London police call for backup as armed officers lay down guns after colleague charged with murder

BY DANICA KIRKA from the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — London police have been forced to call on neighboring departments and the military for backup after scores of specially trained firearms officers refused to carry guns after a murder charge was filed against one of their colleagues.

Police officers stand guard outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The head of London's police force is calling for increased legal protections for officers who use force in the line of duty after more than 100 officers refused to carry guns to protest murder charges filed against one of their colleagues. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Police officers stand guard outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The head of London’s police force is calling for increased legal protections for officers who use force in the line of duty after more than 100 officers refused to carry guns to protest murder charges filed against one of their colleagues. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)Read More

LONDON (AP) — London police have been forced to call on neighboring departments and the military for backup after scores of specially trained firearms officers refused to carry guns after a murder charge was filed against one of their colleagues.

The action deepened the sense of crisis in Britain’s largest police force, which is struggling to restore public confidence after a series of scandals and an independent review that found it was riddled with institutional racism, sexism and homophobia.

Commissioner Mark Rowley, who heads the Metropolitan Police Service, called for greater clarity on the rules governing the use of lethal force and legal protections for officers when they make split-second decisions to fire their weapons. But that only fueled the concerns of some campaigners who said there is already a “lack of accountability” in the police force.

“Police cannot be judge, jury and executioner and must not be above the law,” said Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity focused on state-related deaths. Rowley’s proposal “would make accountability for police use of force virtually impossible, effectively giving firearms officers a license to kill,” she added. “That cannot be in the public interest.”

The police department, known as the Met, has more than 34,000 officers, about 2,500 of whom are licensed to carry firearms.

Some firearms officers decided not to carry their guns after prosecutors last week filed murder charges against an officer who was involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black man in south London on Sept. 5, 2022. Chris Kaba, 24, died after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the car he was driving.

The BBC reported that as many as 300 officers had laid down their firearms. The Met didn’t confirm that number, saying only that “a number of officers” had stepped back from armed duties in recent days as they reviewed the implications of the charging decision for themselves and their families. The department said it was having discussions with the officers and some have already returned to firearms duties.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Defense agreed to provide backup for counter-terrorism operations, but that was no longer needed by midday on Monday, the Met said. A “limited number” of armed officers from other departments are still providing assistance in other areas of policing.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, whose department oversees policing, on Sunday announced a review of the rules governing police use of force.

Rowley wrote to Braverman later in the day, calling for increased legal protections for officers. While Rowley acknowledged that police must be held to the highest standards, he said current rules are cumbersome and leave officers at risk of prosecution even when they follow their training.

“We rely on officers who are willing to put themselves at risk on a daily basis to protect the public from dangerous criminals including terrorists,’’ Rowley said. “Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favor.”

Rowley stressed that officer-involved shootings are very rare in London.

London police respond to about 4,000 armed incidents every year, with officers firing their weapons less than twice a year on average, Rowley said in his letter to Braverman. That means that 0.05% of armed operations result in shots fired by police, he said.

The tensions over armed officers comes as Rowley tries to rebuild public confidence in his force following a series of scandals, including a serving officer who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering a young woman in 2021.

Rowley, who took the top job last year, has made it a priority to root out bad officers and improve training after an independent review found widespread racism, misogyny and homophobia in the department.

Restoring public trust is crucial for the Met because British law enforcement is based on the idea of “policing by consent,” which means most officers don’t carry guns and they rely on the public to respect their authority.

Rowley said police should be held to the “highest standards,” but the current system leaves good officers facing lengthy investigations and legal proceedings even when they follow their training.

“There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family,” Rowley said.

Peter Fahy, the former chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police in northern England, said that the action by firearms officers was symptomatic of a wider discontent among officers and a lack of confidence in the Home Office and the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

But he said that police understand that they are subject to criminal law in the same way as any other member of the public.

“The law is clear, the stated cases are clear, and I think those firearms officers absolutely fundamentally understand that because it’s part of their training,″ Fahy told the BBC. “As I say, this is really symptomatic of a wider discontent that officers feel that they’re misunderstood and unappreciated.”

Coast Guard searching for woman swept into ocean from popular Washington coast beach

From the Associated Press

RIALTO BEACH, Wash. (AP) — Teams are searching for a 26-year-old woman who was swept into the ocean Monday from a popular beach on the Washington coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard said it received a call at 10:50 a.m. about a woman who was reportedly taken by ocean currents while she was on Rialto Beach near Olympic National Park. The beach is on the Olympic Peninsula northwest of Seattle.

The Coast Guard has two helicopters as well as a crew on land searching along with people from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, the La Push Tribal Police Department and the national park.

The National Weather Service in Seattle had issued a small craft advisory and a gale warning Monday along the coast for strong winds causing hazardous seas.

A powerful system was bringing heavy rain, gusty winds, below-average temperatures and a wintry mix at higher elevations to parts of the Northwest, including western Washington and western Oregon, on Monday, the weather service said.

A police officer who was critically wounded by gunfire has been released from the hospital

From the Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky police officer who was critically wounded by gunfire while conducting a traffic stop has been released from the hospital.

The family of Louisville Metro Police Officer Brandon Haley shared the news of his discharge in an update posted Monday to the police department’s Facebook page and said he would continue to receive outpatient services.

“The strength and determination he has shown continues to improve as he works through the next phases of recovery,” the post said. “Our family cannot express how much the love and support from the community means to them.”

Haley, who has been an officer since 2021, was struck in the torso by gunfire Sept. 7 when shots were fired from a home near where he was conducting a traffic stop, Louisville Metro Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel has said. Another officer on the scene fired his weapon and later dragged Haley to safety, but was not injured.

While five men at the scene were arrested on various counts, no one has been charged in the shooting, news outlets reported.

Chicago’s top officer says a White Sox game where 2 were shot should have been stopped or delayed

From the Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago White Sox game last month where two women were wounded by gunfire should have been stopped or delayed, the city’s interim police superintendent said Thursday.

The Aug. 25 game against the Oakland A’s was allowed to continue without interruption after the two women were shot near Section 161 of Guaranteed Rate Field because of “miscommunication” on the protocol for notifying Major League Baseball, interim Supt. Fred Waller told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We’ve taken some steps to make sure that … we have the right people in place to delay or stop completely a game like that, so it won’t happen again,” Waller said in an interview.

“We did not know exactly what we had on our hands. We didn’t think it was an active shooter. But we didn’t know,” Waller said.

Police still don’t know whether the bullets came from inside or outside Guaranteed Rate Field and likely will never be certain, Waller said.

Waller was overseeing street operations citywide when he learned of the shooting. He was told Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott had called for the game to be stopped and that police, team officials and the private security firm hired by the Sox had started looking at video.

“A mistake was made because the (game) was not stopped,” Waller said.

No suspects have been identified. The gunfire wounded a 42-year-old woman’s leg and grazed a 26-year-old woman.

“We’re still using technology to show us if it could have happened from outside the park. … We’re looking at cameras from inside the park to make sure that we’re not missing something,” Waller said.

White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has stated he doesn’t “see any way in the world that the shots could have come from inside the ballpark.”

A gunman opened fire in a crowded pub in Sweden, killing 2 men and wounding 2 people, police say

From the Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Two people were killed and two wounded when a gunman opened fire in a crowded bar northwest of Stockholm, police said Friday, in the latest outburst of deadly violence in Sweden.

Police stand outside a pub where two people were killed and two wounded following a shooting, in Sandviken, some 162 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Stockholm, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. In a statement, police said that a man in his 20s and another in his 70s died Friday of injuries sustained in the shooting late Thursday at the pub in Sandviken. (Henrik Hansson/TT News Agency via AP)
Police stand outside a pub where two people were killed and two wounded following a shooting, in Sandviken, some 162 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Stockholm, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. In a statement, police said that a man in his 20s and another in his 70s died Friday of injuries sustained in the shooting late Thursday at the pub in Sandviken. (Henrik Hansson/TT News Agency via AP)Read More

Police said that a 20-year-old man and another in his 70s died Friday of injuries sustained in the shooting late Thursday at a pub in Sandviken some 162 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Stockholm.

Two people were injured — a woman in her 20s and a man in his 50s.

Senior investigator Karin Wessén said that the deceased 20-year-old was likely the shooter’s target while the other three are believed to be bystanders. The Expressen daily reported that the elderly victim was blind.

She said several shots were fired in the pub, which was packed at the time, before the gunman walked away. Police investigating the shooting appealed for witnesses.

The motive remained unclear. Wessén told a press conference that the shooting could “possibly be part of a local personal conflict” and that it was “uncertain whether it was connected to any of the national conflicts.”

Feuding criminal gangs have become a growing problem in Sweden, with an increasing number of drive-by shootings, bombings and grenade attacks. So far this year, there have been 261 shootings, 36 people have died and 73 were wounded.

“It’s bad enough that the gangs shoot each other to death, but when completely innocent people end up in the line of fire, it’s absolutely horrific,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Kristersson said, according to Swedish news agency TT.

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old boy was found shot in the head in woods, near his home near Stockholm. Prosecutor Lisa dos Santos said Thursday that his death was a chilling example of “gross and completely reckless gang violence.”

The violence reportedly is fueled by a feud over drugs and arms between two gangs, led by a dual Turkish-Swedish man who lives in Turkey and his former lieutenant.

Sweden’s center-right government has been tightening laws to tackle gang-related crime, while the head of Sweden’s police said earlier this month that warring gangs had brought an “unprecedented” wave of violence to the Scandinavian country.

Fulton County district attorney’s office investigator accidentally shoots self in leg at courthouse

From the Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — An investigator with the Fulton County district attorney’s office accidentally shot herself in the leg Friday inside the county courthouse in downtown Atlanta, police said.

The investigator is “alert, conscious and breathing,” police said in an email. The police department “has been requested and is assisting.”

A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

London police arrest a man who allegedly climbed over a wall near Buckingham Palace stables

From the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — London police arrested a 25-year-old man early Saturday morning after he allegedly climbed over a wall and entered the royal stables at Buckingham Palace.

The man was detained at 1:25 a.m Saturday for trespassing on a protected site, London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. He was taken to a London police station, where he remained by late morning.

Officers found the man outside the royal stables following a search of the area. He didn’t enter enter the palace or its gardens at any time, police said.

Buckingham Palace, which is some 300 years old, is undergoing renovations, and King Charles III does not live there.

The monarch was in Scotland on Saturday.

Bears raid a Krispy Kreme doughnut van making deliveries on an Alaska military base

From the Associated Press

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — Two bears on an Alaska military base raided a Krispy Kreme doughnut van that was stopped outside a convenience store during its delivery route.

This Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023 photo provided by Shelly Deano shows two bears getting into a donut truck in Anchorage. Alaska. The bears on an Alaska military base raided the Krispy Kreme doughnut van that was stopped outside a convenience store during its delivery route. The driver usually left his doors open when he stopped at the store but this time a sow and one of her cubs that loiter nearby sauntered inside, where they stayed for probably 20 minutes Tuesday morning, said Shelly Deano, the store manager for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson JMM Express. (Shelly Deano via AP)

The driver usually left his doors open when he stopped at the store but this time a sow and one of her cubs that loiter nearby sauntered inside, where they stayed for probably 20 minutes Tuesday morning, said Shelly Deano, the store manager for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson JMM Express. The bears chomped on doughnut holes and other pastries, ignoring the banging on the side of the van that was aimed at shooing them away, Deano said.

“I was beating on the van and they’re not moving. I could hear them breaking open the packages and everything,” she said. “I was like, ‘They don’t even care.’”

When the bears couldn’t be roused, base security was called and sounded sirens meant to scare away the bears, she said.

The bears eventually came out and wandered in front of the convenience store and gas station a bit before heading into the woods.

It’s not unusual to see bears on base or around the store but nothing like this has happened before, Deano said, adding that the delivery driver now closes his doors when he stops at the shop.

“We’re cautious when we come in, when we leave. When we take out garbage, we do it in pairs, especially if it’s dark,” she said.

Capt. Lexi Smith, a spokesperson at the base, said authorities on base “are aware of this and other wildlife situations throughout the past several months.”

“We urge the public to use caution to ensure you are protecting our wildlife and yourselves. Wildlife may be our neighbor, but they should not be attracted to our human food sources,” she said by email.

London police force says it will take years to remove officers accused of corruption and misconduct

BY DANICA KIRKA from the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Hundreds of London police officers are facing dismissal as the department steps up efforts “to root out those who are corrupt” after a series of scandals eroded public trust and a scathing report found it was institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

FILE – A view of a Metropolitan police officer on patrol, in London, on Oct. 1, 2021. London’s police force says that over 1,000 officers are currently suspended or on restricted duties as the department steps up efforts to root out bad cops following a scathing report that found it was institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynistic in a statement released on Tuesday Sept. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

The Metropolitan Police Service said Tuesday that more than 1,000 officers are currently suspended or on restricted duties. That means the public is likely to be bombarded with stories of police misconduct over the next few years as the department works through the backlog of cases and around 60 officers face disciplinary proceedings each month.

“This is going to take one, two or more years to root out those who are corrupt,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said as he updated reporters on efforts to reform the department.

London’s police force, known by many as Scotland Yard, is under immense pressure to fire officers accused of misconduct and change its male-dominated culture after a serving officer kidnapped and murdered a young woman two years ago and another was convicted of a series of sexual assaults. An independent review found that the department had failed to properly vet and train officers, and had allowed many to remain on the job even after they were accused of domestic abuse or racial harassment.

The scandals have undermined public confidence in Britain’s largest police force, which has more than 34,000 officers serving about 9 million people across the capital. Rebuilding that trust is crucial in a country where most officers don’t carry guns and the police rely on the support of the public to do their jobs, a model known as “policing by consent.”

The “eye-watering” figures released Tuesday are part of a painful but necessary process as the department tackles corruption in its ranks, said Zoe Billingham, who for 12 years led the Inspectorate of Constabulary in England and Wales.

“The whole of the British policing model is built on the concept of legitimacy, and if the police aren’t seen as legitimate in the eyes of the public, if they can’t police by consent, then the whole fabric of law and order begins to break down,” she told the BBC.

The figures were released a year after Commissioner Mark Rowley took over leadership of the Metropolitan Police, pledging to reform the department.

In March, Rowley apologized after an independent review concluded that the department had lost the confidence of the public because of deep-seated racism, misogyny and homophobia. Louise Casey, an expert on victims’ rights and social welfare who led the review, concluded that the force had to “change itself” or risk being broken up.

The department said Tuesday that it was making progress on Rowley’s commitment to change the culture of the department and speed up the dismissal of corrupt officers.

Around 100 officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct over the past 12 months, an increase of 66% over historic dismissal rates, the department said Tuesday.

The number of officers awaiting gross misconduct hearings more than doubled to 275, with 38 of those cases involving allegations of violence against women and 42 related to discrimination.

Overall, the number of misconduct allegations reported during the period jumped 90% to 1,668. A third of those incidents were reported by police officers or staff.

The department also said it had improved leadership training for police sergeants, started a program to increase the number of female officers trained to carry firearms, and boosted efforts to increase the number of women and minority officers in the prestigious Parliamentary and Diplomatic Command, which protects politicians, royals and diplomatic officers.

Both Wayne Couzens, the officer who was convicted of kidnap and murder, and David Carrick, the officer convicted for a series of rapes and sexual assaults, were members of the parliamentary protection unit.

“We hope that the progress set out today reassures Londoners that we are doing all we can to deliver an organization they deserve and our people are proud of,” Cundy said.

Australian authorities protect Outback town against huge wildfire

BY ROD MCGUIRK from the Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Emergency crews were working to protect the Outback Australian town of Tennant Creek with containment lines on Wednesday as a huge wildfire threatened the remote community of 3,000.

In this photo released by Bushfires NT, a large bushfire burns in the Outback of Australia near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Emergency crews were working to protect the Outback Australian town of Tennant Creek with containment lines on Wednesday as a huge wildfire threatened the remote community of 3,000. (Bushfires NT via AP)
In this photo released by Bushfires NT, a large bushfire burns in the Outback of Australia near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Emergency crews were working to protect the Outback Australian town of Tennant Creek with containment lines on Wednesday as a huge wildfire threatened the remote community of 3,000. (Bushfires NT via AP)

The fire has scorched 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles) of grass and scrubland in the Northern Territory east of Tennant Creek, a former gold mining town.

Police Acting Commander James Gray-Spence said authorities had worked through the night to burn protective containment lines east and south of the town.

“There is a high level of confidence that those containment lines are in place, planned and prepared,” Gray-Spence told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Wildfires are common across Australia’s northern tropical region during the current dry season that will end when the monsoons arrive during the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Because water is in short supply across the region, fire fighting largely involves excavating fire breaks with earthmoving equipment.

But teams were also using water bombers and strategic backburning against the fire near Tennant Creek which began last week.

Charles Darwin University wildfire researcher Rohan Fisher said the fire was unusual in its large size and that it was encroaching on a community. Fires rarely threaten communities in Australia’s sparsely populated north.

“It is one of the largest events that we’ve seen for a while,” Fisher said.

“Fires of around this scale are not that uncommon in really remote parts of Australia, although they’re usually not reported on,” Fisher added.

Unusually abundant rain in recent years meant there was more fuel in the landscape than usual, he said.

The Northern Territory government on Tuesday declared an emergency situation in Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly region, which gives police emergency powers to move people and assets.

Police Commissioner Michael Murphy said he was confident the town would not need to be evacuated and the emergency declaration was a precautionary measure for public safety.

Minneapolis budget plan includes millions for new employees as part of police reform effort

From the Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Complying with court orders to end racist and unconstitutional policing in Minneapolis will require hiring nearly three dozen new workers at a cost of millions of dollars each year for years to come, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday.

The Minneapolis City Council on Monday formally took up Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed 2024 budget. It is the first spending plan directly connecting taxpayer costs to the specific jobs required by the court orders that followed the examination of the police department after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

The spending plan adds $7.6 million in costs for new jobs related to the compliance in 2024. That includes adding 34 full-time positions across four city departments for jobs such as lawyers, IT people, workers to examine body-worn camera footage, counselors and trainers for police officers, and overtime.

After 2024, the new positions will continue at an expected cost of nearly $6 million annually for years to come.

There are other costs, too, that are associated with the effort largely prescribed by a court-approved settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the expected court-approved consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.

State human rights officials began investigating shortly after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes on May 25, 2020, disregarding the Black man’s fading pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death sparked mass protests around the world, forced a national reckoning on racial injustice, and compelled a Minneapolis Police Department overhaul.

Another cost not yet detailed will include an estimated $1.5 million for the salary and possibly staff for the independent monitor who will assure compliance with the reform agreements.

“Change isn’t cheap,” Frey said in announcing his budget in August. “And change isn’t optional.”

Escaped Pennsylvania prisoner Danelo Cavalcante was located with help from plane’s thermal imaging


POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A murderer who brazenly escaped from a Pennsylvania jail was captured Wednesday in the woods by a team of tactical officers, bringing an end to an intense search that terrified residents as the fugitive broke into homes for food, changed his appearance, and stole a van and rifle during two weeks on the run.

Law enforcement agents stand by an armored vehicle with Danelo Souza Cavalcante inside at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks at Avondale Pa., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Cavalcante was captured Wednesday after eluding hundreds of searchers for two weeks, a conclusion that brought relief to anxious residents of southeastern Pennsylvania who had endured sleepless nights as he hid in the woods, broke into suburban homes for food, changed his appearance, and fled under gunfire with a rifle pilfered from a garage, authorities said.(WPI via AP)
Law enforcement agents stand by an armored vehicle with Danelo Souza Cavalcante inside at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks at Avondale Pa., on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Cavalcante was captured Wednesday after eluding hundreds of searchers for two weeks, a conclusion that brought relief to anxious residents of southeastern Pennsylvania who had endured sleepless nights as he hid in the woods, broke into suburban homes for food, changed his appearance, and fled under gunfire with a rifle pilfered from a garage, authorities said.(WPI via AP)

Law enforcement’s big break came overnight as a plane fitted with a thermal imaging camera picked up Danelo Souza Cavalcante’s heat signal, allowing tactical teams on the ground to secure the area, surround him and move in with search dogs.

“They were able to move in very quietly. They had the element of surprise,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference. “Cavalcante did not realize he was surrounded until that had occurred.”

Cavalcante — still armed with the rifle he stole from a homeowner’s garage — tried to escape by crawling through thick underbrush, but a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer released a search dog that subdued him, said Bivens, adding that Cavalcante continued to resist as he was taken into custody after 8 a.m.

Cavalcante, 34, was bitten on the scalp by a police dog and suffered a minor wound, Bivens said. Footage from a news helicopter showed an officer wiping Cavalcante’s bloody head and face with a towel.

No shots were fired.

“Our nightmare is finally over, and the good guys won,” said Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan.

State police had announced Cavalcante’s capture on social media earlier Wednesday, as the search entered its 14th day. The attorney general’s office said Cavalcante will be arraigned on a felony escape charge.

Cavalcante, handcuffed and wrapped in what appeared to be a thermal blanket, was driven to the Pennsylvania State Police barracks at Avondale. Bivens said investigators would try to interview him about his time on the run before taking him to a state prison.

“He was desperate, and it was just a matter of time,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro.

The end of the search for Cavalcante unfolded just beyond Philadelphia’s heavily populated suburbs, in an area of woods, rolling farmland and a county park. Police brought in hundreds of heavily armed law enforcement personnel with dogs, armored carriers, horses, and helicopters that circled over the rural stretch of southeastern Pennsylvania.

The search forced schools to close right at the start of the academic year, led to warnings for homeowners to lock their doors, and blocked roads over the busy Labor Day weekend. Overnight into Wednesday, heavily armed law enforcement officers searched for the fugitive through downpours and thunder.

A Drug Enforcement Administration plane picked up Cavalcante’s heat signature around 1 a.m. and began tracking his movements, but the storms forced the aircraft to leave the area for a time, delaying his capture by several hours, Bivens said.

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County jail in southeastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 31 by crab-walking up between two walls that were topped with razor wire, then jumping from the roof and dashing away. He had been awaiting transfer to state prison after being sentenced days earlier for fatally stabbing his girlfriend, and is wanted in connection with another killing in Brazil.

Authorities said over the weekend that Cavalcante had slipped out of the initial search area, shaved and changed his clothing, stole a vehicle to travel miles to seek aid from former co-workers in the northern part of the county, and then abandoned the vehicle, at least in part because it was low on fuel.

Authorities have declined to say how they think Cavalcante slipped out of the first search area, and officials have pushed back against questions about whether they blew a chance to catch him.

Then, late Monday, a motorist alerted police to a man matching Cavalcante’s description crouching in the darkness along a line of trees near a road in northern Chester County. Police found footprints and tracked them to the prison shoes identical to those Cavalcante had been wearing. A pair of work boots was reported stolen from a porch nearby.

State police said they believe he was looking for a place to hide when he saw an open garage. There, he stole a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition, and fled when the homeowner who was in the garage drew a pistol and shot at him several times, state police said.

That led hundreds of law enforcement personnel to search an area of about 8 to 10 square miles near South Coventry Township, roughly 30 miles northwest (50 kilometers) of Philadelphia.

People tried to help Cavalcante during his time on the run, Bivens said Wednesday, but authorities thwarted those attempts. He did not elaborate or say anyone had been charged criminally.

Cavalcante’s escape was big news in Brazil, where prosecutors in Tocantins state say he is accused of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 slaying of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in the municipality of Figueiropolis, which authorities say was over a debt the victim owed him in connection with repair of a vehicle.

Pennsylvania authorities even broadcast a recording of Cavalcante’s mother speaking in Portuguese imploring him to surrender peacefully.

Cavalcante received a life sentence in Pennsylvania in August for killing his ex-girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her children in 2021. Prosecutors say he murdered her to stop her from telling police he was wanted in the Brazil killing. He had been arrested in Virginia after Brandao’s killing, and authorities say they believe he was trying to return to Brazil.

The prison tower guard on duty when Cavalcante escaped was fired. The escape went undetected for more than an hour until guards took a headcount.


Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pa., and Rubinkam from northeastern Pennsylvania.

Police comb the UK and put ports on alert for an escaped prison inmate awaiting terrorism trial

BY PAN PYLAS from the Associated Press

A general view of HMP Wandsworth in London where a British soldier awaiting trial on terror-related charges has escaped from a prison in southwest London Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 and police have launched an urgent manhunt. Counterterror police say Daniel Abed Khalife went missing from Wandsworth Prison early Wednesday. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — A former British soldier awaiting trial on terror charges who appears to have escaped from a London prison by strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery truck remained at large Thursday as police stepped up security checks across the United Kingdom amid concerns he may try to flee the country.

Opposition parties linked the escape to years of financial austerity, while Britain’s Conservative government said an independent investigation will take place “in due course” into how Daniel Abed Khalife managed to slip out of the medium-security Wandsworth Prison, which opened in 1851 during the reign of Queen Victoria.

His escape has prompted extra security checks at major transport hubs, particularly in and around the Port of Dover, the main boat crossing from England to France.

Britain’s justice secretary told lawmakers that “no stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened” as he confirmed an “independent investigation into this incident.” Alex Chalk also said “urgent” reviews into prison categorization would be carried out as questions remained over how Khalife wasn’t being held at a maximum-security facility such as Belmarsh Prison in east London.

Khalife, 21, is accused of planting fake bombs at a military base and of violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act by gathering information “that could be useful to an enemy.” He was discharged from the British army after his arrest earlier this year and had denied the allegations. His trial is set for November.

Chalk said Khalife, who had been working in a kitchen at the prison, escaped at around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, when a vehicle that had made a delivery left.

Shortly afterward, he said, contingency plans for an unaccounted prisoner were activated and police were informed. The vehicle, he added, was subsequently stopped and searched by police after the alert was raised.

“Strapping was found underneath the vehicle which appeared to indicate that Daniel Khalife may have held onto the underside of it in order to escape,” Chalk said.

More than 150 investigators and police staff are on the case, according to Metropolitan Police Commander Dominic Murphy, who is the lead investigator.

“We have issued a nationwide alert that has resulted in increased security at our ports and borders, however currently there have not been any confirmed sightings,” he said.

Opposition politicians have sought to pin the blame on the Conservative government, which has been in power since 2010. Many U.K. prisons, including Wandsworth, are over capacity and short of staff. The escape could hardly have come at a worse time for a government that is already scrambling to get all schools to reopen for the new academic year amid concerns over crumbling concrete.

“It simply beggars belief that a man being held on suspected terror charges was able to escape a prison by clinging to the bottom of a food delivery van,” said Shabana Mahmood, the justice spokesperson for the main opposition Labour Party. “How is such an escape even possible?”

Charlie Taylor, who scrutinizes detention facilities in England in his role as the chief inspector of prisons, said staff shortages are “the source of many problems” at Wandsworth.

