Queen Of Soul-Aretha Franklin Dies From Cancer at 76 - That’s in the news on Thursday August 16, 2018



Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think,” "I Say a Little Prayer” and her signature song, “Respect,” and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, died Thursday at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. She died at her home in Detroit. Her family released a statement saying, “We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world.”Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, announced her retirement from touring last year. A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time . She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, and her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” to the wised-up “Chain of Fools” to her unstoppable call for “Respect.” Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn’t honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fellow singers bowed to her eminence. Said Smokey Robinson, who grew up with her in their hometown of Detroit: “This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace.” Funeral arrangements would be announced in coming days.




A suicide bombing against a group of teenagers studying for university exams in Kabul killed at least 34 people, most of them in an English class. No group immediately claimed responsibility, although the Taliban denied involvement. The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks by militant groups on schools and other soft targets. More than 1,000 schools across Afghanistan are closed over security concerns, and 86 have been destroyed in attacks this year, according to the United Nations. After Wednesday's attack on the Mawoud Academy, Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmaksaid, Attacks on educational institutes by hardline Islamic groups are one of the most horrific issues facing our nation today." 




A boat sank crossing a flooded area in Sudan near the Nile River on Wednesday, killing at least 21 students and one woman, Sudan's state news agency reported. The boat was carrying more than 40 students heading to a school on the other side of the Nile when its engine failed in a strong current during the 1.6-mile trip. Some of the children panicked and ran to one side of the boat, causing it to tip over. The children, aged 7 to 16, normally walk to school but have been forced to use a boat for several days due to heavy rains. Ab el-Khayr Adam Yunis, the headmaster of the Kenba High School said, "One family lost five daughters ... and two families lost three children each."




Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to an Egyptian security source on Thursday. The announcement came amid easing tensions on the border of the enclave where some two million Palestinians live. Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha feast which starts next week. A long-term truce could pave the way for talks on other issues, including the easing of a blockade that has crippled Gaza’s economy and allowing a possible swap of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. The source said Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, was expected to meet Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah after similar talks in Israel, and a deal could be announced by next week. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Kamel had met with PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel this week, but gave no details.




Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the country's tenth, died Thursday after a prolonged illness. He was 93, and had been hospitalized for more than two months for treatment of a kidney infection and chest congestion that turned fatal.  Vajpayee, who served as prime minister in three stints between 1996 and 2004, was a founding member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which governs India. He was a lifelong poet who revered nature but who oversaw India’s growth into a swaggering regional economic power. He was the prime minister who ordered nuclear tests in 1998, stoking fears of atomic war between India and Pakistan. Then, a few years later, it was Vajpayee who made the first moves toward peace. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, "India grieves the demise of our beloved Atal Ji. His passing away marks the end of an era." Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, said “India has lost a great son” who was “loved and respected by millions.” Vajpayee’s funeral is to be held Friday afternoon.The Indian government announced seven days of state mourning to honor the former prime minister.




South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday proposed expanding economic cooperation with North Korea, including joint economic zones along the heavily fortified border. Moon also suggested a linked rail network. The pitch was seen as an effort to ease tensions and encourage Pyongyang to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, a goal North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to in his June summit with President Trump. Moon said his proposal, which goes further than anything the Trump administration has supported, would benefit both Koreas. Moon said, "We must overcome division for our survival and prosperi."




The White House announced that President Donald Trump is revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that Brennan has criticized Trump, saying it was "nothing short of treasonous" for Trump to appear to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies on the question of Russian election meddling. Sanders said Brennan had lied, and "leveraged his status" as a former Obama administration intelligence chief to make unfounded allegations against Trump. Sanders said the security clearances of other former intelligence officials also were "under review." Trump told The Wall Street Journal the decision was linked to Brennan's role in the Russia investigation, which the president called "the rigged witch hunt." Brennan, supported by many lawmakers, called the move an undemocratic attempt to "suppress free speech" and "punish critics."




The jury in Paul Manafort's federal trial will start deliberations on Thursday after hearing closing arguments from both sides on Wednesday. President Trump's former campaign chairman is facing 18 charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud. Prosecutor Greg Andres says Manafort "lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't." The defense argued that Manafort was so rich, he didn't need to hide money. The trial is being held in Alexandria, Virginia, and the jury is comprised of six men and six women. If convicted, Manafort could be sent to prison for life.




