The cost of education goes up every year but quality of education remains stagnant or declines.
Why? Teachers unions whose concern is their own pay benefits and has nothing to do with quality of education or the children they teach.
DeVos has an opportunity to change that. I wish her luck. If she can break the strangle hold of the teachers unions she will have done more good “for the children” than the teachers unions have ever done.
Don’t believe there is any magic wand can be waved to fix six years of intervention. Devono will not play nice and give a board that worked to get rid of his money anything without a fight. When did he ever follow the orders of his state boss? When did he ever listen to his state mentor?
When the man is gone things will start improving.
The first priority for the school board should be to get finances under control.
Do you have enough money to continue operating the school system as is, are there no-bid awards for goods and services to be looked at for elimination, are there ways to be more efficient in using money to allocate greater amounts to educating children, is there waste and unnecessary expenses to eliminate, does tightening up need to be done in the central office to cut down on expenses, are salaries in the central office in line with work loads and responsibilities in the smallest school system in West Virginia with the lowest numbers of pre-K through 12 students and only two schools?
All of the above and more need to be looked at in minute detail including ways to allocate money better to aid teachers to do their difficult jobs.
Citizens are counting on the school board to get an accurate handle on finances quickly as possible after more than five years of information being kept secret by the State.
Look at the type of lumber used to construct a cheapbass guardrail! That will need replaced in 5 years if it doesn’t wash away or slip away first. Like the classroom doors in the new school that are falling off their hinges already.
Makes a lie out of the old saying…..you get what you pay for. Not in this Gilmer County school deal!
Gilmer County should sue the State and all responsible parties for making decisions causing the Leading Creek school and the under built GCES school fiascos plus all the other failures during intervention.
No matter how overcrowding at the GCES is solved it will cost Gilmer County extra money and worse yet our innocent children will be jacked around.
Remember the State hiring a principal for Troy and the individual did not show up for work yet pay and benefits were paid out for a year? That blunder was another one among many to add to the long list.
The series of blunders by the State are in the “you could not make them up” category. What better examples of broken State government could you come up with?
ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL THAT I HAD WON A FREE CARIBBEAN CRUISE AND I TOLD THEM THAT I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO ANY AIRPORT OR GO ON ANY CRUISE SHIP WHILE OBAMA WAS IN CHARGE BECAUSE OF THE MOSLIM TERRORIST. THAT MAY HAVE SEAMED A LITTLE ODD BUT IF WE HAD GONE ON THE TRIP WE WOULD HAVE BEEN AT THE FLORIDA AIRPORT WHEN THAT SHOOTING TOOKE PLACE.
My dear self-claimed lover,
Sorry for making you wait for response. I hope it does not jeopardize our relationship. I am still very puzzled with your logic and your inconsistency. I strongly believe in what is good for goose should also be good for gander. If you are a true American, you should be loyal to our great country rather than political interests. I find it upsetting when I see the people who are not going to gain anything when they keep supporting a party and falling for their untruthful promises. I hope you are not one of them because we will definitely have conflicts. I am going with your claim, giving Clinton era successes to Reagan because you say it takes time for policies to show results. If that is the case the who should be getting the credit in next 4-8 years if our country is successful? Should it be Obama or Trump? What if the results are bad? Be consistent now, dear!
How many watched Devono on Channel 12 last evening? He expressed intent to establish another school in the County.
He oversaw the failed Cedar Creek project and he pivoted to his lead role in building the too small GCES after the County’s money was wasted at Cedar Creek.
The mystery about the GCES is why didn’t Devono do a head count of students going to the school followed by use of simple math to determine how many classrooms would be needed before that project began?
To be fair to Devono his answers to clear up the space mystery would be appreciated. Was there miscalculation by a staff member or was Charleston responsible for the SNAFU?
The good news is that Mr. Minigh and his fellow board members finally have authority to reverse the way school business has been done to include ending secrecy with information.
Most likely you will never see those financial records. Devono’s Charleston handlers have all ready told him to chuck everything into the circular file. Remember Blankenship’s last days? Doubt even FOIA’s would get it.
Before we go any farther citizens want to see detailed financial itemization for all the County’s money spent on planning and everything else for Leading Creek, the dropped auction barn site, the dropped Cedar Creek site, and all the County’s money spent on the GCES.
In addition to the above we want to know where all money went for the $1,000,000 State borrowed bond money the County has to pay off and the name of the financial institution holding the debt.
There is more. We want detailed financial itemization for where all the County’s excess levy money went under State control.
Campaigning going on for renewal of the excess levy is a waste unless there is an accounting for every penny of it spent by the State and it would be still doubtful if the levy will ever pass again.
Why do we need to extend the $1,000,000 annual excess levy after going from five schools to two, and exactly how would future money be spent if we voted in another excess levy?
Do readers think that detailed financial accounting information talked about above is unreasonable to ask for when citizens are paying the bills in our poor county?
All the above concerns are turned over to the three surviving members of the County’s school board for them to get us truthful answers.
The WVBE appointed GC superintendent will ever learn?
Divide and Conquer management rarely wins for anyone?
At least it is public knowledge now, with video proof as well as OEPA state audit confirmation.
Teachers are told not to talk with each other.
Bus drivers are silenced.
Custodians worry about their employment.
All school staff have been warned, yea intimidated into silence.
Even school contractors have been ‘told’.
Seeing our local board members back in control, all the school employees know they can talk again.
G.D. You will need several truck loads of kitty litter.
I would be more than happy to engage in a pedantic colloquy on economic policy with you as well, or the 2nd amendment which ever you prefer, but let’s not use the shotgun approach and throw everything out there and see what sticks. Another PMSNBC watcher I surmise?
hey Silent Majority,
I take what you are trying to say is that Pres. Reagan helped fuel the economic surge of the 90s and then the tank ran out in 2000 and it took GW 8 years to fill it back up for the 2008 to 2016. one has to have a total state of mind issues to think this way. Make sure you won’t have gun in your check-in bag when you fly. Who knows what might happen! Then I betcha you won’t be able to use the Reagan excuse.
DR. WILLIAM SIMMONS SPOKE ON RADIO SHOW ABOUT SMALL COLLEGES
On Wednesday, July 13, 2016 Dr. William Simmons spoke on WAJR “Mike Queen Show”. He talked about the challenges facing West Virginia’s small colleges. For 21 years, Dr. William Simmons was the president at Glenville State College. When he left, GSC had more than 2,400 students. Today, the school has less 1,300 students. So, what is the future of our small colleges? Click HERE to Listen.
THREE POLICE OFFICERS FATALLY SHOT IN BATON ROUGE
The killings come less than two weeks after a black man was killed by police in the Louisiana city in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.
TURKEY DETAINS THOUSANDS AFTER FAILED COUP
The government moves swiftly to shore up Erdogan’s power and remove those perceived as enemies.
EVIDENCE MOUNTS OF EXTREMIST LINK IN FRANCE ATTACK
The Tunisian-born truck driver responsible for the deadly carnage in Nice had recently absorbed extremist ideas and may have been in contact with jihadis, French authorities say.
WHAT COULD BE MOST-WATCHED CONVENTION SPEECH OF ALL TIME
When Trump addresses the GOP’s gathering in Cleveland, he’s bound to attract worldwide attention.
U.S. POISED TO ELECT ONE OF ITS OLDEST PRESIDENTS
Both candidates say they’re in excellent health, but Trump at 70 would be months older than Ronald Reagan on his election day, and Clinton will have just turned 69.
MOTIVE EMERGES IN PAKISTANI MODEL’S SLAYING
The brother of Qandeel Baloch allegedly confesses to strangling her to death for “family honor” because she posted “shameful” pictures on Facebook.
WHERE CROSS-BORDER TRAFFIC HAS BECOME A FLOOD
Almost 100,000 Venezuelans journey into Colombia to hunt for food and medicine that are in short supply at home.
MOURNERS MARK SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF ERIC GARNER’S DEATH
At a New Jersey church, Garner’s mother joins families of more than a dozen men killed by police before laying flowers at her son’s grave.
HOW ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’ DID AT THE BOX OFFICE
The much-anticipated flick earns an estimated $46 million in its debut, second to the holdover hit “The Secret Life of Pets.“
AT ROYAL TROON, A FINAL ROUND FOR THE AGES
Henrik Stenson holds off Phil Mickelson in one of golf’s greatest duels to claim the British Open and his first major.
► Pokemon GO fans told not to play in U.S. Holocaust Museum
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has told Pokemon GO fans not to play the popular new mobile game in its premises, describing it as “extremely inappropriate” in a memorial dedicated to the victims of Nazism.
The game involves using a mobile device to find and capture virtual Pokemon characters at real life locations, including apparently inside the Washington-based museum.
The idea of players roaming its halls, eyes glued to phones in search of the computerized figures, shocked many after an image was posted online showing one of the characters located outside the doors to the museum’s Helena Rubinstein Auditorium.
“We are attempting to have the museum removed from the game,“ the museum’s communications director, Andy Hollinger, said in a statement.
The museum encourages visitors to use their mobile phones to share and engage with exhibits while visiting, he added.
“Technology can be an important learning tool, but this game falls far outside of our educational and memorial mission,“ Hollinger said.
During a visit to the museum on Tuesday, a Reuters reporter saw various visitors using phones to take photos or send messages, but no one obviously playing games. That included the area outside the Helena Rubinstein Auditorium, which features recorded testimonies from Jews who survived the gas chambers.
Niantic, the game’s creator, did not respond to requests for comment about the museum’s complaint.
Interest in Pokemon GO has surged since its release last week. The game was the most downloaded free app on Apple’s app store, while Nintendo shares surged nearly 25 percent on Monday for their biggest daily gains ever based on its success.
On Tuesday, a Democratic U.S. senator asked Niantic to clarify the game’s data privacy protections, amid concerns it was unnecessarily collecting lots of user data.
► Restaurant Owner Told Deputies They Can’t Eat There
The sheriff of a county about 70 miles north of Seattle says the owner of a Chinese restaurant has asked that law enforcement no longer dine there. Per the AP, Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt said on Facebook that after four deputies finished lunch at Lucky Teriyaki in Sedro-Woolley Thursday, the owner asked them not to eat there anymore. Reichardt says the deputies were told that customers didn’t like law enforcement there. The sheriff says his chief deputy called the owner later Thursday and says the request was confirmed, along with a request to spread the word among other law enforcement agencies. “I understand a business owner has a right to refuse service if he wants to,“ Reichardt wrote in his Thursday post, which has since gone viral. “I also understand that as customers we all have the right to find some other restaurant to take our lunch break in.“
But a slightly different story has emerged on KOMO, which says the owners of the restaurant, through an interpreter, are calling the entire incident a giant misunderstanding that was brought about by a language barrier. They say that during the deputies’ lunch, other customers became upset after some soup and water spilled; a worker thought maybe it was because the deputies were nearby and asked the deputies if they were getting ready to leave. An employee then further misunderstood when the chief deputy called to confirm the story, the owners say. A video on Q13 FOX shows the restaurant’s owner breaking down while talking about the incident, and his son appears on camera to apologize for his lack of English skills; the owners are also inviting law enforcement members to eat there for free on Monday. The AP’s calls to the restaurant for comment were met with busy signals.
► Secret Chapter of 9/11 Inquiry Finally Released
The government is releasing a once-classified chapter of a congressional report about the attacks of September 11, 2001, that questions whether Saudi nationals who were in contact with the hijackers after they arrived in the US knew what they were planning. Later investigations found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials knowingly supported those who orchestrated the attacks. But lawmakers and relatives of victims, who don’t believe all Saudi links to the attackers were thoroughly investigated, pushed for more than 13 years to get the pages released.
Former President George W. Bush classified the chapter to protect intelligence sources and methods and perhaps to avoid upsetting Saudi Arabia, a close US ally. President Barack Obama ordered a declassification review of the chapter, which Congress released on Friday, the AP reports. CNN clarifies that “the 28 pages,“ as the chapter has long been known, is actually 29 pages long. Read it HERE .
► Woman Can’t Become Nun Till She Dumps $18K Student Loan
A 28-year-old Broadway costume designer recently decided to switch career gears, and it’s a big change—she wants to become a nun, CBS News reports. But there’s one major roadblock to Alida Taylor’s dream to enter the Sisters of Life convent in September that only divine intervention, generous patrons, or a lottery win may be able to remedy: She needs to completely pay off the $18,000 student loan she took out to get her fashion degree from the University of Louisiana. “That financial debt, having that be resolved allows her to freely enter into her vocation,“ the convent’s Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei tells CBS New York, which notes that each congregation determines whether it will accept women with debt.
Taylor can’t even take on an outside gig during her convent stay to knock her debt down, because, as the sister notes, “religious life is a full-time job.“ So Taylor has set up a GoFundMe page, where she explains she first felt the pull toward a religious life when she was just 8 years old. “I had a difficult time reconciling these desires I had for my life with choosing this unique path, such as marriage, a career, adventure,“ she explains. And even though her current life is “beautiful,“ she says, after a move to a Catholic discernment house, a place for aspiring nuns to reflect on their choice, she realized that “the Lord has made his call clear.“ If Taylor is unable to find a way to resolve her financial issues? The convent says there’s always next year.
► After Owners Get Pulse Nightclub Back, a Break-In
Orlando police said Thursday that someone broke into the Pulse nightclub Wednesday night, hours after law enforcement had turned control of the club back over to its owners, the AP reports. The club had been under police custody as part of the investigation into the June 12 shooting that left 49 victims dead and injured 53. A police report listed no motive or suspects, and ABC News notes that whoever broke in pulled plywood off of an entranceway to gain access. An alarm system complete with interior cameras was not turned on Wednesday night. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Orlando police had just ended their control of the property Wednesday, though the investigation into the worst mass shooting in modern US history is continuing.
