TIME Crime

COPS Crewmember Dies After Being Shot By Police During Robbery

Bryce Dion, 38, died Wednesday following a shootout in an Omaha Wendy's late Tuesday

A crewmember working for the television show COPS was killed Wednesday after being shot by police responding to an armed robbery at an Omaha, Nebraska fast food restaurant.

Officers called to the Tuesday night theft fired over 30 shots into the Wendy’s restaurant, according to the Omaha World Herald. The robbery suspect, later identified by local officials as Cortez Washington, was reportedly holding an plastic pellet gun which officers mistook for a lethal weapon. Washington, 32, was killed in the shooting, as was Bryce Dion, 38, the COPS crewmember.

At a press conference in Omaha on Wednesday, representatives from Langley Productions, which produces COPS, said Dion was “one of our best guys.” The Langley spokesperson added that Dion was “very talented” and “very dedicated to his job.”

COPS is a long-running show, formerly on Fox and now on Spike, which documents real-world police activities.

[Omaha World Herald]

MONEY Autos

WATCH: Secret Shopper at Cadillac Dealership Turns Out to Be Warren Buffett

Buffett was so pleased he sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra to compliment the service his daughter received at an Omaha Cadillac dealership.

TIME Appreciation

Nebraska Firm Pays Out $61K in Bonuses Exclusively in $2 Bills

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Two dollar bill Getty Images

If your grandpa gave bonuses, this would be how he'd do it

It turns out that Nebraska-based Hornady Manufacturing is the kooky grandpa of the business world. Why? Because the ammunition manufacturer gave its 300-plus employees $61,000 in bonus money exclusively in $2 bills.

But unlike the $2 bills Pop-Pop gave you when you were good last Christmas, these bills aren’t meant to be hoarded in your special drawer.

“Two years ago, we caught a lot of flack from the city council and some people in the city of Grand Island for how we don’t support the community and we don’t do things around here, which we disagreed with… [it] kind of hurt our feelings,” VP Jason Hornady told Omaha.com. And so, to prove a point, he is asking employees to spend the bills at local businesses.

“If people look at you funny, tell them where you work, and we think that they will notice,” said the vice president, whose company slogan promises dependability (as well as accuracy and deadliness).

Hornady’s father, Steve, had done a similar bit with $1 coins a few years ago, but surely asking employees to lug those things around is just cruel.

Hornady also clarified that employees aren’t only getting paid in Monopoly money. “They also receive a nice check and a deposit into their 401(k)s,” that they can spend wherever.

Bonuses reportedly total 40% of employees’ regular pay.

[Omaha.com]

TIME weather

Two Tornadoes Hit Nebraska During Midwest Thunderstorms

Monday's storms have caused damage in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota

Updated: June 16, 2014, 8:22 p.m. E.T.

In a rare meteorological event, two tornadoes appeared near a small town in Nebraska, killing at least one person and injuring many others, while large thunderstorms raged throughout the Midwest on Monday.

The fatality and at least 15 critically injured people were brought to the Faith Regional Medical Center in Norfolk, Neb., the hospital’s director of marketing and public-information officer said, USA Today reports.

The dual twisters began near Pilger, Neb., at approximately 4:20 p.m. local time — a little more than an hour after the National Weather Service issued a “Particularly Dangerous Situation” tornado watch for the northeastern portion of the state, Mashable reports. The city has a population of roughly 350 people, according to data from the 2010 Census, and there have been reports of considerable damage and destruction.

Hail and high-speed winds have also caused damage throughout the Midwest. The National Weather Service predicted tornado activity last week when data from satellite imagery, weather balloons and other sources showed off-the-charts wind activity and precarious atmospheric conditions in parts of states including Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

[Mashable]

MONEY Autos

WATCH: Hail Yes! Car Dealers Slash Prices on Storm-Damaged Vehicles

Severe hailstorms in the West and Midwest have one benefit for bargain-hunters: Discounts on damaged cars.

TIME weather

Baseball-Size Hail Rains Down on Nebraska as Thunderstorms Inundate Midwest

Severe Weather
A car with its windows damaged by hail hangs over a creek following a severe thunderstorm in Blair, Neb., Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Nati Harnik—AP

Wild weather sweeps across the Midwest

Hard rain and hailstones inundated large swaths of the Great Plains on Tuesday as officials issued tornado watches in Nebraska that will continue late into the evening in the Cornhusker State.

