News briefs

What you need to know in local, national and global news

The Spectrum


UB leads Western New York in giving Parkinson’s patients their voices back

Two new UB programs are helping people with Parkinson’s disease maintain their ability to speak, according to UBNow. 

The LOUD Crowd® is an extension of the SPEAK OUT! program which provides patients with exercises to maintain strength in their voice by focusing on the intention of the words being said, rather than the strength of the words. 

Speech and Language Pathologist Dona Hue Ritter-Schmidt leads the clinic and works with graduate students in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences. They host weekly meetings at UB’s Biomedical Education Building.

UB currently holds the only SPEAK OUT! and LOUD Crowd program in Western New York. Information on the programs can be found on UB’s website or at 

UB spreads awareness for Eating Disorders during upcoming week 

UB Health Promotions is holding three events this week in light of eating disorder awareness week. 

The first event, a speech by Renee Engeln, will be held Monday at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. Engeln, author of “Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women,” will speak on the topics of her book.

On Wednesday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. activities in the Student Union Lobby will question the ideal version of a selfie. Activities include display of health at every size, stressbusters and mindfulness and yoga. 

A suicide prevention program will take place in Student Union 250 from 10 a.m-12 p.m. on Thursday. The program will teach participants how to recognize warning signs of suicide and how to help those who need it. 


Police officer involved in car accident raises suspicions

A Tonawanda police officer and member of their SWAT team was involved in a crash last month, according to The Buffalo News. He was released from the crash scene under suspicious circumstances.

The officer in question, Howard M. Scholl III, and his wife were coming from an event at Sinatra’s Restaurant when their car continued through a stop sign and struck an Uber vehicle, The Buffalo News reported.

Scholl indicated that his wife had been driving the vehicle. Officers conducted a field sobriety test on her and she passed, according to the News. Roughly three weeks later, however, he admitted he was the driver.

A tow driver took the Uber vehicle away. Emergency responders took the vehicle’s occupants to the hospital.

The Erie County District Attorney is investigating the crash.

Kaisertown woman faces up to 25 years to life for role in son’s death

Keona Owens was convicted on Friday of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for her two-year-old son’s death, according to The Buffalo News.

In July 2018, first responders arrived at Owens’ home as her two-year-old son was not breathing.

A medical examiner determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.

At first, Owens’ boyfriend Bashar Hall was thought to be the sole culprit, a claim Owens supported while indicating the death was an accident. 

Owens was later arrested for her role in the murder and both were subsequently charged.

Owens will be sentenced in May and could face up to 25 years to life.


R. Kelly indicted and arrested for sexual assault 

R&B singer R. Kelly was indicted and arrested for 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims on Friday, according to CNN.

Prosecutors revealed graphic details about the encounters, including allegations that Kelly spit on two of the victims, and alleged that Kelly used force or the threat of force during the encounters. 

Two of the victims were 16 years old, and one was between 14 and 16 years old. 

A Cook County judge set Kelly’s bail at $100,000 and a total bond of $1 million.

Two recovered and one missing after cargo plane crashed into Trinity Bay

A cargo plane carrying Amazon goods crashed near Houston, Texas on Saturday. Three people were inside the plane when it crashed in shallow water. 

Texas officials and dive teams are continuing to search for any survivors of the crash over three miles. Two bodies have been recovered while one is still missing.

Eyewitnesses report hearing the engine surging before it nose-dived into the water.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blocks U.S. aid, severed ties with Colombia

Violent protests at the Venezuelan border with Colombia and Brazil on Saturday left at least two people dead, according to Al Jazeera.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered troops to block boxes of U.S. aid from crossing the Venezuelan border. Troops fired tear gas and rounds of rubber bullets at protesters.

Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido — who is backed by Washington — supported the import, saying people need food and medicine. Maduro saw the aid as an attempt by the U.S. to remove him from power.

Sixty soldiers defected the army and joined Guaido throughout the protest. 

“Nothing will make me give up,” one protester said. 

The same day, President Maduro ordered Colombian officials in Venezuela to leave the country after severing all diplomatic ties.

Pope Francis holds landmark meeting to fight sexual abuse

Pope Francis made an appeal for an “all-out battle against the abuse of minors” at a Vatican meeting on Sunday. 

Francis said every case of abuse will be met with the “utmost seriousness,” but the meeting did not offer any concrete policy remedies, according to The New York Times.

Some advocates for abuse survivors consider the pope’s remarks a failure. Anne Barrett Doyle, leader of, said these promises have all been heard before.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said the world’s bishops are moving “much closer” to developing a zero-tolerance policy to keep abusers out of the ministry.