“Some sick individual did this,“ said an unidentified man on a 911 call reporting the break-in. Barbara Poma, the owner of the club, shared her own thoughts in a statement. “Since June 12, we have seen the worst and best of human behavior,“ she says. “We are disappointed that someone felt compelled to violate the privacy of our beloved Pulse Night Club and the sacred place it has now become.“ Co-owner Rosario Poma, Barbara’s husband, tells the Orlando Sentinel that nothing appears to have been damaged or removed from the premises, but that hasn’t done much to dampen his own sentiments. “It’s pathetic that people would do such things,“ he says, calling it “unspeakable. They pried the wood off the doors that was screwed to the walls.“
► $100 Bills Have Been Hidden All Over Oregon’s Capital
Oregon’s capital is rolling in Benjamins thanks to a generous yet mysterious “Benny-factor.“ The Statesman Journal reports $100 bills began appearing around Salem in May 2013 and more than $50,000 has been discovered since, including $8,600 last month alone. The individual responsible—nicknamed “Benny” after Benjamin Franklin, who graces the bill—has yet to be revealed, though he has left the trademark folded bills, signed “Benny” on the right edge, in 26 different stores and several neighborhoods and at eight events. Some 156 bills have been found at a single grocery store and 65 at a Walmart, hidden in boxes of cereal, feminine hygiene products, diapers, and toilet paper, per the Journal. But the bills have also been found in strollers, stuffed into tip jars, and slipped through open car windows, reports CBS 8.
The best part? They have a way of finding those who need help affording rent or medication. A homeless couple even used a bill to spend a few nights in a motel. And about 50% of so-called Benny-ficiaries report paying it forward. These include children who’ve bought school supplies for classmates, groceries for a food bank, and toys for charity. A market vendor who found 10 bills, the most of anyone, says she’s donated each one to a non-profit; other Benny-ficiaries have donated the $100 plus $100 of their own money. Others are actually keeping the Benny bills and donating their own funds. “People are posting them on refrigerators, displaying them on bedside tables, carrying them in their purses, and putting them in protective sleeves,“ Capi Lynn writes at the Journal. “It’s a reminder, they say, to give and be like Benny.“
► Woman Brought to US as Nanny Treated Like Slave
Prosecutors charged a Minnesota woman Friday with beating and starving a woman she brought from China to work as a nanny, the AP reports. Thirty-five-year-old Lili Huang of Woodbury is charged with five felony counts, including labor trafficking, false imprisonment, and assault. According to the Star Tribune, the 58-year-old victim arrived in the US on a visa in late March. The complaint states the nanny was forced to work up to 18 hours a day doing child care, cooking, and cleaning. Police calculate her pay at about $1.80 an hour. She was found wandering in the street. A hospital exam found she had many broken bones, and the complaint says the woman’s weight had dropped to 88 pounds.
► Teen Charged With Terrorism Attacked in Arizona Jail
An Arizona teen charged with plotting terrorist attacks in his home state was attacked in jail earlier this month, NBC News reports. Eighteen-year-old Mahin Khan suffered minor injuries when he was attacked by fellow inmates July 2—the day after his arrest. According to KNXV, Khan was being held in medium security at Maricopa County Jail at the time of the attack, which was only revealed Friday. Following his arrest, Khan was offered “voluntary segregation,“ which he turned down. He’s now been moved to segregated housing. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says all inmates facing terror-related charges will be automatically isolated from the general population in the future.
Khan, who’s from Tucson, pleaded not guilty to terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism on Tuesday, KPHO/KTVK reports. The FBI says Khan contacted terrorist group Terik-e Taliban Pakistan. He was allegedly planning bomb attacks at government buildings in Arizona. Khan’s public defenders want his future hearings made off limits to the media, blaming previous coverage for the jail attack and expressing concern for his family’s safety.
► 80K Ikea Baby Gates Recalled After Children Injured
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling 80,000 Ikea baby gates after reports of injured children around the world. Patrull, Patrull Fast, and Patrull Klamma baby gates sold between 1995 and 2016 can come unlocked unexpectedly and cause falls and other injuries, CNN reports. The gates, sold at Ikea between 1995 and 2016, have resulted in 55 reported incidents around the world, including four in the US. So far, 10 injuries—cuts, bruises, and concussions—have been tied to the faulty gates. The Patrull Klamma gate was first recalled in May after three children were hurt falling down stairs. A full refund for the baby gates is available at Ikea.
► New peak for U.S. health care spending: $10,345 per person
The nation’s health care tab this year is expected to surpass $10,000 per person for the first time, the government said Wednesday. The new peak means the Obama administration will pass the problem of high health care costs on to its successor.
The report from number crunchers at the Department of Health and Human Services projects that health care spending will grow at a faster rate than the national economy over the coming decade. That squeezes the ability of federal and state governments, not to mention employers and average citizens, to pay.
Growth is projected to average 5.8 percent from 2015 to 2025, below the pace before the 2007-2009 economic recession but faster than in recent years that saw health care spending moving in step with modest economic growth.
National health expenditures will hit $3.35 trillion this year, which works out to $10,345 for every man, woman and child. The annual increase of 4.8 percent for 2016 is lower than the forecast for the rest of the decade.
A stronger economy, faster growth in medical prices and an aging population are driving the trend. Medicare and Medicaid are expected to grow more rapidly than private insurance as the baby-boom generation ages. By 2025, government at all levels will account for nearly half of health care spending, 47 percent.
The report also projects that the share of Americans with health insurance will remain above 90 percent, assuming that President Barack Obama’s law survives continued Republican attacks.
The analysis serves as a reality check for the major political parties as they prepare for their presidential conventions.
Usually in a national election there are sweeping differences between Democrats and Republicans on health care, one of the chief contributors to the government’s budget problems. But this time the discussion has been narrowly focused on the fate of Obama’s law and little else.
Republican Donald Trump vows to repeal “Obamacare,“ while saying he won’t cut Medicare or have people “dying in the street.“ Democrat Hillary Clinton has promised to expand government health care benefits.
Both candidates would authorize Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, which the report says will grow somewhat more slowly after recent sharp increases.
Obama’s health care law attempted to control costs by reducing Medicare payments to hospitals and insurers, as well as encouraging doctors to use teamwork to keep patients healthier. But it also increased costs by expanding coverage to millions who previously lacked it. People with health insurance use more medical care than the uninsured.
Despite much effort and some progress reining in costs, health care spending is still growing faster than the economy and squeezing out other priorities, said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group that advocates for reducing government red ink.
“No serious candidate for president can demonstrate fiscal leadership without having a plan to help address these costs,“ she said. “No matter whether a candidate has an agenda that focuses on tax cuts or spending increases, there will be little room for either.“
The $10,345-per-person spending figure is an average; it doesn’t mean that every individual spends that much in the health care system. In fact, U.S. health care spending is wildly uneven.
About 5 percent of patients — those most frail or ill — account for nearly half the spending in a given year, according to a separate government study. Meanwhile, half the population has little or no health care costs, accounting for 3 percent of spending.
Of the total $3.35 trillion spending projected this year, hospital care accounts for the largest share, about 32 percent. Doctors and other clinicians account for nearly 20 percent. Prescription drugs bought through pharmacies account for about 10 percent.
The report also projected that out-of-pocket cost paid directly by consumers will continue to increase as the number of people covered by high-deductible plans keeps growing.
Wednesday’s report was published online by the journal Health Affairs.
► With Money Tight, More Towns Are Unpaving Their Roads
With infrastructure spending at a low point and infrastructure itself getting a D grade as judged by the American Society of Civil Engineers, paved roads that are crumbling and full of potholes are becoming more commonplace. And now, according to a new report out by the National Highway Cooperative Highway Research program, rural areas across the country are intentionally ripping up stretches of pavement in a return to gravel, reports Wired. The bar is, indeed, low: The report uncovered a widespread sentiment among residents that in spite of the extra dust and other nuisances, depaving is fine because at least the worst roads are getting some form of attention.
The phenomenon isn’t exactly new. Back in 2010 the Wall Street Journal took note of the trend and reported that South Dakota had recently turned about 100 miles of asphalt road to gravel; nearly half of Michigan counties had converted at least some roads in this way; some counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania were further downgrading asphalt to chip-and-seal “poor man’s pavement”; and some counties in Ohio were so broke they were letting roads naturally erode to gravel. John Habermann of Purdue University warned at a seminar he called “Back to the Stone Age” that no roads are free roads, and that in the long run gravel’s need to be graded and smoothed can actually cost more than regular asphalt maintenance.
► 3 Cops Shot, Killed in Baton Rouge
A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition shot and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers Sunday, less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police here in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.
Three other officers were wounded, one critically. Police said the gunman was killed at the scene.
The shooting less than a mile from police headquarters added to the tensions across the country between the black community and police. Just days earlier, one of the slain officers had posted an emotional Facebook message about the challenges of police work in the current environment.
President Barack Obama urged Americans to tamp down inflammatory words and actions.
“We don’t need careless accusations thrown around to score political points or to advance an agenda. We need to temper our words and open our hearts ... all of us,“ Obama said.
The gunman was identified as Gavin Long of Kansas City, who turned 29 on Sunday.
Long, who was black, served in the Marines from 2005 to 2010, reaching the rank of sergeant. He deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to military records.
Although he was believed to be the only person who fired at officers, authorities were investigating whether he had some kind of help.
“We are not ready to say he acted alone,“ state police spokesman Major Doug Cain said. Two “persons of interest” were detained for questioning in the nearby town of Addis. They were later released without any charges being filed.
While in the military, Long was awarded several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an honorable discharge. His occupational expertise was listed as “data network specialist.“
The University of Alabama issued a statement saying that Long attended classes for one semester in the spring of 2012. A school spokesman said university police had no interactions with him.
In Kansas City, police officers, some with guns drawn, converged on a house listed as Long’s.
It was the fourth high-profile deadly encounter in the United States involving police over the past two weeks. In all, the violence has cost the lives of eight officers, including those in Baton Rouge, and two civilians and sparked a national debate over race and policing.
Authorities initially believed that additional assailants might be at large, but hours later said there were no other active shooters. They did not discuss the gunman’s motive or any relationship to the wider police conflicts.
The shooting began at a gas station on Airline Highway. According to radio traffic, Baton Rouge police answered a report of a man with an assault rifle and were met by gunfire. For several long minutes, they did not know where it was coming from.
The radio exchanges were made public Sunday by the website Broadcastify.
Nearly 2½ minutes after the first report of an officer getting shot, an officer on the scene is heard saying police do not know the shooter’s location.
Almost six minutes pass after the first shots are reported before police say they have determined the shooter’s location. About 30 seconds later, someone says shots are still being fired.
The recording lasts about 17 minutes and includes urgent calls for an armored personnel carrier called a BearCat.
“There simply is no place for more violence,“ Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It doesn’t further the conversation. It doesn’t address any injustice perceived or real. It is just an injustice in and of itself.“
From his window, Joshua Godwin said he saw the suspect, who was dressed in black with a ski mask, combat boots and extra bullets. He appeared to be running “from an altercation.“
Mike Spring awoke at a nearby house to a sound that he thought was from firecrackers. The noise went on for five to 10 minutes, getting louder.
Of the two officers who survived the shooting, one was hospitalized in critical condition, and the other was in fair condition. Another officer was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.
Two of the slain officers were from the Baton Rouge Police Department: 32-year-old Montrell Jackson, who had been on the force for a decade, and 41-year-old Matthew Gerald, who had been there for less than a year.
The third fatality was Brad Garafola, 45 and a 24-year veteran of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
Jackson, who was black, posted his message on Facebook on July 8, just three days after the death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man killed by white Baton Rouge officers after a scuffle at a convenience store.
In the message, Jackson said he was physically and emotionally tired and complained that while in uniform, he gets nasty looks. When he’s out of uniform, he said, some people consider him a threat.
A friend of Jackson’s family, Erika Green, confirmed the posting, which is no longer on Facebook. A screenshot of the image was circulating widely on the internet.
Police-community relations in Baton Rouge have been especially tense since Sterling’s death. The killing was captured on cellphone video.
It was followed a day later by the shooting death of another black man in Minnesota, whose girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of his death on Facebook. The next day, a black gunman in Dallas opened fire on police at a protest about the police shootings, killing five officers and heightening tensions even further.
Thousands of people protested Sterling’s death, and Baton Rouge police arrested more than 200 demonstrators.
Sterling’s nephew condemned the killing of the three Baton Rouge officers. Terrance Carter spoke Sunday to The Associated Press by telephone, saying the family just wants peace.
“My uncle wouldn’t want this,“ Carter said. “He wasn’t this type of man.
A few yards from a police roadblock on Airline Highway, Keimani Gardner was in the parking lot of a warehouse store that would ordinarily be bustling on a Sunday afternoon. He and his girlfriend both work there. But the store was closed because of the shooting.
“It’s crazy. ... I understand some people feel like enough is enough with, you know, the black community being shot,“ said Gardner, an African-American. “But honestly, you can’t solve violence with violence.“
Michelle Rogers and her husband drove near the shooting scene, but were blocked at an intersection closed by police.
“I can’t explain what brought us here,“ she said. “We just said a prayer in the car for the families.“
Also Sunday, a domestic violence suspect opened fire on a Milwaukee police officer who was sitting in his squad car. The officer was seriously wounded, and the suspect fled and apparently killed himself, authorities said.
► Gunman Kills 2 in Florida Hospital
A gunman entered a Florida hospital through the emergency room early Sunday, went to the third floor and fatally shot a patient and an employee apparently at random, reports the AP. David Owens, 29, entered Parrish Medical Center at 2am and used a handgun to fatally shoot 88-year-old patient Cynthia Zingsheim and employee Carrie Rouzer, 36, in Zingsheim’s room, Titusville police said. Owens left the gun in the room and was tackled by two unarmed security guards as he left, police said. Authorities say they have found no motive for the shooting and no immediate connection between Owens and the women. All lived in Titusville.