“Storms may contain very heavy rain, large hail and a few tornadoes,” warned the National Weather Service in a bulletin posted on its website on Tuesday.

Baseball-size hail reportedly fell across northeast Nebraska on Tuesday, causing extensive damage.

The hail knocked out car windshields in affected areas, while the roof of at least one hotel in Missouri Valley, Iowa, was ripped off by high winds, according to CNN.

The National Weather Service predicted that another string of heavy thunderstorms is likely to move across the heartland from the Texas panhandle to western South Dakota on Wednesday.

TIME 2014 Election

Nebraska Senate Race Bridges Republican Divide

Nebraska Election Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn, Sid Dinsdale
This combo picture contains photos of Nebraska Senate candidates in the May 13, 2014 primary election. From left: Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn, Sid Dinsdale. Nati Harnik—AP

Both the frontrunners may fall in Nebraska, one of 2014's most competitive GOP primaries

The most interesting Republican primary of 2014 culminates Tuesday night in tiny Nebraska, where three candidates have a shot at winning a race that upends every tidy narrative about the party’s divisions.

Until recently, the contest to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Mike Johanns seemed like a two-man race between Ben Sasse and Shane Osborn. Sasse was cast as the Tea Party candidate after winning endorsements from a raft of national conservative groups and major elected officials. Osborn, a former Navy pilot and state treasurer, has support from influential party figures linked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As a result, the race has often been framed as a battle between the party’s Tea Party and establishment factions.

The reality is more complicated.

Tea Party groups are desperate for a Sasse victory. The movement’s chosen candidates are struggling to gain traction in a spate of high-profile races this year, and the youthful president of Nebraska’s Midland University might be the best chance for national groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund to score a win. But this is not your typical proxy fight between the GOP’s grassroots and grandees.

Some Nebraska conservatives actually prefer Osborn. Many of the same establishment strategists vying to squash Tea Party candidates elsewhere love Sasse. And while Sasse has worn the Tea Party mantle and cut soft ads emphasizing his Nebraska roots, his resume includes a stint in the Bush Administration and posts at Yale, Oxford and McKinsey. The national support for Sasse’s candidacy actually seems to have made Nebraskans suspicious. “That does rile a few people,” Faron Hines, an activist with the York County Tea Party, told TIME recently, after the conservative group FreedomWorks revoked its endorsement for Osborn and gave it to Sasse. “Who is he going to represent when he gets to Washington?”

Enter Sid Dinsdale. The snowy-haired president of a local bank has lagged behind Sasse and Osborn for months. But as the frontrunners trained their fire on each other, Dinsdale quietly consolidated support. Polls suggest a late surge. National groups like the Club for Growth were concerned enough to go up on air with ads blasting Dinsdale, suggesting that Sasse—one of the few candidates this year who bridges the party’s internal divides—could lose.

For proof that such an upset is possible, one need only look to the state’s junior Republican senator. In 2012, Deb Fischer pulled off an upset victory in a crowded Republican primary, coming from behind in the race’s final weeks in a race against two well-funded statewide officials. As the better-known frontrunners battered one another, Fischer slipped between them and sprinted to victory.

Dinsdale has tried to replicate that path. While he may lack Fischer’s folksy appeal to the state’s conservative base, he was able to pump $1 million of his own fortune into the race, enough to fund plenty of TV ads in a state with cheap media markets and less than two million people. The banker also drew a coveted endorsement from the Omaha World-Herald. “As Nebraska as they come,” the paper declared, in a pointed jab at the out-of-state money and muscle marshaled by his opponents.

All these swirling factors portend an exciting finish for one of the year’s best primary contests.

TIME 2014 Election

Tea Party Divided In Nebraska Republican Senate Race

Ben Sasse
Ben Sasse, Republican congressional candidate from Nebraska Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

How the Cornhusker State primary explains the Republican Party's challenge in 2014

Elections are like any other job hunt: the key to getting selected is often to have the right people vouch for you. Intelligence and experience are wonderful attributes in a campaign. But if your opponent boasts connections to powerful people with fat wallets, all the town halls and policy papers in the world may not win you a ticket to Washington.

