SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — There was no relief for a manager in the Dominican winter baseball league who signaled for a relief pitcher when nobody was warming up.

Manager Pat Kelly, whose animated arguments with umpires have made for popular YouTube videos, was fired by Licey on Friday, a day after his gaffe in a game against big rival Aguilas.

Licey reliever Rafael Soriano took a 2-0 lead into the eighth inning before the former major league closer gave up two hits. Kelly went to the mound and called for a new pitcher, but no one was getting loose in the bullpen.

Leyson Septimo, who briefly pitched for the White Sox in 2012, entered and walked the only batter he faced. Aguilas went on to score five runs and won 5-2.

Licey has lost five straight in a round-robin tournament to determine which two teams play for the league championship.

The 61-year-old Kelly was a catcher for three games with Toronto in 1980. He has managed in the minors for more than 25 years, and guided Cincinnati’s Double-A Pensacola team last season.

HOUSTON (AP) — The parents of an American journalist taken hostage in Syria in 2012 say their hope that their son will come home safely has never wavered.

That faith recently got a boost from U.S. officials, who told the family they have high confidence Austin Tice is alive.

“On a certain level, people expect the parents, the family to be optimistic and to feel good about a positive outcome,” Tice’s father, Marc Tice, told The Associated Press during an interview at his Houston home Thursday. “Getting that word from official sources just reinforces that, yes, this is not wasted effort. This is real effort that needs to continue.”

U.S. Department of State spokesman Frankie Sturm declined to comment about how officials determined Tice, who was kidnapped in August 2012 near Damascus while covering the civil war, remains alive in captivity.

Tice is a former Marine who has reported for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, CBS and other outlets, and disappeared shortly after his 31st birthday. A month after his kidnapping, a video was released showing a blindfolded Tice being held by armed men and saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.

The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are still a mystery, it’s not clear what entity is holding him and no ransom demand has ever been made. But the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has said that it doesn’t believe Tice is being held by the Islamic State group.

Tice’s parents got the update on his status late last year from James O’Brien, President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs. That position was created in 2015 following criticism over how the federal government handled efforts to free Americans taken hostage abroad.

In November, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters the U.S. will continue to work with the Czech government, which serves as protecting power for U.S. interests in Syria, to gather information about Tice.

“And we’re obviously going to continue publicly and privately to urge all sides to ensure the safety of journalists that are operating in Syria, and obviously to call on Austin’s captors to release him now and return him safely to his loved ones, which is where he belongs,” Kirby said.

Marc Tice, 59, said it remains critical that his son’s captors “reach out to us and let us know what can be done to complete the solution to bring our son home.”

Debra Tice, 55, said she’s believes the recent U.S. assessment will help ensure that the incoming administration of President-Elect Donald Trump continues efforts to bring her son home safely.

“We are here. We are his parents. We will find you and we will remind you that this is happening and now this is on your plate,” she said.

A spokesperson for the incoming Trump administration did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, whom Tice’s parents have credited with helping their efforts, said last month on the Senate floor that the newest assessment should remind everyone that “we cannot give up until we bring Austin Tice home.”

Tice’s parents said as they work to keep their son’s disappearance in the public eye and on the political radar, they also want ensure that their son is thought of as a person who’s funny and tender-hearted — not an abstract idea.

“I do think as time goes on, it’s OK for people who have not met Austin to relate to him as one of the most extreme expressions of the perils that journalists face and that they rally around that as well as rally around him as our son, brother and uncle and student and journalist,” she said. “I think the most important thing is to want him to be safely home.”



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CHICAGO (AP) — Four black people were charged with hate crimes Thursday in connection with a video broadcast live on Facebook that showed a mentally disabled white man being beaten and taunted, threatened with a knife and forced to drink from a toilet.

The assault went on for hours, until Chicago police found the disoriented victim walking along a street, authorities said.

The suspects, who were jailed, can be heard on the video using profanities against white people and President-elect Donald Trump.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said investigators initially concluded that the 18-year-old man was singled out because he has “special needs,” not because he was white. But authorities later said the charges resulted from both the suspects’ use of racial slurs and their references to the victim’s disability.

It’s also possible that the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family, police said. The man’s parents reported their son missing Monday and told authorities they later received text messages from people who claimed to be holding him captive.

The victim was a classmate of one of the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, police said.

“He’s traumatized by the incident, and it’s very tough to communicate with him at this point,” police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.

Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut and slumped in a corner of a room. At least two assailants are seen cutting off his sweatshirt, and others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man’s head. One person pushes the man’s head with his or her foot.

A red band also appears to be around the victim’s hands. He was tied up for four to five hours, authorities said.

The victim does not appear to make any attempt to defend himself or to escape his attackers. He is a suburban Chicago resident described by Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as having “mental health challenges.”

“There was never a question whether or not this incident qualified as being investigated as a hate crime,” Johnson said. But “we need to base the investigation on facts and not emotion.”

The case heightened political tensions on social media, with some conservatives suggesting it was linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. Police said there was no indication of any connection.

The incident began Dec. 31, when the victim and one of the suspects, 18-year-old Jordan Hill, met at a suburban McDonald’s to begin what both the victim and his parents believed would be a sleepover, police said.

Instead, Hill drove the victim around in a stolen van for a couple of days, ending up at a home in Chicago, where two of the other suspects lived, detective Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.

The victim told police what began as playful fighting escalated, and he was bound, beaten and taunted with racial slurs and disparaging comments about his mental capacity.

A downstairs neighbor who heard noises threatened to call police. When two of the suspects left and kicked down the neighbor’s door, the victim escaped. A police officer later spotted the obviously disoriented man wandering down a street.

The man was bloodied and wearing a tank top that was inside-out and backward. He had on jean shorts and sandals, despite freezing weather, officer Michael Donnelly said.

Most hate crimes are connected to the victim’s race, but hate-crime charges can be sought in Illinois if a victim’s mental disability sparked an attack, though it is rare.

In addition to hate crimes, the four were charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful restraint. Three were also charged with burglary. It was unclear whether any of the suspects had attorneys. They were to appear in court Friday.

Family members of the victim spoke briefly to reporters Thursday at a suburban hotel but declined to comment on the allegations or the investigation.

Neal Strom, who is acting as a family spokesman, told The Associated Press that the victim has had “profound emotional and physical disabilities throughout his life.” He did not elaborate.

Cook County prosecutors identified the suspects as Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, both of Chicago, and Hill, of suburban Carpentersville. All are 18. A fourth suspect was identified as Covington’s 24-year-old sister, Tanishia Covington, also of Chicago.

The grandmother of Brittany Covington said the granddaughter she raised from infancy is “not this person.”

“I’m so upset, my head is about to bust open,” said Priscilla Covington of Chicago. “I don’t know if someone influenced her … She had her ups and down. (She) was a good person. I’m so confused.”

In Washington, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the beating demonstrated “a level of depravity that is an outrage to a lot of Americans.” He said he had not yet spoken to President Barack Obama about the attack in the president’s hometown.

The video emerged at a time when police dealings with Chicago’s black community are being closely watched. Less than a year ago, the nation’s third-largest police force was sharply criticized by a task force for using excessive force and honoring a code of silence.

The department has also been the subject of a long civil-rights investigation by the Justice Department, which is expected to report its findings soon.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Joe Mixon, the star Oklahoma running back who was suspended for the 2014 season after punching a woman in the face, will enter the NFL draft.

Mixon made the announcement in a statement on his Twitter account Thursday. He thanked Oklahoma’s coaches, administrators, support staff and fans.

“I promise not to waste the second chance that was given to me,” Mixon said in the statement. “I owe that to my coaches who believed in me, my teammates who stood by me, and the University that gave me an education that I always will be thankful for.”

Mixon’s lawyers released video last month of him breaking Oklahoma student Amelia Molitor’s jaw and cheekbone in July 2014, and heavy criticism of Mixon and Sooners coach Bob Stoops followed.

Mixon gave a tearful public apology a week later. In his statement Thursday, he said he wants to teach others to do better.

“I also pledge to use my own experience as a platform to teach other young men never — and I repeat, never — to make the mistakes that I made,” he said.

Mixon set Oklahoma’s school’s single-season record for all-purpose yards this season with 2,331. He closed out his college career with 180 yards from scrimmage and two rushing touchdowns in a 35-19 Sugar Bowl win over Auburn .

Now, he wants to take the next step. He is an early-round talent who might drop in the draft because of his off-the-field problems.

The Sooners also will need to replace Samaje Perine, the school’s career rushing leader who also declared for the draft this week.

NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile said unlimited plans will be the only option for new customers even though they are more expensive than some of its old, limited plans.