President Trump is asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to file a federal lawsuit against certain companies that supply and manufacture opioids. Speaking during a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Trump said he’s directing Sessions to file a separate lawsuit, rather than joining existing lawsuits filed by states affected by the spread of the often-lethal, highly-addictive drugs. Trump is asking Sessions to look out for opioids coming into the U.S. from China and Mexico, saying those countries are “sending their garbage and killing our people.” Trump added: “It’s almost a form of warfare.” It was not immediately clear if or when a federal suit would be filed. A barrage of suits have been filed nationwide against distributors and manufacturers in recent months amid the opioid epidemic.




Corona beer maker Constellation Brands announced that it would infuse another $4 billion into Canada's top cannabis producer, Canopy Growth. The move marks the biggest investment in the pot industry, which is seeing booming demand. Constellation invested nearly $200 million in Canopy last year in a partnership to make a non-alcoholic cannabis-based beverage, making it one of the first alcohol makers to dive into the pot business. Toronto-listed Canopy's shares rose by as much as 35 percent on the news, but Constellation shares fell by 8 percent in New York. Canopy said it would use the proceeds from the deal to expand and raise its profile in the nearly 30 countries likely to approve medical marijuana. Canopy CEO Bruce Linton said, "This (deal) marks the end of the warm-up in our sector. It's fully go-time."

PA Grand Jury Report: More Than 1,000 Kids Abused By Hundreds Of Priests - That’s in the news on Wednesday August 15, 2018



The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has released a grand jury report detailing sex abuse in the Catholic Church, naming over 300 accused clergymen. The landmark grand jury investigation found more than 1,000 children had been abused by members of six dioceses in the state for the last 70 years. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing. They hid it all." More than 100 of the priests are dead, and in nearly all of the cases, the statute of limitations has run out, making criminal prosecution in those cases impossible. But officials warned there may be more indictments as the investigation continues. The Pennsylvania grand jury, which convened in 2016, interviewed dozens of witnesses and examined more than 500,000 pages of internal documents from virtually every diocese in the state. Many victims claimed they were drugged or otherwise manipulated. Some recalled being beaten by family members who did not believe their stories.The grand jury accused Cardinal Donald Wuerl, head of the Washington diocese, of helping protect abusive priests when he was Pittsburgh's bishop. He disputed the accusation, saying he acted with "diligence" to protect victims.




Italian prosecutors on Wednesday focused their investigation into the Genoa highway bridge collapse on possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance, as the death toll rose to 39 and Italian politicians looked for someone to blame. 15 others were injured. Fears mounted that a part of the Morandi Bridge which is still standing could also coming crashing down. That prompted authorities to widen their evacuation to include some 630 people living near the highway bridge that was carved in two by the collapse of its midsection during a violent storm. On Tuesday, just as many Italians were driving to vacation destinations on the eve of Italy’s biggest summer holiday, a huge stretch of the 51-year-old bridge collapsed, sending more than 30 cars and three trucks plunging to the ground as far as 150 feet below. About 1,000 rescue workers on Wednesday kept searching through tons of broken concrete slabs, smashed vehicles and twisted steel from the bridge for any more bodies. At least two more were pulled out. The 1967 bridge, considered innovative in its time for its use of concrete around its cables, was long due for an upgrade, especially since the structure was more heavily trafficked than its designers had envisioned.




Federal investigators are warning U.S. banks about a sophisticated global fraud scheme involving automated teller machines it says cyber-criminals are planning. During what it calls an "ATM cash-out," the FBI said thieves can hack a bank or payment card processor and use cloned cards at ATMs worldwide to withdraw millions in just a few hours. The FBI warning, sent to banks last week, was first reported by cybersecurity blog Krebs On Security. The bureau warned the attacks were expected "in the coming days." It also said hackers plan to use malware to access bank customer information, exploit network access and allow large-scale ATM theft. Experts say the thieves send data to co-conspirators, who imprint the information on reusable magnetic strip cards. Then at a predetermined time, they could withdraw the money. The FBI said hackers could also change account balances, making an unlimited cash pot from which they can draw. The Krebs report said a similar attack netted nearly $2.5 million from a Virginia bank in 2016 and 2017.




