Local and national briefs


Journalist held hostage in Syria released

After being held for nearly two years by the Syrian rebel group al-Nusra Front, an American journalist was finally released on Sunday, according to a CNN article by Dana Ford and Steven Almasy.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, is believed to have been held since October 2012 by the organization. According to White House national security adviser Susan Rice, Curtis is safely out of Syria and should be reunited with his family soon.

The U.S. was not involved in negotiations, but were aware of private efforts being made to secure Curtis’ safety. The collateral of his release is currently unknown.

K-State assistant professor wins Emmy

A K-State professor won a Primetime Emmy music award for his contribution to the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Bryan Pinkall, assistant professor of music, was a member of the team that earned the Emmy for Best Lighting Direction. The opening ceremony was also nominated in three other categories: Best Special Class Program, Best Artistic Direction and Best Technical Direction.

Ice Bucket Challenge results in significant fundraising for ALS

The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” has generated $41.8 million in donations as of last Thursday.

The social media campaign has resulted in a dramatic increase of both awareness and fundraising done for the condition, raising over $25 million in the past week, according to a USA Today article. The ALS Association has also amassed almost 740,000 new donors.

Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of the ALS Association, told USA Today that some of the new donations will be used to fund research, support chapters that aid people with ALS and their families and back efforts to influence public policy relating to ALS.

State considers removing threatened status of snake species

Kansas officials are debating on removing the threatened status of the redbelly snake, in order to ease development delays, according to a Topeka Capital Journal article.

When a species is labeled as threatened, developers must obtain permits to work in their habitats and must take precautions to avoid harming the species.

The Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Task Force recommends leaving the snake’s status as threatened, as does the Kansas Wildlife Federation and the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club. However, the department secretary of the task force overrode the recommendation and called for downgrading the snake’s status to “species in need of conservation,” which would require less protection.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission is expected to consider changes to the status of the redbelly snake and other species when it meets in October.

Earthquake injures dozens in Northern California

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck approximately six miles southwest of Napa, California Sunday morning, injuring dozens and leaving many homes in ruins, according to a CNN article published Sunday.

The earthquake was the strongest one to hit the area since the “Loma Prieta earthquake,” which struck during the 1989 World Series in Oakland, California. That earthquake was of a magnitude of 6.9, and killed 69 while injuring thousands.

Sunday’s earthquake injured less than 20, and no deaths were reported, according to the CNN.com article.