The company had said in August that it was phasing out its other plans in favor of unlimited. On Thursday, T-Mobile said those limited plans, which executives called a “relic,” won’t be sold anymore starting Jan. 22. Existing customers can keep their current plans.

While some existing customers could switch to the $70-a-month unlimited plan and save money, others would pay more, according to prices on T-Mobile’s website.

Most customers who just pay for one or two lines or who have a lower-data plan — two gigabytes per line — would save money by sticking to what they have. For example, a family of four getting two gigabytes per line was paying $100 a month; with the unlimited plan, that costs $160.

T-Mobile is still trying to lure users who don’t use much data by offering them a $10 credit if they use two gigabytes or less per line. A smaller rival, Google’s “Project Fi,” already credits customers for data they don’t use.

And T-Mobile’s unlimited plan isn’t exactly unlimited. If the network is busy, T-Mobile may slow speeds on customers that used more than 28 gigabytes. And video gets degraded to DVD-level quality unless customers pay an extra $15 a month for high-definition video and some other upgrades.

The company will still offer cheaper prepaid plans as well, where you pay upfront.

T-Mobile also said that wireless bills will no longer come with taxes and fees on top of advertised prices for the unlimited plan. T-Mobile said it isn’t raising prices to factor in the fees. Those extra charges typically come to about several dollars per line, Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.

T-Mobile announced the new policies at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas. The show runs through Sunday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A student who was slammed to the floor by a police officer in a North Carolina high school has suffered a concussion and may have other related health issues, her attorney said Thursday.

Jasmine Darwin is having headaches, vision problems and other issues associated with a concussion, attorney Freddy Rabner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said. Darwin, who was a student at Rolesville High School, sought treatment at a hospital twice and has follow-up appointments with several specialists, he said.

“She’s a little 100-pound girl who was whipped to the ground so hard, she’s sore everywhere,” Rabner said in a telephone interview. “She’s a mess. She’s in pain.”

A brief video posted on Twitter showed a police officer lifting and dropping a girl on her left side, then pulling her to her feet and leading her away. The student who took the video, Ahunna Akpuda, has said Darwin was trying to break up a fight between Darwin’s sister and another girl.

The video doesn’t show what led up to or followed the episode. Akpuda said the officer arrived a few seconds after the girl tried to break up the fight.

“He drags her farther away from the actual fight after it was broken up,” said Akpuda, who spoke with The Associated Press on the phone Wednesday, along with her mother. “That’s when he proceeds to lift her up and slam her down to the ground.”

The officer, identified by Rolesville officials as Ruben De Los Santos, is on paid administrative leave. Police Chief Bobby Langston said he has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to review the case.

Town officials have declined to answer additional questions, including whether they know if De Los Santos has an attorney. The Associated Press has been unable to reach the officer by phone or email.

The officer is Hispanic and Darwin is black, Mayor Frank Eagles said. The officer has been assigned to the school since it opened in 2013, Eagles said. About 2,200 students in grades nine through 12 attend the school.

The video prompted a coalition of advocates for young people to ask federal officials again to respond to a complaint they originally filed more than six years ago.

Groups including Legal Aid of North Carolina wrote Thursday to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, renewing concerns about the treatment of students in Wake County schools. The original complaint filed in September 2010 says Wake County schools discriminate racially when they mete out discipline.

“Discriminatory discipline practices have remained virtually unchanged over the past six years. That clearly demonstrates that the problem is systemic,” Jennifer Story of Legal Aid of North Carolina said in a news release. The groups are “asking for ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance,” the release says.

Wake County school system officials are concerned about what’s shown in the video, system spokeswoman Lisa Luten said in an email Thursday. While acknowledging disparities, they also point to higher graduation rates, increased proficiency and reduced suspensions as signs of improvement, she said.

Wake County schools don’t have their own police force so the district contracts with local police to place school resource officers on campuses. The agreement allows officers to use force but it cannot be “excessive, arbitrary or malicious.”

Officials with the National Association of School Resource Officers wouldn’t comment on what happened at Rolesville High School. The association’s recommendations include starting with the selection of school officers, who must have the right mindset to work with young people, said D.J. Schoeff, a school officer in Carmel, Indiana, and NASRO second-vice president.

“Although we are law enforcement, that is the last-resort function that we have,” he said. Building relationships, deterring crime and acting as an informal counselor or mentor are primary duties, he said.

NASRO estimates that 14,000 to 20,000 officers work in schools in the United States, he said. About 1,000 officers worldwide trained with NASRO last year, he said.


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