Researchers have found another serious security flaw in computer chips designed by Intel. Nicknamed 'Foreshadow', this is the third significant flaw to affect the company’s chips this year. The US government said “an attacker could exploit this vulnerability to obtain sensitive information”. Intel has released a patch which mitigates the problem, which affects processors released from 2015 onwards. It said future processors would be built in such a way as to not be affected by Foreshadow. News of the vulnerability followed two similar attacks - Spectre and Meltdown - that were discovered earlier this year. Collectively the flaws affected billions of computers around the world. Intel had created its fix prior to details of the flaw being made public, and coordinated its response with the researchers on Tuesday. Its fix disables some of the features in its chips that were vulnerable to the attack the researchers discovered. A full list of affected hardware has been posted on Intel's website. On Tuesday, the biggest cloud services companies - Amazon, Google and Microsoft - all said they had put in place a fix for the problem. Individual computer users are advised, as ever, to download and install any software updates available.




Cuba’s government said it provided free internet to the Communist-run island’s more than 5 million cellphone users on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before it launches sales of the service. Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. The state-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA announced the trial, with Tuesday marking the first time internet services were available nationwide. There are hundreds of WiFi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration. Hotspots currently charge about $1 an hour although monthly wages in Cuba average just $30. The government has not yet said how much most Cubans would pay for mobile internet, or when exactly sales of the service will begin. Analysts have said broader Web access will ultimately weaken government control over what information reaches people in a country where the state has a monopoly on the media. Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in Web access. Until 2013, internet was largely only available to the public at tourist hotels on the island. But the government has since made boosting connectivity a priority, introducing cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots and slowly starting to hook up homes to the Web.



Closing arguments were expected Wednesday in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of tax evasion and bank fraud. Manafort’s defense rested its case Tuesday without calling any witnesses. Manafort himself chose not to testify. Prosecutors say they discovered Manafort was hiding millions of dollars in income he received advising Ukrainian politicians. The defense has tried to blame Manafort’s financial mistakes on his former deputy, Rick Gates. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they’ve sought to undermine his testimony. Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing told reporters outside the courthouse that they rested the case without testimony because they believe “the government has not met its burden of proof.” The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising the money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications and concealing other financial information, such as mortgages. If found guilty on the fraud charges, Manafort could spend the rest of his life in jail.




Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India will send a manned flight into space by 2022. The announcement came amid celebrations Wednesday of India’s independence from British colonialists in 1947. Modi’s speech was broadcast live to the nation from the historic Red Fort in New Delhi. Modi said India will become the fourth country after Russia, the United States and China to achieve the feat. The Indian astronaut could be a man or a woman. India a few days earlier had tested the space capsule that will transport the astronauts. In 1984, Rakesh Sharma was the first India to travel in space aboard a Soviet rocket. In 2014, India successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars.




Los Angeles’ subway will become the first mass transit system in the U.S. to install body scanners that screen passengers for weapons and explosives. Officials said the deployment of the portable scanners, which project waves to do full-body screenings of passengers walking through a station without slowing them down, will happen in the coming months. The machines scan for metallic and non-metallic objects on a person’s body, can detect suspicious items from 30 feet (9 meters) away and have the capability of scanning more than 2,000 passengers per hour. Authorities said they're looking "specifically for weapons that have the ability to cause a mass-casualty event," like explosive vests, and assault rifles. A city spokesman would not say how many of the machines were being purchased, but said they would be rolled out in subway stations in the “coming months.” Employees and police officers first have to be trained on how to use the equipment. Signs will be posted at stations warning passengers they are subject to body scanner screening. The screening process is voluntary, but customers who choose not to be screened won’t be able to ride on the subway.




Utility crews in the southern Puerto Rico city of Ponce on Tuesday reconnected the last neighborhood left without electricity after last year's Hurricane Maria, marking the first time power had been restored to the entire island in 11 months, the U.S. Caribbean territory's electric utility announced. "No more lamps, no more candles, no more extension cords," Ponce resident Charlie Colon Nazario told El Nuevo Dia as about two dozen power workers connected his home. The mayor of San Juan said the island still needs help, and is not ready for another storm to hit this hurricane season. The blackout across the island was the longest continuous outage in the nation's history, and some individual homes, plus the island of Vieques, still rely on generators.

At Least 30 Killed When Highway Bridge Collapses In Genoa - That’s in the news on Tuesday August 14, 2018



At least 30 people were killed when a motorway bridge collapsed in torrential rains on Tuesday morning over buildings in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, and the Italian Transport Ministry said the death toll would rise. An 80-meter section of the bridge, including one set of the supports that tower above it, crashed down in the rain onto the roof of a factory and other buildings, crushing at least one truck and plunging huge slabs of concrete into the river below. Train services around Genoa have been halted. The number of injuries wasn't immediately clear. Firefighters and canine units have been activated. Restructuring work on the 1.2 km-long bridge, a major artery to the Italian Riviera and to France’s southern coast, was carried out in 2016. The highway operator said work to shore up its foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored. The bridge, built in the 1960s, is also called the "Brooklyn Bridge" due to its resemblance to the famous New York City landmark. It was about 150 feet tall and 3,877 feet long. French President Emmanuel Macron said his country is ready to send help.