Taylor said it “should be standard practice” for vehicles entering and leaving the prison to be checked and a prisoner has to earn a “certain level of trust” in order to be allowed to work in a kitchen.

“But the issue that we are particularly concerned about is there are too many prisoners in Wandsworth for the amount of staff who are there,” he said. “And that ultimately is the source of many of the problems in the jail.”

In an annual review, published in July, Wandsworth Prison was deemed to be a “serious concern.” The prison, which is in the middle of a residential area, holds around 1,600 defendants appearing at London courts and offenders due to be released in five wings.


Jill Lawless contributed to this report.

4 firefighters suffer heat exhaustion at fire at vacant southern Michigan factory

From the Associated Press

Thick black smoke billows from a blaze as firefighters from multiple departments battle a large fire in commercial buildings along North Street near Hamilton Street in Jackson, Mich., Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (J. Scott Park/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP)

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Four firefighters suffered heat exhaustion Tuesday afternoon battling a fire in southern Michigan that destroyed a large vacant factory.

Jackson fire crews responded about noon to the fire near the Jackson County Fairgrounds and were met with heavy flames coming from the building, city spokesman Aaron Dimick said.

An all-call alarm was sent out countywide for additional assistance, resulting in crews from every fire station in Jackson County responding to the scene, Dimick told the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Three Jackson firefighters and one Napoleon Township firefighter suffered minor injuries from heat exhaustion while fighting the fire and were treated at the scene, Dimick said.

Police officer killed, another injured in Hartford after their cruiser is struck by a speeding car

BY DAVE COLLINS from the Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A police officer was killed and another was seriously injured Wednesday night when their cruiser was struck by a car speeding through a red light while fleeing a traffic stop in Connecticut’s capital city, authorities said. The driver of the car was arrested.

Officer Robert “Bobby” Garten, 34, an eight-year veteran of Hartford police whose father retired as a detective on the force, died from his injuries, police said. Officer Brian Kearney was seriously injured and was listed as stable at a local hospital. Other details of his condition were not disclosed.

“This is a devastating loss for our community, for our department, and our whole city is grieving this morning,” Mayor Luke Bronin said at a news conference Thursday. “Bobby loved this city. … He served this city with courage and compassion and tremendous skill and dedication.”

Police Chief Jason Thody said Garten was in the passenger’s seat and Kearney was driving the cruiser with its emergency lights and siren on as they responded to an unrelated call at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Another car that had fled a traffic stop by other officers smashed into the passenger’s side of the cruiser just west of downtown Hartford.

The driver of the car, Richard Barrington, 18, of Hartford, was treated at a hospital, discharged and arrested, police said. He was charged with failure to obey a traffic control signal, failure to renew registration, misuse of plates and interfering with police. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could respond to the allegations.

Other officers had pulled over Barrington after he disobeyed a traffic signal and they checked his license plate, which showed the car’s registration had been canceled, Thody said. While officers approached the car, Barrington sped away, drove through one red light and went through another red light before crashing into Garten and Kearney’s cruiser, he said.

The other officers did not chase after Barrington when he fled the traffic stop, the police chief said.

Early Thursday morning, a procession of police transported Garten’s body from the hospital to the chief medical examiner’s office in Farmington. Gov. Ned Lamont later directed all state and U.S. flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff in Garten’s memory.

Garten grew up in nearby Wethersfield and enjoyed going to the now-defunct Hartford Whalers NHL hockey games as a kid and Hartford Yard Goats minor league baseball games as an adult, Bronin and Thody said.

Garten worked patrol walking city streets before joining the department’s street crimes unit two years ago, Thody said. The unit focuses on gun violence and taking firearms off the street, Thody said.

“I think if you ask anybody in the police department about him, they’ll say he was the guy that was always smiling,” Thody said. “Really loved the work when he got on the job. Was one of those officers that really wanted to excel and do different things. … He was a great man.”

Thody said state police are investigating the crash.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Chicago TV news crew robbed at gunpoint while reporting on a string of robberies

From the Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago television news crew reporting on a string of robberies ended up robbed themselves after they were accosted at gunpoint by three armed men wearing ski masks.

Spanish-language station Univision Chicago said a reporter and photographer were filming just before 5 a.m. Monday in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood when three masked men brandishing firearms robbed them, taking their television camera and other items.

“They were approached with guns and robbed. Mainly it was personal items, and they took a camera,” Luis Godinez, vice president of news at Univision Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.

Godinez said the news crew was filming a story about robberies in the West Town community that was slated to run on the morning news. He said the footage they shot was in the stolen camera, and the story never made it on the air.

Chicago police identified the victims as a 28-year-old man and 42-year-old man. Police said the pair was outside when the three men drove up in a gray sedan and black SUV. After the armed robbers took items from the news crew they fled in their vehicles.

No injuries were reported and no one is in custody, police said.

Godinez said Univision Chicago, the local TV affiliate of international media company TelevisaUnivision, is not disclosing the names of the reporter and photographer to protect their privacy.

“They’re OK, and we’re working on it together as a team,” he said.

The episode was the second robbery this month involving a Chicago news crew, after a WLS-TV photographer was assaulted and robbed on Aug. 8 while preparing to cover a weekday afternoon news conference on Chicago’s West Side, the station reported.

The robberies prompted the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 41, which represents TV photographers in Chicago, to warn about the growing safety threats to those who cover the news.

“Our news photographers and reporters provide a very important public service in keeping our community informed. We are committed to making sure that their safety comes first,” Raza Siddiqui, president of the union local, said in a statement.

Siddiqui told the Chicago Sun-Times that some of the news stations affiliated with the union planned to take additional safety steps, including assigning security to some TV crews.

He said the union is arranging a safety meeting for members to “voice some of their concerns that they may have from the streets” and to determine what the union can do to provide support for its members.

Critical fire weather arrives in Northern California’s interior; PG&E cuts power to 8,400 customers


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gusty winds and low humidity brought high risk of wildfires to the interior of Northern California on Wednesday and a utility proactively cut electricity to approximately 8,400 customers to prevent potential ignitions in the blustery conditions.

Red flag warnings for critical fire danger were to remain in effect until 8 p.m. in much of the Sacramento Valley and adjacent areas to the west, the National Weather Service said.

Pacific Gas & Electric said that shortly before 2 a.m., it began public safety power shutoffs in small portions of eight counties.

Customers in the “targeted high-fire-threat areas” were notified in advance Tuesday, the utility said in a statement.

The gusty northerly winds were generated in the wake of a trough of low pressure that moved through Northern California on Tuesday, the weather service said.

Public safety power shutoffs are intended to prevent fires from starting when power lines are downed by winds or struck by falling trees or windblown debris. Such fires have caused extensive destruction and deaths in California.

The issue of power shutoffs surfaced in Hawaii after the deadly fire that destroyed the Maui community of Lahaina. Maui County claims Hawaiian Electric Company negligently failed to cut power despite high winds and dry conditions. The utility acknowledges its lines started the fire but faults county firefighters for declaring the blaze contained and leaving the scene.

Wednesday’s power cuts were PG&E’s first since 2021. PG&E first implemented the shutoffs in 2019, leaving nearly 2 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in Northern California without power and drawing fierce criticism.

The utility has since been able to reduce the impact by adding more circuit switches to its grid, allowing it to more precisely determine which customers will lose power, said Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesperson.

PG&E also added hundreds of weather stations in areas prone to wildfires and now it has nearly 1,500 units that provide information on when fire conditions are present and when those conditions have passed, he said.

California has so far avoided widespread wildfires this year following an extraordinarily wet winter and cool spring that melted the mountain snowpack slowly. Downpours from recent Tropical Storm Hilary further dampened much of the southern half of the state.

Major fires have been limited to the southeastern desert and the lightly populated far northwest corner of the state where lightning ignited many blazes this month.


Antczak reported from Los Angeles.

Hurricane Idalia hits Florida with 125 mph winds, flooding streets, snapping trees and cutting power

By Terry Spencer from the Associated Press

PERRY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Idalia tore into Florida at the speed of a fast-moving train Wednesday, splitting trees in half, ripping roofs off hotels and turning small cars into boats before sweeping into Georgia as a still-powerful storm that flooded roadways and sent residents running for higher ground.

“All hell broke loose,” said Belond Thomas of Perry, a mill town located just inland from the Big Bend region where Idalia came ashore.

Thomas fled with her family and some friends to a motel, thinking it would be safer than riding out the storm at home. But as Idalia’s eye passed over about 8:30 a.m., a loud whistling noise pierced the air and the high winds ripped the building’s roof off, sending debris down on her pregnant daughter, who was lying in bed. Fortunately, she was not injured.

“It was frightening,” Thomas said. “Things were just going so fast. … Everything was spinning.”

After coming ashore, Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m. as a high-end Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph). It had weakened to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (113 kph) by Wednesday afternoon.

As the eye moved inland, high winds shredded signs, blew off roofs, sent sheet metal flying and snapped tall trees. But as of midday Wednesday, there were no confirmed deaths in Florida, although fatal traffic accidents in two counties may end up being storm-related Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Unlike last year’s Hurricane Ian, which hit the heavily populated Fort Myers area, leaving 149 dead in the state, Idalia blew into a very lightly populated area known as Florida’s “nature coast,” one of the state’s most rural regions that lies far from crowded metropolises or busy tourist areas and features millions of acres of undeveloped land.

That doesn’t mean that it didn’t do major damage. Rushing water covered streets near the coast, unmoored small boats and nearly a half-million customers in Florida and Georgia lost power. In Perry, the wind blew out store windows, tore siding off buildings and overturned a gas station canopy. Heavy rains partially flooded Interstate 275 in Tampa , and toppled power lines onto the northbound side of Interstate 75 just south of Valdosta, Georgia.

Storm surge could rise as high as 16 feet (4.9 meters) in some places. Some counties implemented curfews to keep residents off roads.

Less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of where Idalia made landfall, businesses, boat docks and homes in Steinhatchee, Florida, were swallowed up by water surging in from Deadman’s Bay. Police officers blocked traffic into the coastal community of more than 500 residents known for fishing and foresting industries.

State officials, 5,500 National Guardsman and rescue crews were in search-and-recovery mode, inspecting bridges, clearing toppled trees and looking for anyone in distress.

Because of the remoteness of the Big Bend area, search teams may need more time to complete their work compared with past hurricanes in more urban areas, said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management.

“You may have two houses on a 5-mile (8-kilometer) road so it’s going to take some time,” Guthries said.

On the island of Cedar Key, downed trees and debris blocked roads, and propane tanks exploded.

RJ Wright stayed behind so he could check on elderly neighbors. He hunkered down with friends in a motel and when it was safe, walked outside into chest-high water. It could have been a lot worse for the island, which juts into the Gulf, since it didn’t take a direct hit, he said.

“It got pretty gnarly for a while, but it was nothing compared to some of the other storms,” Wright said.

The system remained a hurricane as it crossed into Georgia with top winds of 90 mph (150 mph), after drenching Florida mostly to the east of Tallahassee. Forecasters said it would punish the Carolinas overnight as a tropical storm.

Jonathon Wick said he didn’t take the approaching hurricane seriously until Wednesday morning when he awoke to howling winds outside his home in Valdosta, Georgia. After plucking his young nephews from a trampoline in their back yard where waters were at his knees, they started piling into his car when a tree toppled right in front of the vehicle.

“If that tree would have fell on the car, I would be dead,” said Wick, who ended up getting rescued by another family member.

Some models had predicted that Idalia could circle southward toward land again after that, but the National Hurricane Center predicted it would move deeper into the Atlantic this weekend.

In Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, the power went out well before the center of the storm arrived, but the city avoided a direct hit. A giant oak tree next to the governor’s mansion split in half, covering the yard with debris.

“If they do cut down the whole tree, that is more room for my kids to hit baseballs,” DeSantis said.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend. The state, still dealing with lingering damage from Ian, feared disastrous results.

Idalia grew into a Category 2 system on Tuesday and then a Category 3 storm on Wednesday before peaking as a Category 4 hurricane.

Hurricane Idalia strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday morning as it steams toward Florida’s Big Bend region and threatens to unleash life-threatening storm surges and rainfall. (Aug. 30)(AP Video Production: Rod Jussim)

More than 30,000 utility workers in Florida were gathering to make repairs as quickly as possible in the hurricane’s wake. Airports in the region, including Tampa International Airport, planned to restart commercial operations either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday. By midday Wednesday, more than 900 flights had been canceled in Florida and Georgia, according to tracking service FlightAware.

In Valdosta, Idalia’s fierce winds uprooted trees and sent rain flying sideways, toppling a large tree onto a house and mangling awning. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters that there were no confirmed reports of injuries.

“The good thing is this is a narrow storm and it’s very fast moving, so it’s not sitting on us and dumping even more rain,” Kemp said.

As he finished tying down about 20 sailboats and motor yachts docked on Wilmington Island east of Savannah, Georgia, Brandon Long said his biggest worry was that the storm surge was forecast to coincide with a higher-than-normal tide.

“If these docks float off their pylons or come apart because of the violent current and the choppy waters, then that’s what destroys a marina,” said Long, owner of the Bull River Marina.

Officials in Bermuda warned that Idalia could hit the island early next week as a tropical storm. Bermuda on Wednesday was being lashed by the outer bands of Hurricane Franklin, a Category 2 storm that was on track to pass near the island in the north Atlantic Ocean.

President Joe Biden called the governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina on Wednesday and told them their states had his administration’s full support, the White House said.


A Trump supporter indicted in Georgia is also charged with assaulting an FBI agent in Maryland

BY RUSS BYNUM from the Associated Press

Donald Trump supporter who surrendered to Georgia authorities Thursday on charges he conspired with the former president and other allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss is also facing federal charges that he assaulted an FBI agent in Maryland.

An official stands guard in front of the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on Thursday, 24 August.

Harrison William Prescott Floyd turned himself in to the Fulton County jail in Atlanta a week after being indicted in the Georgia case alongside Trump and 17 others.

Court records show Floyd, identified as a former U.S. Marine who’s active with the group Black Voices for Trump, was also arrested three months ago in Maryland on a federal warrant that accuses him of aggressively confronting two FBI agents sent to serve him with a grand jury subpoena.

An agent’s affidavit filed in U.S. District Court says Floyd screamed, cursed and jabbed a finger in one FBI agent’s face and twice chest-bumped the agent in a stairwell. It says Floyd backed down only when the second agent opened his suit coat to reveal his holstered gun.

The records don’t disclose the purpose of the grand jury seeking Floyd’s testimony. But he was served during the months that special counsel Jack Smith was calling witnesses before the federal grand jury that indicted Trump on Aug. 1 for trying to overturn his election loss.

On the heels of Floyd’s May arrest in Maryland on a charge of simple assault against a federal officer, Floyd got swept up in the sprawling Georgia case in which Trump and numerous allies are charged with trying to undo the former president’s 2020 election loss in the state.

Court records do not list an attorney for Floyd in the Georgia case. Jail records show he was being held with no bond, unlike other defendants in the case who had attorneys negotiate bonds with a judge before their surrender.

Floyd’s attorney in the federal case in Maryland, Carlos J.R. Salvado, did not immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press. Federal court records show Floyd had his first appearance May 15, in which the judge set conditions for his pretrial release. He later surrendered his passport.

The Aug. 14 indictment in Fulton County charges Floyd with violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, conspiring to commit false statements and illegally influencing a witness.

It says the charges stem from harassment of Ruby Freeman, a Fulton County election worker who had been falsely accused of election fraud by Trump. Floyd took part in a Jan. 4, 2020, conversation in which Freeman was told she “needed protection” and was pressured to make false statements about election fraud, the indictment says.

In the Maryland case, the agents first reached Floyd by phone as they stood outside his apartment building in Rockville, over 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Washington, according to court records. The agents told Floyd they had a subpoena to serve him, and Floyd told them he wasn’t home.

When Floyd returned home with his daughter, he brushed past the agents without taking the subpoena being held out to him, according to a May 3 affidavit by FBI agent Dennis McGrail. It says the agents followed Floyd inside the building and up several flights of stairs.

“Bro, I don’t even know who you are,” Floyd told the agents, according to McGrail’s affidavit, which says the agents made an audio recording of the encounter. “You’re two random guys who are following me up here, into my house, with my daughter. You’re not showing me a (expletive) badge, you haven’t shown me (expletive). Get the (expletive) away from me.”

As Floyd slammed his apartment door shut, one of the agents wedged the subpoena between the door and its frame, the affidavit says.

The agents were heading down the stairs when they saw Floyd rushing toward them, screaming expletives, the affidavit says.

Floyd ran into one of the agents in the stairwell, “striking him chest to chest” and knocking him backward, the affidavit says. Then he chest-bumped the same agent again, ignoring commands to back away. Instead, Floyd began jabbing a finger in the agent’s face as he kept screaming.

The affidavit says Floyd only backed down when the second agent showed Floyd his badge and holstered gun.

Floyd returned to his apartment and called 911 to report that two men had threatened him at his home, one of them armed with a gun.

“They were lucky I didn’t have a gun on me, because I would have shot his (expletive) ass,” Floyd told a dispatcher, according to the FBI agent’s affidavit.

Floyd told Rockville police officers dispatched to his apartment that he didn’t know who the men were. He told them his mother-in-law had called earlier in the day saying two men showed up at her home wanting to talk with him. The affidavit says he showed the officers a text message his mother-in-law had sent of the men’s business cards, which identified them as FBI agents.

Connecticut officer submitted fake reports on traffic stops that never happened, report finds

BY DAVE COLLINS from the Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Hartford police officer quit the force earlier this year while facing allegations that he reported a traffic stop that never happened to get an arrest warrant, according to an internal affairs report released Thursday.

Michael R. Fallon, whose late father was the chief of Connecticut State Capitol Police, also was accused of inflating his overall enforcement stats for last year, overreporting nearly 200 traffic stops that couldn’t be verified and claiming 31 more traffic citations than he actually issued, the report said.

A judge issued the arrest warrant in March 2022 for a man Fallon claims fled a traffic stop that never occurred. The man was never arrested, and the judge later invalidated the warrant after being notified by Hartford police of the false report, the investigation found. Why Fallon wanted the man arrested was not disclosed.

Fallon admitted to falsifying records, and the internal affairs probe substantiated misconduct allegations against him, Police Chief Jason Thody said. Fallon resigned in March before the investigation was completed, avoiding any discipline, records show. But Thody said the department notified the state agency that decertifies police officers about Fallon.

“The Hartford Police Department has no tolerance for conduct like this, and our process worked exactly as it should to identify discrepancies, initiate an investigation, and take swift and appropriate action when the misconduct was substantiated,” Thody said in a statement.

Fallon could not be reached for comment Thursday. A message was left at a phone listing for him. His father, Michael J. Fallon, who died in 2009, was the chief of the Connecticut State Capitol Police.

A Hartford police spokesperson said the department is working with state prosecutors to see if criminal charges are warranted against Fallon.

Fallon is the latest Connecticut officer accused of submitting false or inaccurate information on traffic stops.

Federal authorities and an independent investigator are probing state police after an audit said dozens of troopers likely submitted false or inaccurate information on thousands of traffic stops. The state police union has cautioned against coming to any conclusions about the troopers until the investigations are complete, saying more than 20 troopers already have been cleared of wrongdoing, and some of the problems may be due to data input errors and other mistakes.

A Norwalk officer was arrested year on allegations he submitted bogus data on traffic stops that never happened.

The investigation into Fallon was revealed Thursday during a meeting of the board of the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project, which analyzes traffic stop information of all police departments in the state. Hartford police, which had notified the board of the probe, released their investigation report later in the day in response to media requests, including one by The Associated Press.

Investigators said Fallon reported to superiors that he made 575 traffic stops last year. But the report said the department’s record management system showed he only made 380 stops.

Fallon reported that he issued 281 traffic infractions for the year, but the investigation found he only issued 250. Investigators also said Fallon submitted forms for 33 traffic stops that never happened, forms that were also sent to the state for traffic stop analysis. He also was accused of not activating his body camera when he should have several times and making mistakes on reports.

Fallon met with two superiors in January about discrepancies in his reports over the previous month.“

Officer Fallon admitted to the sergeants that he purposely lied on his activity reports to embellish his activities over the four-week period,” the report said. “He responded that his reason for doing so was that he did not want to disappoint his supervisors with a limited amount of activity.”

The president of the Hartford Police Union, Sgt. James Rutkauski, said Fallon’s actions were not defensible and the department’s internal controls for identifying wrongdoing worked.

Firefighters in Greece struggle to control wildfires, including the EU’s largest blaze

BY ELENA BECATOROS for the Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Firefighters struggled Thursday against strong winds and hot, dry conditions to tame multiple wildfires ravaging Greece, including one in the country’s northeast that officials say is the largest recorded in the European Union.

The wildfires have left 20 people dead over the last week. Eighteen of those, including two boys aged between 10 and 15, are believed to be migrants who crossed the nearby border with Turkey. Their bodies were found near a shack in a burnt forest area near Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. Sixty firefighters have been injured, fire department spokesman Ioannis Artopios said.

The wildfire in the Alexandroupolis region, burning for a sixth day, combined with smaller fires to create a massive blaze that consumed homes and vast tracts of forest and triggered multiple evacuations of villages and of the city’s hospital.

With more than 730 square kilometers (282 square miles) burned, the Alexandroupolis blaze was the EU’s largest on record, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“We must continue strengthening national & collective prevention and preparedness efforts in view of more brutal fire seasons,” he tweeted.

Elsewhere in Europe, fires in Spain’s Canary Islands and northwestern Turkey were being brought under control, officials said.

Firefighters in Greece tackled 104 fires across the country in the 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday evening, 69 of which were new wildfires, the fire department said.

One of the major blazes was on the outskirts of the Greek capital, where flames scorched homes on Wednesday and burned into the national park on Mount Parnitha, one of the last green areas near Athens. By Thursday night, the situation appeared somewhat improved, although firefighters were still dealing with flare-ups, the fire department said.

Greece’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said arson was to blame for some of the blazes near Athens.“Some … arsonists are setting fires, endangering forests, property and above all human lives,” Kikilias said in a televised statement. “What is happening is not just unacceptable but despicable and criminal.”

The minister said nine fires had been set in the space of four hours Thursday morning in the area of Avlona, in the northern foothills of Mount Parnitha.

“You are committing a crime against the country,” Kikilias said. “We will find you. You will be held accountable to justice.

”Police on Thursday arrested a 45-year-old man on suspicion of arson for allegedly setting at least three fires in the Avlona area. A search of his home revealed kindling, a fire torch gun and pine needles, police said.

With firefighting forces stretched to the limit, Greece has asked other European countries for assistance. Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Cyprus sent aircraft, while dozens of Romanian, French, Czech, Bulgarian, Albanian and Slovak firefighters have been helping on the ground.

Artopios, the Greek fire department spokesman, said 260 firefighters, including more than a dozen from France, battled the Parnitha fire supported by 10 planes and 11 helicopters. Bulgarian, Albanian, Romanian and Czech firefighters with vehicles were helping in the Alexandroupolis fire.

Greece suffers destructive wildfires every summer. The deadliest killed 104 people in 2018 in a seaside resort near Athens that residents had not been warned to evacuate. Authorities have since erred on the side of caution, ordering evacuations whenever inhabited areas are under threat.

In 2007, a series of devastating wildfires that affected mainly the southern Peloponnese region killed more than 70 people by the end of that summer and burnt around 2,700 square kilometers (1,040 square miles).Last month a large wildfire on the resort island of Rhodes forced the evacuation of some 20,000 tourists. Days later, two air force pilots were killed when their water-dropping plane crashed while tackling a blaze on the island of Evia.

With their hot, dry summers, southern European countries are particularly prone to wildfires. EU officials have blamed climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Europe, noting that 2022 was the second-worst year for wildfire damage on record after 2017.In Spain’s Tenerife, a fire that has scorched 150 square kilometers (58 square miles) was being brought under control.

Canary Island regional President Fernando Clavijo said Thursday the blaze had “not gained a single square meter” for the first time in over a week. Of the 12,000 people forced to evacuate their homes earlier in the week, only about 200 were still unable to return.

In Turkey, firefighters in the northwestern Canakkale province brought a wildfire under control Thursday, less than 48 hours after it erupted amid high temperatures and strong winds, Turkish Forestry Minister Ibrahim Yumakli said.

Yumakli said the fire, which had forced the evacuation of 11 villages, had affected 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) including 14 square kilometers (5.4 square miles) of agricultural land.

A firefighting volunteer who was injured and six other people who suffered from smoke inhalation were being kept under observation in hospitals, Yumakli said.

“We are extremely happy that there was no loss of life,” Yamukli said. “However, we are heartbroken for other creatures of the ecosystem that were affected.”

Shipping traffic through the Dardanelles Strait, a major maritime thoroughfare linking the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara, was being partially restored to one lane only, after being completely suspended as fire-dousing aircraft use the waterway to pick up water.


Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey and Raf Casert in Brussels, contributed.

Flooding fills tunnels leading to Detroit airport, forces water rescues in Ohio and Las Vegas


ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — Heavy rain flooded an Ohio highway where people were rescued from their cars, covered the Las Vegas strip with water and closed a busy airport terminal outside Detroit.

Parts of the western United States have been deluged in recent weeks with rain from Tropical Storm Hilary and much of the central U.S. was beaten down by deadly sweltering heat. In Hawaii and Washington, emergency crews battled catastrophic wildfires.

Parts of southeast Michigan got over 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain by Thursday morning resulting in street flooding in the Detroit area, including tunnels leading to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in the suburb of Romulus, officials said. Officials started reopening the McNamara Terminal Wednesday.

Mitzi Hale and her three sons ate some snacks out of a vending machine as they awaited word on the status of the terminal.

The 42-year-old from Brighton and her sons — 10, 13 and 20 — were to board a mid-morning flight to Florida. They were scheduled to visit Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park on Friday before embarking on a Disney cruise through the Caribbean, beginning on Saturday.

Making matters worse: The quartet had the same vacation booked for November of last year, but missed out due to a tropical storm that struck the region.

“We’re just having flashbacks,” said Hale, who lives in Brighton, Michigan, located between Detroit and Lansing.

Hale and her boys stood on a pedestrian walkway inside the airport’s Evans terminal, which was open on Thursday morning. They looked through a window toward street level at a fleet of shuttle buses that typically take passengers to McNamara.

“I’m trying to be positive, but the boys are a little stressed out,” Hale said.While speaking to a reporter, she received a text from Delta Air Lines informing her that their flight had been pushed back another hour.Asked whether Hale believed she and her family would make it to Florida by the end of the day, she said: “Fingers crossed.”

Scientists say that without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to climate change, but that climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires. Climate change is largely caused by human activities that emit carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to the vast majority of peer-reviewed studies, science organizations and climate scientists.

