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(Mountain Home) – Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH) offices will be closed on Tuesday, December 23, through Friday, January 2 for the annual holiday break.

Campus offices will re-open Monday, January 5. Spring 2015 registration for current and new students is January 6-9. Classes begin Monday, January 12.

For more information on classes that will be offered during the spring 2015 semester, please call 870-508-6100. A full schedule is available online at www.asumh.edu.

To find out how to get started at ASUMH, contact Allison Haught, Recruiter, at 870-508-6262.

Cars drive by the Sony Pictures Plaza building in Culver City, Calif., Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving the satirical film, "The Interview," about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. He pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Cars drive by the Sony Pictures Plaza building in Culver City, Calif., Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony “made a mistake” in shelving the satirical film, “The Interview,” about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader. He pledged the U.S. would respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(Honolulu) (AP) – President Barack Obama says the United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as Washington decides how to respond to what he calls an “act of cybervandalism,” not one of war, against a movie company.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, which said it canceled the theatrical release of “The Interview” after distributors refused to show it, pledged to find a way to get the film out. “How it’s going to be distributed, I don’t think anybody knows quite yet,” a Sony lawyer said. The comedy involves a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

Obama is promising to respond “proportionately” to an attack that law enforcement blames on North Korea. “We’re not going to be intimidated by some cyberhackers,” he said.

The president said the U.S. would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should land back on the terrorism sponsors list.

“We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place,” Obama told CNN’s “State of the Union” in an interview broadcast Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”

While raising the possibility of a terrorism designation, Obama also asserted, “I don’t think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously.”

Obama’s description drew immediate scorn from two Republicans who are longtime critics of his foreign policy.

“It is a new form of warfare, and we have to counter with that form of warfare with a better form of warfare,” said Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called it “an act of terrorism” and favored reimposing sanctions and adding North Korea to the terrorism list. The U.S. needs to “make is so hard on the North Koreans that they don’t want to do this in the future.”

North Korea spent two decades on the list until the Bush administration removed it in 2008 during nuclear negotiations. Only Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba remain on the list, which triggers sanctions that limit U.S. aid, defense exports and certain financial transactions.

But adding North Korea back could be difficult. To meet the criteria, the State Department must determine that a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, a definition that traditionally has referred to violent, physical attacks rather than hacking.

North Korea threatened to strike back at the United States if Obama retaliated, the National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency. The statement offered no details of a possible response.

The U.S. is asking China for help as it considers how to respond to the hack. A senior Obama administration official says the U.S. and China have shared information about the attack and that Washington has asked for Beijing’s cooperation.

The official was not authorized to comment by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

China wields considerable leverage over North Korea, but Obama has accused China of carrying out cyberthefts, too.

In the CNN interview, taped Friday in Washington before Obama left to vacation in Hawaii, Obama renewed his criticism of Sony’s decision to shelve “The Interview,” despite the company’s insistence that its hand was forced after movie theaters refused to show it.

Obama suggested he might have been able to help address the problem if given the chance. “You know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what that story was,” he said.

Sony’s CEO has disputed that the company never reached out, saying he spoke to a senior White House adviser about the situation before Sony announced the decision. White House officials said Sony did discuss cybersecurity with the federal government, but that the White House was never consulted on the decision not to distribute the film.

“Sometimes this is a matter of setting a tone and being very clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by some, you know, cyberhackers,” Obama said. “And I expect all of us to remember that and operate on that basis going forward.”

David Boies, a Sony lawyer, said “The Interview” is “going to be distributed, and what Sony has been trying to do is to get the picture out to the public,” while protecting the rights of company employers and moviegoers.

Boies said theaters “quite understandably” decided not to show the film as scheduled because of the threats. “You can’t release a movie unless you have a distribution channel,” he said.

North Korea has denied hacking the studio, and on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. to determine the true culprit. The White House rejected the idea and said it was confident North Korea was responsible.

But the next decision – how to respond – is hanging over the president as he vacations with his family in Hawaii.

Obama’s options are limited. The U.S. already has trade penalties in place and there is no appetite for military action.

“I think we’ve got to recognize that this is not a Sony security problem. This is a national security problem,” Boies said.

Boies appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Graham was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and McCain spoke on CNN.