British authorities are investigating what they say appears to be a terrorist attack at London's parliament building Tuesday, where a man rammed the gate with his vehicle. Police said the driver ran his car through a group of pedestrians and crashed into the gate outside British Parliament. The driver of the silver Ford Fiesta collided with several cyclists and pedestrians outside the Palace of Westminster before crashing into the gate. Metropolitan Police said in a statement that several people were injured, but their conditions were not life-threatening. Authorities say the man, in his 20s, driving the vehicle was immediately arrested. Investigators are treating Tuesday's incident as terrorism. It appears to be the second terrorism attack on the building in just under 18 months, but this time Parliament was in summer recess.




At least 24 people were killed and another 19 injured when a bus careened into another vehicle at high speed and overturned on a highway near Ecuador’s capital Tuesday. Authorities said the Colombian-registered bus was traveling to Quito and hit a smaller vehicle in an area known as dead man’s curve at about 3 a.m. local time. Colombian and Venezuelan nationals were among the dead. Two minors traveling in the smaller vehicle were also killed. A small fleet of ambulances and first responders rushed to the crash site about two hours from Quito before dawn. They found the severely wrecked bus overturned and several homes adjacent to the highway damaged and strewn with metal debris.




Afghan troops backed by U.S forces gained control of most of the embattled city of Ghazni on Tuesday, while a Taliban attack in another province raised new questions about Afghanistan’s defenses against the insurgency. Ghazni is a strategically vital center two hours from Kabul on the main highway between the capital and southern Afghanistan. The assault, which shocked the country, raises fresh questions over parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 20 as well as over hopes for peace talks with the Taliban, which had grown following a three-day truce in June. A senior Taliban official said the attack on a strategic city so close to the capital was intended as a demonstration that the insurgents held the upper hand on the battlefield, which would strengthen their position in talks. Local officials had been warning for months that the Taliban’s growing control over surrounding districts had left Ghazni vulnerable to attack and President Ashraf Ghani faced bitter accusations over the failure to protect the city. The government has faced accusations of incompetence, neglect and complacency, as well as anger at its repeated assurances that the Taliban attack had failed, even while hundreds of fighters were roaming at will through the city.




The United Nations said between 20,000 and 30,000 Islamic State (IS) militants remain in Syria and Iraq despite the group's recent losses. The U.N. report says that while many fighters, planners and commanders have been killed, some IS members continue to be fully engaged militarily. The report indicates that among the fighters is "a significant component of the many thousands of active foreign terrorist fighters," and warns a "reduced, covert version" of ISIS could survive in both countries. In 2014, when ISIS seized control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq and proclaimed the establishment of a "caliphate", as many as 10 million people lived under its rule. However, the group was defeated militarily in Iraq and most of Syria during 2017. The UN report says ISIS still controls small pockets of territory in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zour, where it has been able to extract and sell some oil, and to mount attacks, including across the border with Iraq. The report also notes that there has been a fall in the number of terrorist attacks in Europe since late 2017, but warns that this drop could be temporary as "the underlying drivers of terrorism are all present and perhaps more acute than ever".




The largest wildfire in California history has now turned deadly after authorities said a firefighter died battling the Mendocino Complex Fire in central California on Monday -- becoming the first person to die from the blaze, which has been burning for more than two weeks. The firefighter killed was from Utah. Six firefighters have now died in connection with a number of fires burning across California. Three firefighters died by the Carr Fire, the state's deadliest fire that also killed five others. The other two died fighting a fire near Yosemite National Park. The Mendocino Complex Fire, comprised of two individual fires in the same area, started July 27 and has burned about 350,000 acres in Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties. At nearly 550 square miles, the fire has covered an area larger than the city of Los Angeles. Nearly 150 homes and many other structures were destroyed.




Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors on Monday rested their case against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman. Manafort has been charged with tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud over his alleged failure to report millions of dollars of income from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine before he joined the Trump campaign. The prosecution's witnesses have included accountants, bank executives, and former Manafort business partner Rick Gates, who agreed to work with the government and pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February. Gates testified that Manafort had offshore accounts to hide money. He also admitted to having embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort. The defense is expected to start calling witnesses on Tuesday.