The overnight storms caused power outages across Michigan, concentrated in the Detroit area. More than 58,000 homes and businesses were in the dark Wednesday morning, according to

“We were getting rainfall rates above an inch an hour, which is pretty significant,” said Brian Cromwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Detroit.

Cromwell added that more severe thunderstorms with torrential rains were possible over the region Thursday evening.

Up to 8 inches of rain (20 centimeters) also hit some areas of north-central Ohio, according to Brian Mitchell with the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The northeast part of the state saw at least 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) from midday Wednesday into Thursday morning, with winds reaching up to 60 mph (37 kph) in some areas.

Lorain County, which received around 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) of rain, canceled its county fair Thursday due to “storms, flooding, closed roads and damage.”

In Lakewood, Ohio, 10 people were rescued from seven cars on a section of Interstate 90 on Wednesday night after their vehicles got stuck in the water that reached to the windows, Capt. Gary Stone said. The highway was shut down in both directions at one point. No one was hurt.

“It was a bad mess down there,” Stone said, noting that while Lakewood is often hit by bad storms coming off of Lake Erie, this kind of flooding was unheard of.

In Las Vegas, a fast-moving storm flooded parts of the city, including the strip. Police started getting calls shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday for help and rescued one person, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Miguel Ibarra told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But he said another person was believed to be missing.

Police attempted a rescue around 9:30 p.m., but were unsuccessful and were still searching, Ibarra said. He said there may be two other victims. A message seeking further comment was left with the department.

Accumulations were less than an inch, the National Weather Service said. More rain was in the forecast Thursday.

“We do have so much moisture” lingering from tropical storms Hilary and the remnants of Harold, meteorologist Jenn Varian said Thursday morning.


Associated Press reporters Samantha Hendrickson in Columbus, Ohio, and Rick Callahan in Indianapolis contributed to this story.

Police arrest two men in suspected torching of British pub cherished for its lopsided walls

By BRIAN MELLEY, the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Two men were arrested Thursday on suspicion of torching an historic British pub in central England that was famous for its lopsided walls and sagging foundation, police said.

FILE – The burnt remains of The Crooked House pub in Himley. England, Aug. 7, 2023. British police said Thursday Aug. 24, 2023, two men have been arrested on suspicion of burning down an historic English pub that was famous for its lopsided walls and sagging foundation. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

The suspects were being questioned by Staffordshire Police about the Aug. 5 blaze that gutted the 18th century Crooked House pub in the village of Himley, 110 miles (180 kilometers) northwest of London.

Locals mourning the loss of the tavern, which had recently been sold, were doubly devastated when it’s charred skeletal remains were bulldozed two days later before the cause of the fire had been determined and before local authorities had granted permission to demolish it.

Fans of the pub dubbed “Britain’s wonkiest” for its slumping foundation and sloping walls had hoped it would be restored and many are now pushing for it to be rebuilt brick by brick.

A 66-year-old man from Dudley, and 33-year-old from Milton Keynes were arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, police said.

The pub, built as a farmhouse in 1765, began sinking on one side because of extensive coal mining in the area. It became a pub known as The Siden House around 1830 — named for the word in the local dialect that meant crooked.

In the 1940s, after being renamed Glynne Arms, the pub was condemned as unsafe until new owners shored it up so it was structurally sound but retained its asymmetrical charms.

It was then called The Crooked House and became a tourist destination. One side of the building was about 4 feet (around 1.2 meters) lower than the other and it was known for its tilting grandfather clock and a bar where coins and marbles appeared to roll uphill.

Days before the fire, an online petition was launched to save the bar because the developers who bought it planned to use it for something else. The “Save The Crooked House” petition was up to more than 22,000 signatures Thursday.

When the blaze broke out, firefighters were unable to reach the pub because a large mound of dirt was piled in a rural road.

Protesters showed up Monday to try to prevent heavy machinery from taking part in a salvage operation.

The South Staffordshire Council said it reached an agreement with the new owners to keep the bricks and foundation pieces at the site and would monitor the work.

SWAT member fatally shoots man during standoff at southern Indiana apartment complex

From the Associated Press

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Police fatally shot a 65-year-old man during a standoff at an apartment complex in southern Indiana, authorities said Wednesday.

A SWAT team member shot Richard Glass around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday after Glass pointed a gun out his apartment window in Jeffersonville, north of Kentucky along the Ohio River, according to Indiana State Police, who are investigating the shooting.

Glass had earlier fired shots inside the apartment and toward officers from the window.

A resident called 911 about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and requested a welfare check after Glass reportedly made statements about going back to prison.

Glass called 911 himself a short time later, requesting officers and telling a dispatcher someone was trying to hack his phone. He said he had a firearm and “did not want to use it on the person hacking his phone,” police said.

Glass would not open his apartment door when police and paramedics arrived. He told a dispatcher “he did not think the people in the hallway were police and repeated statements about having a gun.”

Officers pulled back and later saw Glass from a window, confirming he had firearms. Officers reported that at about 11:30 p.m. Glass was shooting toward them from his window, state police said.

The SWAT team member later shot him.

Bolt was missing on police helicopter that crashed in South Carolina, report says

BY JEFFREY COLLINS for the Associated Press

A police helicopter that crashed at a South Carolina airport was missing a bolt that should have been removed and reinstalled during maintenance about six weeks earlier, federal officials said in a report.

A second bolt on the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office helicopter also was loose and the pilot, who survived, told investigators he felt like his foot controls to move the aircraft’s tail rotors weren’t working, according to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“It felt as if the pedals were not attached,” the pilot said.

The tail rotor is key to keeping the helicopter stable and steering it. About 35 minutes into the Aug. 1 flight from Sumter to Charleston, the pilot reported the helicopter wanted to keep pulling to the right, according to the report.

Bank of Ireland glitch allowed customers to withdraw money they didn’t have

BY WYATTE GRANTHAM-PHILIPS for the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Some Bank of Ireland customers were able to withdraw money they did not have Tuesday and early Wednesday after an hours-long technical glitch that also halted many of the bank’s online services.

The outage allowed some customers to transfer and withdraw funds “above their normal limits,” the Bank of Ireland said. Customers could withdraw up to €500 ($546) with their Bank of Ireland card, the bank confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday. They could also transfer funds from their Bank of Ireland account to a different account and withdraw up to €1,000 ($1,091), the bank said.

As word spread on social media, images and video footage appeared to show people lining up at ATMs in hopes of receiving the “free money.” As more people appeared to arrive at ATMs in large numbers on Tuesday, images of police standing on guard close by began to appear on social media.

An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s national police, said it was “aware of an unusual volume of activity at some ATMs across the country” — and that “local decisions were made depending on the public safety and public order presented to members of An Garda Síochána” on a case-by-case basis.

The Bank of Ireland, however, warns that all withdrawals will still appear as a debit on customer accounts.

“These transfers and withdrawals will be applied to customers’ accounts today,” the bank said in a Wednesday statement. “We urge any customer who may find themselves in financial difficulty due to overdrawing on their account to contact us.”

Beyond the withdrawals, the technical issue also impacted many online and mobile app services. On social media, a number of frustrated customers reported not being able to access their accounts or see payments. Some stressed the difficulty of buying food and other essentials without being able to check their account balances — and others noted that this wasn’t the first times a technical issue at the bank has impacted them, pointing to a June glitch that similarly cut off access to online services.

The Bank of Ireland said that its online services were working again Wednesday, but that the bank’s app may be slow as the bank continues to catch up on processing payments. Overnight payments should appear throughout the day, the bank said.

“We sincerely apologise for the disruption this outage caused – we know we fell far below the standards our customers expect from us,” the bank said.

Ireland’s Minister for Finance Michael McGrath later announced he had asked the Central Bank of Ireland, which regulates the Bank of Ireland, “to establish a full account” of the outage and what can be done to avoid such issues in the future.

“Financial service providers have to do whatever is required to ensure continuity of service for their customers,” McGrath said in a statement. “Disruption to banking services can have a significant effect on people’s personal lives and on the running of businesses. Customers rightly have an expectation of a high quality of service and to be able to have uninterrupted access to services.

”In a Wednesday statement, the Central Bank confirmed it was monitoring the situation and had begun the process of establishing a full account of this week’s incident with the Bank of Ireland.

“Where issues occur which impact on customers we expect banks to rectify the issues urgently,” the regulator said. “We require banks to put things right where they have made errors or cause customer harm.”

NYC fire officials probe if e-bike battery is behind latest deadly fire

From the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A 93-year-old New York City woman died, and another was rescued, when fire and smoke filled a building. Firefighters said one focus of the investigation is on an e-bike battery that might have exploded into flames.If so, it would add to the mounting number of deaths city officials blame on malfunctioning e-bike batteries.

With some 65,000 e-bikes zipping through its streets, New York City is the epicenter of battery-related fires. There have been more than 100 such blazes so far this year, resulting in at least 14 deaths, already more than double the six fatalities last year.

Fire officials said the elderly victim, Kam Mei Koo, was found unconscious on the second floor. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Jack Koo, who identified himself to the New York Daily News as the woman’s son, said he had left the building earlier in the day, only to return to see the fire-gutted building and learn of his mother’s fate.

“I left to pick up my daughter and I came back to this,” Koo told the paper. “My mother is dead. What can I do? What can I do?”

The fire and smoke had spread quickly, according to Marie Rodriguez who made a harrowing escape.

“I was taking a nap and I heard something pop three times real loud,” Rodriguez told WABC. “Woke up, then I started choking. And when I looked to the door, I saw smoke coming in.”

She ran to the window as she gasped for air. She leaned outside the window as onlookers urged her to jump then tried to rescue her with a ladder.

But firefighters soon arrived and rescued her.

The Daily News reported that Koo, the dead woman’s son, told fire officials that the bike was his.

Heavy rains trigger floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, leaving at least 48 dead

From the Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — Heavy monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, leaving at least 48 people dead and many others trapped, officials told local media on Monday.

A portion of the Shimla-Kalka heritage railway track that got washed away following heavy rainfall on the outskirts of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh state, Monday, Aug.14, 2023. Heavy monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, leaving more than a dozen people dead and many others trapped, officials said Monday. (AP Photo/ Pradeep Kumar)

Torrential downpours that began over the weekend in the mountainous Himachal Pradesh state have flooded roads and washed away homes as scores of rescuers work to help those trapped under piles of debris.

Among the worst hit was the Mandi district in Pradesh, where 19 bodies were recovered by rescuers, officials told the Press Trust of India news agency.

In the capital city of Shimla, 14 people died following two landslides and a cloudburst — a sudden, very heavy rain — in the state’s Solan district on Sunday night killed nine people in the area, they added.

The death toll rose through the day as heavy rains battered various parts of the state, sparking flash floods and more landslides, authorities said.

The state’s chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, said rescuers in Shimla were working to clear the debris and help those still trapped.

Cloudbursts are defined as when more than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of rainfall occurs within 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) within an hour. They are a common occurrence in Himalayan regions, where they have the potential to cause intense flooding and landslides affecting thousands of people.

Homes in Solan were washed away and roads flooded in the incessant rains, police told PTI. In Shimla, the landslides brought down a Hindu temple, which was crowded with devotees, raising fears that the death toll could rise as rescue work carries on.

All schools and colleges in the state have been shut and more than 700 inundated roads have been closed.

India’s weather department warned that moderate to heavy rainfall were hitting various parts of the state on Monday, and said rains could continue until the end of the week. It had issued a red alert over the weekend for intense downpours in neighboring Uttarakhand state, where 60 people have died in monsoon rains this season, PTI reported.

Last month, record monsoon showers killed more than 100 people over two weeks in parts of northern India, including in Himachal Pradesh, which was the worst hit.

Disasters caused by landslides and floods are common in India’s Himalayan north during the June-September monsoon season. Scientists say they are becoming more frequent as global warming contributes to the melting of glaciers there.

In February of 2021, flash floods killed nearly 200 people and washed away houses in Uttarakhand.

Chicago mayor to introduce the police department’s counterterrorism head as new superintendent

From the Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson on Monday will introduce Larry Snelling, the police department’s counterterrorism head, as his choice for police superintendent of the nation’s third-largest city.

The introduction comes after Johnson named Snelling on Sunday after a monthslong search led by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The selection of Snelling, 54, to head the department is subject to City Council approval.

Snelling will succeed David Brown, who in March announced that he would step down the day after Chicago’s mayoral primary election in which crime was a central issue. Then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost that primary, and Johnson went on to win the mayoral race in April.

“Today, a new chapter begins in our journey to create a better, stronger and safer Chicago,” Johnson said in a news release Sunday. “Chief Snelling is a proven leader who has the experience and the respect of his peers to help ensure the safety and well-being of city residents, and address the complex challenges we all face related to community safety.”

Snelling was raised on the city’s South Side and attended its public schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in adult education from DePaul University and joined the department in 1992 as a patrol officer.

“It is a tremendous honor to answer the call to serve my hometown and the people of Chicago as superintendent of the Chicago Police Department,” Snelling said in a statement. “It is also a tremendous responsibility, and one that I do not take lightly.”

“In order to continue to make progress as a department, we must embrace innovation, continue to strengthen morale, and go further in strengthening bonds of trust between police and community,” Snelling said.

He has been chief of the department’s bureau of counterterrorism, which coordinates with the Office of Emergency Management and Communication and other city agencies, since 2022.

While crime in Chicago often focuses on murders and shootings, the numbers so far in 2023 are down in both categories by 5% and 10%, respectively, according to the most recent department crime statistics. However, overall major crime rates are up 35% so far this year over 2022.

Snelling was one of three finalists nominated by the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The other two finalists were Shon Barnes, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin; and Angel Novalez, Chicago police chief of constitutional policing and reform.

Avid search for missing Texas rodeo goat bringing residents of a small rural county together

From the Associated Press

This photo provided by the Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair shows a rodeo goat named Willy, who went missing on July 15, 2023, in a rural South Texas county. The search for Willy has residents enthralled as they're using horses, ATVs and even contemplating using a helicopter to locate the missing animal. (Alma Barron/Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair via AP)
This photo provided by the Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair shows a rodeo goat named Willy, who went missing on July 15, 2023, in a rural South Texas county. The search for Willy has residents enthralled as they’re using horses, ATVs and even contemplating using a helicopter to locate the missing animal. (Alma Barron/Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair via AP)

RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (AP) — First there was Gone Girl. Now there is Gone Goat.

The search for a rodeo goat that has been missing for more than a week has the residents of a rural South Texas county enthralled as they are using horses, ATVs and even contemplating utilizing a helicopter to find the missing animal.

Local businesses have donated nearly 90 prizes and gifts worth more than $5,000, including brisket, frescoes and salon service, as a reward for the person who finds the goat.

“This has just gotten bigger than we ever dreamed. Our county is a really small county, about 20,000 population and a mostly agriculture, farming and ranching community. And we’re very much one big family … So, we’re excited that everybody wants to find our goat,” said Alison Savage, president of the Willacy County Livestock Show and Fair.

Residents, including families, have been scouring cotton and sugar cane fields since the goat escaped from a pen in the county’s rodeo arena near Raymondville on July 15 following a youth rodeo. On Sunday, possible goat tracks were spotted in a cotton field near Lyford, south of Raymondville.

When the goat first went missing, it didn’t have a name. But after a poll on the livestock show’s Facebook page, the goat was named Willy, short for Willacy County, Savage said. While the goat has a name, Savage said officials are not sure if Willy is a boy or a girl.

The livestock show has been posting regular updates on its Facebook page. The search has also been a boon for the livestock show, as residents and businesses have donated hundreds of dollars to make improvements to the nonprofit’s arena and other facilities.

“He’s hiding from us somewhere. But we’re getting closer. We’re going to find him” Savage said.

Kentucky’s Democratic governor releases public safety budget plan amid tough reelection campaign

By BRUCE SCHREINER for the Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday proposed another round of pay raises for Kentucky State Police troopers and more training for law officers as part of his latest budget proposals to increase public safety, coming amid a sharp focus on crime rates in his bid to win a second term.

The Democratic governor’s proposals would be part of the overall state budget plan he presents to the Republican-dominated legislature in January if he wins reelection this November. It comes about a month after his Republican challenger Attorney General Daniel Cameron unveiled his own plan, which includes awarding recruitment and retention bonuses to bolster police forces.

Beshear said his plan shifts all statewide law enforcement officers back to defined pension benefits, funding to upgrade body armor, and boosting training stipends for officers — including making part-time officers eligible for the stipend.

“With a historic budget surplus, there is no excuse not to provide the help that is needed, the best equipment to all law enforcement,” Beshear said at a news conference. “Because heroes like these deserve the best wages, the best benefits, the best training. And that is exactly what my budget proposal will do.”

The governor proposed an additional $2,500 pay raise for a group of officers that includes state police troopers and vehicle enforcement officers. It follows up on the large pay raise previously awarded to state troopers — a bipartisan policy supported by Beshear and lawmakers.

Other parts of Beshear’s plan would raise the current $4,300 training stipend to $4,800 and provide grant funding to upgrade body armor to better protect law officers.

Public safety issues have risen to the forefront of Kentucky’s closely watched gubernatorial campaign.

In his plan, Cameron also proposed requiring pursuit of the death penalty against anyone convicted of murdering a police officer. He pledged to work with lawmakers to pass a wiretapping law to support investigations of drug-cartel and gang-related crime. And he vowed to push for a standalone carjacking law to combat a crime that he said has become more prevalent in Kentucky’s largest cities.

A recent law enforcement report showed that overall serious crime rates fell across Kentucky in 2022, with double-digit declines in reports of homicides, robberies and drug offenses.

Cameron has blasted the governor’s decision to allow the early release of some nonviolent inmates during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people released committed new crimes, Cameron said. Beshear countered that more than 20 governors from both parties took the same action to release low-level, nonviolent inmates near the end of their sentences to help ease the spread of the virus in prisons.

People in Hawaii flee into ocean to escape wildfires that are burning a popular Maui tourist town

By  JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER for the Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — Wildfires in Hawaii fanned by strong winds burned multiple structures in areas including historic Lahaina town, forcing evacuations and closing schools in several communities Wednesday, and rescuers pulled a dozen people escaping smoke and flames from the ocean.The U.S. Coast Guard responded to areas where people went into the ocean to escape the fire and smoky conditions, the County of Maui said in a statement. The Coast Guard tweeted that a crew rescued 12 people from the water off Lahaina.

The county tweeted that multiple roads in Lahaina were closed with a warning: “Do NOT go to Lahaina town.”

Fire was widespread in Lahaina, including Front Street, an area of the town popular with tourists, County of Maui spokesperson Mahina Martin said in a phone interview early Wednesday. Traffic has been very heavy as people try to evacuate and officials asked people who weren’t in an evacuation area to shelter in place to avoid adding to the traffic, she said.

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora, which was passing to the south of the island chain at a safe distance of 500 miles (805 kilometers), was partly to blame for gusts above 60 mph (97 kph) that knocked out power as night fell, rattled homes and grounded firefighting helicopters. Dangerous fire conditions created by strong winds and low humidity were expected to last through Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said.

Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke issued an emergency proclamation on behalf of Gov. Josh Green, who is traveling, and activated the Hawaii National Guard.

Officials were not aware of any deaths and knew of only one injury, a firefighter who was in stable condition at a hospital after experiencing smoke inhalation, Martin said There’s no count available for the number of structures affected by the fires or the number of people affected by evacuations, but Martin said there are four shelters open, with more than 1,000 people at the largest.

“This is so unprecedented,” Martin said, noting that multiple districts were affected. An emergency in the night is terrifying, she said, and the darkness makes it hard to gauge the extent of the damage.

“Right now it is all-hands-on-deck and we are anxious for daybreak,” she said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a disaster declaration to provide assistance with a fire that threatened about 200 homes in and around Kohala Ranch, a rural community with a population of more than 500 on the Big Island, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. When the request was made, the fire had burned more than 600 acres (243 hectares) and was uncontained. Much of Hawaii was under a red flag warning that continued Wednesday, and two other uncontrolled fires were burning on the Big Island and Maui, officials said.

Fire crews on Maui were battling multiple blazes concentrated in two areas: the popular tourist destination of West Maui and an inland, mountainous region. In west Maui 911 service was not available and residents were directed to call the police department.

Because of the wind gusts, helicopters weren’t able to dump water on the fires from the sky — or gauge more precise fire sizes — and firefighters were encountering roads blocked by downed trees and power lines as they worked the inland fires, Martin said.

About 14,500 customers in Maui were without power early Wednesday, according to

“It’s definitely one of the more challenging days for our island given that it’s multiple fires, multiple evacuations in the different district areas,” Martin said.

Winds were recorded at 80 mph (129 kph) in inland Maui and one fire that was believed to be contained earlier Tuesday flared up hours later with the big winds, she added.

“The fire can be a mile or more from your house, but in a minute or two, it can be at your house,” Fire Assistant Chief Jeff Giesea said.

In the Kula area of Maui, at least two homes were destroyed in a fire that engulfed about 1.7 square miles (4.5 square kilometers), Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said. About 80 people were evacuated from 40 homes, he said.

“We’re trying to protect homes in the community,” Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth said of evacuating about 400 homes in four communities in the northern part of the island. As of Tuesday, the roof of one house caught on fire, he said.

Fires in Hawaii are unlike many of those burning in the U.S. West. They tend to break out in large grasslands on the dry sides of the islands and are generally much smaller than mainland fires.

Fires were rare in Hawaii and on other tropical islands before humans arrived, and native ecosystems evolved without them. This means great environmental damage can occur when fires erupt. For example, fires remove vegetation. When a fire is followed by heavy rainfall, the rain can carry loose soil into the ocean, where it can smother coral reefs.

major fire on the Big Island in 2021 burned homes and forced thousands to evacuate.

The island of Oahu, where Honolulu is located, also was dealing with power outages, downed power lines and traffic problems, said Adam Weintraub, communication director for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.


Associated Press writer Audrey McAvoy contributed to this report.

Massachusetts State Police must reinstate 7 troopers who refused to be vaccinated, arbitrator says

From the Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts State Police must reinstate seven troopers who refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19, an independent arbitrator has ruled. The troopers have been on unpaid leave, but the arbitrator’s decision means they can return to work with retroactive pay if they choose.

The union representing state troopers, which plans to hold a news conference Monday outside the State House, filed a grievance after the law enforcement officers were suspended following former Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s 2021 order requiring executive department employees to be vaccinated. Current Democratic Gov. Maura Healey lifted the vaccine mandate in May.

Massachusetts State Police are in the process of determining the “scope as well as the administrative and legal steps” needed to implement the arbitrator’s ruling, David Procopio, an agency spokesperson, said Sunday in an email.

The arbitrator concluded State Police violated a collective bargaining agreement in the way they handled the cases of eight troopers who cited religious grounds for refusing to take the vaccine. The agency summarily dismissed the troopers instead of reviewing their accommodation requests, the arbitrator said Friday. One of the eight troopers later returned to work.

The State Police Association of Massachusetts criticized the former Baker administration for refusing to work with the troopers.

“These members, whose religious convictions were trampled, and who were left without pay or benefits, now can choose to return to work and will be made whole through retroactive pay and earned seniority,” said Patrick McNamara, the union president.

He said the union will continue to fight for another 13 troopers who weren’t deemed eligible for exemptions and were fired or dishonorably discharged for failing to get vaccinated.

Attacks at US medical centers show why health care is one of the nation’s most violent fields

From Rebecca Boone at the Associated Press

FILE - Law enforcement officers stand Northside Hospital Midtown medical office building, where a man opened fire in the medical center waiting room, killing one woman and wounding four, on May 3, 2023, in Atlanta. Data shows American health care workers now suffer more nonfatal injuries from workplace violence than workers in any other profession, including law enforcement. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
1 of 6 | FILE – Law enforcement officers stand Northside Hospital Midtown medical office building, where a man opened fire in the medical center waiting room, killing one woman and wounding four, on May 3, 2023, in Atlanta. Data shows American health care workers now suffer more nonfatal injuries from workplace violence than workers in any other profession, including law enforcement. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)Read More

Word spread through an Oregon hospital last month that a visitor was causing trouble in the maternity ward, and nurses were warned the man might try to abduct his partner’s newborn.

Hours later, the visitor opened fire, killing a security guard and sending patients, nurses and doctors scrambling for cover.

The shooting at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland was part of a wave of gun violence sweeping through U.S. hospitals and medical centers, which have struggled to adapt to the growing threats.

Such attacks have helped make health care one of the nation’s most violent fields. Data shows American health care workers now suffer more nonfatal injuries from workplace violence than workers in any other profession, including law enforcement.

“Health care workers don’t even think about that when they decide they want to be a nurse or a doctor. But as far as actual violence goes, statistically, health care is four or five times more dangerous than any other profession,” said Michael D’Angelo, a former police officer who focuses on health care and workplace violence as a security consultant in Florida.

Other industries outpace health care for overall danger, including deaths.

Similar shootings have played out in hospitals across the country.

Last year, a man killed two workers at a Dallas hospital while there to watch his child’s birth. In May, a man opened fire in a medical center waiting room in Atlanta, killing one woman and wounding four. Late last month, a man shot and wounded a doctor at a health center in Dallas. In June 2022, a gunman killed his surgeon and three other people at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical office because he blamed the doctor for his continuing pain after an operation.

It’s not just deadly shootings: Health care workers racked up 73% of all nonfatal workplace violence injuries in 2018, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One day before the July 22 shooting in Portland, employees throughout the hospital were warned during meetings to be prepared for a possible “code amber” announcement in case the visitor attempted to kidnap the child, according to a nurse with direct knowledge of the briefing who spoke to The Associated Press. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared retaliation at work.

Fifteen minutes before the shooting, someone at the hospital called 911 to report the visitor was threatening staffers, according to a timeline provided by Portland police.

“He kind of fell through the cracks,” the nurse said. “I don’t know how many chances he received. It kind of got to the point where staff did not know what to do, or what they could or couldn’t do with him.”

Police arrived at the maternity ward within minutes, but it was too late. Bobby Smallwood, a security guard who had been called in from another Legacy hospital to cover shifts for Good Samaritan’s understaffed security team, had been fatally shot. Another hospital employee was wounded by shrapnel. The suspect fled and was later killed by police in a nearby community.

The hospital declined to respond to the nurse’s comments because the case is still under investigation.

“Events like these are unpredictable, but our team exhibited professionalism and a great deal of courage in the face of extraordinarily challenging circumstances that day,” Legacy Health said in a statement to the AP.

Legacy Health in Portland plans to install additional metal detectors, require bag searches at every hospital and send patients and visitors to controlled entrances. More security officers will be provided with stun guns, the hospital said, and bullet-slowing film is being applied to some interior glass and at main entrances.

Around 40 states have passed laws creating or increasing penalties for violence against health care workers, according to the American Nurses Association. Hospitals have armed security officers with batons, stun guns or handguns, while some states, including Indiana, Ohio and Georgia, allow hospitals to create their own police forces.