By COLLEEN LONG and JENNIFER PELTZ
Associated Press

Mourners stand at attention as the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers are transported from Woodhull Medical Center, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in New York. An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, killing both officers before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Mourners stand at attention as the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers are transported from Woodhull Medical Center, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in New York. An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, killing both officers before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(New York) (AP) – The warning came just moments too late: A man who had shot his ex-girlfriend a few hours earlier had traveled to New York City and vowed online to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Just minutes before a wanted poster for Ismaaiyl Brinsley arrived in the NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center, he ambushed two officers in their patrol car in broad daylight, fatally shooting them before killing himself inside a subway station.

Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account before Saturday’s shootings: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs,” two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed for The Associated Press. He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic) RIPMikeBrown – references to the two police-involved deaths that have sparked major protests around the country.

The officials, a senior city official and a law enforcement official, were not authorized to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police said Brinsley approached the passenger window of a marked police car and opened fire, striking Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head. The officers were on special patrol doing crime reduction work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

“They were, quite simply, assassinated – targeted for their uniform,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news conference.

The sudden and extraordinary violence stunned the city, prompted a response from a vacationing President Barack Obama and escalated weeks of simmering ill will between police and their critics following grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri. The New York police union head declared there’s “blood on the hands” of protesters and the city’s mayor.

Brinsley took off running after the shooting. Officers chased him down to a nearby subway station, where he shot himself in the head as a subway train door full of people closed. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene, Bratton said.

“This may be my final post,” Brinsley wrote in the post that included an image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes but also had many others admonishing his statements.

Bratton said the suspect made very serious “anti-police” statements online but did not get into specifics of the posts.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said Garner’s family has no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.

“We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” he said.

Brown’s family condemned the shooting in a statement posted online by their attorney.

“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities,” the family said.

Garner, who was black, died after he was taken down by a white officer during an arrest on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. The 18-year-old Brown, who was black, was fatally shot by a white officer. He was unarmed.

Most of the protests have been peaceful, particularly in New York. Bratton said police were investigating whether Brinsley had attended any rallies or demonstrations and why he had chosen to kill the officers.

Brinsley was black; the officers were Asian and Hispanic, police said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the killings of Ramos and Liu strike at the heart of the city.

“Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy,” said de Blasio, who spoke softly with moist eyes. “It is an attack on all of us.”

Scores of officers in uniform lined up three rows deep at the hospital driveway. The line stretched into the street. Officers raised their hands in a silent salute as two ambulances bore away the slain officers’ bodies. The mayor ordered flags at half-staff.

In a statement Saturday night, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting deaths as senseless and “an unspeakable act of barbarism.” Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, issued a statement saying he unconditionally condemns the slayings.

“The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day – and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day,” Obama said. “Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal – prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.”

The tragedy ended a bizarre route for Brinsley that began in Maryland early Saturday. He went to the home of a former girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb and shot and wounded her. Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting from the woman’s Instagram account threats to kill New York officers.

Baltimore-area officials sent a warning to New York City police, who received it moments too late, Bratton said.

But the posts were apparently online for hours, though it’s not clear if anyone reported them. Bratton called on New Yorkers to alert authorities of any threats to police they see – even if they don’t seem real. “That information must get into the hands of the police officers,” he said.

Brinsley had a history of arrests in Georgia for robbery, disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon. Bratton said his last-known address was in Georgia, but he had some ties to Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the department grieved the sudden and violent loss of the officers.

“Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve,” Bratton said Saturday night.

Ramos was married with a 13-year-old son and had another in college, police and a friend said. He had been on the job since 2012 and was a school safety officer. Liu had been on the job for seven years and got married two months ago.

Rosie Orengo, a friend of Ramos, said he was heavily involved in their church and encouraged others in their marriages.

“He was an amazing man. He was the best father and husband and friend,” she said. “Our peace is knowing that he’s OK, and we’ll see him in heaven.”

De Blasio and the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury’s decision in the Garner case. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job. On Saturday, some officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he walked into the hospital.

“That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor,” Lynch said. “After the funerals, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”

De Blasio was scheduled to attend Mass with Cardinal Timothy Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday.

The last shooting death of a New York City officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski was shot in the face while responding to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.