The spectacular theft of a 76-seat aircraft from SeaTac airport by a ground crew employee is prompting an industrywide review of how to thwart such insider security threats, though it remains unclear what steps airlines might take. Investigators are continuing to piece together how Horizon Air employee Richard Russell stole an empty Bombardier Q400 turboprop on Friday evening and took off on a roughly 75-minute flight, executing steep banks and even a barrel roll while being tailed by fighter jets. He finally crashed into a forested island south of Seattle. Russell was killed. No one else was hurt. Port of Seattle officials have been in touch with other airports and airlines to begin to assess procedures. Sea-Tac has added security guards in the cargo area where the plane was parked when Russell stole it. Some aviation experts believe a solution may involve installing a simple keypad to start the aircraft engines. Currently commercial aircraft have virtually no system, like an ignition key, in place to prevent unauthorized use. Other potential solutions could include additional vetting or monitoring of employees, changes in who can access the planes and when, and having parked aircraft monitored by closed-circuit television or by security patrols. The National Transportation Safety Board referred questions to the FBI, which has released limited information about the investigation.




The Austrian capital, Vienna, has beaten Australia's Melbourne to be named the world's most liveable city. It's the first time a European city has topped the rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) annual survey. The worldwide league table ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare. According to the survey, nearly half of the cities have seen their liveability ranking improve over the past year. Melbourne, which was ranked second in this year's global rankings, had previously come top for seven years running. Other making the list of ten most liveable cities in 2018 include number 3, Osaka, Japan, 4 Calgary, Canada, 5 Sydney, Australia, 6 Vancouver, Canada, 7 Tokyo, Japan, 8 Toronto, Canada, 9 Copenhagen, Denmark, and 10 Adelaide, Australia. At the other end of the scale, war-torn Damascus in Syria was ranked the least liveable city, closely followed by Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria. Others on the list of ten least liveable cities 2018 included Karachi, Pakistan, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Harare, Zimbabwe, Tripoli, Libya, Douala, Cameroon, Algiers, Algeria, and Dakar, Senegal. The EIU said that crime, civil unrest, terrorism or war played a "strong role" in those ten-lowest scoring cities.

Saudis Backing Elon Musk’s Plan to Take Tesla Stock Private- That’s in the news Monday August 13, 2018



Four days of ferocious fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban over a key provincial capital has claimed the lives of about 100 Afghan policemen and soldiers and at least 20 civilians, according to the defense ministry Monday. 194 insurgents, including 12 leaders, were killed — with Pakistani, Chechen and Arabs foreign fighters among the dead. The numbers were the first official casualty toll since the Taliban launched a massive assault on Ghazni last Friday. The multi-pronged assault overwhelmed the city’s defenses and allowed insurgents to capture several parts of this strategic city barely 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul. The United States has sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces. The fall of Ghazni, a city of 270,000 people, would mark an important victory for the Taliban. It would also cut off a key highway linking Kabul to the southern provinces, the Taliban’s traditional heartland. Around 1,000 additional troops have been sent to Ghazni and helped prevent the city from falling into Taliban hands.




At least nine people died and more than a dozen were injured by a hospital fire in Taiwan Monday. Authorities said the fire started on the seventh floor of the government-run Ministry of Health and Welfare Taipei Hospital in New Taipei City. Fire officials believe it was likely caused by an electrical failure in a life support system. The Taipei Fire Department said also said a caregiver noticed an electrical spark in a portable bed, followed shortly by flames throughout the hospital ward. There were 32 patients on the floor when the blaze started. Firefighters said it was extinguished within an hour and patients were transferred to other hospitals. The hospital said patients, nurses and other caregivers are among the dead. Some medical workers helped patients escape, while others climbed to the roof to be evacuated by cranes.The cause is under investigation. Six years ago, 13 people died in a hospital fire in southern Tainan.