Critics say private hospital police can exacerbate the health care and policing inequities already experienced by Black people. They also say private police forces often don’t have to disclose information such as how often they use force or whether they disproportionately detain members of minority groups.

Security teams cannot address all of the factors leading to violence because many of them are caused by a dysfunctional health care system, said Deborah Burger, a registered nurse and the president of National Nurses United.Patients and families are often bounced between emergency rooms and home, and are frustrated over high costs, limited treatment options or long wait times, Burger said.

“Hospitals don’t really have a complaints department, so the only real target they have is the nurse or staff that are standing right in front of them,” she said.

Understaffing forces nurses to care for more patients and affords them less time to assess each one for behavior problems. Efforts to de-escalate aggression aren’t as effective if nurses haven’t had time to bond with patients, Burger said.

Understaffing is an “absolutely catastrophic formula for workplace violence increasing,” D’Angelo said. “Now you don’t even have the good old buddy system of two co-workers keeping an eye out for each other.”

Some hospital administrators encourage staff to placate aggressive visitors and patients because they are worried about getting bad reviews, Burger said. That’s because the Affordable Care Act tied a portion of federal reimbursement rates to consumer satisfaction surveys and low satisfaction means a hit to the financial bottom line.

“The results of those surveys should never take priority over staff safety,” D’Angelo said.

Eric Sean Clay, the president-elect of the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety and vice president of security at Memorial Hermann Health in Houston, said the workplace violence rates attributed to health care facilities are “grossly underreported.”

“I think that a lot of it comes down to caregivers are just very tolerant, and they come to look at it as just part of the job,” he said. “If they’re not injured, sometimes they don’t want to report it, and sometimes they don’t think there will be any change.”

Clay’s hospital uses armed and unarmed security officers, though he hopes to have them all armed eventually.

“We actually have our own firing range that we use,” Clay said. None of his security officers have drawn their weapons on the job in recent years, but he wants them to be ready because of the rise in gun violence.

Clay and Memorial Hermann Health declined to answer questions about whether an armed security force could negatively affect access to health care or existing inequities.

The nurse at the Portland hospital said the shooting left her colleagues terrified and unusually solemn. She is worried Legacy Health’s promises of increased safety will be temporary because of the cost of finding, training and retaining security officers.

Some of her co-workers have resigned because they don’t want to face another “code silver,” the alert issued when someone at the hospital has a weapon.

“You know, we always say these patients and their families are so vulnerable, because they’re having the worst day of their life here,” the nurse said, and that makes many staffers reluctant to demand better behavior.

“We have to stop that narrative,” she said. “Being vulnerable is bleeding out from a bullet wound in your chest. Being vulnerable is having to barricade yourself and your patients in a room because of a code silver.”

Kansas officer critically wounded in shootout that killed Tennessee man, police say

From the Associated Press

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — A car chase through two Kansas City suburbs that ended in a shootout at a convenience store this weekend has killed a Tennessee man and left an officer from Fairway critically wounded, authorities said.

Lenexa police released the additional details late Sunday, identifying the man as Shannon Wayne Marshall, 40, from the town of Ashland City near Nashville.

He was shot and killed Sunday morning at a QuikTrip store in Mission, Kansas, after leading police on a chase along Interstate 35 in what officers believed was a stolen car. When officers initially found the vehicle around 7:30 a.m., police said the driver struck a patrol car and fled.

The wounded Fairway police officer was in critical condition as of Sunday night. The officer wasn’t immediately identified. Police from multiple agencies had been trying to arrest the suspects when gunfire broke out.“

Upon hearing the call for assistance, our officer courageously and without hesitation responded to help,” Fairway Chief of Police J.P. Thurlo said in a statement Sunday evening. “These brave actions are reflective of the men and women in law enforcement in our community, and throughout this country, who put on the badge knowing the potential dangers they may face in the course of their duties.”

A 32-year-old female passenger in the vehicle from Goodlettsville, Tennessee, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. The Associated Press does not generally name suspects until they are charged.

A Johnson County law enforcement team that is charged with reviewing officer-involved shootings is investigating.

Pulled out to sea by current, swimmer is rescued after treading water for 5 hours

By Julie Walker and Karen Matthews for the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A swimmer who got swept out to sea by a powerful current was rescued off New York’s Long Island after treading water for five hours, police said.

This image provided by Suffolk County Police shows Dan Ho, left, being treated by medics after having been rescued after treading water for five hours in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island, Monday, July 31, 2023, in Babylon, N.Y. Suffolk County Police say that the 63-year-old went swimming at a beach in Babylon at around 5 a.m. Monday and was pulled out to open water by the current. (Courtesy of the Suffolk County Police via AP)

Dan Ho, 63, went swimming at a beach in Babylon at around 5 a.m. Monday and was pulled out by the current, Suffolk County police said in a news release.

After treading water with no flotation device for five hours, Ho found a broken fishing pole and tied his shirt to it to try to flag down a passing boat, police said.

Two men in a fishing boat spotted Ho about 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) south of where he had entered the water, police said.

The men, Jim Hohorst and Michael Ross, pulled Ho onto their boat and radioed police for help.

Hohorst said Tuesday that Ho appeared to be “almost done” when he was rescued.

“He wasn’t looking good, couldn’t move his legs,” said Hohorst, a former New York City firefighter. “Hypothermia had set in big time, probably some dehydration. He said he drank a lot of salt water.”

Officers from the Suffolk department’s marine bureau took Ho to their boat and gave first aid, police said. They took him ashore U.S. Coast Guard’s Fire Island station, where he received further treatment before going to a local hospital.

Police had no update on Ho’s condition Tuesday.

Ohio police chief says K-9 handler was deceptive during probe of dog attack on surrendering trucker

From the Associated Press by Patrick Orsagos

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police agency shared records Tuesday that showed an officer who released his police dog on a surrendering truck driver was repeatedly told not to keep talking about the incident before he was fired last week.

FILE – This image taken from police body cam video shows a police dog attacking Jadarrius Rose, 23, of Memphis, Tenn., on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, in Circleville, Ohio. An Ohio police department has fired an officer who released his police dog on a surrendering truck driver even after state troopers told him to hold the dog back. A statement issued Wednesday, July 26, 2023, by Circleville police said Ryan Speakman “did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers” and that he has been “terminated from the department, effective immediately.” (Ohio State Highway Patrol via AP, File).

Records provided to The Associated Press by the Circleville Police Department indicated Officer Ryan Speakman met twice with Chief Shawn Baer to discuss reports of Speakman crying, talking to employees, families and K-9 trainers and exhibiting stress-related behavior after the July 4 incident.

The Circleville Police Department fired Officer Speakman last week, alleging that he “did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers.”

Late last month, Baer wrote that Speakman had “released confidential information” and was deceptive when Baer sought information from him.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday for Speakman’s union, the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. The organization filed a grievance last week on his behalf arguing he had been fired without just cause.

During a July 19 meeting, Baer wrote, he met with Speakman over reports that he had been crying and speaking to colleagues about being stressed over the incident. Baer said he told Speakman that his conduct was not beneficial to himself or the agency, according to the documents the department provided.

The two met again on July 20, following reports Speakman was still speaking with colleagues about the matter. Baer asked Speakman for a list of people he spoke to about the situation. After receiving the list, Speakman admitted to also sharing details of the incident with members of his family.

According to the report, Speakman reportedly implored Baer to not “take his best friend from him,” meaning the police dog involved in the attack. The agency records also state Speakman provided a two-page list to investigators of the people outside the police department with whom he spoke following the attack.

His firing came one day after the department said he had been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard practice during use-of-force investigations.

The town’s civilian police review board found Speakman did not violate department policy when he deployed the dog, police said last week, although the review board lacks authority to recommend discipline.

Speakman, who joined the Circleville department in February 2020, deployed his police dog following a lengthy pursuit involving the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Troopers tried to stop a truck that was missing a mudflap and failed to halt for an inspection, according to a highway patrol report. Circleville Police was asked to assist.

Jadarrius Rose initially refused to get out of the truck and later defied instructions to get on the ground, according to the incident report and the body cam video. Rose eventually got on his knees and raised his hands in the air.

The body camera video shows Speakman holding back the dog, and a trooper can be heard off-camera repeatedly yelling, “Do not release the dog with his hands up!” However, Speakman deployed the dog and it can be seen in the video attacking Rose, who said, “Get it off! Please! Please!”

Rose was treated at a hospital for dog bites.

He was charged with failure to comply, and hasn’t responded to an email sent last week seeking comment. Florida-based attorney Benjamin Crump announced last week that he would represent Rose. Crump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not clear why Rose refused to stop for police. Rose is Black, and Speakman is white. Rose told The Columbus Dispatch that he couldn’t talk about why he didn’t stop. But when asked about the video, told the newspaper: “I’m just glad that it was recorded. What you saw is what, pretty much, happened.”

Audio recordings of 911 calls show Rose told emergency dispatchers that the officers pursuing him were “trying to kill” him and he didn’t feel safe pulling over. He also said he was confused about why the officers were trying to stop him and why they had their guns drawn after he briefly stopped the truck before driving away.

Seattle mayor proposes drug measure to align with state law, adding $27M for treatment

From the Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is asking members of the City Council who voted against adopting the state’s controlled substance law to consider an amended plan.

Harrell is offering a proposal that would align the city’s code with new state law, making possession and public use of drugs such as fentanyl, a gross misdemeanor. But it would also emphasize diversion and health programs, and spend $27 million to pay for opioid treatment and related facilities. Seattle saw a 72% increase in overdose deaths from 2021 to 2022.

The “announcements represent important steps forward toward a safer, healthier Seattle, as we continue to act with urgency to build out a bold health-first approach, help those in need, curtail impacts of public drug consumption, and hold dealers and traffickers accountable,” Harrell said in a statement Monday.

The City Council declined to adopt the new state law in a 5-4 June vote. Opponents said the law could result in harsher enforcement, especially for low-income people and people of color, and could revitalize the war on drugs.

Harrell’s plan comes after he appointed a task force — including City Council members and public safety experts — to further work on the measure for a month. The $27 million would come from settlement money the city received from opioid lawsuits, Harrell said.

The measure also informs police that “diversion, treatment, and other alternatives to booking are the preferred approach,” and instructs them to consider “whether the individual, through their actions and conduct, presents a threat of harm” to themselves or others before arrests are made on either charge, The Seattle Times reported. “This package is a balanced approach to respond to the crisis fentanyl has brought to our streets,” Councilmember Andrew Lewis said Monday in a statement.

“This legislation, that I will co-sponsor, responds to the needs I laid out at the beginning of this process and gives our first responders the tools they need to divert to services where possible and make arrests when necessary.” Lewis was the swing vote that caused the June measure to fail, KUOW reported.

The Washington law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May struck a balance between public order and compassion for people struggling with substance abuse, lawmakers said at the time.

Legislators had been under pressure to pass a bill this year because a temporary law that made intentional drug possession illegal was due to expire July 1. Unless the Legislature passed a new law, drug possession would have been decriminalized under state law.

The state law makes it a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail for the first two drug possession offenses and up to a year after that. But police and prosecutors would be encouraged to divert cases for treatment or other services. The state measure provides $44 million for investments that include methadone mobile units, crisis centers and short-term housing for people with substance use disorders.

The temporary measure was approved by state lawmakers after the Washington Supreme Court in 2021 struck down as unconstitutional the state law making drug possession a felony because it did not require prosecutors to prove someone knowingly had the drugs. Washington was the only state in the country without that requirement.

Many questions after police say gunman fired on officers in North Dakota, killing 1 and wounding 2

From the Associated Press

Many questions remained Sunday about what led a gunman in Fargo, North Dakota, to open fire on police officers as they were responding to a traffic crash. One officer was killed and two others were critically wounded before the gunman was killed by a fourth officer.

The shooting happened Friday afternoon along a busy street, and roughly nine hours passed before authorities told the public that officers were shot. On Saturday, Fargo’s police chief released the names of the officers and the name of the gunman, but he said the motive was unclear and that the 37-year-old man opened fire for “no known reason at all.”

Chief Dave Zibolski also said little about how the situation unfolded, noting the investigation was in the hands of state and federal investigators.

“We are not in the position to provide many details in terms of the actual incident itself,” Zibolski said. Authorities released no new information Sunday.

Here’s what we know, and what we don’t, about the shooting:


Police and fire officials were responding to a routine traffic accident on a busy street Friday afternoon when a gunman began firing multiple rounds at them — killing one and wounding two, Zibolski said. A fourth officer shot and killed the man, who authorities identified as Mohamad Barakat of Fargo.

Zibolski described the first few minutes as “very chaotic,” but he said that firefighters on scene and a nearby ambulance were essential in preventing additional fatalities. As soon as the firing stopped, “firefighters bounced out and they were applying first aid immediately to our officers,” Zibolski said, which “probably had a very significant impact on their survival.”

Authorities released few details about what happened in the moments before Barakat began firing, and his motive was not clear.

“The first thing we always want to know in a situation like this is, ‘Why?’ ” Zibolski said. “Why would somebody do this?”


Among the drivers who witnessed what happened was Chenoa Peterson. She told The Associated Press on Saturday that a man appeared to have ambushed the officers. The gunman was at the rear of a car in a bank parking lot near the traffic crash when he fired on an officer not more than 20 feet (6 meters) away, she said.“He was holding up the trunk of the car with his arm, and then I see the gun come up, and he set it on his shoulder and just pointed it directly at an officer in front of him,” Peterson said. “It was like 10 shots right away.”

Officers weren’t looking in the direction of the gunman when he began shooting, she said.Peterson’s 22-year-old daughter was with her and said the suspect exchanged simultaneous gunfire with police.

“I saw them firing at each other both at once,” Katriel Peterson said. “But soon as the shooter took a break, the cop came walking towards him letting off round after round. There was already an officer down. And a family hiding just on the other side of the vehicle next to the shooter.”


Officer Jake Wallin, 23, was killed. Zibolski said Saturday that his wounds were fatal, and “there was nothing that could be done.”

A military veteran, Wallin served in the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq from November 2020 to July 2021, according to a spokesperson for the Minnesota National Guard.“His death is a loss to our military family,” said Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, the Minnesota National Guard’s adjutant general. “We are grateful for his commitment to others even in the face of danger.”Wallin was sworn in as a Fargo officer in April, Zibolski said.

“He served his country, came back here and wanted nothing more but to serve in a position with purpose and meaning – his exact words — and he did that,” Zibolski said.

Zibolski spoke to his sense of humor and his excellence throughout training, calling him a member of the department family.

In video played at a Saturday news conference showing Wallin training with fellow recruits, he spoke of his desire to pursue a career in law enforcement.“

Throughout my entire life, I’ve always wanted to work in some sort of position that had purpose behind my job, and police officer is always what kind of came to me,” said Wallin of St. Michael, Minnesota,. “I don’t want to be sitting in an office wondering why I’m here every day. I want to be out. I want to be doing something that I can tell myself at the end of the day I made a difference somehow.”

Funeral arrangements have not been made public. The governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on the day of Wallin’s interment.


Two other officers, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes, were in critical but stable condition as of Saturday, and Zibolski said they were in “good spirits” but had significant recovery ahead of them. No update on their conditions was provided Sunday.

Wallin and Hawes were both young recruits, sworn in less than three months earlier and still in training when they responded to the scene. Dotus was a six-year veteran who was responsible for training officers.

A fourth officer, Zach Robinson, shot and killed Barakat, Zibolski said. As is Fargo Police Department procedure, Robinson was placed on paid administrative while state authorities complete an investigation into his use of force, spokesperson Katie Ettish said.

A 25-year-old female bystander also was injured in the shooting, though authorities haven’t said who shot her. A hospital spokesman said Sunday that she was in fair condition.


Shortly after the shooting, authorities, including the FBI, converged on a residential area about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away and evacuated residents of an apartment building to gather what they said was related evidence. Court documents that would indicate what authorities were looking for have not been made public. Authorities have said little about that search, other than to say it was happening at the time.

On Saturday, investigators were still at the apartment building, going back and forth from the third floor, where police tape hung across a hallway. Few residents were around, and an FBI truck was out front.


The city also has said little about Barakat or the gun he used. Zibolski said he believed police previously had some sort of contact with Barakat “but not anything significant.”

Zibolski said it does not appear that Barakat was involved in the car crash that brought officers to the scene. But he indicated investigators are determining whether this was a planned ambush of officers.

Zibolski said he was confident authorities would eventually understand Barakat’s motive and that the information would be made public at the appropriate time.

Guardian Flight ends emergency helicopter medical services to North Dakota city

From the Associated Press

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Guardian Flight has stopped its emergency helicopter services in Williston, and first responders in North Dakota’s sixth largest city say they’re noticing longer wait times for people with time-sensitive injuries who need quick care.

The company’s helicopter had been primarily used to pick up patients up at the scene of emergencies on locations ranging from farms to oil fields, the city fire department’s assistant chief, Corey Johnson, told The Bismarck Tribune.

It’s not a high volume that we do scene flights with them, but it is significant,” Johnson said. “Just a week before the closure, we had a scene flight with them where they were called out.”

An inability to fulfill flight requests due to weather and inflation was a contributing factor to the company’s decision to end the service, said Nicole Michel, spokesperson for Guardian Flight’s parent company, Global Medical Response. The company said there were other challenges, but it didn’t list them.

First responders must now pick up certain patients in an ambulance while they wait 40 minutes for a helicopter to fly more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Minot’s Trinity Health trauma center to Williston, Johnson said. After the parties meet at the Williston hospital, the helicopter will bring the patient to Trinity.“

Some of those injuries are time-sensitive, so the quicker we can get those patients to those locations, the better off they’re going to be in the long run,” Johnson said.

Guardian Flight specializes in the critical medical transport of patients in some of the most remote parts of the United States, linking rural communities to health care facilities, the company’s website said.

About 27,000 people live in Williston, which is in the state’s northwest near its borders with Montana and Canada.

Guardian Flight also shut down its base at Devils Lake in northeastern North Dakota, the Tribune reported. About 7,000 people live in Devils Lake.

Court strikes down limits on filming of police in Arizona

From the Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona law limiting how close people can get to recording law enforcement is unconstitutional, citing infringement against a clearly established right to film police doing their jobs.

FILE – Phoenix Police stand in front of police headquarters on May 30, 2020, in Phoenix, waiting for protesters marching to protest the death of George Floyd. A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona law limiting how close people can get to recording law enforcement is unconstitutional, citing a clearly established right to film police doing their jobs. The ruling Friday, July 21, 2023 from U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi permanently blocks enforcement of the law that he suspended last year (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The ruling Friday from U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi permanently blocks enforcement of the law that he suspended last year.

The Republican-backed law was signed by former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in July 2022 but enthusiasm for the restrictions faded and legislators refused an opportunity to defend the law during an initial court suspension. Republican state Sen. John Kavanagh, who sponsored the measure, has said he was unable to find an outside group to defend the legislation.

The law would have made it illegal to knowingly film police officers 8 feet (2.5 meters) or closer if the officer tells the person to stop. And on private property, an officer who decides that someone is interfering or that the area is unsafe could have ordered the person to stop filming even if the recording was being made with the owner’s permission.“

The law prohibits or chills a substantial amount of First Amendment protected activity and is unnecessary to prevent interference with police officers given other Arizona laws in effect,” Tuchi ruled.

A coalition of media groups and the ACLU successfully sued to block the law. Prominent law enforcement officials refused to defend the law, including former Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich and both the prosecutor and sheriff’s office in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix.

Bystander cellphone videos are largely credited with revealing police misconduct — such as with the 2020 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers — and reshaping the conversation around police transparency. But Republican Arizona lawmakers initially said the legislation was needed to limit people with cameras who deliberately impede officers.

The Associated Press filed a friend of the court brief urging Tuchi to block the law from being enforced. The AP’s attorneys said that photographers especially could be caught up while covering rallies, where it could limit their ability to capture the full interactions between police and protesters.

2 men killed in gun attack in Polish city of Poznan, police say

From the Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Two men have died in a shooting in a downtown restaurant in the Polish city of Poznan, local police said Sunday.A spokesman for Poznan police, Andrzej Borowiak, said the incident took place in the hotel restaurant garden on St. Martin street, in Poznan Old Town, an area popular with tourists.

Borowiak said one of the two men was killed on the spot while the other died in hospital. The men were Poznan residents, aged 30 and 31.

He said police are “sure” that one of the men was responsible for the incident and are trying to find out what was the connection between the two.

Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported witnesses saying the one man shot the other and then shot himself. The daily did not identify the witnesses.

Police and the prosecutors are investigating.

Freight train derails in southeast Pennsylvania, but no known injuries or hazards

From the Associated Press

WHITEMARSH TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) — A freight train derailment in southeast Pennsylvania early Monday spurred precautionary evacuations, but officials said no injuries were reported and there was no known hazard to the public.The 40-car CSX train, which was operating on tracks owned by Norfolk Southern, derailed around 4:50 a.m. in a wooded area Whitemarsh Township. CSX said at least 16 cars went off the tracks, but local officials later said 15 cars had derailed.

Barren Hill Fire Police block a local intersection after a train derailment on Monday morning, July 17, 2023. (Alexandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Twelve nearby homes were evacuated shortly after the derailment was reported “out of an abundance of caution,” Whitemarsh Township Police Chief Christopher Ward said. Those residents were allowed to return to their homes around 9:30 a.m.

Silicone pellets leaked from at least one train car, Whitemarsh police said, but they posed no risk to the public. Among the other derailed cars, five contained urea, a liquid fertilizer, and another had tetrachloroethylene, which is used as a dry cleaning agent and metal degreasing solvent. At least two other cars were empty.

The cause of the derailment was under investigation, but a CSX spokesperson said it may have been “weather related.”

Norfolk Southern — and the entire rail industry — has been under intense scrutiny since one of its trains derailed and caught fire in February in Ohio, creating towering black smoke, forcing evacuations and raising environmental worries.

Veteran police official Edward Caban becomes first Latino to head the NYPD

BY KAREN MATTHEWS from the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Edward Caban, who joined the New York Police Department as a young patrol officer in 1991 and rose through the ranks, was sworn in Monday as police commissioner, becoming the first Latino to lead the 178-year-old department.

Mayor Eric Adams administered the oath of office in front of the Bronx stationhouse where Caban started his career, and praised his new police commissioner as “representative of this blue-collar city.”

Caban, the son of a transit police officer who served with Adams when the now-mayor was on the transit force, said he joined the NYPD as “a young Puerto Rican kid” at a time when when “the top bosses of the police department didn’t really look like me.”

His beaming father, retired Detective Juan Caban, and other family members joined Caban as he was sworn in as the city’s top police official.

Caban thanked Adams for choosing him to head the 33,000-member police department.

“To be the first Hispanic police commissioner is an honor of the highest measure,” Caban said.

Caban, 55, has served as acting commissioner since the resignation of Keechant Sewell, who announced last month that she was stepping down after 18 months.

Sewell, the first woman to lead the department, did not provide a reason for her resignation, but there had been speculation that other officials including Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III, an Adams ally, were undermining her authority.

Adams and Caban both praised Sewell, who did not attend her successor’s swearing-in.

“Commissioner Sewell smashed a glass ceiling,” Caban said, “and she did so with grace, confidence and honor.” Adams said Caban, who served as first deputy commissioner under Sewell, had “worked side by side with Commissioner Sewell to deliver double digit decreases in shootings and murders.”

Caban worked in several precincts across the city as he climbed the ranks from patrol officer to sergeant, lieutenant, captain, executive officer, commanding officer, deputy inspector, inspector and first deputy commissioner.

The police department he will lead, the nation’s largest, is more diverse than the largely white and male police force he joined 32 years ago.

According to department figures, 31% of uniformed officers are Hispanic, a slightly higher number than the 29% of the city’s population identified as Hispanic by the Census Bureau.

About 11% of the department’s officers are Asian and about 16% are Black, compared with a city population that is about 14% Asian and 24% Black.

For some remote Canadian wildfires, best and fastest option is sending in the smokejumpers

BY NOAH BERGER AND DOUG GLASS from the Associated Press

FORT ST. JOHN, British Columbia (AP) — When James Bergen steps from a plane and plummets toward fire below, he’s not scared. Instead, he says, he gets a rush from not knowing exactly what he’ll face when he parachutes in as one of the smokejumpers confronting the wildfires that have scorched Canada this spring and summer.One call may mean a drop and a hike to a meadow to put out a single burning tree. “Next day you go to a fire and it’s a giant roaring beast threatening a community,” said Bergen, a solidly built 46-year-old with graying stubble. “That anticipation of what you’re going to get, an unknown every time you get on the plane — that to me is still the excitement.”

As more than 900 fires burn in a Canadian fire season that has periodically pushed dangerous smoke south into the U.S. and even far east to Europe, only one province — British Columbia — relies on smokejumpers to help fight the blazes. Its history dates back to 1998.

Canada’s provinces organize their own fire resources, and others may choose to use helicopters to get firefighters to remote areas, or aircraft to fly people and equipment to bases. British Columbia does that too. But Bergen, whose primary job is serving as wildfire officer for the Fort St. John Fire Zone, pointed to British Columbia’s size, large population and huge timber industry as reasons it maintains a smokejumper program that takes significant money and expertise — but can get to fires faster.“It’s not something you can quickly stand up,” Bergen said.Bergen said this wildfire year is the busiest he can remember since 2016.

Flames from the Donnie Creek wildfire burn along a ridge top north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, on Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames from the Donnie Creek wildfire burn along a ridge top north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, on Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
U.S. Forest Service smokejumper Mike Dunn steps through a puddle while exiting a plane in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Wednesday, July 5, 2023. His crew is assisting Canadian firefighters battling fires throughout the region. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
U.S. Forest Service smokejumper Mike Dunn steps through a puddle while exiting a plane in Fort St. John, British Columbia, July 5, 2023. His crew is assisting Canadian firefighters battling fires throughout the region. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


When fires are remote or there’s a need to move resources from one location to another very quickly, that can be a time to send in smokejumpers, who bail out of planes at 1,500 feet (458 meters) to 3,000 feet (914 meters).“It’s just one of the fastest, quickest delivery methods … to take action on a fire that by other means may not be possible,” Bergen said. “The big value to smokejumping is speed, range and payload.”Though helicopters are sometimes used to get firefighters into tough-to-reach areas, they don’t parachute in like smokejumpers — the copters land and unload them quickly, or they jump to the ground as the craft hovers. And the copters can’t carry nearly as many people or get to a fire as fast as fixed-wing aircraft.The modified DC-3 that’s one of the planes used at Bergen’s Fort St. John base carries up to 13 smokejumpers plus two spotters.