The shooting “appears to be extremely random,“ Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. Owens has been charged with two counts of murder. He is being held without bail at the Brevard County Jail. Court records show that in 2011 he was found guilty of battery on a police officer and that twice in 2012 a judge ordered him to undergo a mental health examination. Records show that other arrests for cocaine and marijuana possession and domestic battery were dismissed. No one answered the phone Sunday at the Brevard County public defender’s office, and it could not be determined if Owens has an attorney. The hospital has reopened. Police are planning an afternoon press conference.
► Disney Fires Worker After Gator Tweet, Thinks Again
“If a Guest asks if we have gators in the water around Tom Sawyer’s Island (or any other bodies of water), the correct and appropriate response is, ‘Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have them removed.‘ Please do not say that we have seen them before.“ So read the sign in the employee break room at Walt Disney World, where 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed last month. “I was very offended by it and I was pretty vocal about it,“ says Disney employee Shannon Sullivan, who tweeted a photo of the sign—and promptly lost her job, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Disney says it didn’t authorize the sign, and quickly took it down. But “at this point it became my morals and my integrity and what I believe in,“ Sullivan says. “I thought if I lose my job because of that, it’s worth it to me.“ Yet after the Sentinel asked Disney about her firing on Thursday, she magically had a job again Friday morning.
► Search for 15 People Lost at Sea Called Off
The US Coast Guard said Sunday it has called off a search for 15 people reported missing in an attempt to reach the US Virgin Islands, the AP reports. Survivors who were rescued Monday near the British Virgin Islands told officials that 13 Cubans, a Colombian and a Dominican were missing. They said the boat set off from the Dutch island of St. Maarten on July 9 and was headed for the US territory, roughly 100 miles to the west, where Cubans have legal right to remain if they can reach land. British and Dutch rescuers also took part in the search.
The head of the Coast Guard sector in Puerto Rico, Capt. Robert W. Warren, announced the search was ending. Officials did not say how the migrants had reached St. Maarten, which is more than 700 miles from the closest part of Cuba. But in the past, Cuban migrants have sometimes flown to other Caribbean islands, trying to use them as stepping-stones to reach the US Virgin Islands rather than taking a sea journey directly from the island to Florida, Mexico or Central America.
► U.S. would consider extradition request for exiled cleric
The Obama administration would entertain an extradition request for the U.S.-based cleric that Turkey’s president is blaming for a failed coup attempt, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.
In a televised speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States should extradite Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan said Turkey had never turned back any extradition request for “terrorists” by the United States and stressed Turkey’s joint role with the U.S. in fighting terrorism. “I say if we are strategic partners then you should bring about our request,“ he said.
Visiting Luxembourg, Kerry said Turkey would have to prove the wrongdoing of Gulen, who left Turkey in 1999.
Gulen has harshly condemned the attempted coup attempt by military officers that resulted in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left dozens dead. But Erdogan’s government is blaming the chaos on the cleric, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.
Erdogan has long accused Gulen, a former ally, of trying to overthrow the government. Washington has never found any evidence particularly compelling previously.
“We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen,“ Kerry told reporters. “And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the United States will accept that and look at it and make judgments about it appropriately.“
A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Turkey “has been preparing a formal application with detailed information about Gulen’s involvement in illegal activities. After last night, we have one more thing to add to an already extensive list.“
President Barack Obama urged all sides in Turkey to support the democratically elected government in Turkey, a key NATO ally.
In a statement issued after a meeting with his national security advisers, Obama also urged those in Turkey to show restraint and avoid violence or bloodshed.
Gulen is understood to maintain significant support among some members of the military and mid-level bureaucrats. His movement called Hizmet includes think tanks, schools and various media enterprises. Gulen and Erdogan only became estranged in recent years.
Gulen said he condemned, “in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey” and sharply rejected any responsibility or knowledge of who might be involved. At a news briefing in Saylorsburg, Pa., Gulen noted that he’s been away from Turkey for more than 15 years and wouldn’t have returned even if the coup succeeded due to greater freedoms in the U.S.
“In brief, I don’t even know who my followers are,“ the frail-looking cleric said through an interpreter. “You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup.“
Reiterating American support for Erdogan’s government, Kerry said the U.S. opposed any attempt to overthrow a democratically elected leader. He said a change of government should only come through a legal, constitutional process.
Kerry also said that U.S. military cooperation with its NATO ally has been unaffected by the turmoil. Turkey plays a key role in U.S.-led efforts against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“All of that continues as before,“ Kerry said.
He said the U.S. had no prior indication of the coup attempt, which came as Erdogan was on vacation.
It appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey’s main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government. Prime Minister Benali Yildirim said 161 people were killed and 1,440 wounded in the overnight violence. He said 2,839 plotters were detained.
“If you’re planning a coup you don’t exactly advertise to your partners in NATO,“ Kerry said. “So it surprised everyone. It does not appear to be a very brilliantly planned or executed event.“
► Brother Allegedly Murders ‘Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian’
Pakistani fashion model Qandeel Baloch, who recently stirred controversy by posting pictures of herself with a Muslim cleric on social media, was strangled to death by her brother in a suspected “honor killing,“ police say. Her parents told police one of her six brothers strangled her to death Friday night as she slept in the family’s home in Multan, a police spokeswoman tells the AP. She says police are searching for the suspect. Baloch, 26, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, recently offended many conservatives by posting pictures of herself with Mufti Qavi, a prominent cleric. She said the two of them enjoyed soft drinks and cigarettes together during the daylight hours in the holy month of Ramadan, when practicing Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
The pictures and allegations caused a scandal in conservative Pakistan, and the government removed Qavi from the official committee that determines when Ramadan starts and ends. Earlier this month, Baloch sought protection from the government, saying she was receiving anonymous death threats. The BBC notes that Baloch—who became known nationally after this video of her asking “How em looking” went viral—was nicknamed “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian” and was frequently abused online for behavior deemed immodest and for her criticism of Pakistan’s patriarchal society. In one of her final Facebook posts, she described herself as an “inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly and dominated by the society.“
► Do you want salad and the police with that? Cool kebab shop owner ignores robber
An Egyptian kebab shop owner in New Zealand has become an internet hit after a video of him ignoring a would-be robber and continuing to serve a customer went viral, drawing more than a quarter of a million views.
Said Ahmed, owner of the Egyptian Kebab House in Christchurch, said it was simply a “lucky” reaction to ignore the masked man, who walked into his restaurant on May 28 and demanded cash while holding what appeared to be a gun.
Ahmed, who has run his kebab shop for 15 years, continued to bag up an order and handed it to a customer before walking away to call the police, the video shows, leaving the attempted robber to exit empty handed.
Canterbury Police released CCTV footage of the incident on Facebook last week in a bid to identify the would-be robber. The 27-second clip has since drawn 255,000 views and has been shared more than 1,000 times.
Ahmed, 55, who was quickly dubbed by social media as the “chillest chip shop operator”, said he was only thinking of his family and thought walking away would avoid a more serious outcome.
“I’m not a hero but, you know, I controlled my reaction,“ he told New Zealand media. “Quite lucky because that reaction come to my head in that moment.“
► UNESCO announces 9 new World Heritage Sites
The U.N. cultural agency on Friday placed nine new sites on its World Heritage List, including a medieval Armenian city located in northeast Turkey.
UNESCO added the old city of Ani, in the Turkish province of Kars to its prestigious list during a meeting in Istanbul. Ani, near Turkey’s now closed border with Armenia, once served as the capital of the Armenian kingdom in the 10th century. Mostly abandoned after a devastating earthquake in the 14th century, the ruins include a relatively well-preserved cathedral and hold major significance for Armenians.
Other sites announced Friday include China’s Zuojiang Huashan rock art cultural landscape, Iran’s ancient aqueducts known as Qanat, and India’s archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara. A transboundary site located in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, and heritage sites in Greece, Spain and Gibraltar also made the list.
The World Heritage Committee also selected Micronesia’s artificial islets of Nan Madol and simultaneously placed it on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Made of basalt and coral boulders, the 99 artificial islets of Nan Madol are home to ruins ranging from temple to tombs dating between A.D. 1200 and 1500.
Dating back to the 5th century B.C., Zuojiang Huashon rock art cultural landscape straddles steep cliffs in southwest China and represent the only trace left of the Luoyue people.
Iran’s Qanat system tapped into alluvial aquifer and transported water underground across vast valleys helping sustain agricultural life and settlements in arid areas.
The Nalanda site comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 13th century A.D.
The medieval tombstones and graveyards, known as stecci, combine 30 sites in Bosnia, central and southern Croatia, western Montenegro and western Serbia. Carved from limestone, they feature decorative motives and inscriptions.
The Greek archaeological site of Philippi, founded in 356 B.C. by the Macedonian King Philip II, lies in the present-day region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. It later became an important Christian site, following the visit of Apostle Paul, UNESCO said.
The Antequera Dolmens site, in Andalusia, southern Spain, is comprised of three megalithic monuments as well as two natural mountainous formations.
The natural sea caves —or Gorham’s Cave Complex— in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, also made the list, and provide evidence of Neanderthal occupation over a span of more than 125,000 years.
Gathered from July 10-20 in Istanbul, the committee is reviewing 27 sites of special cultural or natural significance which have been nominated for the World Heritage List.
► In Dizzying Crackdown, Turkey Detains 6K
Turkey’s justice minister says some 6,000 people have been detained in a government crackdown on alleged coup plotters and government opponents, reports the AP. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says that “the cleansing (operation) is continuing. The number could surpass 6,000.“ Bozdag also said he was confident that the United States would return Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Gulen and his followers for the failed military coup on Friday night, but Gulen has denied any involvement in or knowledge. The US says it will look at any evidence Turkey has to offer against Gulen, and judge accordingly. Bozdag says “the United States would weaken itself by protecting him, it would harm its reputation. I don’t think that at this hour, the United States would protect someone who carried out this act against Turkey.“
The Turkish government has also issued dozens of arrest warrants for judges and prosecutors and detaining military officers. Already, three of the country’s top generals have been detained, alongside hundreds of soldiers. The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send conspirators to trial. The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities, ended hours later when loyal government forces including military and police regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan. At least 265 people were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Government officials say at least 104 conspirators were killed. Still, the government crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions. Erdogan’s survival has turned him into a “sort of a mythical figure,“ said the director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute. “It will allow him to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven’t seen before,“ he said.
► An Ancient Mud City Is in Danger
The West African country of Mali claims four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and as of Wednesday, three of them were on the List of World Heritage in Danger—which runs only 54 items long. The Old Towns of Djenné and its 2,000 mud houses, which have been inhabited since the third century BC and a World Heritage site since 1988, joined the list due to “insecurity” in the region, according to a press release. Islamist militant groups have plagued Mali, Time reports, and there were political clashes in the north as recently as this week. Reuters reports troops fired at protesters in the city of Gao, whose Tomb of Askia is also an endangered World Heritage Site (as is the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu).
In Djenné, UNESCO says, “This situation is preventing safeguarding measures from addressing issues,“ with Pravda reporting the flow of building materials used to combat deterioration and erosion has been hampered. The area once served as an “important link” in the gold trade, UNESCO notes. Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, it operated as a center for the spread of Islam. A testament to that is the Great Mosque of Djenné. A comparatively new structure—built in 1907 at the site that formerly held a mosque built around the 13th century, the New York Times reported in 2012—it is the largest mud brick building in the world, according to Time. The Times noted that Mali’s persistent dry spells, interrupted by huge downpours, exacerbate fissures in the mud-brick architecture, and the plastering that repairs it accumulates into layers that can weaken it.
► Driver in France Texted ‘Bring More Weapons’
ck-in-nice/2016/07/17/2a151ab8-4bb0-11e6-8dac-0c6e4accc5b1_story.html”>Washington Post reports, though Bouhlel’s ex-wife was released Sunday.
As authorities in France investigate the third major terror attack in that country in 18 months, additional details have emerged. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tells a French newspaper, “We now know that the killer was radicalized very quickly.“ The Los Angeles Timesreports Bouhlel started frequenting a mosque just three months ago; prior to that, acquaintances say he did things that don’t jibe with Muslim codes, like smoke pot and wear shorts. Footage from security cameras in Nice shows Bouhlel driving along the Promenade Des Anglais on the two days before the attack. Beaches in Nice have re-opened, per the Post, “creating a jarring contrast between the tourists frolicking in the gentle Mediterranean surf and the blood-stained pavement above.“
French authorities have arrested two more people—a man and a woman—in connection with the Thursday terror attack in which Mohamed Lahaouaiej Bouhlel drove a large truck through Bastille Day crowds in Nice, France. The man, a 37-year-old, is suspected of giving weapons to Bouhlel, 31, who was shot and killed by police during the rampage, the Telegraph reports. Just before the attack, according to reports, Bouhlel sent a text that read: “Bring more weapons, bring five of them to C.“ In another text, he says: “I’ve got the material.“ The latest people arrested were described as an “Albanian couple,“ per the Telegraph. With the latest arrests, seven people have thus far been detained for having a possible link to the attack.