Indonesia’s holiday island of Lombok suffered damage running into more than 5 trillion rupiah ($342 million) from last week’s huge earthquake, authorities said on Monday, as the death toll climbed to more than 430. More than 350 thousand people fled their homes after the 6.9-magnitude quake to shelter in government-provided tents or makeshift structures in open fields. Authorities say aid is slow in getting to some of the hardest-hit areas as they are remote. “The damage and losses are huge,” Sutopo Nugroho, the spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a statement. “It will take trillions of rupiah...and a lot of time to heal the lives of the people and the economy of Nusa Tenggara Barat,” he said, referring to the province home to Lombok. Residential homes and public infrastructure suffered the bulk of the damage, he added. On Monday, President Joko Widodo visited the island, which lies just east of Bali, the southeast Asian country’s most famous tourist destination, for the second time since a slightly smaller quake on July 29. He has called for search operations and relief efforts to be stepped up.




A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Alaska's North Slope on Sunday. The Alaska Earthquake Center said there were no reports of damage. The quake, which hit 343 miles northeast of Fairbanks, was the strongest ever recorded in the region. The most powerful earthquake in the North Slope before this one was a 5.2-magnitude temblor in 1995. The increase in strength was significant, because the strength of earthquakes jumps exponentially as they rise in magnitude. A 6.4 quake is 63 times stronger than a 5.2 quake. "That's why at 6.4 this changes how we think about the region," said state seismologist Mike West. "It's a little early to say how, but it's safe to say this earthquake will cause a re-evaluation of the seismic potential of that area."




A boardwalk in coastal Spain packed for a music festival collapsed and sent dozens of spectators falling into the sea, injuring more than 300, officials said Monday. The boardwalk buckled late Sunday at the O Marisquino festival, the finale of a celebration of urban concerts and sporting events, on the seafront of Vigo. The collapse occurred as hip-hop artist Rels B opened his set. As many as 316 people were treated for injuries, and nine people were seriously hurt. On Monday, firefighters searched with infrared cameras for anyone trapped under the platform. Mayor Abel Caballero said no deaths were reported. In a tweet in Spanish, Rapper Rels wished "strength for all the injured." Vigo port authority chief Enrique Lopez Veiga said the boardwalk's "structural failure" likely stemmed from concrete supports that buckled under excessive weight.




Negotiators for North and South Korea emerged Monday from two hours of meetings in the border village Panmunjom with news that their countries' leaders would meet for a third summit in September. North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in April and May, paving the way for Kim's June summit with President Trump. North Korean reunification official Ri Son Gwon and South Korean Reunification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon released a three-sentence statement that contained almost no details, including whether a date has been set for the summit. Monday's meeting took place amid increasing concerns that the U.S. and North Korea are once again heading toward confrontation over Pyongyang's nuclear stockpile.




Federal investigators say they have retrieved the flight recorders from the plane stolen and crashed by an airline employee at Seattle's airport, an incident that's stunned the man's family. Richard Russell, a ground service agent for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, took the plane Friday. Military jets chased him in the 76-seat Q400 turboprop plane for about an hour before it crashed on remote Ketron Island in Puget Sound. The crash killed Russell and started a small brush fire on the heavily forested island. The FBI's Seattle field office said the plane's "black boxes" were found and turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board. The black boxes include the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, tapes frequently instrumental in helping investigators piece together aviation crashes. The remains of a person presumed to be Russell were also found at the site. Authorities aren't yet sure why Russell took off in the plane without warning and without authorization.




Russia will further reduce its holdings of U.S. securities in a response to the Trump administration's new sanctions against Moscow, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Sunday on state TV, according to the RIA news agency. Siluanov said Moscow had no plans to shut down U.S. companies in Russia. Two days earlier, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia viewed U.S. policies targeting Russian banks as a "declaration of economic war," although the Kremlin has not yet ordered retaliatory sanctions. The Trump administration last week announced that the sanctions, which could restrict purchases of Russian government bonds, would take effect by late August to punish Russia for allegedly using a nerve agent against a former Russian agent and his daughter in Britain. The news of the sanctions sent Russia's currency, the ruble, to a two-year low.




Elon Musk has outlined his plan to take Tesla private and said he discussed financing the deal with Saudi Arabia. The founder of the electric carmaker also indicated that he would need to raise far less than the $70 billion it has been estimated he would need. In a blog post, Mr Musk said that he only wanted to buy out shareholders who no longer wanted to own Tesla shares. The announcement comes just days after investors filed a lawsuit claiming that he misled the market. Musk announced on Twitter on August 7 that he was considering taking Tesla private, adding "funding secured". Since then he has been facing questions about where he would obtain the funding for his proposed $420 a share offer. Shares in Tesla rose slightly to $357 in Monday morning trading in New York. They have fallen back from the highs near $380 they touched after his initial tweet. Some investors suing Tesla are short-sellers, who bet on share prices falling and claim to have lost millions as a result of Musk's comments. On Monday, the Tesla founder said he had met with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund after it bought a 5% stake in the company. He left that meeting on July 31 "with no question that a deal ... could be closed - it was just matter of getting the process moving". He has said that de-listing the company from the stock market would avoid pressure to meet quarterly financial targets and end "negative propaganda" from short-sellers.