Smokejumper Chris Thalmann packs a cargo parachute while fighting Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Smokejumper Chris Thalmann packs a cargo parachute while fighting Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) –
Canadian smokejumper David Pon rigs a parachute on Wednesday, June 5, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Canadian smokejumper David Pon rigs a parachute on Wednesday, June 5, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) –


Outfitting a single jumper can run about $12,000, Bergen said, with equipment that protects the firefighters from being speared by tree limbs, allows them to rappel down if they get hung up in a tree, and floats them if they wind up in a lake or river. Ballistic Kevlar suits protect against sharp objects as well as against intense fire heat; helmets have mesh face shields.Many smokejumpers wear additional armor — hockey pads or motocross gear — for further protection. The whole package, including the parachute, weighs 70 to 90 pounds.The plane also carries fire suppression equipment the firefighters will need: four chain saws, hand tools for everyone, four heavy pumps, 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) of hose and enough water for everyone for 48 hours, Bergen said. All that gets dropped separately.After arriving at a fire and evaluating what they see, the firefighters work out a plan to tackle it. Then it’s time to jump.“It could be three or four, one crew, or it could be the entire bus — all 13 jumpers on the fire,” Bergen said.

U.S. Forest Service smokejumper Kevin Schmitz rigs a parachute on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada. Schmitz is one of approximately a hundred American smokejumpers, firefighters who parachute into remote wildfires, working alongside their Canadian counterparts at the Fort St. John base, according to Wildfire Officer James Bergen. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
U.S. Forest Service smokejumper Kevin Schmitz rigs a parachute on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


The jumpers are experienced wildland firefighters — at least two years, and more typically six to seven years of experience before they become smokejumpers, Bergen said.But it takes more than experience. Not everyone wants to jump out of planes, Bergen said. “They’re generally people that are quite passionate about wildland firefighting,” he said. “It is a very specific person that wants to do that.”He said the ranks include people who are gung ho and supremely fit, but also more ordinary people. He said many wildland firefighters are people who started to make summer money while in college, but then fell in love with the work and eventually decided to be smokejumpers. The lure, he said, is being part of a team “focused on becoming the best you can, in smoke jumping as well as fire suppression.”

The province has 67 smokejumpers. About 120 jumpers are working in the region right now, with the balance made up of American firefighters sent over by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

A co-pilot secures a plane that carries smokejumpers battling Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada. According to Wildfire Officer James Bergen, approximately a hundred American smokejumpers, firefighters who parachute into remote wildfires, are working with their Canadian counterparts at the Fort St. John base. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A co-pilot secures a plane that carries smokejumpers battling Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada. According to Wildfire Officer James Bergen, approximately a hundred American smokejumpers, firefighters who parachute into remote wildfires, are working with their Canadian counterparts at the Fort St. John base. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Gear lines the inside of a plane that carries smokejumpers parachuting into Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Gear lines the inside of a plane that carries smokejumpers parachuting into Canadian wildfires on Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Fort St. John, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


Dan Frittenburg, one of the North Peace Smokejumpers at the Fort St. John base, started fighting fires in 2005 and became a jumper in 2008.Earlier this summer he set a Canadian record with his 100th jump, he and Bergen said.“I’ve kind of always been a thrill seeker,” said Frittenburg, 41. “But the reason why I do it (is) my love for the outdoors, working with the people that this program draws, and also just challenging myself. I find it’s definitely a job that keeps you young.”Frittenburg said it took him a while to learn the intricacies of jumping, and has become more comfortable doing it as years pass.“But that feeling (nerves) never kind of leaves the pit of your stomach,” he said. “I find that a good thing because it keeps you on your game. Once you’re comfortable, you’ll get shown very quickly that mistakes can be made.”

Smoke billows from the Donnie Creek wildfire burning north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, on Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Smoke billows from the Donnie Creek wildfire burning north of Fort St. John, British Columbia, on Sunday, July 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)


Glass reported from Minneapolis.

Acropolis’ midday closure leaves many tourists in the lurch as a heat wave lashes southern Europe


NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Disgruntled tourists bemoaned the temporary closing of the Acropolis in Athens on Friday as Greek authorities proactively shut the world monument’s gates between midday and early evening amid a heat wave that continues to grip southern Europe.Red Cross staff handed out bottled water to tourists wilting in long lines hoping to beat the closure and scale the steps up to the gleaming Parthenon temple as temperatures were expected to peak above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the Greek capital.Some visitors were frustrated at being left in the lurch because they were unaware of Greek authorities’ last-minute announcement of the Acropolis’ closure at noon. One visitor said he was disappointed as his cruise ship would depart later in the day.

“I even bought a €50 ticket to skip the line to enter and I couldn’t enter the place,” Hector from Mexico told The Associated Press.

Others who beat the closing timewere elated despite the heat, like Sylvia from Colombia, who said she came prepared.“

We have water, we have some ventilators,” she told the AP. “And I think it’s always an amazing experience to be here.”

Red Cross coordinator Ioanna Fotopoulou said paramedics on hand administered first aid to a number of tourists exhibiting symptoms of dehydration and experiencing fainting spells.

A woman gives massage to a bather in the shade of a tree during a hot day at Alimos beach near Athens, Friday, July 14, 2023. Temperatures were starting to creep up in Greece, where a heatwave was forecast to reach up to 44 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country over the weekend. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A woman gives massage to a bather in the shade of a tree during a hot day at Alimos beach near Athens, Friday, July 14, 2023. Temperatures were starting to creep up in Greece, where a heatwave was forecast to reach up to 44 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country over the weekend. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)–

In Spain, people packed the beaches as the country enjoyed a short-lived respite from its second heat wave of the summer.Temperatures were still expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius in at least 12 of Spain’s 17 regions Friday, although that was down from a high of 45 degrees (113 Fahrenheit) that scorched the southeastern town of Albox on Wednesday.Aemet, the Spanish state weather agency, says another heat wave is expected to start Sunday with highest temperatures yet to come.In Italy, the country’s health ministry on Friday warned residents of 10 cities from Bologna to Rome to avoid being out in the midday heat due to extreme temperatures. The same warning has been issued to another five cities in Sicily, Sardinia and Puglia for this weekend.Temperatures in the country are expected to reach 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit) above average in some areas this weekend.

On the island nation of Cyprus, in the southeastern Mediterranean, people clustered under air conditioning units and cooling fans set to full blast, as midday temperatures inland were forecast to hit a high of 43 C (110 Fahrenheit).Temperatures weren’t expected to go below 25 C (77 Fahrenheit) through the night, while humidity levels especially along the southern coastline were expected to reach an uncomfortable 65%.The temperatures were forecast to hover at the same levels Saturday, with a small dip expected the following day.

The Forestry Service issued a “red alert”, appealing to the public to take extra care and avoid using any machinery outdoors that could spark a fire.

Bathers take a shower during a hot day at Alimos beach near Athens, Friday, July 14, 2023. Temperatures were starting to creep up in Greece, where a heatwave was forecast to reach up to 44 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country over the weekend. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Bathers take a shower during a hot day at Alimos beach near Athens, Friday, July 14, 2023. Temperatures were starting to creep up in Greece, where a heatwave was forecast to reach up to 44 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country over the weekend. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)–

In the capital, Nicosia, more than two dozen elderly people sought refuge at a dedicated heat shelter the municipality reserves for summer heat waves.Councillor Elena Loucaidou told The Associated Press that many of the elderly who are on low incomes appreciate the opportunity to save on their electricity bill and enjoy the shelter’s air-conditioned environs.

Yiannoula Phinikaridou, 78, was among them.

“In this heat wave, it’s very helpful for us to come here, get refreshed with cold drinks that they offer us,” she told Cypriot media. “It’s very important for us low-income retirees to save on electricity.”

The heat is taking a toll on the country’s economic activity, particularly in the construction sector where laws oblige employers to offer workers frequent water breaks, shaded rest areas and even suspend work if temperatures hit specified high levels.

Cyprus Building Contractors Federation Director Yiannos Poumbouris said most contractors adhere to the law, but that often translates to diminished productivity because of delays and additional pay to employees if they are required to work either very early or later in the day to avoid peak temperature hours.For instance, cement pouring must be done either very early in the day or much later, meaning higher costs for contractors. Poumbouris said there are no figures on lost productivity as it is difficult to gauge, but that the contractors expect this during summer time.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg weighed in on the high temperatures in a post on Twitter, saying global heat records should serve as an urgent wake-up call.

“Last week we experienced the hottest days ever recorded, many days in a row. We are also experiencing record high sea level temperatures and record low ice levels. This is an emergency.”

In rural India, summer’s heat can be deadly. Ambulance crews see the toll up close


BANPUR, India (AP) — Siren blaring, Sunil Kumar Naik’s ambulance tore across a dry and rocky countryside blasted by dangerous midday heat, rushing to check on a vomiting and dizzy 30-year-old man with possible heat stroke. As soon as they reached the man’s village, Naik’s paramedic partner guided the stricken man into the ambulance, then checked his pulse and oxygen levels as Naik sped back to the public hospital.

Jitendra Kumar, a paramedic checks the oxygen level of his patient who is suffering from a heat stroke after carrying him in an ambulance from his home in village Mirchwara, 24 kilometers (14.91 miles) from Banpur in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. Ambulance drivers and other healthcare workers in rural India are the first line of care for those affected by extreme heat. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

With barely a moment to drink some water and splash their faces, the men were dispatched again, this time to pick up a pregnant woman who had gone into labor as the temperature soared to 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). And so went another furious 12-hour shift in India’s increasingly deadly summer, when Naik and paramedic Jitendra Kumar sometimes find themselves hurrying to as many as twice the usual number of calls.

Extreme heat is fast becoming a public health crisis in India, with more than 150 people dying during the latest brutal heat wave in June. Prolonged heat waves, sometimes classified as a slow-onset disaster, are one of the deadliest consequences of global warming that India faces. The government estimates nearly 11,000 people have died during heat waves this century, yet experts say such figures are likely a vast undercount.

Jitendra Kumar, a paramedic who travels in ambulance, washes his face with water to cool himself off after dropping a patient at Lalitpur district hospital, in Banpur, in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Jitendra Kumar, a paramedic who travels in ambulance, washes his face with water to cool himself off after dropping a patient at Lalitpur district hospital, in Banpur, in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) –
A doctor checks a boy suffering from heat related ailments at the Lalitpur district hospital, in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. Extreme heat is fast becoming a serious public health crisis in India. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
A doctor checks a boy suffering from heat related ailments at the Lalitpur district hospital, in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. Extreme heat is fast becoming a serious public health crisis in India. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) –
Jitendra Kumar, a paramedic, center, talks to a patient, left, who is suffering from a heat stroke before carrying him to his ambulance from his home in village Mirchwara, 24 kilometers (14.91 miles) from Banpur in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. Ambulance drivers and other healthcare workers in rural India are the first line of care for those affected by extreme heat. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
Jitendra Kumar, a paramedic, center, talks to a patient, left, who is suffering from a heat stroke before carrying him to his ambulance from his home in village Mirchwara, 24 kilometers (14.91 miles) from Banpur in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Saturday, June 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Banpur, a village of about 13,000, lies in the mostly poor Bundelkhand region deep in India’s interior. It’s arid and stony, with little tree cover to protect people in one of the nation’s hottest regions. Naik and Kumar make up one of two ambulance crews that cover the village and surrounding area, carrying patients to the government-run public health center. The state and federal governments help fund the not-for-profit ambulance service, making it a free lifeline for patients.“

I consider every patient my family member. I don’t care if it is hot or if I am hungry, I go on a mission to get the patient out and transport them to the hospital,” said Naik, whose only protection from the heat and dry, hot winds is a white cotton towel wrapped around his head. “It is difficult for me driving the vehicle in extreme heat, but it is nothing compared to the hardships of a patient in a medical emergency.”

Health experts say the heat can kill slowly — and quickly. The quick way could be through simple heat stroke, while a slower death may result when people who already have serious health conditions suffer through extended heat, said Dileep Mavalankar, former head of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar.

Mavalankar was instrumental in developing India’s first heat action plan, for the city of Ahmedabad in 2013, three years after more than 1,300 people died during a heat wave there. The plan set out guidelines that included issuing a heat alert when temperatures rose past 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 Fahrenheit), educating people such as outdoor laborers, farmers and others exposed to heat about the risks they face, and providing resources to local health centers and hospitals to deal with heat-related illnesses.“

When a cyclone happens, everyone is on alert, and they act immediately but there is little awareness or action to deal with extreme heat,” Mavalankar said. “There needs to be a media blitzkrieg, local governments should warn people to stay indoors and make their hospitals ready to deal with heat-related cases,” he said.

Aditya Valiathan Pillai of the Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi think tank, recently studied India’s readiness to respond to extremely hot weather. He said such plans — which include cooling centers and health care assistance —- are essential to saving lives.

Climate experts say that heat waves are here to stay, and India needs to prepare better to deal with their consequences. A study by World Weather Attribution, an academic group that examines the source of extreme heat, found that a searing heat wave in April that struck parts of South Asia was made at least 30 times more likely by climate change.

Yet poorer regions like Uttar Pradesh, where Banpur lies, may have a plan on paper but not the ability to carry it out.“

The afflicted population is vulnerable because it lacks resources and has insufficient infrastructure to handle severe temperatures,” said Anjal Prakash, a research director at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and author of several U.N. climate reports. “The construction of efficient early warning systems, public awareness campaigns about heat-related hazards, the provision of adequate healthcare facilities, and targeted assistance to vulnerable populations are only a few steps that need to be taken immediately.”

In Banpur, the paramedic Kumar shares lodging in guest quarters at the hospital with several others. With only an old fan for cooling, he’s frequently sweating before his work day begins. The ambulance has air conditioning, but it is “no match for the temperature outside,” Kumar said.

He and Naik skip lunches most days. When they find time, they eat under whatever shade they can find. They earn a little more than $150 a month, hardly enough to support their families given rising costs. Naik has three young children and Kumar sends most of his income to his wife and parents, who live 350 kilometers away.

Despite the hardships, they make the best of what they say is a difficult job.

“I feel proud of my work,” Kumar said. “The more critical the patient, the more challenging it becomes for us to save their life. I feel happy that I can save lives and help people.” ___

Police announce another arrest in Kansas nightclub shooting that injured more than 11

From the Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police have arrested another person in a Kansas nightclub shooting earlier this month that injured nearly a dozen people.

This July 2, 2023 file photo shows people talking in front of the City Nightz nightclub in Wichita, Kan. Police have arrested another person in the Kansas night club shooting earlier this month that injured nearly a dozen people. A 23-year-old Wichita man was arrested Tuesday, July 11, 2023 on suspicion of attempted murder, assault and battery, Wichita police said. He is one of three people now in custody for their suspected roles in the July 2 shooting in which nine people were shot and two others were trampled in the chaos. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP, file)

A 23-year-old Wichita man was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of attempted murder, assault and battery, Wichita police said. He is one of three people in custody for their suspected roles in the July 2 shooting at City Nightz in downtown Wichita, in which nine people were shot and two others were trampled in the chaos. No one died.

Police said details of the investigation have been sent to Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett, who will determine any charges against the suspect. Bennett did not immediately respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment.

The Associated Press typically does not name people arrested for crimes unless they’ve been charged.

Two other Wichita men have been charged in the shooting. John Houze, 27, and Ameir King-Ingram, 19, are charged with several gun and aggravated assault counts. King-Ingram is also charged with aggravated battery. Both are being held on $500,000 bond.

A St. Louis-area man was arrested July 3, but prosecutors later determined he fired his gun to defend himself after shots were fired by others.

The gunshot victims — seven men and two women — ranged in age from 22 to 34, police said. The two people trampled were a 30-year-old woman and a 31-year-old male.

Wichita is a city of nearly 400,000 people, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City, Missouri.

2 firefighters are seriously injured after being shot at a fire station in Alabama

From the Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Two firefighters in Alabama were shot on Wednesday while on duty at a fire station, authorities said.

Investigators believe the Birmingham firefighters were targeted, though they do not have an exact motive, Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond told news outlets. At least one of them was shot multiple times. They remain in serious condition at a hospital.“Our firefighters are there to protect and aid and rescue our citizens and to see them critically injured is troubling, disheartening,” Thurmond said.

The shooter entered the station through an open bay door, Thurmond said. At least one other firefighter was in the station during the attack and was not hurt.

The shooting happened just after the two firefighters who were wounded started their shifts.

Help arrives to battle wildfire in Washington state near Columbia River Gorge

From the Associated Press

UNDERWOOD, Wash. (AP) — Authorities have more than doubled the number of people battling a wildfire that has burned structures and forced the evacuation of homes in southwestern Washington near the Columbia River Gorge.

Smoke from a wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State rises in the background in this view Hood River, Ore, Sunday, July 2, 2023. Authorities have more than doubled the number of people battling the wildfire that has burned some homes and forced the evacuation of hundreds of others in southwestern Washington near the Columbia River Gorge. (Joel Odom/The Oregonian via AP)

The blaze that began Sunday in the unincorporated area of Underwood across from Hood River, Oregon, had burned about 546 acres (221 hectares) and was 5% contained as of Wednesday, according to a post on an interagency Facebook page backed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly 375 people are fighting the fire, with more on the way including an elite firefighting crew to work in challenging terrain on the fire’s western edge, according to the post.

The National Weather Service’s red flag warning remained for the area through 11 p.m. Wednesday, with hot, dry and unstable conditions that could cause the fire to spread rapidly.

Fire activity increased Tuesday afternoon on the western edge of the fire, with helicopters and air tankers helping keep the blaze in check, officials said. Fire engine crews patrolled again overnight and tamed hot spots around the fire’s perimeter.

Evacuations remained in place Wednesday for an area affecting about 1,000 people, officials previously said. The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that several structures had been lost, but it didn’t release further details.

State Route 14 remained closed Wednesday between mile markers 56 to 65 because of fire activity. Smoke and firefighting aircraft are visible from Interstate 84 on the Oregon side of the river, officials said.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

A separate brush fire that started Tuesday afternoon was also threatening homes and prompting evacuations near the western Washington city of Shelton. More than 200 homes were under evacuation notices and a shelter was set up at a Shelton middle school. It was not immediately known what caused the fire.

State fire assistance has been mobilized to work to contain it. A strike team, air resources and State Fire Marshall’s Office personnel were responding

Storm Poly lashes the Netherlands and parts of Germany, causing 2 deaths and canceled flights

From the Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A powerful summer storm lashed the Netherlands and parts of Germany on Wednesday, killing at least two people, blowing trees onto houses and forcing one of Europe’s busiest airports to cancel or delay hundreds of flights.

Icelandic horses stand on a meadow of a stud farm in Wehrheim near Frankfurt, Germany, after a rain storm passed by on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute issued its highest-level alert in three provinces as Storm Poly hit the country with heavy rain and powerful winds. One gust, on the coast west of Amsterdam, was recorded at just over 145 kilometers per hour (90 mph), the institute said.

The alert level was scaled back early in the afternoon as the storm headed northeast and weakened.

Dutch media showed pictures of uprooted trees and wind-blown debris littering streets in Amsterdam, The Hague and the city of Haarlem as the storm barreled through during the normally busy morning rush hour.

A woman was killed in Haarlem when a tree fell on a car, police spokesperson Nina Moers said. In Amsterdam, a tree fell on a houseboat moored in one of the city’s historic canals.

Strong gusts of wind also hit some areas of northwestern Germany. Police said a pedestrian died in Rhede, a municipality near the Netherlands border, after a tree fell on her. Police initially identified the victim as a man.

Videos showed trees scattered across highways, toppled on a row of houses in Haarlem and uprooted onto a tram in The Hague. Amsterdam municipality closed parks as the storm hit the Dutch capital.

Emergency services in North Holland province, which includes the capital Amsterdam, sent a push alert to mobile phones urging people to stay indoors as the storm passed. Traffic authorities also advised motorists to avoid driving, if possible.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest aviation hubs, said on its website that it expected “very limited air traffic will be possible” into the afternoon, leading to cancellations and delays for incoming and departing flights.

With the wind easing by mid-afternoon, the airport said more planes could take off and land but disruptions would continue.

“Together with airlines, we are trying to get as many travelers as possible to their destinations today,” Schiphol said in a message to passengers.

The national railway company halted all trains in the northern Netherlands.

In Germany, some ferries to islands just off the North Sea coast were canceled, and trees fell on a railway line between the city of Emden and the town of Leer. A line that runs between Hamburg and Sylt, a popular vacation island, was also shut between the towns of Husum and Niebuell.


Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

An explosion in a downtown Tokyo building has injured four people, according to media reports

From the Associated Press

Bystanders watch firefighters try to extinguish a fire at an explosion in a building Monday, July 3, 2023, in Tokyo. An explosion at a building in Tokyo’s commercial district of Shimbashi on Monday shattered windows and spewed smoke, according to media reports. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Bystanders watch firefighters try to extinguish a fire at an explosion in a building Monday, July 3, 2023, in Tokyo. An explosion at a building in Tokyo’s commercial district of Shimbashi on Monday shattered windows and spewed smoke, according to media reports. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (AP) — An explosion at a building in Tokyo’s Shimbashi commercial district on Monday shattered windows and spewed smoke, injuring four people, department officials said.

Tokyo Fire Department said the explosion occurred at an eatery on the second floor of an eight-story building, injuring two people inside and two pedestrians who were hit by shards of glass.

Fire department officials said the four injured were all conscious but further details were unknown. NHK national television said three of them were seriously injured.

An owner of the eatery who was among the injured told police that he noticed a smell of gas or sewage when he entered a smoking room, and the explosion occurred when he flicked his lighter, NHK said.

No other information was yet available.

Michigan man accused of striking an officer during the US Capitol attack is arrested in Florida

From the Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Michigan man accused of attacking a police officer with a flagpole during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 has been arrested in Florida, officials said.

Jeremy Rodgers, 28, of Midland, Michigan, faces several felony and misdemeanor charges, including assaulting a federal officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon, according to court records. He was arrested Friday in Orlando, Florida, and made his initial court appearance there. The case will be prosecuted in District of Columbia federal court.

According to court documents, Rodgers joined with others in objecting to Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over then-President Donald Trump. A mob stormed the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying election results for Biden over Trump, a Republican, authorities have said. Five people died in the violence.

According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video shows Rodgers carrying a blue flag attached to a wooden flagpole as he approaches a line of law enforcement officers guarding the entrance to the East Rotunda Door. Investigators said Rodgers used his flagpole to strike a U.S. Capitol police officer three times on the helmet and then swung the flagpole twice more in the direction of officers.

Rodgers also used the flagpole to prevent officers from closing the door so that he could enter the building, prosecutors said. Once inside, Rodgers removed railings so the others in the crowd could enter the building, officials said.

Rodgers was part of a crowd that pushed through a police line outside the entrance to the House Chamber, investigators said. After another scuffle with police, Rodgers paraded through the Rotunda waving his flag before finally leaving, officials said.

Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Rodgers who might speak on his behalf.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for alleged crimes related to the Capitol breach, according to officials. More than 350 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

NY patient’s ambulance joyride ends when police spike tires

From the Associated Press

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — A patient stole the ambulance that had taken him to a New York City hospital and took it on a 25-mile (40-kilometer) joyride that ended when state police used a spike strip to stop him, authorities said.

The incident unfolded early Thursday after a 47-year-old man was taken to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital in Manhattan for observation, police said.

The ambulance he had ridden in was sitting outside the hospital unlocked, unoccupied and with the keys in the ignition when the man left the facility just before 5 a.m., a New York City police spokesperson said. The man got in and drove off, police said.

The ambulance was tracked by GPS heading north through Westchester County on Interstate 87, police said.

State troopers spotted the ambulance near Tarrytown and tried to stop it, the New York state police said in a news release. The driver failed to stop, and the troopers gave chase, police said.

The runaway ambulance was finally stopped when troopers put a tire-spiking device on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge that spans the Hudson River, police said. The ambulance’s tires deflated when the man tried to cross the bridge.

The man was arrested on charges including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated, police said. Information on his attorney wasn’t immediately available.

A spokesperson for the Mount Sinai hospital system declined to comment on the joyride.

Oregon man died waiting for an ambulance, highlighting lack of emergency responders

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man died while waiting over a half-hour for an ambulance after being struck by a hit-and-run driver last month, according to emergency dispatch logs, an incident that Portland firefighters say highlights their frustration at a lack of available ambulances to respond to emergency calls.

An American Medical Response vehicle drives in San Francisco, Monday, May 22, 2023. Lawyers sued medical transport provider American Medical Response West, saying the ambulance company's lax oversight allowed a paramedic to sexually assault two women in their 80s on their way to a hospital. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
An American Medical Response vehicle drives in San Francisco, Monday, May 22, 2023. Lawyers sued medical transport provider American Medical Response West, saying the ambulance company’s lax oversight allowed a paramedic to sexually assault two women in their 80s on their way to a hospital. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Bureau of Emergency Communications 911 dispatch log was obtained by KGW-TV through a public records request. It revealed that American Medical Response, the private provider contracted by Multnomah County, was operating at level zero — a code meaning there are no ambulances available to respond to an emergency call.

“More and more, day after day, we’re seeing this level zero pop up, and as firefighters we’re getting frustrated,” Isaac McLennan, president of the Portland Fire Fighters’ Association, told KGW-TV. “This is a highly dangerous situation and it should be unacceptable not only just for firefighters, it should be unacceptable for everybody who lives in this community.”

Shortly after midnight on April 28, both firefighters and an ambulance crew were dispatched to the accident scene in northeast Portland. Police said it appeared the man, who has not been publicly identified, was attempting to cross the street in a wheelchair when he was hit.

The man was still alive when firefighters arrived, but 911 dispatchers repeatedly told them that American Medical Response was operating at level zero, according to dispatch logs. The firefighters worked to stabilize the man in the road while waiting for an ambulance.

The logs show the initial dispatch went out at 12:10 a.m. Firefighters arrived at 12:14, and an ambulance got there at 12:42. The ambulance left the scene five minutes later, as a hospital transport was no longer necessary because the man had died.

McLennan told KGW-TV there was no practical way firefighters could have taken the man to the hospital themselves as it was clear he needed an ambulance.

Global Medical Response, the parent company of American Medical Response, said in a statement to KGW-TV that the incident is still under review by the company as well as by county emergency officials.

“The safety of our patients is always our top priority. American Medical Response is committed to responding to all calls in a timely manner,” it said.

Official in Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, have said ambulances should arrive to 90% of emergency calls within eight minutes. However KGW-TV reported that during a five-month period ending in February, that mark was missed about a third of the time.

Assailants attack police station in Mexico as search continues for 16 abducted police employees

BY ÉDGAR H. CLEMENTE from the Associated Press

TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — Assailants tossed at least one explosive device at a police station in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas, police said Wednesday, as a massive search continued for 16 police employees abducted at gunpoint on a local highway.

The attacks highlight a new turf battle between cartels for influence over police in the state, which borders Guatemala, and control of its drug and immigrant trafficking.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the kidnappings were part of a battle between two gangs, saying “nowadays that is the most common thing … that the groups clash.”