(West Memphis) (AP) – Officials say progress is being made toward a merger agreement between Arkansas State University and the Mid-South Community College.

Both the ASU board of trustees and the MSCC board of trustees have scheduled meetings on Jan. 9 to consider the plan.

ASU President Charles L. Welch says MSCC officials have done an excellent job of outlining their expectations and vision for the institution. Welch says officials are enthusiastic about the system’s ability to help achieve their goals in education and workforce training.

If approved by the boards of the two schools, the merger would be effective July 1 following approval of the Higher Learning Commission. MSCC President Glen Fenter says that would give officials ample time to work through the legislative session and budget planning for the next year.

(West Plains) – The city of West Plains is reminding residents that for the Christmas holiday there will be no residential refuse collection Thursday, December 25 or Friday, December 26. Monday and Tuesday routes will be collected on Monday, December 22, Wednesday and Thursday routes will be collected on Tuesday, December 23, and Friday routes will be picked up Wednesday, December 24.

Trucks will run on December 26 to service larger commercial customers.

The City of West Plains Solid Waste Transfer Station and Materials Recovery Facility will be closed at 11 AM on Wednesday, December 24 and will remain closed until December 29. It will also be closed January 1, 2015.

Also, there will be no residential refuse collection January 1, 2015. Thursday customers will be picked up on Friday, January 2, with no other routes affected. Trucks will run January 1 to service larger commercial customers.

Carol Turner, an RN at TCMH won the employee of the year honor.  Shown here are Linda Pamperien, TCMH CFO; Wes Murray, TCMH CEO; Tuner and Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH CNO. (Provided)

Carol Turner, an RN at TCMH won the employee of the year honor.  Shown here are Linda Pamperien, TCMH CFO; Wes Murray, TCMH CEO; Tuner and Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH CNO. (Provided)

(Houston) – Texas County Memorial Hospital gave out top employee awards and honored 42 employees with service awards at the Thirty-Second Annual Celebration of TCMH Employees on Friday, December 12 at Faith Fellowship Church in Houston. In attendance were approximately 100 employees, many with guests, for a total attendance of about 200 people.

Stuart Mitchell of Mountain Grove and Cathy Stilley of Willow Springs took top honors as co-managers of the year at TCMH for 2014.

Mitchell, an employee at TCMH since 2008, is the director of the information systems department at the hospital.

Stilley has been the clinic coordinator for Dr. Steve Hawkins in Cabool since 1993, and when the clinic became the TCMH Cabool Medical Clinic in 2005, Stilley retained the clinic manager position as an employee of TCMH.

Carol Turner of Success received the employee of the year honor.

Employee of the year is limited to the individuals who have received the honor of employee of the month since the 2013 employee awards ceremony. All employees are allowed to vote for employee of the year by choosing one employee of the month in a secret ballot vote. Turner is a registered nurse in the emergency department at TCMH, and she has worked at the hospital since 1991. Turner won employee of the month honors at TCMH in December, and it was the second time she received the employee of the month honor during her employment at TCMH.

The managers of the year and the employee of the year were honored with an engraved plaque, $500 cash, a pin and a day of paid time off.

TCMH also gave out prizes to hospital employees that had volunteered at hospital events throughout the year, and recognized employees for service.

Stuart Mitchell, information systems director at TCMH, and Cathy Stilley, TCMH Cabool Medical Clinic manager, won manager of the year honors at TCMH.  Shown here are: Linda Pamperien, TCMH CFO; Wes Murray, TCMH CEO; Mitchell; Anita Kuhn, TCMH controller; Stilley; Dr. Steve Hawkins, and Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH CNO. (Provided)

Stuart Mitchell, information systems director at TCMH, and Cathy Stilley, TCMH Cabool Medical Clinic manager, won manager of the year honors at TCMH.  Shown here are: Linda Pamperien, TCMH CFO; Wes Murray, TCMH CEO; Mitchell; Anita Kuhn, TCMH controller; Stilley; Dr. Steve Hawkins, and Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH CNO. (Provided)

Stuart Mitchell, information systems director at TCMH, and Cathy Stilley, TCMH Cabool Medical Clinic manager, won manager of the year honors at TCMH. (Provided)

Stuart Mitchell, information systems director at TCMH, and Cathy Stilley, TCMH Cabool Medical Clinic manager, won manager of the year honors at TCMH. (Provided)

(West Plains) – DivorceCare, a special help seminar and support group for people experiencing divorce and separation, will be held on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 PM, at First Baptist Church-West Plains beginning January 13.