Motown legend Aretha Franklin is seriously ill, according to a person close to the singer. That source told entertainment website TMZ, "Prepare yourself, she's dying." The source adds Aretha was down to 86 pounds and her health was failing. The source said 2 weeks ago everyone in Aretha's circle was told "she could go any time." The Queen of Soul canceled planned concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up. She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at “some select things.” One of those select events was a gala for Elton John’s 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation in November in New York City, where Franklin closed the event with a collection of songs including “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway.” Mariah Carey was among the celebrities who tweeted well wishes to Franklin, writing that she is “praying for the Queen of Soul.” Missy Elliott wrote that the public has to celebrate iconic artists before they pass away, writing on Twitter, “So many (of them) have given us decades of Timeless music.”

Airline Employee Steals Passenger Plane, and DIes After Stunt Flying Near Seattle.- That’s in the news on Friday August 10, 2018



Four people, including two police officers, were killed in a shooting in eastern Canada on Friday in the latest eruption of gun violence across the country that has led to calls for weapons bans in cities. Police in Fredericton, a city of about 56 thousand that is the capital of the province of New Brunswick, said a suspect was in custody and was being treated for serious injuries. A local health official said multiple shooting victims were being treated at one hospital. Witnesses said the shooting occurred at an apartment complex, and local media showed emergency vehicles converging on a tree-lined residential street. Nearby facilities were closed and authorities imposed a lockdown for residents before issuing an all-clear message. Friday’s shooting occurred three weeks after a gunman walked down a busy Toronto street, killing two people and wounding 13 before killing himself. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be assisting Fredericton authorities in the investigation. Gun laws in Canada are stricter than in the United States but a proliferation of weapons has led to an increase in gun-related crimes in recent years.




An employee of Horizon Air stole one of the airline's planes - parked at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Friday evening, and died when the aircraft crashed on a small island. Alaska Airlines- the parent company of Horizon, said the 29-year-old employee, who was a ground service agent, got on board the empty the Q400 turboprop and took off heading south of the airport. The plane, a twin engine aircraft with 76 seats which had no one else on board, crashed on Ketron Island in south Puget Sound after about an hour and a half of stunt flying, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. Air traffic control audio indicated the employee, who referred to himself as Rich, seemed to be under emotional duress. "I've got a lot of people that care about me," Rich said at one point on the recording. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now." An air-traffic controller and an Alaska pilot tried unsuccessfully over the radio to convince the man to land the plane safely. Eventually, fighter jets responded from the Air National Guard and flew alongside the plane. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement, the military pilots were prepared to do whatever necessary to protect people on the ground. Video from at least two eyewitnesses showed the plane making a complete loop, nearly hitting the water at one point. Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.” The FBI is investigating, but does not consider the incident to be an act of terrorism.




Firefighters worked furiously to keep a Southern California wildfire from burning more homes while crews in the north finally gained ground on deadly and destructive blazes that have burned for two weeks. The Holy Fire — named for Holy Jim Canyon where it began Monday — grew to nearly 33 square miles. But firefighters also made progress, with containment rising from 10 to 29 percent. Some hillsides were being allowed to burn under the watchful eyes of firefighters as a way to reduce fuel and make it harder for flames to jump roadways into communities if winds pick up again. No more homes were torched on Friday but some 20,000 people remained under evacuation orders. The Holy Fire was one of nearly 20 blazes across California, which is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into forests. North of Sacramento, crews were gaining the upper hand on massively destructive fires even as new ones forced more evacuations and the weather forecast called for hot, dry, gusty weather. The largest fire ever recorded in California, the Mendocino Complex, was now threatening about 1,500 homes instead of some 12,000 earlier in the week. It was 60 percent contained.