López Obrador said the men worked at a local prison, apparently as guards or administrative staff, though they are formally employed by the state police.

Police had originally said 14 men were abducted — and that 17 female employees were released — from a bus Tuesday. But on Wednesday police upped the number to 16.

The spread of cartel conflict to Chiapas would mark an escalation. The state has long experienced land, ethnic, political and religious conflicts, but had largely been spared from the drug cartel violence hitting other parts of the country.

The president has taken a sort of paternalistic, non-confrontational attitude toward the cartels, and on Wednesday said “they had better release them (the abducted police employees). If not, I’m going to tell on them to their fathers and grandfathers.”

Also Wednesday, police in the city of Tapachula, near the border, said two patrol vehicles were damaged in the explosion outside a police station late Tuesday. There was no immediate information on who tossed the explosive, which appeared to have been homemade.

More than 1,000 state and federal law enforcement officers conducted a land and air search for the missing police employees, who were forced from the bus by gunmen earlier Tuesday.

A video of the abducted police employees was posted on social media Wednesday. In it, one of the victims said the abductors were demanding the resignation of at least three state police officials, including the second-in-command of the force. One of the cartels operating in Chiapas has accused the police officials of favoring a rival gang.

The men in the video did not appear to be bound or show any obvious signs of mistreatment.

The police employees were traveling to the capital of Chiapas when they were intercepted by several trucks with gunmen.

The women in the vehicle were released, while the men were taken away.

The abduction occurred on the highway between Ocozocoautla and Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital. Two men found near the scene were detained by police for questionins.

Violence in the Mexican border region with Guatemala has escalated in recent months amid a territorial dispute between the Sinaloa Cartel, which has dominated the area, and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

On June 19, a confrontation between the military and presumed organized crime members left a National Guard officer and a civilian dead in Ocozocoautla, near where Tuesday’s kidnapping occurred.

Kansas City warehouse blaze hospitalizes 3 firefighters

From the Associated Press

This photo provided by the Kansas City Fire Department shows a wood-pallet warehouse burning in the Northeast Industrial District in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, June 15, 2023. (Jason Spreitzer/Kansas City Fire Department via AP)
This photo provided by the Kansas City Fire Department shows a wood-pallet warehouse burning in the Northeast Industrial District in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, June 15, 2023. (Jason Spreitzer/Kansas City Fire Department via AP)

Workers at a massive Kansas City wood-pallet warehouse fire escaped to safety Thursday, but three firefighters have been hospitalized, a spokesman said.

The firefighters were hospitalized for minor burns and heat exposure after battling flames at Pioneer Pallet’s warehouse, said Kansas City Fire Department spokesman Jason Spreitzer. Another seven firefighters were treated at the site of the fire.

Spreitzer said about 160 firefighters were helping to put out the flames in an effort that he expected to last at least through the night.

There are no threats of hazardous materials catching on fire at this point, Spreitzer said. He said firefighters protectively drenched a propane refilling station for forklifts in water.

It’s not yet known what caused the blaze. Investigators are waiting for the flames to die down before searching for more clues.

The area includes residential homes, a small baseball park and some industrial sites, including a commercial transportation business. The neighborhood is separated from downtown Kansas City by a rail line.

Spreitzer said nearby homes so far appear safe.

Police charge Maryland man in fatal shooting of Virginia police officer

From the Associated Press

A Maryland man has been arrested in the fatal shooting of a police officer who was killed during a struggle with an assault suspect in a Virginia mountain town.

Virginia State Police said Daniel Barmak, 23, of Towson, Maryland, is charged with capital murder, two felony counts of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the killing of Officer Mark Christopher Wagner II Friday night in Nelson County’s Wintergreen community. Barmak is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The shooting happened after an emergency call came into the Wintergreen Police Department about Barmak assaulting two other men at a home where they were all staying, state police said in a news release. After calling police, the two injured men, both 23, ran away.

Wagner, 31, was the first to arrive and encountered Barmak in the woods. During a struggle over Wagner’s department-issued handgun, Barmak shot and killed the officer, police said. Barmak was also shot during the encounter.

Wintergreen Police and the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office took Barmak into custody. He and the two men he allegedly assaulted were all taken to UVA Medical Center to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Wintergreen Police Chief Chief Dennis Russell said in a Facebook post that Wagner had been with the force since August 2020. He said Wagner enjoyed hiking and photographing nature in his spare time.

“Chris was dedicated to his job and whenever called for extra duty he was ready, willing and able. His love for the badge was evident and his commitment to the community was undeniable,” Russell said.

Wintergreen is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Richmond.

Prosecutor quits ‘Cop City’ cases over disagreements with Georgia attorney general

By R.J. RICO for the Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A metro Atlanta prosecutor announced Friday that her office is withdrawing from criminal cases tied to protests over plans to build a police and firefighter training center, citing disagreements with the state’s Republican attorney general, including the decision to charge a legal observer with domestic terrorism.

FILE – DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston speaks during a news conference in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur, Ga., Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Boston announced Friday, June 23, 2023, that her office is withdrawing from criminal cases tied to protests over plans to build a police and firefighter training center, citing disagreements with the state’s Republican attorney general, including the decision to charge a legal observer with domestic terrorism.(Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston’s decision means Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr will have sole oversight regarding more than 40 additional cases connected to the “Stop Cop City” movement. Previously, the two offices held joint jurisdiction over those cases, Boston, a Democrat, said in a news release.

“It is clear to both myself and to the attorney general that we have fundamentally different prosecution philosophies,” Boston told WABE-FM.

Over the past seven months, more than 40 people have been charged with domestic terrorism in connection with violent protests. Fireworks and rocks have been thrown at officers and police vehicles and construction equipment have been torched. The Georgia statute, which had been rarely employed prior to December, carries a sentence of between five and 35 years behind bars.

Protesters argue that the charges are overblown — none of those arrested have been accused of injuring anyone — and meant to scare off others from joining the movement against the $90 million training center.

In a statement, Carr said his office is “fully committed to moving forward with the prosecution of those who have engaged in or supported violent acts surrounding the Public Safety Training Center.”

City officials say the new 85-acre (34-hectare) campus would replace inadequate training facilities and would help address difficulties in hiring and retaining police officers that worsened after nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice three years ago.

But demonstrators argue that the site will exacerbate environmental damage and be a staging ground for militarized officers to be trained in quelling social movements.

In an on-air interview with WABE’s Rose Scott, Boston said she and the attorney general’s office “had some differences … about who should be charged and what they should be charged with.”

Boston said she had concerns with the prosecution of Thomas Jurgens, a Southern Poverty Law Center staff attorney. Jurgens was one of 23 people charged with domestic terrorism March 5 after more than 150 masked protesters stormed a construction site, torching equipment while throwing projectiles at fleeing officers. Protesters were arrested more than an hour later about three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) away after they retreated to a nearby music festival that was filled with other activists.

Jurgens was wearing a bright green hat — a well-known identifier for legal observers — and his arrest alarmed many human rights organizations. The law center called it an example of “heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters.”

“That was one of the touch points of a number of touch points that ultimately led me to make (this) decision,” Boston said of Jurgens’ arrest. “I will only proceed on cases that I believe that I can make beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Defense attorneys of those others arrested at the music festival have questioned the evidence behind the charges, noting errors in the near-identical arrest warrants.

During bond hearings, prosecutors have admitted that they have struggled to specifically identify many of the suspects among the crowd of masked protesters, though they insist that wet, muddy clothes proved they had traipsed through the woods and crossed a nearby creek after attacking the construction site.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate officials’ “apparent targeting of individuals who oppose Cop City.”

“Today’s decision … deepens our serious concern about whether these arrests have been motivated by something other than an impartial and objective evaluation of the evidence or a just exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” the organization said in a news release.

Boston told WABE that she hopes Carr will proceed appropriately when it comes to prosecuting those who deserve to be charged.

“There’s absolutely been destruction and violence, but how you approach all of these cases needs to be approached individually — every case, individually,” she said.

Police have questioned person of interest in shooting that killed 3 in Kansas City

From the Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A person of interest has been questioned in a weekend shooting that killed three people and wounded several more in Kansas City, police said.

Evidence markers filled the street as police were investigating the scene after several people died and others were injured following a shooting early Sunday, June 25, 2023, near 57th Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Mo. (Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star via AP)

Responding officers found two men and a woman dead from gunshot wounds at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot where a crowd had gathered, near an auto shop known to host informal after-hours get-togethers, police said.

Police initially said at least five others where shot and taken to hospitals by private vehicles and ambulances. On Monday, police said they had identified a sixth person who was wounded and taken to a hospital.

The fatalities were identified Monday as Nikko Manning, 22; Jasity Strong, 28; and Camden Brown, 29.

Police said Sunday that another person was wounded in a separate shooting blocks away about 3 a.m. No additional information in that shooting has been released.

Homicide detectives identified a person of interest in the shooting near the auto shop and took a man into custody in Grandview, Missouri, just after 5 p.m. Sunday, according to Officer Jacob Becchina, a police spokesperson. The man’s name was not released, and no charges were reported.

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves joined people at the scene in a prayer circle as officers collected evidence.

New rule would make all railroads alert first responders within 10 miles of derailed train cargo

By JOSH FUNK from the Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Federal regulators want first responders to a train derailment to know exactly what they are dealing with even before they reach the scene, because the dangerous chemicals trains carry might require a specialized response.

FILE – This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed the night before in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 2023. The Federal Railroad Administration recently completed a review of Norfolk Southern’s safety culture done in the wake of the fiery Feb. 3 derailment in Ohio, and officials plan to follow up with similar investigations of all the major freight railroads over the next year. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

So the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a new rule Wednesday that would require all railroads to immediately send the details of everything aboard their trains to every emergency responder within 10 miles, as soon as the railroad becomes aware of an accident.

The new rule comes one day ahead of a National Transportation Safety Board hearing to scrutinize emergency responses to the fiery Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train outside East Palestine, Ohio. The NTSB is still working to determine exactly what caused that wreck, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of people and ignited nationwide concern about railroad safety and calls for reforms.

The largest freight railroads already have an app they developed, AskRail, which for nearly a decade has enabled firefighters to quickly look up the details of what each train carries. Some 35,000 first responders already have access to that app, and the rail industry is working to expand that. And crews have long carried printed copies of their cargo in the cabs of their locomotives.

And railroads should already know who to push that information to electronically — dispatchers and rail police are expected to maintain contacts for first responders all along their routes, to reach out to whenever there is a crossing accident, a trespasser or any other issue.

But this proposed rule would apply to every railroad that carries chemicals — not just the six biggest ones that created AskRail. Nearly 600 railroads would be covered. And the rule would force the railroads to proactively send out this information to all nearby emergency services, using electronic push alerts, anytime there is a derailment or hazardous chemical release, instead of expecting arriving firefighters to look up the details on an app.

“On-demand access to key information about hazmat shipments coupled with proactive information sharing with those closest to the problem will enable first responders to better prepare for the risks present at the scene of an incident before they arrive on scene,” said Tristan Brown, deputy administrator of the agency.

The old standby of expecting train crews to provide cargo information at the scene has its limitations. Precious minutes can elapse in the chaos of a major derailment before first responders find crewmembers. But that would still be the backup plan in case first responders don’t get the electronic information right away.

The Association of American Railroads trade group emphasizes that railroads remain the safest way to ship dangerous chemicals by land with more than 99 percent of those shipments arriving safety.

But even one derailment involving hazardous materials can prove disastrous, and last year there were more than 1,000 derailments — roughly three a day. More than three quarters happened at slow speeds in railyards, without causing major damage.

An AAR spokeswoman said railroads want to make sure “every first responder who arrives at the scene of a rail emergency has the right information to respond safely.” The industry plans to work with regulators to determine the best way to give first responders what they need while still protecting the security of sensitive information about the cargo railroads carry.

Since the East Palestine derailment, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other regulators have pressed for changes, urging railroads to do more to prevent similar disasters and issuing advisories about various aspects of railroad operations.

Regulators said this proposed rule may not have changed the outcome of the derailment in East Palestine, but that accident and others show how important it is to provide emergency responders with timely, complete and accurate information.

Volunteer firefighters were first on the scene of the East Palestine derailment, and Ohio officials said they handled it about as well as they could under the circumstances, but Gov. Mike DeWine has pushed the railroads to disclose more information ahead of time to states and communities about the chemicals they carry.

“We applaud the DOT for prioritizing fire fighter and public safety,” said Edward A. Kelly, who leads the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Hammond, LA Police Department selects Kologik’s suite of public safety solutions to replace existing systems

UNITED STATES, June 22, 2023/ / — Kologik, a leading provider of responsive, scalable, and user-friendly software for law enforcement organizations, proudly announced that the Hammond Police Department (HPD) in Louisiana has selected Kologik’s Public Safety Platform featuring CAD, a Computer-Aided Dispatch solution; RMS, a Records Management System; JMS, a Jail Management System, and COPsync, a network for officers and deputies, to replace their existing systems.

Hammond is the largest city in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. The population was 21,359 in the 2020 census and is home to Southeastern Louisiana University. Hammond is the principal city of the Hammond Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Tangipahoa Parish. Through an extensive RFP process, HPD identified that Kologik’s suite of public safety software offered the most comprehensive solution for providing a system with efficient functionality and performance capabilities to support all the City’s needs. Kologik’s 24/7/365 care team, offering HPD with continuous access to a team of specialists capable of resolving issues swiftly and around the clock was also a major factor in the selection process.

“Kologik has been one of the most responsive vendors we have ever worked with,” commented Edwin Bergeron Jr, Hammond Chief of Police. “While no vendor is perfect, they have gone above and beyond to ensure our requirements are met and we have the tools necessary to support our parish effectively.”

Within Kologik’s Public Safety Suite, CAD, RMS, JMS and COPsync are fully integrated, aligning all aspects of dispatch, response, and reporting. From the initial 911 call to investigations, report writing and arrests, the HPD can enter information into their system just once and access it wherever it is needed, creating overall efficiencies.

“Kologik is excited to partner with HPD in providing end-to-end technology that will support the City in its quest to provide a safer community,” said Robert Wolf, CEO and President of Kologik. “Our top-notch 24/7/365 customer support makes it easy and fast for HPD to get the help they need, when they need it.”

About Kologik
Kologik is a technology company specializing in public safety solutions that connect small and medium-sized law enforcement agencies with the information they need to keep officers and communities safe. With years of experience working with local, county, and state agencies in the judicial and public safety sectors, Kologik is dedicated to offering quality products and fast, friendly 24/7 customer support. For more information about Kologik, visit or call toll-free at 1-855-339-9417.


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Delaware House approves bill aimed at providing greater transparency in cases of police misconduct

By RANDALL CHASE from the Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) — House lawmakers in Delaware voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a bill aimed at greater transparency and public accountability in cases alleging police misconduct.

The legislation, which targets current confidentiality provisions in Delaware’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, was approved on a 39-1 vote. It now goes to the Senate.

Critics have argued for years that the bill of rights has been used to shield information from the public regarding officers who have been disciplined for misconduct.

“This bill has been a long time coming,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, a Rehoboth Democrat. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”

Schwartzkopf, a retired state trooper, thanked members of the law enforcement community for helping draft legislation that could be accepted by both police officers and advocates for more accountability.

Representatives of the NAACP, ACLU and Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League have argued, however, that the bill does not go far enough and is too police-friendly. Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, a progressive Democrat from Newark, was the only House member to vote against the bill.

Under the reform measure, a police agency would be required to inform the state Council on Police Training when an investigation finds that an officer engaged in sexual assault, sexual harassment, dishonest conduct or domestic violence. Instances involving an officer firing his weapon at a person or causing serious physical injury also would have to be reported. The council would be required to post the narratives on its website within 30 days.

The bill also requires that a complainant or victim of officer misconduct be informed of an investigation’s findings.

Prosecutors in criminal cases would be required to provide the defense, upon request, records including personnel files involving sustained findings of dishonest conduct, including false statements and witness tampering, by an officer involved in the case. A police agency also would be required to disclose to prosecutors unsubstantiated allegations of dishonest conduct by an officer involved in a criminal case if the allegations are the subject of an ongoing investigation. If that investigation cannot substantiate the allegation, the information could not be used in the case.

The legislation also requires police agencies to submit annual reports to the Criminal Justice Council regarding the number of misconduct complaints received each year, the number of formal investigations undertaken, the number of investigations substantiating misconduct, and the number of complaints resolved without a formal investigation.

Lawmakers are expected to vote next week on a separate bill that establishes a new Police Officer Standards and Training Commission, which would replace the Council on Police Training. The legislation shifts responsibility for administrative support and oversight of mandatory training and education programs for police officers from the Delaware State Police to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

It also requires that every police department, large or small, be accredited by July 2028. Currently, only 21 of Delaware’s 52 police departments meet that standard.

Paris police look at gas leak as possible cause of explosion and fire that injured 24

By ANGELA CHARLTON and ALEX TURNBULL from the Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — A strong explosion rocked a building in Paris’ Left Bank on Wednesday, injuring at least 24 people, igniting a fire that sent smoke soaring over the French capital’s monuments and prompting an evacuation of other properties, authorities said. Police were investigating suspicions that a gas leak caused the blast.

Firemen use a water canon as they fight a blaze Wednesday, June 21, 2023 in Paris. Firefighters fought a blaze on Paris’ Left Bank that is sent smoke soaring over the domed Pantheon monument and prompted evacuation of buildings in the neighborhood, police said. Local media cited witnesses describing a large explosion preceding the fire, and saying that part of a building collapsed. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The facade of the building in the 5th arrondissement collapsed, and officials said rescuers were searching for two people who might be trapped inside. The explosion happened near the historic Val de Grace military hospital, in one of the most upscale neighborhoods of the French capital.

Some 270 firefighters were involved in putting out the flames and 70 emergency vehicles were sent to the scene. The fire was contained but not yet extinguished Wednesday evening, as Paris bars and restaurants celebrated the summer solstice with a citywide annual music festival.

Sirens wailed as ambulances passed through the neighborhood and police initially cordoned off the street, rue Saint-Jacques. By evening, smoke had stopped pouring out of the building where the explosion occurred.

“It is possible that overnight we will find bodies or people alive,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said from the scene.

District Mayor Florence Berthout said on French TV channel BFM that firefighters were searching for two people believed to have been inside the building at the time of the blast. “The explosion was extremely violent,” she said, describing pieces of glass still falling from buildings.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said the building housed a private school, the Paris American Academy. The school was founded in 1965 and offers teaching in fashion design, interior design, fine arts and creative writing.

A Paris police official told the Associated Press that 24 people were injured, including four in critical condition and 20 with less severe injuries. The injuries were sustained mainly when people were blown off their feet by the blast, the official said.

Jema Halbert, who owns a butcher’s shop close to the explosion site, said she went upstairs to fetch something, and “I heard a ‘boom’. … So then I went downstairs, where I found my husband in shock, dust by the till and I thought, wait, there’s a problem. So I stepped outside and I saw big flames and I said, it’s impossible. I called my daughter. She was crying. She was shocked.”

Edouard Civel, deputy mayor of the 5th arrondissement, attributed the explosion to a gas leak, but other officials were more cautious. A judicial official said a gas explosion was one of the possible causes under investigation.

Renowned Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras was among the witnesses at the scene .

“A huge noise and the house was shaken like this,” the 90-year-old told the AP, visibly rattled. ”“We thought, what is going on? We thought it could be the sky (a storm). … It’s not something to laugh about.”

The Paris prosecutor said an investigation was opened into aggravated involuntary injury and the probe would examine whether the explosion stemmed from a suspected violation of safety rules. Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said investigators would seek to “determine whether or not there was failure to respect a rule or individual imprudence that led to the explosion.”

Firefighters prevented the fire from igniting two neighboring buildings that were “seriously destabilized” by the explosion and had to be evacuated, Nunez said. The explosion blew out several windows in the area, witnesses and the police chief said.

With more than 2 million people densely packed within the city limits and historic, sometimes ageing, infrastructure, Paris is not a stranger to gas explosions. A January 2019 blast in the 9th district killed four people and left dozens injured.

After Wednesday’s blast, a student at the private school said he was in a building about 100 meters (yards) away when the explosion hit.

“I was sitting on the windowsill, and we moved 2 meters away from the window, carried by a small blast (from the explosion) and huge fear,” Achille, whose last name was not given, told BFM television.

“We came down (from the building) and saw the flames,” he said. “The police gave us great support and we evacuated quickly.”


Sylvie Corbet in Paris, John Leicester in Le Pecq, France and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

The pilot and 4 passengers of the Titan submersible are dead, US Coast Guard says


The U.S. Coast Guard says a missing submersible imploded near the wreckage of the Titanic, killing all five people on board.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)

Coast Guard officials said during a news conference Thursday that they’ve notified the families of the crew of the Titan, which has been missing for several days. Debris found during the search for the vessel “is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” said Rear Adm. John Mauger of the First Coast Guard District.

“The outpouring of support in this highly complex search operation has been great appreciated. Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and loved ones of the crew,” Mauger said.

OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement that all five people on board, including company CEO Stockton Rush, are believed to be dead. Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet “have sadly been lost,” OceanGate said in a statement.

OceanGate did not provide details when the company announced the “loss of life” in a statement or how officials knew the crew members perished. The Titan’s 96-hour oxygen supply likely ended early Thursday.

OceanGate has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.

The Titan was estimated to have about a four-day supply of breathable air when it launched Sunday morning in the North Atlantic — but experts have emphasized that was an imprecise approximation to begin with and could be extended if passengers have taken measures to conserve breathable air. And it’s not known if they survived since the sub’s disappearance.

Rescuers have rushed ships, planes and other equipment to the site of the disappearance. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said an undersea robot sent by a Canadian ship had reached the sea floor, while a French research institute said a deep-diving robot with cameras, lights and arms also joined the operation.

Authorities have been hoping underwater sounds might help narrow their search, whose coverage area has been expanded to thousands of miles — twice the size of Connecticut and in waters 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) deep. Coast Guard officials said underwater noises were detected in the search area Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jamie Pringle, an expert in Forensic Geosciences at Keele University, in England, said even if the noises came from the submersible, “The lack of oxygen is key now; even if they find it, they still need to get to the surface and unbolt it.”

The Titan was reported overdue Sunday afternoon about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, as it was on its way to where the iconic ocean liner sank more than a century ago. OceanGate Expeditions, which is leading the trip, has been chronicling the Titanic’s decay and the underwater ecosystem around it via yearly voyages since 2021.

By Thursday morning, hope was running out that anyone on board the vessel would be found alive.

Dr. Rob Larter, a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey, emphasized the difficulty of finding something the size of the submersible, which is about 22 feet (6.5 meters) long and 9 feet (nearly 3 meters) high.

FILE - OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush emerges from the hatch atop the OceanGate submarine Cyclops 1 in the San Juan Islands, Wash., on Sept. 12, 2018. Rescuers are racing against time to find the missing submersible carrying five people, who were reported overdue Sunday night, June 18, 2023. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

“You’re talking about totally dark environments,” in which an object several dozen feet away can be missed, he said. “It’s just a needle in a haystack situation unless you’ve got a pretty precise location.”

Newly uncovered allegations suggest there had been significant warnings made about vessel safety during the submersible’s development.

Broadcasters around the world started newscasts at the critical hour Thursday with news of the submersible. The Saudi-owned satellite channel Al Arabiya showed a clock on air counting down to their estimate of when the air could potentially run out.

Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District said a day earlier that authorities were still holding out hope of saving the five passengers onboard.

“This is a search-and-rescue mission, 100%,” he said Wednesday.

Retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, now the director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, said the sounds detected have been described as “banging noises,” but he warned that search crews “have to put the whole picture together in context and they have to eliminate potential manmade sources other than the Titan.” Frederick acknowledged Wednesday that authorities didn’t what the sounds were.

The report of sounds was encouraging to some experts because submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught to bang on their submersible’s hull to be detected by sonar.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement Wednesday that it was sending a specialized salvage system that’s capable of hoisting “large, bulky and heavy undersea objects such as aircraft or small vessels.”

The Titan weighs 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms). The U.S. Navy’s Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System is designed to lift up to 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms), the Navy said on its website.

Lost aboard the vessel is pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate. His passengers are: British adventurer Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman; and French explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

In the first comments from Pakistan since the Titan vanished, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Thursday that officials have confidence in the search efforts.

“We would not like to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family that their privacy be respected,” she said.

At least 46 people successfully traveled on OceanGate’s submersible to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and 2022, according to letters the company filed with a U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, that oversees matters involving the Titanic shipwreck.

One of the company’s first customers characterized a dive he made to the site two years ago as a “kamikaze operation.”

“Imagine a metal tube a few meters long with a sheet of metal for a floor. You can’t stand. You can’t kneel. Everyone is sitting close to or on top of each other,” said Arthur Loibl, a retired businessman and adventurer from Germany. “You can’t be claustrophobic.”

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick, right, faces reporters as Royal Navy Lt Cdr Rich Kantharia, left, looks on during a news conference, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, at Coast Guard Base Boston, in Boston. The U.S. Coast Guard says sounds and banging noises have been heard from the search area for Titanic submersible. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

During the 2 1/2-hour descent and ascent, the lights were turned off to conserve energy, he said, with the only illumination coming from a fluorescent glow stick.

The dive was repeatedly delayed to fix a problem with the battery and the balancing weights. In total, the voyage took 10 1/2 hours.

The submersible had seven backup systems to return to the surface, including sandbags and lead pipes that drop off and an inflatable balloon.

Nick Rotker, who leads underwater research for the nonprofit research and development company MITRE, said the difficulty in searching for the Titan has underscored the U.S.’s need for more underwater robots and remotely operated underwater vehicles.

“The issue is, we don’t have a lot of capability or systems that can go to the depth this vessel was going to,” Rotker said.

Nicolai Roterman, a deep-sea ecologist and lecturer in marine biology at the University of Portsmouth, England, said the disappearance of the Titan highlights the dangers and unknowns of deep-sea tourism.

“Even the most reliable technology can fail, and therefore accidents will happen. With the growth in deep-sea tourism, we must expect more incidents like this.”


Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia; Frank Jordans in Berlin; Danica Kirka in London; and John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.

Drug syndicate hid meth in Canadian maple syrup, canola oil bound for Down Under, authorities say

By NICK PERRY from the Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A drug syndicate that tried to smuggle tons of methamphetamine from Canada to Australia and New Zealand by hiding it in shipments of maple syrup and canola oil has had its ruse busted, authorities said Thursday.

In this photo provided by the Australian Federal Police a man is taken into custody in Melbourne, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. A drug syndicate that tried to smuggle tons of methamphetamine from Canada to Australia and New Zealand by hiding it in shipments of maple syrup and canola oil has been busted, authorities said Thursday, June 15. (Australian Federal Police via AP)

Authorities from the three nations say they worked together for more than five months to unravel the elaborate scheme that was worth billions of dollars.