► Meet the ‘Most Hated Jew’ in Lithuania
Efraim Zuroff is the “most hated Jew in Lithuania,“ and proud of it. Zuroff, known as the last Nazi hunter, gained that reputation through his efforts to get Lithuania to “admit its complicity” in the Holocaust, he says. Collaborating with occupying Nazis, Lithuania killed 90%—by some accounts more—of the 250,000 Jews who who lived in the country in 1941, including Zuroff’s great-uncle. But still, “not a single Lithuanian sat one day in jail,“ Zuroff tells writer Stav Ziv. Writing in Newsweek, Ziv explores Zuroff’s efforts to hold Lithuania accountable for its role in the Holocaust and tells the story of the unlikely partnership between Zuroff and Lithuanian writer Ruta Vanagaite that resulted in the 2016 book, Our People: Journey With an Enemy. The book not only cemented Zuroff’s “vile reputation in Lithuania” but also, “in some quarters … made Vanagaite the country’s most despised daughter,“ Ziv writes.
Zuroff—who grew up in New York, but has lived in Israel for more than 40 years—is seen as a “freelance Nazi hunter.“ He directs the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In some cases, he is able to bring war criminals to justice; other times he just exposes them or advocates for investigations. Sometimes collaborators stand trial but avoid conviction or punishment. Zuroff’s critics say he is driven by his ego; and others say the time for prosecuting war criminals from the 1940s—many dead or old—has passed. But, he tells Ziv, “the passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the killers.“ The book, Our People, chronicles Zuroff and Vanagaite’s 2015 road trip of Holocaust mass murder sites in Lithuania. He calls the journey “emotionally horrifying.“ She says of the book, “I have lost already a couple of friends because … they think I’m betraying my people, betraying my country.“ Read the whole story HERE .
► Brother Busted in Model’s Honor Killing: ‘No Regrets’
The brother of the model dubbed “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian” has admitted killing Qandeel Baloch for “honor,“ reports al Jazeera, and he doesn’t exactly sound filled with remorse. “I have no regrets,“ Muhammad Wasim told a press conference Sunday, following his arrest. Wasim says he slipped Baloch a “tablet” of some sort to sedate her, then strangled her in their family’s home in Multan. “Wasim confessed to his crime, saying he killed his sister for honor after her recent objectionable videos, mostly posted on Facebook,“ says the local police chief. Baloch recently stirred controversy by posting selfies with a noted Muslim cleric and claiming that the two violated Ramadan rules; earlier this year, she offered to strip if Pakistan beat India’s cricket team.
► Body of Children’s Author Found Buried in Garden
British authorities say a children’s author who disappeared in April was murdered by her partner. The remains of Helen Bailey, best known for her Electra Brown series of children’s novels, were found buried in her garden on Friday, the Independent reports. According to the BBC, the 51-year-old Bailey was last seen walking her dachshund in her neighborhood on April 11. The dog’s remains were also found on the property. A post-mortem examination is scheduled for Monday. “Helen was immensely witty and talented,“ her family says in a statement. “We love her deeply and are immensely proud of her achievements. She is now at peace and we shall all miss her terribly.”
Bailey’s partner, Ian Stewart, has been charged with her murder, as well as perverting the course of justice and preventing lawful burial. Authorities say he reported her missing after hiding her body. He was first arrested last Monday, the Mirror reports. Stewart had said he was “shattered” when Bailey went missing. Authorities are continuing to search their home. Bailey’s husband of 22 years drowned while on vacation in 2011, leading her to write a blog called Planet Grief in addition to her work on children’s books.
► Turkey Blames Cleric in U.S. for Coup Attempt
After a military coup attempt that now appears to be firmly quashed, the Turkish government is focusing its wrath on Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The town is home to Fethullah Gulen, an influential cleric who leads a popular movement called Hizmet, and President Recep Tayyib Erdogan blames his followers for the coup attempt that left at least 161 dead in overnight clashes, the New York Times reports. “I have a message for Pennsylvania: You have engaged in enough treason against this nation,“ Erdogan said early Saturday. “If you dare, come back to your country.“ Gulen, a moderate Muslim cleric who has lived in the US since 1999, was Erdogan’s ally until 2013, when the leader blamed him for corruption allegations. In other coverage:
Vox has more on the Gulenist movement, which runs a large network of schools and supports interfaith dialogue, secular democracy, science, and a progressive stance on social issues. Gulen says he condemns the coup attempt “in the strongest terms.“
The AP reports that John Kerry says the US would consider an extradition request for Gulen, though nothing has been received yet and firm evidence would be required. “We fully anticipate that there will be questions raised about Mr. Gulen,“ Kerry told reporters. “And obviously we would invite the government of Turkey, as we always do, to present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny.“
The New York Times looks at how the fallout from the coup will make the region’s politics even more complicated for the US and Europe, which saw Erdogan’s government as a stable and reliable ally. “The danger here is this could spiral out of control and turn into a full-blown civil war,“ says former US Ambassador to Turkey Eric S. Edelman.
CNN reports on how many civilian supporters of Erdogan stood up to the coup attempt, in some cases blocking military vehicles with their cars and even lying down in front of tanks.
Almost 3,000 military service members have been arrested and almost the same number of judges have been removed from their duties in what appears to be a nationwide purge of Gulen supporters, the Guardian reports.
Reuters reports that Erdogan, who had been vacationing on the country’s southeast coast, addressed thousands of supporters after flying into Ankara’s airport early Saturday. “ This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army,“ he said.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says 161 people were killed and 1,440 were injured in the coup attempt, but a government source tells the AP that the figures exclude coup plotters, meaning the true toll could be much higher.
Greece says it will return a Blackhawk helicopter flown to the country from Turkey, but it will examine the asylum claims made by the eight military members on board, including two majors, the AP reports.
► France calls up reserves to boost security after Nice attack
Seeking to quell fear and criticism, the French government called up thousands of police reserves Saturday to increase security around the country, after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a beachfront Bastille Day attack that security forces failed to thwart.
From the Nice seashore to the seat of French politics in Paris, critics lashed out Saturday at President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, asking how a country still under a state of emergency after previous carnage from Islamic extremist attacks could have let this happen again.
As Nice’s coastal promenade along the Mediterranean Sea reopened, tourists and residents paid tribute to the 84 people killed and the 200 wounded in Thursday night’s attack, their blood still jarringly visible on the pavement. The solemnity was only punctured when a pair of plainclothes police officers tried to drive through the crowd, prompting angry shouts of “Shame!“ The officers backed away after a brief standoff.
Hollande held an emergency security meeting Saturday, and late in the day Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced he would call up 12,000 police reserves in addition to more than 120,000 police and soldiers already deployed around the country “because of the terrorist threat.“
Cazeneuve tried to defend his police force’s record, but his words rang hollow. He made similar statements after attacks in January 2015 at a kosher supermarket in Paris and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper that killed 17, and again after the November 13 attacks in Paris on a rock concert, the national stadium and cafes that killed 130.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said a special terrorism vigilance force created after the 2015 attacks will be extended through the summer, with more deployments outside Paris and more attention to tourist sites and crowded events.
The investigation, meanwhile, focused on attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian who had lived in Nice for several years, and whether he acted alone while driving a truck through the holiday crowd. He was shot dead by police Thursday night – and witnesses who saw him said he appeared determined to kill as many people as possible.
The Islamic State group said Saturday that the attacker was one of its “soldiers,“ the first claim of responsibility. It didn’t name Bouhlel, but the statement, quoting an IS security member, said he was following IS calls to target citizens of the countries fighting the extremists.
The veracity of the group’s claim couldn’t immediately be determined, but French officials didn’t dispute it.
What is known publicly about Bouhlel so far suggests a troubled, angry, sometimes violent man with little interest in the group’s ultra-puritanical brand of Islam. Neighbors described the father of three as a volatile man, prone to drinking and womanizing, who was in the process of getting a divorce. His own father, in Tunisia, said his son did not pray or fast for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
But in a statement to reporters, Cazeneuve hinted that Bouhlel may have had a last-minute adoption of a more extremist worldview.
“It seems he was radicalized very quickly,“ he said.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Saturday that five people were in custody following the attack. Neighbors told The Associated Press that Bouhlel’s estranged wife was one of them.
As France began three days of national mourning Saturday, Nice’s seaside Promenade des Anglais slowly and painfully came back to life. A makeshift memorial of bouquets, candles and messages was set up near one end of the expansive avenue.
Carlo Marnini drove all the way from Milan, Italy, to pay his respects to a city he has vacationed in for many years.
“The world mustn’t stop,“ he said. “Terrorism mustn’t win.“
Yet the suffering is far from over. Two days after the atrocity, some families were still hunting for missing loved ones, going from hospital to hospital to find relatives who had disappeared in the bloody chaos of the truck’s rampage.
Officials said 202 people had been wounded in the attack, including many children. The local children’s hospital said of the 30 minors brought for treatment after the attack, two had died, one was in critical condition, and three were on artificial respiration.
The dead included six of seven members of one extended family – three generations – from northeastern France who had gathered in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day and each other’s company. The grandson, one of the dead, was a high school teacher at Lycee de Recollets.
“The large Recollets family has just lost one of its own,“ the school said. “We join the family in their enormous pain and distress.“
In an open letter, regional council President Christian Estrosi – a member of France’s opposition Republicans – described the country’s current Socialist leadership as “incapable.“ He said he had asked for police to be reinforced in Nice ahead of the fireworks display but was told there was no need.
The Nice regional administration defended its security measures, but acknowledged that the truck driver was able to barrel past a barricade of police vehicles by simply driving onto a sidewalk.
Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll warned against attempts to divide the country, calling for “unity and cohesion.“ Still, the message was heard, prompting the security announcement later from Cazeneuve.
France is facing a general election next year, and the deeply unpopular Hollande is facing multiple challengers, from within his own Socialist Party, from the right-wing Republicans and from the far-right National Front.
► Africa’s biggest city shuts churches, mosques to fight noise
Africa’s largest city is closing dozens of mosques, churches and nightclubs in a bid to reduce noise for its 20 million residents long used to lusty hymn-singing, honking horns and boom boxes that rattle the foundations of homes.
The state government of Lagos is on a mission to make the seaside city free of noise pollution by 2020.
“It’s a great menace,“ said Adebola Shabi, general manager of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency. “Studies have shown that noise levels affect the amount of violence and affect our health.“
The agency has shut down more than 70 churches and 20 mosques this year as well as a dozen pubs, hotels and clubs, he said.
Authorities act on complaints from neighbors, first gathering stakeholders to discuss noise limits. If the din continues, the establishment is closed.
But many people are afraid to lodge complaints, according to several people interviewed by The Associated Press.
“I have a church and mosque on my street and they’re in competition to see who can be louder,“ said sculptor Charlie Chukwu. “When the Muslims bought a small speaker, the Christians bought an even bigger one.“
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended earlier this month, he’s awakened at 3 a.m. by calls to prayer, while his nights are raucous with Christian hymns.
He has not made an official complaint. “If you call the authorities, then you are seen as the anti-Christ, against religion, and you become the enemy on the street,“ Chukwu said.
Receptionist Dora Ugu said the foundations of her home shake when her neighbor turns on his boom box. “Even when the power goes out, as it frequently does, he will get out of bed to put on his generator and then it’s boom, boom, boom,“ she said. It’s particularly upsetting for a neighbor who has a small baby.
When they complained to the man, he cursed and scared them. So the two women have not filed a complaint.
Noise levels of 97 decibels have been registered in residential neighborhoods where the limits are supposed to be 55 decibels by day and 45 at night, said environmental protection official Shabi. In commercial areas the limits are 90 decibels by day and 80 at night, and in mixed areas 65 decibels by day and 55 at night, he said.
“When your noise exceeds these limits it becomes noise pollution, and we will shut you down,“ he said firmly.
Applications Available For South Branch Wildlife Management Area Dove Hunt
Mourning dove hunters who wish to hunt from a shooting station during the controlled mourning dove hunt on the South Branch Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have until August 01, 2016, to submit electronic applications, according to Lee Strawn, wildlife manager at South Branch WMA.
Hunting is by permit only for the first three days of the mourning dove season, September 01-03. Hunters successful in the lottery drawing will be assigned a shooting station, free of charge, and will be allowed to bring two guests. Permits will not be required to hunt doves after September 03.
Hunters may register in the new electronic license system and apply online at www.wvhunt.com.Individuals can log in, select “Enter Lottery” and then select “Enter” to the right of “2016 South Branch WMA Dove Hunt” Hunters also may apply by calling the District 2 Headquarters in Romney at 304.822.3551. Successful applicants will be notified by mail by August15, 2016.
Hunters who are selected in the drawing will be assigned a random day to hunt as well as a shooting station. A map showing locations of shooting stations will be included with notification of a successful drawing.
Ken Davis Receives Glenville State College Community Service Award
GLENVILLE, WV - The Glenville State College Alumni Association has recognized Ken Davis of Parkersburg as the Community Service Award recipient for 2016.
This award is given to an individual who has distinguished themselves in community service.
“I left Glenville 44 years ago, but Glenville has never left me,“ Davis said as he accepted the award.
Davis graduated in 1972. After graduation, Davis began teaching in Webster County before moving to Parkersburg to work for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Davis was hired by the Wood County Board of Education in 1973 as the public address announcer for Wood County Junior High Schools. In 1990 he returned to teaching at Parkersburg South High School where he began announcing for almost all Patriots sports teams and at graduation.
Davis recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Parkersburg South High School Student Council for serving as the ‘Voice of the Patriots’ for 25 years. He has retired from teaching, but remains active as the school announcer.
Davis is a native of Aurora, Ohio, and received a bachelor’s of arts in education in social studies (7-12) and language arts (7-9) from Glenville State College.
Introduction To Outdoor Adventure In July At North Bend State Park
CAIRO, WV – Sometimes you need some help in learning a new outdoor skill. That help is now available at North Bend State Park through the Quest program. During July, visitors to North Bend State Park will have access to a variety of scheduled Quest programs.
Spend a night in the wild with North Bend State Park Naturalist Ken Zebo, who is leading Quest: Intro to Backcountry Camping for Two. Participants will be led on a hike to a remote campsite for an overnight stay and learn about backcountry camping skills, camp cooking and the principles of Leave No Trace camping. This Quest is available during the month of July at a cost of $175 per couple, with all gear provided except boots.
