hospitalized was immediately available.

B.B. is short for Blues Boy, part of the name he used as a Memphis disc jockey, the Beale Street Blues Boy.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and has 30 Grammy nominations.

King, 89, has used various models of Gibson guitars over the years, and named each one of them Lucille.

In the 1980s, Gibson officially dropped the model number on the guitar he used last and most. It became a custom-made signature model named Lucille, manufactured exclusively for the “King of the Blues.”

Some of his hits include “The Thrill Is Gone,” which won him his first Grammy in 1970, “There Must be a Better World Somewhere” and “When Love Comes to Town,” a collaboration with U2.

Last year, the bluesman suffered from dehydration and exhaustion after a show in Chicago, forcing him to cancel the remainder of his tour.

CNN’s Greg Botelho and Sonya Hamasaki contributed to this report.

U.S. sending 50 experts to West Africa to fight ‘most complex’ Ebola outbreak

— At least 729 people have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea so far this year as a result of the deadly virus, according to the World Health Organization.

“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done. CDC is surging our response, sending 50 additional disease control experts to the region in the next 30 days.”

Frieden said the 50 experts from the CDC will work to combat the outbreak and help implement stronger systems to fight the disease.

The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which affects multiple organ systems in the body and is often accompanied by bleeding.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function — and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Though the U.S. had not treated an Ebola patient until last week, the CDC has spearheaded efforts to prepare for the deadly virus.

It helped create an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, which is being used to treat American doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and was evacuated to the facility in Atlanta over the weekend.

A second American patient, Nancy Writebol, is scheduled to arrive from Liberia on Tuesday. She will undergo treatment at the same unit.

Emory is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.

But in the nations hardest-hit and not as prepared, the reality is grim. Even in the best-case scenario, it could take three to six months to stem the epidemic in West Africa, Frieden said.

Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.

It has no cure, and the most common approach is to support organ functions and keep up bodily fluids such as blood and water long enough for the body to fight off the infection.

So far, the outbreak has been confined to West Africa. And it has affected health care providers as well.

Ebola claimed the life of a medical director at a hospital in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Dr. Patrick Nshamdze tested positive July 29 after being sick for two weeks, and died Saturday.

In Sierra Leone, where government officials have asked citizens to stay away from work, the military has deployed at least 750 medical officials to 13 locations, military spokesman Col. Michael Samura said.

Health officials are screening incoming and outgoing passengers at the country’s main international airport with a device that takes people’s temperature from their eyes at a distance.

Anyone showing signs of fever is taken away to have their blood tested for Ebola.

CNN’s David McKenzie contributed to this report from Freetown, Sierra Leone. CNN’s Nana Karikari-apau and Christabelle Fombu contributed to this report.

Employee who leaked Jay Z, Solange video fired, hotel says

— The hotel where Jay Z had an alleged altercation with Beyonce’s sister says it has fired the person who leaked the tape to the media.

“The Standard has identified the individual responsible for breaching the security policies of the hotel and recording the confidential CCTV video released by TMZ,” said Brian Phillips, a spokesman for the hotel.

“The Standard has already terminated the individual and will now be pursuing all available civil and criminal remedies.”

In the statement, Phillips said the hotel will turn over its information to authorities.

TMZ says the surveillance video is from an elevator and was taken the night of the Met Gala this month in New York.

In the video, a woman who resembles Solange Knowles enters just before a man who appears to be the rapper. They appear to exchange words before the woman lunges forward and starts striking him. Another unidentified man grabs and holds her.

A woman who resembles Beyonce stands in the corner of the elevator during most of the altercation. Jay Z is Beyonce’s husband and Solange’s brother-in-law.

It’s unclear what caused the fight.

Representatives for Solange, Jay Z and Beyonce have not responded to CNN requests for comment.

Shortly after the video was released, the hotel said it was “shocked and disappointed” by the breach of security.

“We are investigating with the utmost urgency the circumstances surrounding the situation and, as is our customary practice, will discipline and prosecute the individuals involved to our fullest capacity,” it said this week.

Beyonce and Jay Z recently announced their “On the Run” tour, which is scheduled to take them to 16 cities this summer.

CNN’s Joan Yeam contributed to this report.

South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower flag in honor of Nelson Mandela

— A South Carolina sheriff is refusing to lower the American flag in tribute to Nelson Mandela, saying the honor should be reserved for American citizens.

President Barack Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff for the international icon until sunset Monday.

But Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark says not in his department.