Authorities in New Zealand and Australia say they’ve made a dozen arrests and expect more to come, while Canadian authorities said they are still investigating the case and aren’t yet providing all the details.

Australian police said they intercepted four separate hauls of meth weighing more than six tons and filed charges against six men.

They said that in January, Canadian authorities alerted them that 2,900 liters (766 gallons) of liquid meth had been hidden in 180 bottles of canola oil bound for Australia.

They said Canadian authorities swapped out the meth for a harmless substance and allowed the shipment to continue.

Australian police said that two men then moved what they believed were the drugs to storage locations around the city of Melbourne. Two more shipments came in May and June, and the syndicate was also linked to a December shipment, Australian police said.

In New Zealand, police said the syndicate tried to hide more than three-quarters of a ton of meth in a shipment of maple syrup, the largest such shipment that had been intercepted at New Zealand’s border.

New Zealand police said they have arrested and charged five men at a rural property near the town of Helensville, north of Auckland, who had taken the bulk of the shipment. A sixth person that police say took the remainder of the shipment was also facing charges.

“The international drug trade and organized crime groups are creating havoc and harm in communities around the globe,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said.

“Our best opportunity to disrupt, intercept, and keep our communities safe is to work collaboratively with other agencies, and other nations,” Coster said.

In Australia, Victoria state police assistant commissioner Bob Hill said importing such drugs on an industrial scale ruins lives, families and communities.

“Unfortunately, the insatiable appetite for illicit drugs in Australia makes us a lucrative market for organized crime,” Hill said in a statement.

British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police Acting Commissioner Will Ng said the operation was a perfect example of what law enforcement agencies around the globe can achieve when working together.

Florida deputy and motorist survive being swept through storm drain amid huge rainstorm

From the Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff’s deputy and a motorist are lucky to be alive after they were sucked into a flooded storm drain during a torrential downpour, then dragged underwater for around 30 seconds before emerging — soaked but unharmed — on the other side of a highway.

This image provided by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. shows police bodycam footage of a motorist being sucked into a flooded storm drain during a torrential downpour on Friday, June 16, 2023 in Escambia County, Fla. Deputy William Hollingsworth and a motorist were sucked into a flooded storm drain during a torrential downpour, then dragged under water for around 30 seconds before emerging — soaked but unharmed — on the other side of a highway. (Escambia County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Deputy William Hollingsworth was helping stranded drivers amid the rapidly rising water early Friday when he saw the motorist disappear beneath the surface. Hollingsworth “rushed to his aid without regard to his own safety,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons told reporters.

The pair traveled nearly 100 feet (30 meters) under four lanes of Highway 98, Simmons said. The episode was recorded by the deputy’s body camera — although the underwater portion of the video is completely dark, filled only with the muffled sounds of rushing water.

After emerging on the other side, Hollingsworth calls out to the driver while wading toward him, shouting “Buddy I got you! Oh Jesus!” Red and blue lights from his police cruiser reflect off the pitch-black water. The motorist, who wasn’t identified by name, yells, “I almost died.”

The two hold onto each other as they head back across the road, still in disbelief.

“I’ve never held my breath like that in my life,” the deputy says. “Me neither,” the motorist agrees.

Other law enforcement officers arrive and the pair recounts their experience.

“Thank you man, for like, being there when I came out,” the driver tells Hollingsworth. “When I came out, you were right behind me.”

Later, sitting in a law enforcement vehicle, the driver gives the deputy a firm handshake.

“Me and you, man!” he says, “That’s an experience for life and I appreciate you.”

The US Coast Guard is bringing in more ships, vessels to search for lost Titanic tourist submersible

By PATRICK WHITTLE and HOLLY RAMER for the Associated Press

A Canadian surveillance vessel has detected more underwater noises in the area where rescuers are searching for a submersible that went missing in the North Atlantic while bringing five people down to the wreck of the Titanic, authorities said Wednesday.

FILE – OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush emerges from the hatch atop the OceanGate submarine Cyclops 1 in the San Juan Islands, Wash., on Sept. 12, 2018. Rescuers are racing against time to find the missing submersible carrying five people, who were reported overdue Sunday night, June 18, 2023. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

Coast Guard officials were bringing in more ships and other vessels to search the more narrowly defined area, though the exact location and source of the sounds has not yet been determined. The full scope of the search was twice the size of Connecticut in waters 2 1/2 miles deep, said Captain Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District.

“This is a search and rescue mission, 100%,” Frederick said. “We are smack dab in the middle of search and rescue and we’ll continue to put every available asset that we have in an effort to find the Titan and the crew members.”

Frederick said the noises were heard for a second day Wednesday, but “we don’t know what they are, to be frank.”

Retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, now the director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, told a news conference Wednesday that the sounds have been described as “banging noises,” but warned that search crews “have to put the whole picture together in context and they have to eliminate potential manmade sources other than the Titan.”

Even those who expressed some optimism warned that many obstacles remain: from pinpointing the vessel’s location, to reaching it with rescue equipment, to bringing it to the surface — assuming it’s still intact — before the passengers’ oxygen supply runs out.

The area of the North Atlantic where the Titan submersible went missing on Sunday is prone to fog and stormy conditions, making it an extremely challenging environment to conduct a search-and-rescue mission, said Donald Murphy, an oceanographer who served as chief scientist of the Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol.

After a Canadian military surveillance aircraft detected underwater noises in the search area, a robotic vessel was sent to scour the region but had so far “yielded negative results,” the Coast Guard wrote on Twitter.

The Coast Guard did not elaborate on what rescuers believed the noises could be. The vessel is estimated to have as little as a day’s worth of oxygen left if it is still functioning.

Three search vessels arrived on-scene Wednesday morning, including one that has side-scanning sonar capabilities. Authorities pushed to get salvage equipment to the scene in case the submersible is found.

The Coast Guard statement about detecting sounds underwater came after Rolling Stone reported that search teams heard “banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes.”

The report was encouraging to some experts because submarine crews unable to communicate with the surface are taught to bang on their submersible’s hull to be detected by sonar.

“It sends a message that you’re probably using military techniques to find me and this is how I’m saying it,” said Frank Owen, a submarine search and rescue expert. “So, that’s really encouraging if that’s the case.”

Richard Garriott de Cayeux, the president of The Explorers Club, wrote an open letter to his club’s adventurers, saying he had “much greater confidence” about the search after speaking to officials in Congress, the U.S. military and the White House.

However, no official has publicly suggested they know the source of the underwater noises.

Meanwhile, questions remain about how teams could reach the lost submersible, which could be as deep as about 12,500 feet (3,800 meters) below the surface near the watery tomb of the historic ocean liner. Newly uncovered allegations also suggest there had been significant warnings made about vessel safety during its development.

Lost aboard the vessel are pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of the company leading the expedition. His passengers are a British adventurer, two members of a Pakistani business family and a Titanic expert.

Authorities reported the 22-foot carbon-fiber vessel overdue Sunday night, setting off the search in waters about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s.

The submersible had a four-day oxygen supply when it put to sea around 6 a.m. Sunday, according to David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate Expeditions, which oversaw the mission.

Owen said the estimated 96-hour oxygen supply is a useful “target” for searchers, but is only based on a “nominal amount of consumption the average human might consume in doing certain things.” Owen said the diver on board the Titan would likely be advising passengers to “do anything to reduce your metabolic levels so that you can actually extend this 96 hours.”

Chris Brown, a British adventurer who paid a deposit to go on the Titan voyage but later withdrew because of what he called safety concerns, said word that the searchers have heard sounds is both good news and bad news.

“If the sounds are coming from below the water indicator then that indicates that they may be alive in the water, but now we’ve got time pressures in getting them up to the surface,” Brown told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday.

Brown has previously criticized the use of a simple commercially available video game controller to steer the Titan. But OceanGate has said that many of the vessel’s parts are off-the-shelf because they have proved to be dependable.

“It’s meant for a 16-year-old to throw it around,” and is “super durable,” Rush told the CBC in an interview last year while he demonstrated by throwing the controller around the Titan’s tiny cabin. He said a couple of spares are kept on board “just in case.”

The submersible had seven backup systems to return to the surface, including sandbags and lead pipes that drop off and an inflatable balloon.

Aaron Newman, who has been a passenger on the Titan, told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday that if the submersible is below a couple hundred meters and without power, the passengers are in complete darkness and it’s cold.

“It was cold when we were at the bottom,” he said. “You had layered up. You had wool hats on and were doing everything to stay warm at the bottom.”

Jeff Karson, a professor emeritus of earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University, said the temperature is just above freezing, and the vessel is too deep for human divers to get to it. The best chance to reach the submersible could be to use a remotely operated robot on a fiber optic cable, he said.

“I am sure it is horrible down there,” Karson said. “It is like being in a snow cave and hypothermia is a real danger.”

Meanwhile, documents show that OceanGate had been warned there might be catastrophic safety problems posed by the way the experimental vessel was developed.

David Lochridge, OceanGate’s director of marine operations, said in a 2018 lawsuit that the company’s testing and certification was insufficient and would “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible.”

The company insisted that Lochridge was “not an engineer and was not hired or asked to perform engineering services on the Titan.” The firm also says the vessel under development was a prototype, not the now-missing Titan.

The Marine Technology Society, which describes itself as “a professional group of ocean engineers, technologists, policy-makers, and educators,” also expressed concern that year in a letter to Rush, OceanGate’s chief executive. The society said it was critical that the company submit its prototype to tests overseen by an expert third party before launching in order to safeguard passengers. The New York Times first reported on those documents.

The search for the missing vessel has drawn international attention. In Dubai, where the missing British adventurer Hamish Harding lives, Crown Prince Hamadan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum wrote: “Dubai and its people pray for their safety and hopeful return home.”

Others aboard include Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, whose eponymous firm invests across the country. In Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, employees at his firms said they prayed for the two’s safe return, as did government officials. French explorer and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargeolet also was on the vessel.

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, who is now deputy director of the Institute for Security Policy and Law at Syracuse University, said the disappearance of the submersible underscores the dangers associated with operating in deep water and the recreational exploration of the sea and space, “two environments where in recent past we’ve seen people operate in hazardous, potentially lethal environments,” Murrett said.

“I think some people believe that because modern technology is so good, that you can do things like this and not have accidents, but that’s just not the case,” he said.


Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Oregon State Police Selects Tyler Technologies’ Enterprise Public Safety Solutions

PLANO, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jun 20, 2023–

Tyler Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: TYL) announced it has signed a ten-year agreement with Oregon State Police for Tyler’s Enterprise Public Safety suite, including Tyler’s Enterprise CAD and Mobile solutions. To ensure the highest level of reliability and security, the solution will be hosted in Amazon Web Services’ AWS GovCloud environment.

“Oregon State Police is a leader in delivering high-quality services that support and enhance public safety in the 21 st century,” said Andre Billingsley, project manager for Oregon State Police. “A key component of delivering those high-quality services includes equipping our troopers with the best technology solutions to respond to emergencies as quickly and safely as possible. We look forward to partnering with Tyler Technologies on the replacement of one of our core, mission critical systems.”

Tyler’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) solution effectively manages single or multi-jurisdictional dispatching activities for law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies. Once implemented, Oregon State Police will be able to share real-time, critical data across state and local dispatch centers through CAD-to-CAD communication, which will help accelerate response times and improve situational awareness of first responders.

“We are honored to partner with Oregon State Police in its mission of delivering high-quality services that enhance public safety,” said Andrew Hittle, president of Tyler’s Public Safety Division. “Tyler’s solutions will enable Oregon State Police to more effectively and efficiently provide critical public safety services to all Oregonians.”

This agreement expands Tyler’s partnership with the state of Oregon, building upon previous deployments of the statewide court case management solution, jury management, pre-trial supervision, and digital solutions.

About Tyler Technologies, Inc.

Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) provides integrated software and technology services to the public sector. Tyler’s end-to-end solutions empower local, state, and federal government entities to operate efficiently and transparently with residents and each other. By connecting data and processes across disparate systems, Tyler’s solutions transform how clients turn actionable insights into opportunities and solutions for their communities. Tyler has more than 40,000 successful installations across nearly 13,000 locations, with clients in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and other international locations. Tyler has been recognized numerous times for growth and innovation, including Government Technology’s GovTech 100 list. More information about Tyler Technologies, an S&P 500 company headquartered in Plano, Texas, can be found at


View source version on

CONTACT: Jennifer Kepler

Tyler Technologies




SOURCE: Tyler Technologies

Copyright Business Wire 2023.

PUB: 06/20/2023 09:17 AM/DISC: 06/20/2023 09:15 AM

2 killed in separate gunbattles with police in South Carolina; officers survive

From the Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies in South Carolina killed armed men in two different shootouts over the weekend, authorities said.

The officers in both shootings — one in McCormick County and the other in Lee County — were wounded but survived, the State Law Enforcement Division said in statements.

In McCormick County, deputies were investigating a 911 call Sunday morning about a suspicious person when 20-year-old Obed Barba shot at them and at least one deputy also fired, state agents said.

Barba died from gunshot wounds. A deputy was taken to the hospital. Further details on the officer’s condition or other information like how many deputies fired or what led to the gunfire were not released by state agents.

In Lee County, deputies were called Sunday afternoon to someone reporting a domestic assault involving a gun, authorities said.

Marquis Griffin, 27. got in a gunfight with deputies when they arrived. Griffin was killed and one deputy was hit in the leg and survived, state agents said.

No additional details were released by state police, including how many deputies were at the home or whether anyone else was hurt in the initial domestic assault.

There have been 18 people shot by police officers in South Carolina in 2023, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. Last year, state agents investigated 32 police shootings.

California governor proposes rolling back access to police misconduct records

By TRÂN NGUYỄN from the Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has proposed an end to public disclosure of investigations of abusive and corrupt police officers, handing the responsibility instead to local agencies in an effort to help cover an estimated $31.5 billion budget deficit.

J Vasquez, a representative with the Communities United For Restorative Justice, speaks in front of the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., June 14, 2023. Vasquez is part of a coalition that is criticizing the California governor’s administration over a proposed change to a 2021 landmark law – a change that could make it harder to access police misconduct records. (AP Photo/Trân Nguyễn)

The proposal, part of the governor’s budget package that he is still negotiating with the Legislature, has prompted strong criticism from a coalition of criminal justice and press freedom groups, which spent years pushing for the disclosure rules that were part of a landmark law Newsom signed in 2021.

The law allows the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to investigate and decertify police officers for misconduct, such as use of excessive force, sexual assault and dishonesty. It requires the commission to make public the records of decertification cases.

The Newsom administration now wants to get rid of that transparency element. The commission says the public could still get the records from police departments. But advocates say local police departments often resist releasing that information.

A number of states with a police decertification process, including Republican-led ones such as Tennessee and Georgia, require state agencies to divulge records of police misconduct.

In Tennessee, records made available through the requirement provided a slew of new details on police officers’ actions when they brutally beat Tyre Nichols, a Black man, during a traffic stop earlier this year. Those details, released by the state police certification commission, were not previously made public by the local police department.

“It’s a slap in the face to the family members who have had their loved ones stolen from them that … a key provision of the decertification process is not being honored,” J Vasquez, of social justice group Communities United For Restorative Justice, said at a news conference last week.

Removing the transparency element from the 2021 law would continue eroding public trust, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker said. The city, 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of San Francisco, was shaken after a federal investigation found more than half of the officers in the Antioch police force were in a group text where some officers freely used racial slurs and bragged about fabricating evidence and beating suspects.

“To say, ‘go to the very people who commit the crimes against your community and ask them to reveal themselves to you so that you can hold them accountable,’ I don’t think that’s a fair process,” Torres-Walker said.

The coalition of more than 20 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, also accused the Democratic governor of abusing the budget process to push through his proposal introduced in April.

Carmen-Nicole Cox, director of government affairs for ACLU California Action, said Newsom’s proposal should have gone through the traditional legislative process, instead of being put into the budget.

Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford, who authored the 2021 landmark bill, declined to comment on the proposed change.

The governor’s office referred questions to the commission, whose spokesperson said the proposed change is a cost-saving measure that would still allow the public to access information on decertification cases from local police departments. California is facing a nearly $32 billion budget deficit this year after enjoying several years of record-breaking surpluses and the proposal is one of many of Newsom’s cost-cutting measures.

Neither the governor’s office nor the commission shared how much money the state could save under the proposal.

According to a May budget request, the commission estimated it will handle up to 3,500 decertification cases each year. That’s about 4% of all officers in California. The commission, which has suspended or decertified 44 police officers so far this year, requested an additional $6 million to handle the large number of complaints.

“Because of the substantial fiscal implications, as well as the need to urgently implement these cost-saving measures into law, the budget process is the most appropriate avenue for this,” commission spokesperson Meagan Poulos said in a statement.

For decades, police officers in California have enjoyed layers of legal protections helping shield most of law enforcement misconduct records from public scrutiny, First Amendment Coalition Legal Director David Loy said.

In 2018, things began to shift after the Legislature passed a bill requiring the disclosure of records pertaining to police misconduct including use of excessive force, sexual assault and dishonesty. That law was expanded in 2021 to include the release of investigations into police racist or biased behavior, unlawful searches or arrests and use of unreasonable force.

The 2021 decertification law was hailed as another mechanism to hold law enforcement accountable.

“California has always been a black hole for police transparency,” said Loy, whose group is part of the coalition opposing the change. “The last thing California should be doing is taking any step backward on police transparency.”

The state Legislature passed its own version of the state budget Thursday to meet its deadline without including Newsom’s proposed change to the decertification process. Legislative leaders and the governor’s office will continue negotiations to finalize the budget by the end of the month.

Large fire breaks out at Germany’s biggest theme park, police says blaze is “under control”

From the Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — A large fire broke out at Germany’s biggest theme park Monday, sending a dense plume of black smoke billowing into the sky visible from miles around.

Police said the firefighters were at the scene and that the blaze at the Europa-Park in the town of Rust, near the French border, was “under control.”

“All visitors are currently in the process of leaving the park in an orderly manner,” police in the southwestern town of Offenburg said. “There is currently no information about injured persons.”

Regional daily Badische Zeitung reported that the fire is centered around the Spanish-themed section of the park and an area known as the Magic World of Diamonds.

Europa-Park is a popular tourist destination, that drew more than six million visitors last year, mostly from Germany, France and Switzerland.

It has1 6 areas with themes based on different European countries, and three based on fantasy settings. The park also hosts conferences and is a popular venue for events and television productions.

A search is underway for missing submarine that takes people to see Titanic

From the Associated Press

A rescue operation was underway deep in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Monday in search of a submersible vessel that carries people to view the wreckage of the Titanic.

FILE – This 2004 photo provided by the Institute for Exploration, Center for Archaeological Oceanography/University of Rhode Island/NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, shows the remains of a coat and boots in the mud on the sea bed near the Titanic’s stern. A search is underway for a missing submersible that carries people to view the wreckage of the Titanic, according to media reports. The U.S. Coast Guard told BBC News that a search was underway Monday, June 19, 2023, off the coast of Newfoundland. (Institute for Exploration, Center for Archaeological Oceanography/University of Rhode Island/NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, File)

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia said the vessel was reported overdue around 9:13 p.m. Sunday, about 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Lt. Cmdr. Len Hickey said a Canadian Coast Guard vessel and military aircraft were assisting the search effort, which was being led by the U.S. Coast Guard in Boston.

OceanGate Expeditions confirmed the search for its five-person submersible and said its focus was on those aboard the vessel and their families.

“We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” the company said in a statement. “We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”

David Concannon, an adviser to the company, said Oceangate lost contact with the sub Sunday morning. It had a 96-hour oxygen supply, he said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday afternoon. “Now 32 hours since sub left surface,” said Concannon, who said he was supposed to be on the dive but could not go due to another client matter. He said officials are working to get a remotely operated vehicle that can reach a depth of 6,000 meters (about 20,000 feet) to the site as soon as possible.

Action Aviation confirmed that its company chairman, U.K. businessman Hamish Harding, was one of the tourists on board. The company’s managing director, Mark Butler, told the AP that the crew set out on Friday.

“Every attempt is being made for a rescue mission. There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event,” Butler said. “We’re all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound.”

The expedition was OceanGate’s third annual voyage to chronicle the deterioration of the iconic ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank in 1912, killing all but about 700 of the roughly 2,200 passengers and crew. Since the wreckage’s discovery in 1985, it has been slowly succumbing to metal-eating bacteria, and some have predicted the ship could vanish in a matter of decades as holes yawn in the hull and sections disintegrate.

The initial group of tourists was funding the expedition by spending anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 apiece.

The latest trip was scheduled to depart from St. John’s, Newfoundland, in early May and finish up at the end of June, according to a court documents filed by the company in April with a U.S. District Court in Virginia that presides over Titanic matters.

Unlike submarines that leave and return to port under their own power, submersibles require a ship to launch and recover them. OceanGate hired the Canadian vessel Polar Prince, a medium duty icebreaker that was formerly operated by the Canadian Coast Guard, to ferry dozens of people and the submersible craft to the North Atlantic wreck site.

The 5-person submersible, named Titan, is capable of diving 4,000 meters or 13,120 ft. “with a comfortable safety margin,” OceanGate said in its filing with the court.

It weighs 20,000 pounds (9,072 kilograms) in the air, but is ballasted to be neutrally buoyant once it reaches the seafloor, the company said.

The Titan is made of “titanium and filament wound carbon fiber” and has proven to “withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean,” OceanGate stated. OceanGate told the court that Titan’s viewport is “the largest of any deep diving submersible” and that its technology provides an “unrivaled view” of the deep ocean.

Chris Parry, a retired navy rear admiral from the U.K., told Sky News that the rescue taking place was “a very difficult operation.”

““The actual nature of the seabed is very undulating. Titanic herself lies in a trench. There’s lots of debris around. So trying to differentiate with sonar in particular and trying to target the area you want to search in with another submersible is going to be very difficult indeed.”

Officers round up hundreds of pigs from overwhelmed Florida animal sanctuary

From the Associated Press

CANTONMENT, Fla. (AP) — Animal control officers rounded up more than 600 pigs from an animal sanctuary in Florida after their overwhelmed owner called for help.

Numerous pigs roam the property of Mary Tharp in the Cottage Hill community, Thursday, June 1, 2023, in Pensacola, Fla. Animal control officers spent 3-and-a-half days rounding up 608 animals and shipping them off to farms or other locations in the region. (Tony Giberson/Pensacola News Journal via AP)

It took nearly four days for officers in Escambia County to capture so many pigs on the 8-acre (3.2-hectare) property used by In Loving Swineness Sanctuary, said John Robinson, the county’s animal control director.

Last year, the sanctuary had about 150 miniature pigs that its owners were using to remove invasive cogon grass around the Florida Panhandle community of Cantonment, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

The pigs proved to be prolific procreators. Their population had grown so large, Robinson said, that the sanctuary operator called his agency last week saying: “I can’t take this anymore.”

During the roundup, the pigs showed “zero interest” in cooperating with animal control officers, who left several of the larger hogs behind to ensure nobody got hurt, Robinson said.

“It’s so difficult when you’re dealing with that many animals,” Robinson said. “It shouldn’t be the county’s responsibility to clean up somebody’s mess like that. At this point, we’ve basically zapped our resources.”

The captured pigs were divided up and trucked off to farms and other new homes outside the county.

The landowner on Tuesday was cited for violating a local zoning ordinance and ordered to pay a $250 fine. Robinson said county officials are weighing other potential sanctions against the property owner and the sanctuary operators.

Crews fully contain forest fire in New Jersey Pinelands; 2nd blaze mostly contained

From the Associated Press

MARLTON, N.J. (AP) — Authorities say they have completely contained one of the two forest fires burning in the New Jersey Pinelands, while the other remains mostly contained.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service announced Monday that the fire in the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Burlington County remains at 1.3 square miles (3.4 square kilometers) and warned that smoke may still be visible for an extended period of time while firefighters work to mop up remaining hotspots. Motorists were also urged to remain alert for blowing smoke.

No injuries were reported in the fire, and authorities said the cause remains under investigation. During the course of the fire two structures were considered at risk, but neither was damaged.

Meanwhile, the fire burning in Evesham Township in Burlington County remained Monday at just over a square mile (2.6 square kilometers) and 90% containment. Authorities have said no injuries were reported and the fire no longer poses a threat to the four structures that had been cited earlier.

Police investigating spray attack in Japanese department store restroom, suspect at large

By MARI YAMAGUCHI for the Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Police in the western Japanese city of Osaka said Wednesday they are searching for a suspect who sprayed an unknown liquid on several women inside a department store, causing pain to their faces and eyes.

One of the victims was 85-year-old woman who was sprayed inside the ladies room on the 9th floor of the Hankyu Department Store in Osaka, a local police official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. The woman complained of pain in the cheek and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

At least six other people also had the unidentified liquid sprayed on their faces and had eye sores and other minor irritation, but none of them was seriously injured, police said.

Police are searching for the suspect, believed to be in their 30s. Kyodo News reported that the suspect is believed to be a woman.

Haze from Canadian wildfires eases as reinforcements from abroad arrive

From the Associated Press

MONTREAL (AP) — The hazardous haze from wildfires in Canada’s northeast eased there and throughout much of northeastern United States on Friday, but Canadian officials warned it could be a marathon fire season and welcomed the help of firefighters arriving from other countries.

American flags fly with a cloudy sky above the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, June 9, 2023. While the air quality remains unhealthy, the record smoke pollution from wildfires in eastern Canada this week has diminished significantly over the nation’s capital. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

A contingent of 100 French firefighters landed in Canada and was en route to the fire region Friday. Hundreds more are expected to arrive from the U.S., Portugal and Spain in the coming days, and there should be about 1,200 people fighting fires in the province of Quebec by Monday, said Public Security Minister François Bonnardel.

The thick wildfire smoke that loomed over daily life this week for millions of people in Canada and parts of the U.S. East Coast has mostly dissipated, U.S. and Canadian officials said.

“We’re doing a lot better,” U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Putnam said. “It looks like there is less smoke being produced in in Canada.”

He said the weather pattern seems to be the same, but there is less smoke.

Maïté Blanchette Vézina, Quebec’s minister of forests and natural resources, said the situation in the province remains critical but is improving.

The province’s forest fire prevention agency said the additional firefighters is a sign “the sprint phase has ended and we’re now in the marathon phase,” she told a Quebec City briefing.

Blanchette Vézina said efforts in the coming days will permit firefighters to contain and begin extinguishing some of the roughly 140 fires that remained active across Quebec on Friday, including some that have been allowed to burn freely due to a lack of personnel.

She said the improved situation is also allowing the province to lift the ban on activities in the woods in most of the Côte-Nord and parts of the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean regions, although forestry work and all forms of fires are still prohibited.