For Republican primaries candidates, some of the most coveted recommendations come from the cadre of national conservative groups whose money and reputation can lift an unknown challenger. Of all the conservative upstarts running in 2014, Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been among the best at winning their support.

Sasse, the 42-year-old president of Nebraska’s Midland University, has piled up endorsements from groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, as well as from boldface names like Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee and House GOP star Paul Ryan. The endorsements have boosted Sasse in a competitive Republican primary to succeed retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns.

Sasse needed it. His top competitor in the May 13 primary, former state treasurer and Navy aviator Shane Osborn, has the tacit support of key party power brokers, include Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. When FreedomWorks—the biggest national conservative group to endorse Osborn—abruptly threw its support to Sasse in late March, the decision seemed to cement Sasse’s stature as the Tea Party choice.

But things are never so simple in the great Gordian knot of Republican politics.

On April 8, a coalition of 52 Nebraska conservatives released a letter stating that Sasse wasn’t their guy. Sasse is “NOT the choice of conservative, libertarian, and tea party movement activists and group leaders in Nebraska,” they wrote. “We are disappointed with the way DC organizations are telling Nebraskans what the Tea Party in Nebraska thinks.”

In fact, the collection of national endorsements may count as a strike against Sasse back home, explains Faron Hines, a pest management technician from Thayer, Neb., and a member of the York County Tea Party. “All of his endorsements are from out of state. Those big national groups don’t represent the people of Nebraska,” says Hines, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate but says he’s learning toward Osborn. “That isn’t the Nebraska way, and that does rile a few people. Who is he going to represent when he gets to Washington?”

Sasse’s supporters dismiss the letter as an effort to stanch the momentum of a surging candidate. “It’s obviously from Osborn,” says an adviser with one of the national groups backing Sasse. “They needed to do something.”

Osborn’s support is real: one recent poll showed him with a 35% to 24% edge. But Sasse has Tea Party support on the ground as well. (Two days after the missive against Sasse, more than 100 Nebraska conservatives signed a second letter singing his praises.) “Yes, we have support outside the state,” says Tyler Grassmeyer, Sasse’s campaign manager. “But we also have the most support inside the state.”

The race has emerged as a proxy fight for the factions battling to control the GOP. Both leading candidates have relied heavily on out-of-state fundraising. According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Sasse has netted 59% of his $1.4 million from outside Nebraska and Osborn garnered 68% of the $939,000 he has raised from groups outside the Cornhusker State. The inverse is true of the race’s other two Republicans, who are lagging behind in the polls.

Once the national groups who egged on the government shutdown backed Sasse, the Republican Establishment ramped up their efforts in the opposite direction. McConnell has declared war on the Senate Conservative Fund, which is backing the Republican leader’s primary opponent. When Sasse asked to sit down with McConnell last fall to ease tensions, the meeting didn’t go too well. And while the Republican senate committee is officially neutral, they are helping Osborn behind the scenes with donors, say sources familiar with those discussions.

This is the flip side of winning powerful friends: you inherit their enemies as well.

TIME U.S.

Dog Dials 911 on Smartphone

Bad dog, bad

A dog in Nebraska accidentally dialed 911 on a smartphone when trying to cuddle up next to its owner on the couch, AP reports.

The owner, Melissa Acosta, discovered her dog had dialed the number when she heard a voice asking for an address of emergency and realized her dog had scratched the screen of her smartphone lying in the couch with its paws.

The owner says the whole episode “was a little embarrassing.”

According to the 911 Assistant Director Marilyn Gable, it’s the first time a dog has called 911.

[AP]

TIME Oscars 2014

Oscar’s Hottest Tinder Profiles: Which Way Will You Swipe?

It's going down, the Academy's yelling "Tinder!"

Filled out your Oscar ballot yet? Better hurry — the days are whizzing by.

To help with your choices — after all, the acting categories involve some tough decisions — we decided to turn to our favorite dating app and Tinderize some of the year’s best characters. Should you find yourself in the Dolby Ballroom on Sunday night, be sure to swipe right — you’re in good company.

Profiles are (obviously) fictitious.

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