“It’s just my simple opinion that the flag should only be lowered to half-staff for Americans who sacrificed for their country,” Clark told CNN affiliate WHNS.

It should be lowered at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, he said, but not at home.

The flag in his department was lowered over the weekend to honor a fallen law enforcement officer and for Pearl Harbor Day. But it will stay up Sunday, he said.

“I have no problem lowering it in South Africa in their country but not for our country. It should be the people who have sacrificed for our country.”

A spokesman for the department said the sheriff cannot be disciplined.

“He’s not breaking a law. It’s his decision. And I support the decision of the sheriff,” Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said.

Mandela became the symbol of the fight against racial discrimination in South Africa and served 27 years behind bars for defying the apartheid government. He died Thursday at age 95.

Though rare, the lowering of flags for foreign citizens is nothing new.

George W. Bush did it for Pope John Paul II eight years ago. Bill Clinton did it when former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in the 1990s.

In fact, the practice goes as far back as 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson ordered flags lowered for former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

But not all world leaders get the honor.

This year, Obama issued a statement expressing his condolences for the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But he did not order the flag lowered.

American presidents can issue the executive order at their discretion, the Flag Code states. In general, presidents reserve the honor for major national figures, including governors and foreign dignitaries.

The code says it’s only a guide and it does not offer penalties for noncompliance.

CNN’s Nick Valencia contributed to this report.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

‘Raise your voice, not your hands,’ cops urge as Zimmerman verdict looms

— Florida authorities have a message as the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial looms: raise your voice, not your hands.

Anticipating that the outcome of the very public, and racially-tinged, case is likely to disappoint one swath of the population or another, law enforcement agencies have set up a response plan.

Part of it is a public service announcement that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office released this week.

In it, a black teenage boy and a Hispanic girl urge viewers to “stand together as one. No cuffs, no guns.”

Zimmerman is a white Hispanic who is on trial for last year’s shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a black teen, in Sanford city. Sanford is in Seminole County.

He is charged with second-degree murder, and says he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors are arguing he profiled the teen.

Millions of Americans have already made up their minds about what should happen. And no matter how the verdict falls, authorities worry passions will be inflamed.

That’s where the video comes in — a plea not to resort to violence.

“Freedom of expression is a constitutional right,” the sheriff’s office said. “While raising your voice is encouraged, using your hands is not.”

In the video, the boy says, “Let’s give violence a rest, because we can easily end up arrested.”

The girl adds, “Let it roll off your shoulders. It’s water off your back, don’t lack composure. Because in one instant it could be over.”

The case has triggered a nationwide debate about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, race and racial profiling.

“People care about gun rights. People care about race. People care about children. People care about the right to defend yourself,” said CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin. “And this case has all of them wrapped up together, and that’s rare.”

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, told CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” that regardless of the outcome, his client will forever be looking over his shoulder:

“First of all, my client will never be safe, because there are a percentage of the population who are angry, they’re upset, and they may well take it out on him,” he said. “So, he’ll never be safe.”

CNN’s Cristy Lenz contributed to this report


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Obama heads to Africa to promote investment, democracy

— President Barack Obama flies across the Atlantic on Wednesday for a trip that takes him to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania — his second visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.

The trip aims to bolster investment opportunities for U.S. businesses, address development issues such as food security and health, and promote democracy.

It comes as China aggressively engages the continent. The Asian nation is pouring billions of dollars into Africa, running oil and mining firms, and replaced the United States in 2009 as the largest largest trading partner.

Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, will be in Africa at the same time.

Bush has made multiple visits to Africa since leaving office, and will be in Zambia next week, where he’s working with his global health initiative to renovate a cervical cancer screening and treatment center.

While the 44th and 43rd president are not scheduled to meet, first lady Michelle Obama and her predecessor, Laura Bush, will attend the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania on July 2.

Obama’s trip is being overshadowed by the declining health of South Africa’s revered former president, Nelson Mandela, who is in critical condition at a Pretoria hospital.

Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of its dark days of apartheid, is considered the father of modern day South Africa.

Obama will be in Senegal Thursday and Friday. He arrives in South Africa on Saturday, where he will spend the weekend taking part in a host of activities, including meeting with the nation’s leaders and visiting Robben Island, where Mandela spent a majority of his prison term.

He will spend Monday and Tuesday in Tanzania, and is expected back in Washington on July 3.

The president made a brief trip to Ghana during his first term in July 2009.

CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.