The Trump administration's announcement of more export restrictions, in response to accusations Moscow used a nerve agent to poison a former Russian spy in Britain, sent the ruble tumbling to a two-year low and drew a stern warning from Russia's prime minister. The Trump administration has imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia for human rights abuses, meddling in the U.S. election and Russian military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. Russia has 90 days to “provide assurances” that it will not use chemical weapons in the future and allow inspections. If Russia does not comply, the U.S. will impose a second set of sanctions, including: opposing multilateral bank assistance to Russia, broad restrictions on exports and imports, downgrading diplomatic relations, prohibiting air carrier landing rights and barring U.S. banks from making loans to the Russian government. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said Friday, "If sanctions are expanded even further to target Russia’s top state-controlled banks, freezing their dollar transactions — as proposed under legislation introduced in the Senate this month — it would amount to a “declaration of economic war.”




Russia said it has overturned U.S. attempts to expand United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea. Russia's foreign ministry said Friday it has been able to block U.S.-proposed sanctions against Russia's Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank, one individual and several institutions, all found in violation of sanctions. The Russian government also said the U.S. policy of "maximum pressure" against Pyongyang until denuclearization is complete is a destructive path that would lead to complete rejection. South Korea's Yonhap News reported the bank was trading with the head of North Korea's Joson Trade Bank. Two shell companies linked to North Korea and a North Korean individual were also subject to sanctions. Sanctions at the Security Council are not adopted until all 15-member nations agree unanimously to the proposal.





Vice President Mike Pence outlined the Trump administration's plan to create a "Space Force" as a sixth branch of the military as soon as 2020. It would be the first new branch of the military since the Air Force was created after World War II. President Trump in June ordered the Pentagon to establish the force to ensure U.S. dominance in space, calling it "so important" and explaining that it would take over space-related duties from the Air Force. Pence said the Space Force will help the U.S. "meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield" with dedicated space technology experts and defense systems. The White House reportedly wants to get the new department off the ground by 2020, but is expected to face opposition from Congress.




The U.S. Army has halted discharges of immigrant recruits who enlisted with the understanding they would get a path to citizenship. The memo obtained by Associated Press stated, "Effective immediately, you will suspend processing of all involuntary separation actions." It was signed by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Marshall Williams. The disclosure came one month after AP reported that dozens of men and women who enlisted under the special immigrant program were being discharged or facing canceled contracts. The Army also reversed the discharge of one reservist, Lucas Calixto of Brazil, after he filed a lawsuit.




First lady Melania Trump's parents, both Slovenian immigrants, were sworn in as U.S. citizens in New York. They had been in the country as legal permanent residents with green cards. They were eligible for residency and to apply for citizenship because their daughter, also an immigrant, had citizenship. Many immigrants get green cards and eventually citizenship through links to relatives who are citizens, but President Trump has vowed to roll back such family-based immigration, which he calls "chain migration." Trump's paternal grandfather and mother got into the U.S. the same way. They migrated from Germany and Scotland, respectively, to join siblings already in the U.S.




Tesla CEO Elon Musk's bombshell announcement that he is thinking of taking his electric car company private has landed him a lawsuit from unhappy investors. The billionaire entrepreneur said on Tuesday that de-listing from the stock exchange could be the "best path forward" for the firm. His comments caused the share price to shoot up 11% to nearly $380, though it has since fallen back. Short-sellers, who bet on share price falls, allege he misled the market. Musk, the company's founder and chief executive, announced that he might take the company private in a deal worth $72 billion, valuing the company at $420 a share. However, he did not specify exactly where the money for such a deal, which would be the largest of its kind for more than a decade, would come from. Musk, who owns a fifth of the company, has complained previously about "negative propaganda" from short-sellers. He said he hoped taking the firm private would protect Tesla from the distractions of share price volatility and pressure to meet quarterly financial targets. Short-sellers, who make a profit by borrowing shares, selling them and then buying them back at an expected lower price, claim to have lost millions thanks to Musk's comments. Musk nor Tesla have commented on the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in San Francisco.




NASA has delayed its mission to send a satellite closer to the Sun than any before. The Parker Solar Probe was set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but a last-minute alarm delayed it. It is now scheduled to blast off - on board a mammoth Delta-IV Heavy rocket - on Sunday morning. The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history, and aims to dip directly into our star's outer atmosphere, or corona. Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun's behavior - assuming it can survive temperatures above 1,000 Celsius. The Delta rocket will hurl the probe toward the inner Solar System, enabling the spacecraft to zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that. Over the course of seven years, the Parker probe will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate. The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just under 4 million miles from the Sun's broiling "surface". It will also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 430 thousand mph. One member of the flight team said at that speed you could get from New York to Tokyo in under a minute.

- Older Posts »