On Saturday, July 23, the park will offer a choice of three outdoors adventure introductions. Adventurers who chose two classes will receive a $10 discount.
Backpacking with Backcountry Camping is an overnight Quest in a remote section of North Bend State Park with a park ranger or Quest guide. Participants will learn about what to pack and will practice carrying different loaded packs for size and comfort. The cost is $70 per person and includes all gear and food.
Kayaking Basics is a two-hour Quest on North Bend Lake designed to improve basic flat water skills. It includes safety information, balance and basic paddle strokes. The cost is $30 per person and includes equipment.
Introduction to GPS and Geocaching combines two Quest courses that teach the use of a handheld GPS for trail tracking and Geocaching for locating “treasure” at one of North Bend’s hidden caches. The cost is $20 per person and GPS devices are included.
For information about these and other Quest adventures at North Bend State Park, call 304.643.2931 or visit ww.northbendsp.com.
► Governor Tomblin Encourages West Virginians to Visit Official State Flood Website for Current Information
CHARLESTON, WV – With long-term flood-recovery efforts underway and community needs evolving, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today encouraged West Virginians to visit http://www.WVFLOOD.com, West Virginia’s primary source of information on flood recovery and volunteer efforts.
“This website is a one-stop-shop where flood-impacted West Virginians can access the latest recovery resources, in addition to linking those who want to give to the most urgent community needs,” Governor Tomblin said. “Our goals are to ensure those working to rebuild have easy access to all available assistance and ensure vital supplies, donations and volunteer manpower reach the people and communities in need.”
The website is updated daily with information provided by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management and Volunteer West Virginia, in partnership with West Virginia Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). With much-needed volunteers, supplies and donations pouring in from across the state, this coalition of state entities is working to streamline help and connect residents with recovery resources – including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), disaster recovery centers and clean-up assistance.
Donations to help flood-affected communities are being accepted through www.WVFLOOD.com and coordinated by West Virginia VOAD, which represents 40 state and regional organizations.
“We know there are many West Virginians that still want to help, and we want to make sure those donations of money or goods get to where they are needed,” said Jenny Gannaway, state director of West Virginia VOAD. “The on-the-ground needs are changing constantly, and so we have people updating WVFLOOD.com every day with the latest information on what is needed, and where.”
► Governor Tomblin Addresses West Virginians on Long-Term Flood Recovery Efforts
CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today provided an update on long-term recovery efforts as West Virginians in impacted counties work to get back on their feet after recent devastating floods. This update came as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted public assistance – which supports communities through funding for the state and local governments and certain non-profit entities – for six additional counties: Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur and Wayne.
“In the aftermath of this flooding, our response from the state, local governments, the federal government and countless selfless volunteers was prompt,” Governor Tomblin said. “Because of our early successes in securing federal assistance for those who need it, I know we are ready to meet the challenges before us. As we continue our response efforts, we are now focusing on long-term recovery to keep communities intact and get people back in homes and back on their feet.”
Governor Tomblin was joined today by FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Albie Lewis, Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard, Secretary Paul Mattox of the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato.
As part of today’s update, Governor Tomblin announced that he has appointed General Hoyer as West Virginia’s Chief Recovery Coordinator. In this capacity, he will spearhead sustained recovery efforts by working closely with FEMA to identify gaps and ensure all needs are met. In addition, he has appointed West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette as the State Disaster Recovery Officer, allowing him to work with FEMA to help businesses and workers find additional federal help.
Also joining officials today was John Roberts of Mountain Mission, which is leading a volunteer effort by several groups to replace drywall, subfloors, electrical systems and insulation for homes in Elkview and Clendenin. Roberts says Mountain Mission has raised more than $250,000 for the project and believes the initiative can currently help 150 homes.
For West Virginians needing assistance or wishing to help those affected, visit www.WVFLOOD.com – West Virginia’s primary source of information on flood recovery and volunteer efforts. This website is upda
► Black Diamond Council back in court
Girl Scout leaders accused of embezzlement settled in court in May, after months of hearings.
Now, the council is back in the courtroom—accused of improperly firing the whistle-blower.
Denise Davis, one of the women originally accused of embezzlement; Beth Casey, the state CEO of the Black Diamond Council; Roberta Richmond, Black Diamond’s CFO; and the the Black Diamond Council itself, are all named as defendants in the wrongful discharge suit.
That suit argues that Marijo Tedesco, the whistle-blower in the initial case was fired illegally. That case, which alleged Davis and Mary Farnsworth embezzled 2,400 dollars of Black Diamond money for a trip to Disney World in 2011 was settled, with the women paying back those funds.
An audit commissioned in 2012 found no criminal wrongdoing by the defendants.
► High school flood damage totals 70 percent of building value
CHARLESTON, WV — Kanawha County officials say damages to a local high school from last month’s flooding total 70 percent of the school’s appraised value.
The Kanawha County Commission says it will cost $12.3 million to repair Herbert Hoover High School. The school has an appraised value of $17.6 million. Officials say the actual figure could be much higher, however, because the school would have to be brought up to 2016 codes.
Kanawha schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said the roughly 800 Hoover students will start the school year on Aug. 8 by sharing the Elkview Middle School building. Middle school students will attend in the morning while high school students will attend in the afternoon. Lost instruction time will be made up online.
► Council rejects tuition increases at 3 community colleges
CHARLESTON, WV — The board that oversees West Virginia’s community and technical colleges has rejected tuition increases for three schools.
The Council for Community and Technical Colleges approved two of five requests to increase tuition more than 5 percent on Friday.
The council rejected tuition increases for BridgeValley Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College asked for a 12 percent increase, but the council approved a 9 percent hike. The council approved a 7 percent increase for New River Community Technical College.
The decision means some schools will have to reconsider their budgets two weeks into the new fiscal year. Four colleges increased tuition less than 5 percent, which does not require council approval.
► Woman Accidentally Kills Mom With Gun Kid Brought Home
Authorities say a Florida woman fatally shot her mother when she accidentally discharged a gun that one of her teenage children brought into their home in suburban Tampa, the AP reports. Hillsborough County sheriff’s investigators say the woman had taken the gun away from the teen and unloaded it early Friday morning. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the woman thought the gun was empty but there was still one round in the chamber. She accidentally fired the weapon, hitting her mother, 52-year-old Carolyn Wright. Wright died at the scene. Investigators say one of the teens living at the home panicked and tossed the gun into a storm drain. Deputies recovered the weapon. They don’t know where the teen got the gun.
► Schizophrenic Donor Can Take Plasma Center to Court for Discrimination
A man with schizophrenia will be able to take a plasma-donation company to court for discrimination following a ruling this week, Courthouse News Service reports. Octapharma Plasma in Salt Lake City told Brent Levorsen he couldn’t donate out of fear he would have a schizophrenic episode during the process. This despite notes from two doctors stating Levorsen could donate plasma up to twice per week. Levorsen’s discrimination claim was dismissed by a federal judge last year after Switzerland-based Octapharma argued it wasn’t a public service—because it gives money for donations as apposed to taking money for a service—and therefore not subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act.
On Tuesday, a 10th Circuit court overturned that ruling with a 2-1 vote. Judge Nancy Moritz says Octapharma “is a ‘service establishment’ for two exceedingly simple reasons. It’s an establishment. And it provides a service.“ Levorsen is now free to continue with his discrimination claim against the company.
► Deaf Woman Sues Taco Bell Over Drive-Thru Experience
A deaf New Jersey woman who primarily communicates in sign language is suing Taco Bell, saying she found it difficult, if not impossible, to order two tacos at the fast-food chain’s drive-thru window, the AP reports. Gina Cirrincione claims that on January 11, she wrote her order on a slip of paper and handed it to an employee at a Taco Bell drive-thru pickup window. Her video of the exchange shows an employee trying to explain that orders are placed at the start of the drive-thru. “I will do it this one time,“ he then said. “After that, no more.“ Cirrincione says on March 15 she again wrote her order on a slip of paper and handed it to a drive-thru employee at a different Taco Bell. The note was returned and the window was shut without the order or an explanation, she said. She said she entered the store and was ignored.
Taco Bell’s drive-thru system requires a customer to hear and speak, making it inaccessible to the deaf in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the lawsuit claims. Taco Bell spokesperson Laura Nedbal said in a statement Friday that the company had not yet received the lawsuit so could not comment on it. However, she added, “Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment.“ Cirrincione wants Taco Bell to develop a policy to consider the needs of deaf customers and to train employees about their rights. She also is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.
► Court: Family of Girl Declared Dead Can Try to Prove She’s Alive
The legal battle over whether Jahi McMath is dead or alive continues. The family of McMath, who never recovered after suffering complications from a 2013 tonsil surgery when she was 13 years old, has sued UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and the doctor who did the surgery. The hospital and the doctor claimed that since McMath was determined to be brain-dead and was declared legally dead in January 2014, she should be considered a deceased person in the civil trial. But this week, a California appellate court denied those appeals, and said McMath’s family—which has never accepted that the girl is dead and has kept her on life support machines—can attempt to prove the teen is still alive, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
It makes a big difference to the McMath family’s case: If a court rules McMath is alive, the family can sue for millions; if McMath is dead, all they can sue for is $250,000, the cap on a wrongful death lawsuit. A health law expert says McMath’s family will have to present evidence she’s still alive, which will likely involve bringing in their own medical experts to examine the girl.
► Cops Use Potato to Crack Arson Case
Connecticut police knew they were dealing with arson. What they didn’t know was who was responsible—until a DNA test on a potato provided a break in the case. Willow Martin, 19, was charged Tuesday with several crimes including arson and burglary after a September 2015 fire at a masonry company in Prospect, reports the Hartford Courant. Police say Martin befriended Breonna Constantino—the stepdaughter of the business owner—while both were working at a strip club. But when Constantino failed to repay all of $1,200 Martin had loaned her, police say Martin set fire to her stepdad’s business, causing $450,000 in damage, per the Republican American. Investigators soon discovered the fire was started with gasoline, but it was a potato stuffed into the tailpipe of the owner’s van that eventually led them to Martin.
The owner turned the potato over to police, and tests revealed the DNA of 28-year-old Matthew Garguilo, who just happened to be Willow’s boyfriend at the time. Police say Garguilo confessed that he watched Martin break into the business—which had to be destroyed along with a neighboring restaurant, per the New York Daily News—start the fire inside, and stuff the potato into the van’s tailpipe in an attempt to make it blow up, reports WTNH. Garguilo claimed Martin acted alone, though he said he did handle the potato, police say. He also said Martin had previously set a fire at her mother’s house, though fire officials blamed an electrical issue, reports Patch.com. He’s charged with conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit burglary, while Martin is being held on $110,000 bail.
► 3 Kids Dumped in Scorching Desert as Punishment: Cops
San Bernardino County deputies received a disturbing call Wednesday: Three young children were wandering around a Twentynine Palms-area desert. When they arrived on the scene around 11:30am, one of the hottest parts of the day (KESQ notes it was around 94 degrees; the New York Daily News says temps hit 104 on Wednesday), they found two boys, ages 6 and 5, and their 7-year-old sister all alone without shoes or anything to drink, the Desert Sun reports. Even more disturbing: Their mom and her boyfriend allegedly left them there as a form of punishment.
The children had endured the desert heat for about 45 minutes by the time they were found. Mary Bell, 34, and Gary Cassle, 29, who were said to be living in their car just down the road from where the kids were discovered, were arrested and charged on suspicion of felony child abuse. They’re now being held in the Morongo Basin Jail on $100,000 bond, per a San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department release. The kids are now with Children and Family Services.
After 36 hours, ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday night’s truck attack in Nice, saying the French-Tunisian man behind the atrocity was one of its soldiers. “The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State,“ ISIS said in a statement released through the pro-extremist news agency Amaq. “He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State.“ The group did not name 31-year-old attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who had no previous known links to jihadists, nor did it offer any evidence that he had been acting in the name of ISIS, reports the Guardian. In other developments:
Early Saturday, French authorities detained five people, including Bouhlel’s estranged wife, over suspected links to the attack, the BBC reports
The death toll from the attack, in which Bouhlel mowed down people along a seafront promenade for more than a mile before he was shot dead by police, now stands at 84, including 10 children. More than 200 were injured, and 25 are still on life support.
Neighbors describe Bouhlel, who had three young children and apparently split up with his wife years ago, as a strange and “frightening” man who kept to himself and was known for staring at children, the CBC reports.
Bouhlel was known to police for allegations of theft and domestic violence, but he was “entirely unknown by the intelligence services, whether nationally or locally,“ French prosecutor Francois Molins says. “He had never been the subject of any kind of file or indication of radicalization.“
CNN reports that Bouhlel’s father, who lives in Tunisia, says his son had mental health issues and had suffered several nervous breakdowns.
► Tycoon With Shirt Made of Gold Murdered
An Indian businessman famous for flaunting his wealth with a shirt made entirely of gold was beaten to death in what cops believe was a dispute over money. Police say Datta Phuge, a 48-year-old moneylender in the city of Pune, was killed by a group of around a dozen men armed with sticks and stones after being lured to a fake birthday party Thursday night, AFP reports. The attackers spared Phuge’s 22-year-old son, who witnessed the murder, police say. It’s not clear whether Phuge, known as “gold man,“ was wearing his famous $250,000 shirt, which weighed 7 pounds and consisted of 14,000 pieces of 22-carat gold. “Some people ask me why I’m wearing so much gold but it was my dream. People have different aspirations,“ he told the BBC in 2013. “Some elite people want to own an Audi or Mercedes, and have big cars. I chose gold.“
► Turkey: 161 Dead, Thousands Arrested as Coup Quashed
Forces loyal to Turkey’s president say they quashed a coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles, and gunfire that left dozens dead as Saturday dawned. Authorities arrested thousands of people as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed those responsible “will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey,“ the AP reports. Gen. Umit Dundar, the newly appointed acting chief of the general staff, said officers from the Air Force, the military police and the armored units, were mainly involved in the attempt. The uprising appears not to have been backed by the most senior ranks of the military, and Turkey’s main opposition parties quickly condemned the attempted overthrow of the government. Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim said 161 people had been killed and 1,440 wounded in the overnight violence. He said 2,839 plotters had been detained.