The DVD-based DivorceCare support group features nationally-recognized experts on divorce and recovery topics. Seminar sessions include “Facing My Anger,” “Facing My Loneliness,” “New Relationships,” “KidCare” and “Forgiveness.”

A program for children whose parents are separated or divorced begins this same night. DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K) is designed to help children ages 5-12 find healing and encouragement and establish coping skills during the breakup of their parents.

Both groups will meet at the church located at 202 Walnut Street in West Plains. There is no cost to participate in either program, but those who would like to attend should call the church office at 417-256-3128 to register. Questions also may be directed to the church office.

Pictured: (front row, left to right) Lauren Boudreau, Elizabeth, AR; Alyssa Long, Mountain Home, AR; Melody Wire, Flippin, AR; Heather Porter, Mountain Home, AR (back row, left to right) Traci Ohler, Instructor; Bradley Razer, Mountain Home, AR; Christine Razer, Mountain Home, AR; Marisela Estrada de Kantor, Lakeview, AR; Kristin Krampits, Mountain Home, AR.  (Provided)

Pictured: (front row, left to right) Lauren Boudreau, Elizabeth, AR; Alyssa Long, Mountain Home, AR; Melody Wire, Flippin, AR; Heather Porter, Mountain Home, AR (back row, left to right) Traci Ohler, Instructor; Bradley Razer, Mountain Home, AR; Christine Razer, Mountain Home, AR; Marisela Estrada de Kantor, Lakeview, AR; Kristin Krampits, Mountain Home, AR. (Provided)

(Mountain Home) – Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH) recently held a ceremony honoring graduates of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.

Graduates completed 99 hours of course work and passed a skills and knowledge test to graduate. Students finished their course work in four weeks. ASUMH instructor Deanna Grace, RN presented the graduates with their certificates.

For information on upcoming classes or scholarships, contact ASUMH Health Science Coordinator Sarah Smith at 870-508-6266 or email sarahs@asumh.edu.

(Provided)

(Provided)

(Mammoth Spring) – Each month the Thayer/Mammoth Spring Rotary Club, in cooperation with Couch, Koshkonong, Mammoth Spring, and Thayer High Schools select a student of the month from each respective school. In addition to high scholastic performance, these students must exemplify model behavior in the classroom and in the community.

The recipient of this honor for November 2014 from Couch High School is sophomore Maggie Smith. Maggie is extremely active in her school; participating in Youth for Christ, FBLA, FCCLA, Library Club, and Beta. Maggie is the daughter of Edward and Pam Smith.

The recipient of this honor for November 2014 from Koshkonong High School is sophomore, Dylan Wiggs. Dylan is extremely active in his school; participating in Basketball, Cross Country, FFA, and Beta. Dylan is the son of Steve and Teresa Wiggs.

The recipient of this honor for November 2014 from Mammoth Spring High School is junior, Trisha Davis. Trisha is extremely active in her school; participating in Basketball, Band, Quiz Bowl, Trap Shooting Team, FFA, Beta, National Honors Society, and Student Council. Trisha is the daughter of Brian and Lee Davis.

The recipient of this honor for November 2014 from Thayer High School is sophomore, Adriana Pounders. Adriana is extremely active in her school, participating in Art Club, Band, Quiz Bowl, FCCLA, Student Council, and Sophomore Class Secretary. Adriana is the daughter of Jeremy and Susan Pounders.

Ozarka Kids Academy donates winter items to Izard County DHS. (Provided)

Ozarka Kids Academy donates winter items to Izard County DHS. (Provided)

(Melbourne) – In lieu of a gift exchange, Ozarka Kids Academy at Ozarka College in Melbourne chose to donate to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) this holiday season.

The new hats, mittens, packs of diapers, and non-perishable food items Kids Academy students brought in will be donated to DHS on December 20, who will intern redistribute them to Izard County residents in need.

For more information about Ozarka Kids Academy, please contact Karen Hall, Ozarka College Director of Childcare, at 870-368-7868.