Yildirim described the night as “dark stain for Turkish democracy” and said the perpetrators “will receive every punishment they deserve.“ Fighting continued into the early morning, with the sounds of huge blasts echoing across Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, including at least one bomb that hit the parliament complex. Television footage showed images of broken glass and other debris strewn across a lobby leading to the assembly hall. The chaos capped a period of political turmoil in Turkey—a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against ISIS—which critics blamed on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents and opposition media, and renewed conflict in the mainly Kurdish areas of the southeast.
► Cuba’s Elian Gonzalez Is Now a Bearded College Grad
Elian Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy at the center of a tense 2000 international custody battle that became a cause celebre and raised tensions on both sides of the Florida Straits, is a college graduate, the AP reports. Cuban government website Cubadebate said Friday that the now 22-year-old Gonzalez received his diploma in industrial engineering from the University of Matanzas. Cubadebate said Gonzalez read a letter from his class to former leader Fidel Castro at the graduation ceremony in which the newly minted professionals promised “to fight from whatever trench the revolution demands.“ The website of the local newspaper Giron published a photograph of Gonzalez with a full beard.
Gonzalez was 5 years old when he and his mother left Cuba in late 1999 along with others on a boat that eventually sank, killing most of its occupants. The boy was rescued and brought to the US, and a bitter custody fight broke out between his relatives there and his father back home. The Cuban government organized massive marches to demand his return. Protests were also held in the US calling for Gonzalez to remain, and the issue became a political football during the campaign for the 2000 presidential election. After a lengthy court battle, US authorities ruled that Gonzalez belonged with his father, who flew to the US and returned with his son in June 2000. A photo of heavily armed US agents seizing the terrified boy from the arms of one of the men who rescued him from the sea became one of the most iconic news images of its time.
► Nice-Style Vehicular Terrorism Is Easy to Do, Hard to Stop
Authorities are hoping Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, doesn’t lead to a wave of similar vehicular attacks that are both easy to pull off and incredibly difficult to prevent. Back in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security warned of terrorists using vehicles to kill civilians at “sporting events, entertainment venues, or shopping centers,“ the Washington Post reports. “Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a Homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience,“ NBC News quotes the department as saying. One expert says this method of attack not only can be done by anyone at any time, but they won’t need to first tip their hand by traveling to Syria, contacting other terrorists, or anything like that.
“Al-Qaeda and ISIS have both exhorted their followers to use any means to bring death,“ a counterterrorism expert tells the Los Angeles Times. “With limited access to explosives, large vehicles into large crowds are an obvious event.” In fact, both groups have recently suggested using vehicles as weapons. It’s a method that can be extremely deadly even when used unintentionally, as shown in 2003 when an elderly man killed 10 people by accidentally driving through a California farmers market. But the attack in Nice, which killed 84, represents a new level of carnage for vehicular assault. Three similar attacks in France between 2014 and 2016 killed only one person total.
$3.5 Million Grant to Help Workers Following Flooding
Federal dollars to support 250 temporary jobs for flood clean-up
CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and Congressmen Evan Jenkins and Alex X. Mooney today announced that West Virginia has secured a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to offer 250 temporary jobs for flood disaster clean-up activities in the 12 counties under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declaration. The program will be administered through WorkForce West Virginia.
“What made this disaster one of the most devastating to occur in West Virginia’s history was the tragic loss of 23 lives and the overwhelming destruction of entire towns,” Governor Tomblin said. “This flooding resulted in major damage to many businesses and, as a result, a loss of jobs for West Virginians who need income to support their families in this incredibly challenging time. These grant dollars are a substantial step in helping impacted residents as they recover and rebuild.”
“This funding will provide much needed relief to West Virginians who have lost their businesses, their homes and their jobs as a result of this horrific flooding and I’m pleased the Department of Labor has stepped up to help them rebuild,“ Senator Manchin said. “My staff and I have been visiting flood-impacted areas and I have never seen such devastation in my home state like I have in the aftermath of this historic flooding. We must ensure every West Virginian affected by this flood is provided with the resources they need to recover, and this funding will help accomplish that.“
“West Virginians have really stepped up to the plate to help one another during this extremely difficult time, and I could not be more proud of our state,“ said Senator Capito. “We still have a lot of work left to do, which is why I am glad this grant funding is heading to the Mountain State to help bring some relief to the affected communities and assist many people who are struggling to get back on their feet.“
“We have a long road ahead of us as we work to clean up and rebuild from these devastating floods,” said Rep. Jenkins. “Many West Virginians are struggling in tough economic times, and WorkForce West Virginia will be able to use this grant to provide good jobs while helping our communities. These funds will provide families with paychecks while helping to lift up flood-ravaged communities. By working together, I know we will rebuild.”
“After the devastating natural disaster hit our state late last month, countless West Virginians lost their homes and livelihoods. As the healing process continues, these Department of Labor funds will supplement existing efforts to help families and communities across our state get back on their feet. The flood waters may have receded, but our work is far from over. I will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure that West Virginians are given the resources they need to rebuild stronger than ever,“ said Rep. Mooney.
WorkForce West Virginia submitted a disaster emergency grant application to the U.S. Department of Labor on July 01 for National Dislocated Workers Grant funds, and Governor Tomblin sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on July 12 underscoring the critical need to support West Virginia workers and communities as quickly as possible.
Those interested in applying should contact WorkForce West Virginia by calling 877.967.5498 or visiting www.workforcewv.org.
To read the disaster emergency grant application letter in its entirety, click HERE.
Counties under the federal disaster declaration are Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers and Webster.
► Used Vehicle Buyers Urged to Use Caution in Wake of Flooding
West Virginia residents considering the purchase of a used vehicle should use extra caution in light of last month’s flooding.
That’s the advice of state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who says buyers should watch out for offers that seem too good to be true.
Morrisey’s office said in a news release that state law prohibits reselling a submerged vehicle without a salvaged title. The law requires anyone who repairs a total loss to use a specially licensed salvage mechanic and document the redeemed status with a salvage title afterward.
The release also advises questioning any towing company to be sure total loss vehicles don’t become profit for someone else and a problem for an eventual buyer.
Consumers should research a vehicle’s history with the vehicle identification number and evaluating the dealership.
► Disaster Recovery Centers Changing Hours
West Virginia emergency officials say state and Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster recovery centers are changing their hours starting Sunday.
The centers will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday, but starting next week, new operating hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says the centers will be closed on Sundays, including this Sunday.
A new disaster recovery center has opened in Nicholas County. The center is located at Birch River Elementary School.
► Mobile FEMA teams face long, complicated task in West Virginia rebuilding process
RICHWOOD, WV — As town hall meetings continue to crop up around towns in the flood-affected areas of West Virginia, questions continue to arise about what exactly FEMA’s role is in southern West Virginia’s rebuilding process.
There are a number of answers to that loaded question, and FEMA’s Mobile Disaster Assistance Teams are attempting to provide the public with those answers in a painstakingly thorough manner: going door-to-door in the impacted communities.
That’s how the Mobile Disaster Assistance Teams, 12 throughout the state, are operating throughout the 12 counties that were declared federal disasters following the June 23 floods.
Team member John Snyder, operating in Richwood, said the people he speaks with every day are expressing concerns related to a number of issues. One issue is natural–confusion. The other is harder to solve.
“A lot of people are overwhelmed when they are first affected,” he said. “What we try to do is manage their expectations. They have to realize that we’re here to help them make sure that their home is safe and sanitary to live in. That’s the primary objective.”
His teammate Frank Disimino is similarly a veteran of disaster clean-ups from all around the country. Disimino said there are a number of challenges facing West Virginians going forward, which also translates into challenges for FEMA as well.
“Once you’ve seen one disaster, you’ve seen one disaster,” he said. “Which is not to say there aren’t lessons to be taken away from each event, but every event is unique in terms of it’s time, it’s size, it’s scale, it’s location, the weather, the political environment when that disaster occurs.”
One of those challenges is long-term housing. FEMA media relations specialist Renee Befalis said Manufactured Housing Units–essentially mobile homes–are a last resort.
FEMA is beginning to roll these out in certain flood-damaged areas, but other areas won’t be eligible because they don’t meet the necessary conditions for MHU’s.
“We cannot put those MHU’s back into flood plains,” Bafalis said. “We’re having to look at other locations where we may be able to set them up that’s close to a community.”
Again, MHU’s are a last option–not a first. The first option: rental properties and hotels. But that’s been a challenge. Rental properties are limited, and many of the hotels are far removed from the more remote areas that were damaged on June 23.
“A lot of these people have grown up in this community,” Bafalis said. “There’s no place for them to go in these areas. No housing for them. No apartments. No rental properties. No hotels. So, a lot of them don’t want to leave their communities.”
Bafalis is hoping a housing task force working in conjunction with state, county, and local officials will be able to find creative solutions for remote communities where homes are either destroyed or uninhabitable and MHU’s are not even an “option of last resort.”
Those problems aside, Bafalis is also concerned about the information flood victims don’t have. Even worse, she said, is the wrong information that people do have.
“One of the main trends we see is that people don’t have all the information they need to make decision,” she said.
The misinformation and miscommunication plays into the function of the mobile team. Using a database they call, “The Collector,” they travel door-to-door in hopes of being able to help those who may be getting lost in the quagmire of confusion.
In some cases, team members may simply be following up with a flood victim who has already registered. In other cases, they may be attempting to help someone register, help them appeal a denial letter, or simply answer questions the resident may have.
According to Befalis, denial letters are common in the beginning of a recovery process. She said the initial denial letters that come don’t immediately mean a victim won’t be eligible for assistance. FEMA is not permitted to duplicate what insurance may already cover. Essentially, if a person has $10,000 worth of damage to their home and the insurance company meets those needs, FEMA would be providing a redundancy.
“Sometimes we’re waiting for your insurance companies to let you know what exactly they’re going to cover if you had insurance,” she said. “We can’t duplicate that. Unfortunately, it takes a little while sometimes to get through this process.”
Bafalis said the process isn’t fast, but the goal is to provide assistance for those who won’t have any other means of rebuilding thoroughly and efficiently. If a person get rejected early in the process, then appealing the decision is of paramount importance.
As Snyder pointed out, this is one of several things that is leading to public confusion. Snyder and Disimino will be the first to point out that FEMA doesn’t have a magic silver bullet or deep enough pockets to come up with a cure-all solution. It’s a process that depends on a number of factors–the most important of which is participation. That participation is especially important if they come knocking on your front door.
“FEMA really does encourage hearing from the residents–the people who have been most effected–as to how we can do this better,” Disimino said. “How can we change our planning processes? How can we provide different types of resources?”
Snyder said the Small Business Administration has an enormously important role to play. FEMA and the SBA are essentially disaster-relief partners. FEMA exists to help those who will have absolutely no recourse for beginning the process of rebuilding. The SBA exists more to serve those who are still able to work, live, and make end’s meet with a low-interest loan.
“It’s going to be maybe a loan they might receive as opposed to a grant,” Snyder said. “The grant money is primarily for their primary assistance–their primary housing.”
Talking with the FEMA reps, they agreed that one step has to be taken before the next step–a ladder of sorts. Disimino expounded on that by adding that FEMA doesn’t come to disaster areas to exercise complete control. They are here to coordinate the resources so that local, county, and state officials are able to effectively do their jobs while FEMA is in the area and well after they’ve left.
“FEMA tries as much as possible to make sure that the decision is made at the lowest local level possible with the understanding that it’s the city and the counties who best know the situation, who maintains the relationship with it’s residents, and who will be here after FEMA is gone,” he said.
In the entire time that FEMA is attempting to exhaust every possibility with potential grant recipients, solve the long-term housing problem, and get information out to people, they are also dealing with a more immediate, widespread concern.
Some people have decided to return to homes that are, at the moment, uninhabitable.
“They don’t want to leave because their fear of perhaps looting or security for their home,” he said. “That’s one reason.”
It’s created a vicious cycle in the weeks after the floods. There aren’t enough rental properties or hotels available to house the displaced, but the combination of infrastructure, a need for full working utilities, and flood plains make even the “option of last resort” a limited choice throughout the state.
Now? Some will tell you it’s better to have a roof over your head even if living under that roof comes with a great deal of bacteria, mold, and overall health concerns.
Snyder and Disimino agree: it’s important for flood victims to engage in the process with FEMA all the way through while exhausting all options in the effort to get grant money to start the rebuilding process.
As Disimino pointed out, without the engagement by residents, FEMA doesn’t get much-needed feedback, flood victims fall through the cracks, and solutions to the long-term needs in hard-hit communities remain far away.
► School Clothing Allowance Vouchers with Incorrect Date to be Accepted at Participating Stores
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) inadvertently mailed out approximately 80,000 school clothing allowance vouchers with an incorrect expiration date of October 31, 2015, instead of October 31, 2016. Participating stores will accept the misprinted vouchers with the incorrect expiration date.
The misprinted vouchers most likely were sent to families who received school clothing allowance vouchers in 2015 and currently receive Medicaid or SNAP benefits. Additional families with school-aged children currently receiving WV WORKS cash assistance, as well as those providing foster care, may have received the erroneous vouchers. Vouchers printed after July 01, 2016, have the correct expiration date.
Eligible children will receive a $200 school clothing allowance voucher that may be used toward the purchase of appropriate school clothing or piece goods for families who sew clothing for their children. Vouchers must be used at participating stores by October 31, 2016. Others may be eligible for school clothing vouchers, but the monthly income for a family of four may not exceed $2,025.
To learn more about eligibility guidelines, or to apply, contact your local DHHR office, apply online at www.wvinroads.org or call 1.877.716.1212. Verification of income for the month of July must be submitted with the application.
Applications must be received in a local DHHR office by July 31, 2016. Participating stores may be viewed HERE.
WVDEP and Alpha Natural Resources Finalize $325 Million Agreement to Fund Mine Reclamation
CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has finalized what was previously announced as an agreement in principle with Alpha Natural Resources, the state’s largest coal operator, which filed for bankruptcy in August 2015.
The agreement earmarks approximately $325 million to cover the reclamation of all of Alpha’s legacy liability mine sites in West Virginia, as well as the company’s continuing operations in the state.
“This agreement is a huge deal for our state. It ensures that funding will be available to clean up hundreds of mine sites across West Virginia,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman. “Because of Alpha’s commitment to honor its reclamation obligations, and the DEP’s work in securing that commitment, the government and the citizens of West Virginia won’t be left holding the bag.”
The agreement was filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by Alpha, which also filed similar agreements with other states it operates in and agreements with several federal agencies. The bankruptcy court also entered an order yesterday approving the agreements and confirming Alpha’s bankruptcy plan. A closing is expected later this month.
Under the West Virginia agreement, the surety bonds Alpha previously posted to obtain its mining permits will remain fully in place. But Alpha, the Mountain State’s last remaining self-bonded coal company, will post an additional $100 million in surety and other forms of bonds to replace all of its self-bonds at its active and inactive mining sites in the state. Additionally, Alpha will immediately post $39 million in letters of credit or cash bonds as financial assurance for the performance of its land reclamation and water treatment obligations at its other remaining self-bonded sites in West Virginia.
Alpha has also committed to – over time – replace the self-bonding for, and reclaim and treat water at, all of its remaining mining sites, in West Virginia and elsewhere, including sites at which it has ceased mining operations. To that end, Alpha and its secured creditors have committed to provide at least an additional $229 million in secured funding. Of that amount, Alpha has committed to provide at least $124 million for reclamation and water treatment over 10 years, with a further commitment to provide half of its excess operating cash flow over and above that amount for reclamation and water treatment at its legacy sites.
Contura, an entity formed by Alpha’s secured creditors to purchase the bankrupt coal operator’s Wyoming and other operations, has agreed to provide the remainder of the funding. That includes an additional $55 million in reclamation and water treatment funding over the next five years and a guarantee for Alpha’s excess operating cash flow commitment, up to an additional $50 million.
West Virginia’s share of the $229 million in funds committed to reclamation and water treatment will exceed 80 percent for at least the first two years.
This marks the first time that a large coal company has committed to remain in business and continue to operate for the primary purpose of reclaiming its legacy mining sites, according to Kevin W. Barrett, a Bailey & Glasser partner and special assistant state attorney general, who was contracted by DEP to work on the Alpha and other coal bankruptcy cases.
Business Insider, with help from Niche, has a list of the top 30 college towns in the US. That’s based on cost of living, the real-estate market, diversity, access to amenities, crime rates, and more. To qualify as a college town, places had to be home to a top-250 college and have at least 10% of their population made up of students at said college. By those factors, here are the top 10 college towns in the US:
Cambridge, Mass.: The best college town in the country boasts both Harvard and MIT and is “one of the best places to live for the up-and-coming millennial.”
Ann Arbor, Mich.: The home of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor “is a great town” with “A+” nightlife.
Ames, Iowa: Despite the presence of Iowa State University, Ames “isn’t rushed like a big city.”
Boulder, Colo.: The home of the University of Colorado at Boulder is “the perfect college town, but also perfect for young families.”
Berkeley, Calif.: The University of California at Berkeley is surrounded by a “bustling college town” with a “large variety of activities” for even non-students.
Davis, Calif.: The home of the University of California at Davis features bars, restaurants, parks, and “plenty of shade and lovely flowers.”
Irvine, Calif.: Median monthly rent around the University of California at Irvine exceeds $1,800, but “it’s an amazing place to live” that’s “only around 45 minutes” from Los Angeles.
Princeton, NJ: It will cost you a decent chunk of change to live near Princeton University, but the town boasts an “A+” nightlife.
Lawrence, Kan.: The home of the University of Kansas is a “big city with the small town feel.”
Decorah, Iowa: The home of Luther College boasts a tiny population of just over 8,000 people but gets good marks for nightlife and cost of living, with median rent only $584.
A bill requiring food packages to carry information on genetically modified ingredients has passed Congress—and NPR reports that neither side of the debate is thrilled about it. Farm groups and food industry lobbyists are opposed to any kind of mandatory labeling, while those calling for GMO labels complain that the bill allows food companies to provide a QR code or even just a phone number consumers can call instead of stating on the packaging whether the product contains GMO ingredients. The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign into law, was approved by the Senate last week and sailed through the House 306-117 on Thursday, the AP reports.
The compromise bill on GMO labeling was blasted as a “sham” by some pro-labeling groups and supported by food companies that wanted a national standard—preferably a loose one—instead of state-by-state regulations, BuzzFeed reports. Vermont brought in its own, more stringent law on GMO labeling at the start of this month, and state lawmakers, including Bernie Sanders, argued against the federal bill. “It’s a shame that Congress chose to replace our standard with a weaker one that provides multiple ways for the food industry to avoid transparent labeling,“ Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin said in a statement.
► Report: U.S. Can’t Protect Itself From North Korean Nuclear Attacks
Uh-oh. A 60-page report released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists says America’s current defense system is “simply unable to protect the US public” from nuclear attacks by the likes of Iran and North Korea. The report calls the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) a “system in tatters” and recommends the US stop expanding it before fixing its existing problems, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the International Business Times, the GMD fires interceptor missiles based in California and Alaska into space, where they destroy approaching enemy nuclear warheads. Or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. A physicist who co-authored the report tells Reuters the GMD is a “disaster.“
The problems started in 2004 when the Bush administration exempted the GMD from what Reuters calls “normal oversight and accountability.“ It didn’t get much better under Obama, who ordered the interceptor fleet to be increased from 30 to 44 by the end of 2017. After spending approximately $40 billion, the US has a defense system that can’t even pass “heavily scripted” tests. The GMD has been tested only nine times since 2004. It failed six of those tests despite GMD personnel having access to enemy missile speed and trajectory and the location of the target, none of which they would have in a real-life scenario. In a recent test, the interceptor’s thrusters failed—something that happens with regularity—causing it to miss its target. The Pentagon called the test “successful” anyway.
► Cops Release Bodycam Footage in Shooting of Unarmed Teen
Another fatal police shooting from last month is getting attention, and the police department involved released body camera video footage from the incident Wednesday, the Fresno Bee reports. Dylan Noble, 19, was killed in Fresno, Calif., on June 25 after police responded to a 911 call about a man walking around with a rifle. While in the area, officers pulled over Noble’s pickup; they say Noble was “peeling out” and continued to drive after they signaled him to stop. After pulling into a gas station, Noble got out of his truck and walked toward the officers. The video shows him repeatedly ignoring officers’ commands to stop and to show both his hands. Officers believed Noble, who repeatedly reached toward his waistband, was armed; they ultimately shot him twice after he yelled “I [expletive] hate my life” and continued toward them. After “pleading” with him to show both hands, officers shot him two more times while he was already on the ground.
It was ultimately determined that what Noble had in his hand was a 4-inch-by-4-inch piece of clear plastic with something resembling gray clay inside; the Department of Justice is analyzing it. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says the department is investigating and that he will focus on whether the third and fourth shots were “absolutely necessary.“ As the Washington Post reports, soon after Noble’s death, people pointed out on social media that the shooting wasn’t getting as much attention as the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, presumably because Noble was white. (At a vigil the day after his death, there were Confederate flags and a “White Lives Matter” sign present.) Now Noble’s father tells the Guardian the new video shows police were “trigger-happy,“ and his mother has started the process of suing the city, the Bee reports. In addition to the internal investigation and the DOJ, the county DA’s office and the FBI are also investigating.
► Georgia Sets Record With 6th Execution This Year
Georgia on Friday executed its sixth inmate this year, the most in any calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated four decades ago. John Wayne Conner, 60, was put to death for beating a friend to death during an argument after a night of partying in January 1982, the AP reports. Warden Eric Sellers told witnesses the time of death was 12:29am. Conner didn’t make a final statement and declined to have a prayer said for him. According to court documents, Conner beat his friend JT White to death on January 9, 1982 in the town of Milan, about 150 miles southeast of Atlanta, after a night of heavy drinking.
Lawyers for Conner had argued that imposing the death penalty after he spent 34 years on death row was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. They also said Conner was raised in poverty in a home where extreme violence and substance abuse were the norm and exhibited signs of mental impairment that led his teachers to believe he was intellectually disabled from an early age. Georgia executed five inmates last year and in 1987. Only five states have carried out death sentences this year, for a total of 15 executions. Aside from the six in Georgia, six inmates have been executed in Texas and one each in Alabama, Florida, and Missouri. Conner’s execution was the nation’s first in more than two months.
Who would’ve thought a slide made of glass attached to the side of the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast could be dangerous? That’s the claim being made in a lawsuit filed by two New Yorkers who visited Los Angeles earlier this month, My News LA reports. The 45-foot-long “Skyslide” opened last month on the side of the US Bank Tower, running between the 70th and 69th floors nearly 1,000 feet above the street, notes the AP. Gayle Yashar, 57, claims she broke her ankle while coming down the Skyslide July 3; she’s suing for negligence, while her co-plaintiff and husband, Morty Yashar, is suing for loss of consortium. Her lawyer says you can hear her ankle crack on video taken during her ride.
The couple is seeking unspecified damages from OUE Skyspace LLC, which owns the building. The lawsuit claims the slide’s design doesn’t allow riders to slow down before it ends. It also states that mats stacked near the end of the slide “increased the risk of serious injury for an ankle fracture which was far beyond the risk assumed by the uninformed and unsuspecting riders.“
► Turkish military says seized control of country, people take to streets
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s armed forces said it “fully seized control” of the country Friday as explosions and gunfire erupted in the capital. Turkey’s president remained defiant and called on people to take to the streets to show support for his embattled government.
Turks appeared to heed that call early Saturday taking to the streets of Izmir and Istanbul waving Turkish flags, according to television footage. Crowds also began gathering in the main square in the capital, Ankara. The Dogan news agency reported that soldiers fired on a group of people trying to cross the Bosporus bridge to protest the attempted coup, and that some people have been hurt.
A loud explosion was heard in the capital, Ankara,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an interview over FaceTime with the CNN Turk, dismissed the military action as “an attempt at an uprising by a minority within our armed forces.“ His office declined to disclose his whereabouts, saying only that he was in a secure location.
“I’m making a call out to my people. . . . Let us gather in our squares, at our airports as the people and let that minority group come upon as with their tanks and artillery and do whatever they wish to do,“ Erdogan said.
A NATO official at alliance headquarters in Brussels told The Associated Press early Saturday that “we’re following events closely,“ but said he had no other comment. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
Nothing in NATO’s founding 1949 Washington Treaty says anything about intervening in the internal or political affairs of an alliance member, and Turkey kept its NATO membership following past military coups.
The action began Friday night, with fighter jets buzzing overhead, gunfire erupting outside military headquarters and vehicles blocking two major bridges in Istanbul.
The military said it seized control “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.“
“All international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue,“ the military said in the unnamed statement.
Soldiers blocked entry to Istanbul’s main Ataturk Airport, where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency. Two other tanks and a military vehicle were stationed in front of the VIP terminal. Dogan said the soldiers had entered the tower and stopped all flights.
Turkey’s state-run news agency said military helicopters have also attacked the headquarters of TURKSAT satellite station on the outskirts of Ankara and the Ankara police headquarters.
A dozen tanks were seen moving moving toward a palace used by the prime minister and deputy prime ministers. When a car tried to stop one of the tanks, the tank rammed through the vehicle. Those in the car escaped.
Erdogan told CNN Turk he didn’t believe the coup would succeed, adding: “There is absolutely no chain of command here. Right now the chain of command has been put on hold.“
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that a group within the military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup.
Yildirim told private NTV television: “it is correct that there was an attempt,“ when asked if there was a coup. Yildirim didn’t provide details, but said Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy.“
“We are focusing on the possibility of an attempt (coup),“ Yildirim said. “There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy.“
► Witnesses Describe Chaos, Horror in Nice
Witnesses have described scenes of chaos, terror, and panic as an attacker drove a heavy truck through a crowd gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France on Thursday night, killing at least 80 people. Large numbers of families had gathered along the seafront Promenade des Anglais and witnesses say they saw parents throw their children to safety as the truck zigzagged for more than a mile, leaving a trail of dead and injured people behind it. “We saw essentially a stampede of people coming along the Promenade des Anglais,“ US-Palestinian writer Ismail Khalidi tells the Guardian. “We are talking families, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. Then all of a sudden the stampede started coming from the other direction,“ he says. “I have never seen that level of chaos and hysteria and terror.“ The latest developments:
President Francois Hollande says he has no doubt that attack was terrorism and he is extending the state of emergency brought in after last November’s Paris attacks by three months, reports Reuters. “France is filled with sadness by this new tragedy,“ said Hollande, who is calling up police and military reservists.
“France was struck on the day of its national fete, July 14, the symbol of liberty,“ Hollande said in a televised address early Friday, calling the attack a “monstrosity” and “an absolute violence.“ “The terrorist character (of the attack) cannot be denied,“ he said. “All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorists.“
A police sources tells AFP that the identity papers of a French-Tunisian man were found in the truck after the driver was shot dead by police. The sources say that the driver got out of the truck and exchanged fire with police before he was killed.
A spokesman for a pediatric hospital in Nice tells Reuters that children were among those killed in the attack and many children are now undergoing serious operations at the hospital.
Nice Matin journalist Damien Allemand says the screams began just as the fireworks ended and people got up to leave, the AP reports. “A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,“ he says. “I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.“
► Video of Woman Birthing Child in Creek Viewed 52M Times
Simone Thurber gave birth to her fourth daughter in a remote Australian creek—and the birth has been viewed 52 million times. The 23-minute birthing video was posted to YouTube (warning: graphic) in 2013, but is now getting press. Thurber, a birth therapist and trained doula whose three previous births were water births of a more traditional nature, says in the video’s intro that she had long dreamed of giving birth in nature. Her partner, Nick, was amenable to the idea, reports the Sun. The then-39-year-old was living in Australia, and a friend offered up his home on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, “the oldest rainforest in the world,“ she says. She chose a creek with “pristine pure” fresh water a few minutes’ drive away.
As labor began at 11pm, Thurber assumed the baby would arrive before the necessary daylight and warm temps did, so she labored outdoors in a tub at her friend’s home. But at 9am, ready to push, she headed for the creek, armed not with a doctor or midwife but her family and a black yoga-type mat. Around 10:50am, Perouze Seraphina was born, and the video was posted on the girl’s first birthday. In its description, Thurber notes, “This video is explicit, especially as it is shot outdoors in broad daylight. If you choose to watch it, please watch it with respect.“ She continues, “My sense of wholeness and peace was bigger and deeper than anything I had ever felt before” after the birth. A sad footnote: The Daily Mail notes Nick, who is shown in the video and who Thurber refers to as “the greatest love I have ever known” in the video’s closing lines, has since died.
► France calls up reservist forces after deadly Nice rampage
NICE, France — France called up thousands of reserve security forces Friday as authorities tried to determine why a Tunisian deliveryman known only to be a petty criminal took the wheel of a 19-ton truck and plunged through a terrified seaside crowd on Bastille Day, leaving 84 people dead and more than 200 wounded.
Witnesses described how Mohamed Bouhlel barreled his truck in a zigzag path down a crowded Nice promenade, aiming directly for children, for mothers pushing strollers and for families cowering behind plastic benches.
President Francois Hollande extended a national state of emergency that stretched back to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group.
The state of emergency had been due to be scaled back but instead was extended another three months. The government tapped its operational reserve of 25,000 — composed mainly of ex-military or former gendarmes — to relieve its tired officers, stretched by month after month of state-of-emergency policing.
Hollande said the attack was “undeniably terrorist in nature,“ but prosecutors said the 31-year-old driver who lived in Nice wasn’t known to intelligence services.
No group claimed responsibility for Thursday night’s slaughter of tourists and locals packing the upscale seafront, where an estimated 30,000 had just watched a Bastille Day fireworks show.
They fanned out to enjoy nighttime street artists, arcade games and food stalls or strolls back to their hotels beside the gentle Mediterranean tide. Then Bouhlel drove his truck into the sidewalk and turned a celebration into a terrifying dash for survival.
Cyril Croisy said he saw the truck accelerate into the first crowds outside Nice’s landmark Negresso Hotel, aiming straight for a stand selling candy to children.
He said he tried to help the wounded, including a woman with catastrophic injuries.
“I was there when her heart stopped,“ said Croisy, his eyes welling with tears as he spoke. The 40-year-old Parisian suffered a broken arm while fleeing the scene and jumping from the pedestrian promenade to the beach below.
Ten of the 84 dead were children. Of the 202 injured, 52 were critically hurt.
Among the dead were immigrants and tourists from many nations, including Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and the United States. Two Scots were among the dozens listed as missing.
French prosecutor Francois Molins said Bouhlel had a loaded handgun, three replica weapons and an empty grenade in the truck, which he had rented three days earlier. Police considered him a petty criminal suspected since 2010 of various threats and acts of theft, vandalism and violent conduct, he said.
In March, he was convicted for a road-rage crime when he struck another motorist with a wooden pallet but received a suspended six-month sentence because it was his first proven offense.
Molins said Bouhlel was “totally unknown to intelligence services ... and was never placed on a watch list for radicalization.“
Hollande’s government, whose popularity is plumbing record lows in polls, has been buffeted by allegations that France’s intelligence services have failed to get a handle on the country’s jihadist threat. France has known for years that it is a top Islamic State target, and France also is the biggest source for European recruits for IS, with more than 1,000 fighting in Syria or Iraq.
Hollande, who flew to Nice visit the injured in Pasteur Hospital, declared three days of national mourning from Saturday.
He was booed by angry members of the public as his motorcade passed the scene of the slaughter. Earlier he addressed the nation live on television and sought to provide a rationale for the horror.
“Why Nice?“ Hollande asked. “Because it is a city that is known worldwide, one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Why on the 14th of July? Because it is a celebration of freedom.“
It’s unclear how quickly the volunteers and part-time professionals will be seen on the streets of Nice or anywhere else after their callup. Interior Ministry officials declined to comment on the timing of the deployment.
Bouhlel’s attack was stopped thanks to a handful of police who pursued the truck on foot and, possibly, by motorcycle as he plowed through the first crowds outside the Negresso.
German tourist Richard Gutjahr filmed the truck from his hotel balcony as a suspected police motorcyclist mounted a curb and tried to open the driver’s door, only to tumble to the pavement and barely miss being crushed by the wheels. The video showed the unseated motorcyclist continue pursuit on foot, briefly climbing on the side of the accelerating truck, as two officers fired shots from handguns into the truck cabin.
The truck tore into a pedestrian area as the crowd scattered, many leaping from the pathway to the beach below. The truck bore down toward English tourist Simon Coates, who had just lost his wife Amanda in the chaos.
“Within a few seconds it was almost upon me,“ Coates told the BBC. “I looked to my left and there was an old man, perhaps a grandfather, and a young boy of about 10. The truck aimed straight for them. I leapt one way. The little boy, I don’t know how, but he managed to get away from the truck by inches.“
Coates said he reluctantly turned to follow the truck to find his wife — and searched among dozens of crushed bodies seeking to identify her from her bicycle or an article of clothing. He couldn’t find her before reaching the point where police finally stopped and shot to death the driver barely 20 yards (meters) in front of him.
“The police were screaming to get away. They thought there was a bomb, so I turned around as quickly as I could. The ground was very slippery with what was left of some people,“ Coates said. “I saw some dreadful things. It was like a chamber of horrors. Every person seemed to have died in an increasingly grotesque way.“
Egyptian tourist Nader El Shafei said he tried imploring Bouhlel in Arabic through the attacker’s open window to stop what he was doing. Instead, he said, he saw the truck smash into a girl and drag many bodies wedged in its undercarriage.
When police closed in, handguns drawn, El Shafei said Bouhlel opened fire.
“I saw the gun in his hand and I saw him shooting through the window,“ he said. “The police surrounded the car and they kept shooting him until they were sure he’s dead.“
Watching from his hotel window, English tourist Paul Gordon said he could see the truck bouncing over the bodies of the dead and wounded. “I saw people being knocked over like skittles,“ said Gordon, who had just left the promenade with his wife and 18-month-old daughter.
Stephane Erbs said he was heading back to his car with his wife, Rachel, and their two children when he saw the truck bearing down on them. He told The Associated Press that his first instinct was to throw his 7-year-old son, Celion, out of harm’s way, while his wife pushed their daughter, 12-year-old Noemi, to safety.
“I threw him in the direction of the wall” next to the beach, said Erbs, who broke seven ribs as he tried to get out of the way. His children were unharmed but his wife remained missing Friday.
Coates said he found his unhurt wife, Amanda, after a frantic search of bodies on the path back to his hotel “that was the longest 20 minutes of my life.“ He said as horrible as the slaughter had been, the placement of a sidewalk-blocking gazebo and the bravery of a handful of armed officers had reduced the potential death toll.
He said the attacker veered wildly from side to side to pick off groups of people “in dribs and drabs,“ many of them hiding behind plastic benches that splintered into shards. “He’d just mown them down.“
The police gunfire kept the attacker from reaching much larger crowds where “hundreds of people could have been killed,“ he said. “It could have been incalculably worse.“
As France and the rest of the world mourned, the Eiffel Tower was bathed in the red, white and blue of the French tricolor — just as it had after the November attacks.
President Barack Obama condemned the attack and, noting it occurred on Bastille Day, praised “the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world.“
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was “shocked by the violence and exceptional cynicism” of the attack and pledged to work closely with France and other countries to fight terrorism that is “devoid of any human moral.“
The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the world’s largest Islamic bloc — denounced the violence as barbaric, shocking and brutal.
► Video Appears to Show ‘Hero’ Trying to Stop Truck in Nice
This video out of Nice, France, shows what appears to be people trying to stop a truck before it begins its rampage through crowds of people Thursday, reports Australia’s 9 News. It’s difficult to make out exactly what’s happening, but people—it’s not clear whether they are civilians or police—can be seen chasing the white vehicle. The most dramatic part appears to show a motorcyclist catch up to the truck, get off his bike, and try to jump onto the truck’s cab before falling off, according to a post at Pravda that hails him as the “Hero of France.“ His fate is unclear. A witness tells the Daily Express that at another point, “people were hanging on the door and tried to stop” the truck. “We have never seen anything like it.“
► Woman Fills Out Crossword, Screws Up $89K Piece of Art
Four letters, starts with Oo and ends with s: Some 51 years after avant-garde artist Arthur Koepcke completed his artwork “Reading-work-piece,“ which included a partially filled-in crossword puzzle and the suggestion “insert words,“ a museum visitor followed his instructions. The 91-year-old woman was questioned by police after she used a pen to add words—one of which was “wall,“ per Deutsche Welle—to the Danish artist’s work at the Neues Museum in Nuremberg, Germany, the Telegraph reports. “The lady told us she had taken the notes as an invitation to complete the crossword,“ a police spokesman says. Museum Director Eva Kraus says the piece came to the museum from a private collector, who took news of the damage in “good humor.“
Kraus says she realizes that the woman, who was visiting the museum with a group of senior citizens, didn’t mean any harm, but the damage to the artwork had to be reported to police for insurance reasons, the AP reports. The piece by the late Koepcke, who was a member of the Fluxus movement, is valued at $89,000 and the museum believes restoring it will cost a few hundred dollars. The BBC notes that, according to German paper Suddeutsche Zeitung, the elderly woman told police that the museum should have put up a sign telling people not to follow the artist’s instruction. The woman who led the tour added that the fact that the museum has many interactive pieces added to the confusion.
► France Attacker ‘Wasn’t on the Radar’
France is in mourning—and on high alert—after Thursday night’s horrific truck attack on a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the southern city of Nice. The attacker who plowed into hundreds of people, killing at least 84 and injuring dozens of others over more than a mile, has been named by Nice-Matin as local man Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Sources tell CNN that the 31-year-old French-Tunisian was a petty criminal who was not on authorities’ radar for jihadist activities. He was shot dead by police, apparently after opening fire on the crowd, and authorities found his identity papers inside the vehicle, along with more weapons, the BBC reports. A witness who saw the driver’s face says he “had a beard and appeared to be having fun.“ In other developments:
France has declared three days of national mourning and extended a state of emergency. “We are facing a war that terrorism has brought to us. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and panic,“ Prime Minister Manuel Valls says. “And France is a great country, and a great democracy that will not allow itself to be destabilized.“
Regional lawmaker Eric Ciotti says that one person jumped onto the truck to try to stop it, the AP reports. “It’s at that moment that the police were able to neutralize this terrorist,“ he says. “I won’t forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer.“
A spokeswoman for the Lenval Foundation children’s hospital in Nice says they have treated at least 50 young victims, including two who died during or after surgery. Others are in a condition that is “still life and death,“ she says.
The attack was condemned by world leaders, including Pope Francis, President Obama, and Angela Merkel, who says, “I am convinced that, despite all the difficulties, we shall win this fight,“ reports Reuters. European Council chief Donald Tusk says the world stands with France. “It is a tragic paradox that the victims of the attack [were] people celebrating liberty, equality, and fraternity,“ he says.
Near the scene on the seafront Promenade des Anglais, police have cordoned off the road, and traumatized survivors are still wandering around, the Guardian reports. Residents say that after last night’s horror, people had to step around bodies to flee the scene. “I saw a mother covering her child’s eyes, telling him to keep them tightly shut,“ one man says. “The dad had a toddler in his arms and had buried his face in his T-shirt for him not to see anything.“
► U.S. Dad, 11-Year-Old Son Killed in Attack in France
Among the more than 80 people killed in Thursday’s assault in Nice, France, were an American father and his 11-year-old son, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The family of Sean and Brodie Copeland of Lakeway, Texas, have confirmed their deaths. “We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father,“ the family said in a statement. “They are so loved.“ In a Twitter post, Sean’s niece, Haley Copeland, says her uncle and cousin were on a vacation with other family members and celebrating a birthday when the attack happened. It’s not clear if other members of the family were injured.
“This is an extremely difficult time for my family and anyone who knows Sean and Brodie Copeland,“ she wrote. “Losing a loved one is hard no matter the circumstances but losing a loved one in such a tragic and unexpected way is unbearable.“ The elder Copeland, 51, worked as a vice president for Lexmark Corp. and coached youth baseball, which Brodie played, notes NBC News. A group called Hill Country Baseball put up a Facebook post “to ask that the HC family keep the Copelands in your prayers. ... Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family.“