As of Friday, the fires had forced more than 13,500 Canadians from their homes, many of them in the northern municipalities of Chibougamau and Lebel-sur-Quévillon. About 50 people were also evacuated from a detention center in Amos, Quebec, as a preventive measure, Bonnardel said.

Despite the stabilizing situation, Bonnardel said it was likely many of the evacuees wouldn’t be able to return home before next week.

He announced the province would offer $1,500 Canadian (US$1,224) to each household that was evacuated and would fully reimburse affected municipalities for the costs they incurred to run shelters, manage evacuations and fight fires.

Quebec’s forest fire prevention agency has described the current wildfire season as the worst on record. The province has reported a total of 444 wildfires so far this year, compared to an average of 207 at the same date during prior years.

Experts says the wildfires have been fueled by an unusually dry and warm period in spring, and no rains are expected until next week.

Canadian officials say there have been no reports of injuries and deaths so far from the fires.

In Nova Scotia, meanwhile, most evacuation orders were lifted Friday, almost two weeks after a series of unprecedented wildfires broke out in the southwestern corner of the province and in suburban Halifax.

Officials in Shelburne County, where the largest wildfire in the province’s history continued to burn out of control, lifted all evacuation orders at noon. The wildfire there, which started May 27 near Barrington Lake, hasn’t grown since the weekend thanks to the work of firefighters and the wet, cool weather.

The Barrington Lake fire forced more than 6,000 people from their homes and destroyed 60 homes and cottages, as well as 150 other structures.

Wildfire smoke that hung over Toronto for several days has now cleared, resulting in a notable improvement in air quality for Canada’s most populous city, but the haze is persisting in western Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia.

Florida center says ‘Grey Team’ technology, exercise help veterans overcome PTSD and other ailments

By TERRY SPENCER from the Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Before Fred Kalfon began exercising at the Grey Team veterans center a couple months ago, the 81-year-old rarely left his Florida home.

Parkinson’s disease, an inner ear disorder and other neurological problems, all likely caused by the Vietnam vet’s exposure to the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, made it difficult for him to move. His post-traumatic stress disorder, centering on the execution of a woman who helped his platoon, was at its worst.

Treatment through the federal Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t work, he said.

“I felt stupid the way I walk around and stumble,” said Kalfon, who led a medical aid unit as a first lieutenant in 1964-65. “I was depressed.”

But after months in a veteran-specialized gym and recovery program, the retired pharmaceutical researcher and sales manager is socializing and has thrown aside his walker for a cane.

He’s among the latest of 700 veterans of all ages working with the Grey Team, a 7-year-old organization combining personalized workouts, camaraderie, community outings and an array of machines in a 90-day program targeted at improving physical and mental health.

“It’s the machines, sure. It’s the therapy you are taking. It’s the (staff’s) encouragement — they are there all the time for you. They are caring. Caring makes a difference,” Kalfon said.

The nonprofit center, located in a converted warehouse in Boca Raton, Florida, gets its name, in part, from the brain’s nickname: “gray matter.” Many of the vets who apply and are accepted into the free program suffered head trauma in battle or have PTSD.

“What we have created here is really magical,” said Grey Team co-founder Cary Reichbach, 62, a physical trainer and former Army police officer. The goal, he said, is to get the vets off medications for their mental and physical ailments when possible. Even after completing the program, participants can still workout, hang out and participate in outings.

With the government saying vets are 50% more likely to kill themselves than non-veterans, Reichbach is proud the center helps combat that statistic.

“We want to tackle the suicidal ideation before it even starts,” he said.

He concedes suicide prevention is easier because the center doesn’t accept clients who are homeless or have uncontrolled addictions.

“I wish we had the funding to tackle” those issues, he said.

The Grey Team’s program features an array of machines using infrared light, lasers and sound waves meant to relieve stress, heal mental and physical wounds and help the vets sleep without the use of pharmaceuticals. The program is run by a primary team of seven, including a medical director.

Drugs are overutilized in other veteran programs, such as those in VA hospitals, often because “they have a budget and they have to spend it,” Reichbach said.

Ohio State University psychologist Craig Bryan, a former executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, said the successes of the Grey Team program are not surprising given the selective participant pool.

“They are selecting from a subgroup with less severe problems,” said Bryan, a former Air Force captain who now works with the VA.

His skepticism also extends to the effectiveness of the machines.

“To my knowledge, they’ve never been rigorously studied so it’s hard to know if they have any benefit at all and/or if they have side effects or cause harms,” Bryan said. “Exercise is a common feature of many therapies and treatments that have demonstrated efficacy for PTSD, depression and suicide risk.”

University researchers are collecting data that Reichbach said he believes will show his program’s treatments work.

Reichbach’s 93-year-old father, Ed, offers hugs and back slaps to everyone entering the Grey Team lobby. Sometimes the Army vet and former university professor drops to give 10 rapid-fire pushups — a demonstration to give older vets a jolt on their first visit.

“We have to get them in here, that’s the difficult part,” he said.

Upstairs in the center’s “safe space” community area, Navy vet Bill Tolle discussed his service as a meteorologist and oceanographer from 1983 to 1990. As a petty officer second-class stationed in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Antarctica, he never experienced combat.

But in 1988, Tolle witnessed a plane crash at his Antarctic base that killed two people. A year later, he sustained a back injury in a helicopter crash. The back-to-back traumas left him with PTSD. He worked as a firefighter and then a registered nurse in an inner-city emergency room. His PTSD led to alcoholism.

“I really wasn’t familiar with what PTSD was. I always thought it was combat-related,” Tolle said. “For years I went untreated and it got progressively worse.”

He finally was diagnosed in 2016 but didn’t get treatment until 2020 through a residential VA program. He then lived at the Salvation Army, which introduced him to the Grey Team.

Tolle is a believer in the center’s machines.

“My thinking was foggy, at best. A lot of short-term memory stuff. I would forget. I can now think things through, resolve things,” he said. “My whole cognitive function is sharper.”

In the center’s gym, Kalfon talked about walking through Vietnam jungles still wet with Agent Orange, the herbicide sprayed by the U.S. from planes to kill the brush where enemy soldiers hid. It has been linked to veterans’ health problems.

His health began failing about seven years ago. First, a heart attack and quintuple bypass. Then the neurological problems. His health insurance agent told him about the Grey Team and he applied, seeing it as a last hope.

For about two months, Kalfon has been coming to the center three times weekly. He can now walk up stairs and has set a goal to jog 3 miles (5 kilometers).

“When I can do that,” he said, “I think I will have accomplished everything I need.”

German shepherd wounded in Ukraine gets new start as Hungarian police dog

By JUSTIN SPIKE from the Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — After a rocket attack in eastern Ukraine, half of Rambo’s face was mangled and bloody. Shrapnel had ravaged the right side of his head, and it was uncertain if he would survive.

Rambo, a German Shepherd, who was injured in Ukraine’s embattled Kharkiv region and was later adopted by the Budapest Police’s dog squad is photographed, in Budapest Hungary. June 6, 2023. Rambo is now training with the Budapest Police in neighboring Hungary, and setting an example that dogs and people, can do great things despite their disabilities. Three-year-old Rambo accompanied Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region when a rocket attack sent shrapnel into his head, blowing away pieces of skull, damaging his jaw and severely mangling his right ear. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)

The 3-year-old German shepherd, who had accompanied Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines of the war, underwent emergency surgery that saved his life. Now, Rambo is training with the Budapest police department in neighboring Hungary and serving as a reminder that dogs — and people — with disabilities can do great things.

Recovered from his brush with death in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv province, Rambo is learning how to interact with children, older adults and disabled people at police demonstrations and rehabilitation institutions, according to Lt. Col. Maria Stein with the Budapest Metropolitan Police.

Demonstrating the tasks performed by canine units is part of the department’s crime prevention program, with a goal of teaching young people to be more tolerant and to respect one another’s differences, Stein said.

“Nowadays, unfortunately, it happens that children mock each other because they wear glasses, because they have braces, because their ears look funny or whatever — because they’re different,” she said. “With Rambo, we might be able to sensitize these children a little and show them that, yes, he is injured, he’s different, but he can do the same things as other dogs.”

Rambo’s journey to police service didn’t come easy. Last year, shrapnel from the rocket attack, which also injured some Ukrainian soldiers, blew away pieces of skull, damaging his jaw and severely mangling his right ear.

After his initial surgery, Rambo was taken to safety in western Ukraine. Violetta Kovacs, head of a Hungarian organization dedicated to rescuing German shepherds, soon collected him and brought him to a rehabilitation center near Budapest.

“The dog needed immediate help,” Kovacs, head of the German Shepherd Breed Rescue Foundation, said. “We had to operate again here in Hungary because several of his teeth were causing him great pain because of the injury, which required immediate intervention.”

Rambo spent eight months at the center, where his jaw was reconstructed, his right ear amputated and several teeth removed. He underwent training to be socialized with other dogs, Kovacs said, but his fondness for children was clear from the start.

Gyula Desko, a lieutenant colonel with the Budapest Metropolitan Police, then adopted Rambo, providing him with further training and a home.

He called Rambo a “very friendly, good-natured dog” who is making good progress in his training and whose survival was “a miracle.”

“Working with him requires more patience and more attention, as we do not know what kind of mental problems his head injury caused him,” Desko said, but Rambo is “so open with people and accepts them, despite his injuries and the shock that befell him.”

It’s those qualities, Desko said, that the police force hopes will inspire those who meet Rambo to open themselves to kindness and acceptance.

“As a police dog, one can see through him that you can live a full life even when injured, and can be a useful member of society and do very diverse things,” Desko said.

Atlanta project decried as ‘Cop City’ gets funding approval from City Council

By R.J. RICO from the Associated Press

TLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta City Council early Tuesday approved funding for the construction of a proposed police and firefighter training center, rejecting the pleas of hundreds of activists who packed City Hall and spoke for hours in fierce opposition to the project they decry as “Cop City.”

Protestors gather in the atrium of Atlanta City Hall to protest the proposed police training center on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Natrice Miller/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

The 11-4 vote just after 5 a.m. is a significant victory for Mayor Andre Dickens, who has made the $90 million project a large part of his first term in office, despite pushback to the effort. The City Council also passed a resolution requesting two seats on the Atlanta Police Foundation’s board.

In a statement, Dickens said the passage of the budget resolution “marks a major milestone for better preparing our fire, police and emergency responders to protect and serve our communities.”

“Atlanta will be a national model for police reform with the most progressive training and curriculum in the country,” he said.

The decentralized “Stop Cop City” movement has galvanized protesters from across the country, especially in the wake of the January fatal police shooting of Manuel Paez Terán, a 26-year-old environmental activist known as “Tortuguita” who had been camping in the woods near the site of the proposed project in DeKalb County.

For about 14 hours, residents again and again took to the podium to slam the project, saying it would be a gross misuse of public funds to build the huge facility in a large urban forest in a poor, majority-Black area.

“We’re here pleading our case to a government that has been unresponsive, if not hostile, to an unprecedented movement in our City Council’s history,” said Matthew Johnson, the executive director of Beloved Community Ministries, a local social justice nonprofit. “We’re here to stop environmental racism and the militarization of the police. … We need to go back to meeting the basic needs rather than using police as the sole solution to all of our social problems.”

The training center was approved by the City Council in September 2021 but required an additional vote for more funding. City officials say the new 85-acre (34-hectare) campus would replace inadequate training facilities and would help address difficulties in hiring and retaining police officers that worsened after nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice three years ago.

But opponents, who have been joined by activists from around the country, say they fear it will lead to greater militarization of the police and that its construction will exacerbate environmental damage. Protesters had been camping at the site since at least last year, and police said they had caused damage and attacked law enforcement officers and others.

Though more than 220 people spoke publicly against the training center, a small handful voiced support, saying they trusted Dickens’ judgment.

Council members agreed to approve $31 million in public funds for the site’s construction, as well as a provision that requires the city to pay $36 million — $1.2 million a year over 30 years — for using the facility. The rest of the $90 million project would come from private donations to the Atlanta Police Foundation, though city officials had, until recently, repeatedly said the public obligation would only be $31 million.

The highly scrutinized vote occurred in the wake of the arrests Wednesday of three organizers who lead the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has provided bail money and helped to find attorneys for arrested protesters.

Prosecutors have accused the three activists of money laundering and charity fraud, saying they used some of the money to fund violent acts of “forest defenders.” Warrants cite reimbursements for expenses including “gasoline, forest clean-up, totes, covid rapid tests, media, yard signs.” But the charges have alarmed human rights groups and prompted both of Georgia’s Democratic senators to issue statements expressing their concerns.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock tweeted that bail funds held important roles during the Civil Rights Movement and said the images of the heavily armed police officers raiding the home where the activists lived “reinforce the very suspicions that help to animate the current conflict — namely, concerns Georgians have about over-policing, the quelling of dissent in a democracy, and the militarization of our police.”

Devin Franklin, an attorney with the Southern Center For Human Rights, also invoked Wednesday’s arrests while speaking before the City Council.

“This is what we fear — the image of militarized forces being used to effectuate arrests for bookkeeping errors,” Franklin said.

Numerous instances of violence and vandalism have been linked to the decentralized “Stop Cop City” movement, including a January protest in downtown Atlanta in which a police car was set alight, as well as a March attack in which more than 150 masked protesters chased off police at the construction site and torched construction equipment before fleeing and blending in with a crowd at a nearby music festival. Those two instances have led to more than 40 people being charged with domestic terrorism, though prosecutors have had difficulty so far in proving that many of those arrested were in fact those who took part in the violence.

In a sign of the security concerns Monday, dozens of police officers were posted throughout City Hall and officials temporarily added “liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes” to the list of things prohibited inside the building.

In a statement Tuesday after voting against the facility, council member Keisha Sean Waites said $67 million in taxpayer funds could be better spent elsewhere, including on “affordable housing, resources for the homeless and unsheltered, infrastructure improvements, mental health services, health care for the uninsured, rental and mortgage assistance, including providing housing and salary increasing for our first responders and law enforcement officers.

“These resources directly impact the root causes of crime, which policing does not,” Waites said.

UK police motorcyclist under criminal investigation over royal escort crash

From the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — A British police motorcyclist faced a criminal investigation Tuesday over the death of a woman who was struck in a collision with the officer’s vehicle, which was escorting Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, at the time.

FILE – Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh speaks with guests during a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, London, Wednesday May 3, 2023, in celebration of the coronation of King Charles III on May 6. The Duchess of Edinburgh expressed her condolences Wednesday, May 24, 2023 after the death of an 81-year-old woman who was hit by a motorcycle that was part of the UK royal’s police escort. Sophie, the wife of Prince Edward, expressed her sympathies for the death of Helen Holland, who was struck at a west London intersection May 10. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP, File)

Helen Holland, 81, was hit in west London on May 10. She suffered serious injuries and died two weeks later.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said the constable was told a criminal investigation was underway for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.

The officer is also being investigated for potential gross misconduct.

Following the crash, Holland’s son Martin told the BBC she died after sustaining “multiple broken bones and massive internal injuries.” He said she was using a pedestrian crossing when she was struck by the motorcycle.

Sophie, who is the wife of Prince Edward, King Charles III’s younger brother, has said she was “deeply saddened” that Holland died.

Arson investigation underway after fire burns Los Angeles church for second time in 2 years

From the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An arson investigation was under way Sunday after fire damaged a nearly 100-year-old Los Angeles church for the second time in less than two years, authorities.

Flames broke out shorty before 7 p.m. Saturday in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Methodist Church and spread into a balcony, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.

More than 30 firefighters took about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze at the two-story church in the Watts neighborhood, the statement said. No injuries were reported.

The blaze occurred as St. John’s was undergoing renovations from another fire that caused major damage in February 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported.

After the earlier fire, worshippers moved services to the parking lot, where they were still being held as of this weekend, the Times said.

The church, built in the Spanish Colonial style with a red-tile roof and beige exterior, is celebrating 97 years of ministry in the Watts community south of downtown LA, according to its Facebook page.

U.S. Conference of Mayors Announces Winners of 2023 Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grants

U.S. Conference of Mayors. (PRNewsFoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors) (PRNewsfoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors)

Program Supported by Target Recognizes Arlington (TX), Lansing (MI), and Huntington (WV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Target announced the winners of this year’s Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant Program designed to identify, promote, and support police policies and practices that cities of all sizes are finding to be most effective in advancing the goal of justice for all residents. In the third year of this competitive grant program, judges named one winner in the program’s large (over 300,000), mid-sized (100,000 – 300,000) and small (under 100,000) population categories.

The three winning cities share in a total of $350,000 in grant funds. Grant winners this year are:

  • Arlington (TX), for its GameUP 5-0 program that strengthens police relationships with targeted youth by engaging them in video games and by bringing the games into their communities.
  • Lansing (MI), for its Mikey23 Program in which police officers engage targeted youth in hands-on skill-building through rehabilitation of distressed houses in the community.
  • Huntington (WV), for its Crisis Intervention Team that pairs mental health providers with police officers to respond to mental health/co-occurring substance use crises.
  • Three additional cities, one in each population category, also were recognized by the program’s judges as honorable mentions:
  • Anaheim (CA), for its Homeless Assessment Liaison Officer (HALO) team that coordinates with and supports other homeless outreach teams where mental health experts would be beneficial.
  • Charleston (SC), where the police department is voluntarily implementing a comprehensive racial bias audit that is substantially changing policies, practices, training, and data collection capacities.
  • Trenton (NJ), for its Resilience Increases Success & Excellence (RISE) program with eight components providing at-risk youth with a wide range of career and personal development experiences.

“At Target, we place an emphasis on creating a culture of caring, growing, and thriving together, which can be seen throughout our business and in the way we invest in the communities we serve. Mayors play a critical role in creating strong, safe, and sustainable communities across America and we value our partnership with each and every one of you. Together, we will continue to advance a more just and prosperous society. We are proud to sponsor the USCM and Target Police Reform and Equitable Justice grant awards and congratulate the winning cities,” said Isaac Reyes, SVP Enterprise Risk & Government Affairs for Target Corporation.

“We commend these mayors and cities, and we thank Target for making possible these local-led programs that will improve justice and strengthen trust between communities and their law enforcement,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Our hope is that by supporting and promoting these programs, we can connect mayors with information on the approaches to police reform being taken or planned by their colleagues throughout the United States.”

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant. I truly believe Arlington has one of the best police departments in the country, due in large part to the way our officers dedicate themselves to community policing. Game Up 5-0 is a unique and creative way to bridge the gap between our youth and our officers and will help to build camaraderie and trust. This funding will help us grow this outstanding program which, in turn, will help make our community safer and more inclusive,” said Arlington (TX) Mayor Jim Ross.

“The Mikey 23 Foundation is such an awesome asset to our community that involves officers from the Lansing Police Department working alongside the youth,” said Lansing (MI) Mayor Andy Schor. “The program teaches participants important skilled trades in a positive environment from professionals who also serve in a mentoring role. It also helps to support families who have been directly impacted by gun violence. I’m beyond thrilled that this deserving foundation was one of just a few chosen to be awarded this grant,” said Lansing (MI) Mayor Andy Schor.

“Our Crisis Intervention Team enables our police officers, working alongside mental health workers, to provide individuals suffering from a mental health crisis multiple paths to services as opposed to arresting them. People must still be accountable for criminal violations, but these avenues to receive treatment create compassionate accountability,” said Huntington (WV) Mayor Stephen T. Williams.

Summary descriptions of the winning programs are below and online, where you will also soon find descriptions of all other programs submitted to the program by cities this year.

Learn more about the partnership between Target and USCM, and the Police Reform and Equitable Justice Grant program, in the program’s original announcement here.

Police Reform and Racial Justice Grant Winners

  • Large City Award: Arlington, TX – GameUp 5-0 Mobilization

Expanding on a successful youth mentoring model created in 2015 following the murder of a high school football player, the Arlington Police Department (APD) introduced GameUp 5-0 that targets a segment of the youth population that does not play traditional sports. Its goals include strengthening relationships with youth and the community through video games and humanizing the police badge. In 2018, the City of Arlington opened an Esports Stadium as a pioneering venue for large-scale esports productions and events, and for community-building. In 2021, APD partnered with the Arlington Independent School District to host a GameUp 5-0 esports tournament at the complex, an event involving about 100 local students and more than 30 officers. The event offered officers an opportunity to mentor youth on cyberbullying, stress relief, safe places/environments, and scholarship opportunities. Given the range of serious threats posed by cyberbullying, a goal is to make youth aware of risks and the need to take steps to protect themselves and others. In recent years, gaming trucks have become increasingly popular. Mobile gaming units are easily transported to any location, making them a convenient choice for GameUp 5-0 mobile events. Through these trucks, the program is reaching into Operation Connect zones, areas of the city in which a high percentage of juvenile offenses occur, particularly in summer months.

  • Mid-Size City Award: Lansing, MI – The Mikey23 Program
    The Mikey23 non-profit was started in 2014, just months after the founder, Michael McKissic Sr., lost his son Michael to gun violence. A second-generation construction contractor and lifelong Lansing resident, his aim was to take the youth in the area out of a potentially negative environment and engage them in construction projects. Currently, the program engages young men and women in the rehabilitation of distressed houses. Police officers work alongside the youth; positive interactions with them are aimed at building the community’s trust of the police. The increase in firearms crimes among juveniles over the past two years – caseloads for the Police Department’s investigators have doubled – underscores the current need for a program that teaches young people a skilled trade in a positive environment. New members can join at the age of 12. The program supplies safety equipment and tools. At the end of a program year, some members are elevated to the next age group and some start apprenticeship programs. During the past year the program had 24 participants, mostly male, across its age groups. Most are drawn from the underrepresented communities most impacted by gun violence. The program has earned community support and positive evaluations by researchers. It operates as a nonprofit foundation and relies on donations to fund its programming.
  • Small City Award: Huntington, WV – Crisis Intervention Team
    The Huntington Police Department has adopted a strategic Community Policing model that deploys proactive strategies in the fight against crime. Engaged in the SMART Policing initiative and Police-Mental-Health-Collaboration, the Department developed its own Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in September 2022. The purpose of the CIT is to handle active mental health crises in the community that cannot be solved by other mental health programs such as crisis phone numbers. West Virginia leads the nation in overdoses per capita, with Cabell County (Huntington) experiencing the second highest number of overdoses in the State. The CIT, a part of the Department’s new Coordinated Care Unit that will focus solely on mental health needs within the community, pairs mental health providers with law enforcement officers to respond to mental health/co-occurring substance use disorder crises. In addition to the Police Department’s Mental Health Liaison and CIT officers, the project currently utilizes partners from the City of Huntington (Mayor’s Council on Drug Control Policy) and mental health providers in the community. In most instances the Cabell County 911 dispatcher informs the HPD shift supervisor of incoming calls and a decision to dispatch the CIT is made after ensuring the scene is clear. Calls can also come from sources such as 311, from within the Department, and from community partners and stakeholders. Substance use and mental illness are leading causes of homelessness, and the city has recently experienced an influx of unsheltered individuals that continuously fall through the gaps in the continuum of care. The project will provide resources for those unsheltered or unstably housed, those suffering mental health and/or SUD crises, and others at risk of continuous interactions with the criminal justice system.

About the United States Conference of Mayors — The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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In Denmark, potatoes on key bridge cause havoc

From the Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A 57-year-old truck driver was detained Thursday after loads of potatoes were found spilled on a key bridge linking two Danish islands, police have said. The driver was held on suspicion of causing reckless endangerment to life.

Potatoes are seen scattered across the carriageway on the western part of the Great Belt Bridge, Denmark, Thursday, June 1, 2023. A 57-year-old truck driver was Thursday detained after loads of potatoes have found on the key bridge linking two Danish islands, police said, adding the man was suspected of recklessly causes imminent danger to others. A first spill was reported in the westward direction on the Storebaelt bridge at 6.35 a.m., police spokesman Kenneth Taanquist said, adding a similar incident happened shortly after in the opposite direction. ( Scanpix via AP)

A first spill was reported on the westbound side of the Storebaelt bridge at 6.35 a.m. (0435 GMT), police spokesman Kenneth Taanquist said. The bridge connects the island where the capital, Copenhagen, is located to the rest of Denmark.

A similar incident happened on the eastbound side a short time later, Tanquist added.

”It looks weird,” he said. “We are working on two hypotheses: it is either an accident or it is something that has been done deliberately.”

Police said the roads had become slippery and urged drivers to drive slowly. According to the Danish Road Directorate, lines of vehicles were reported on either side of the roughly 18-kilometer (11 .2 miles) bridge and tunnel link between the islands of Funen, where Odense — Denmark’s third largest city — is located, and Zealand, where Copenhagen sits.

A third incident of potatoes on the road was reported near the town of Kolding on the Jutland peninsula. Kolding is near the Storebaelt bridge.

Danish public broadcaster DR noted that the potato spills occurred on the same day as the Danish parliament passed a law to tax diesel trucks transporting heavy loads.

The new measure has drawn protests from truck drivers. In recent weeks, they peacefully blocked highways and main roads throughout the country, claiming the tax will make their livelihoods unsustainable. A majority in the Danish parliament argue it is vital as the continued use of gas and diesel-fueled trucks is environmentally unsustainable.

As of 2025, the drivers of gas and diesel-fueled vehicles over 3.5 tons (7, 716 pounds) will be taxed 1.3 kroner ($0.19) per kilometer driven (half a mile).

Torben Dyhl Hjorth, a spokesman for the protesting truckers, said on Facebook that they “strongly distance themselves from today’s ‘stunts’.” He added that they plan protest at a later stage which ”can be felt but without risk to people’s lives and well-being.”

Suspect in Nashville police shooting dies in hospital, officer recovering

From the Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A man who was shot after wounding an officer in Tennessee has died at a hospital, authorities said.

The officer, Metro Nashville Police Detective Donovan Coble, 33, was expected to recover after being shot in his side Thursday while pursuing an armed auto burglary suspect, the department said in a statement. The suspect, Delama Casimir, 37, of Pompano Beach, Florida, died hours later after surgery, police said Thursday night.

Officers initially responded to a call from The Parking Spot, a parking area near the airport for travelers, which reported an armed man breaking into cars, police said.

Authorities said that when officers encountered Casimir, they ordered him to stop, but he ran through the lot and jumped over a wooden fence with Coble following and ordering him to stop. During the foot pursuit, Casimir pointed a pistol over his shoulder and fired at the officer, who was seriously wounded but returned fire, police said.

After Coble was shot, a fellow officer took him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and police began searching again for Casimir, who went down in heavy brush, police said.

During the search, SWAT Officer Tim Brewer found Casimir in the brush and ordered him to show his hands. Brewer perceived a gunshot and fired on Casimir, police said. Casimir also was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, but later died.

Coble has served with the Metro Nashville Police Department for four years, while Brewer is a 16-year veteran of the agency.

Retired Phoenix police officer in landmark Miranda rights case dies at 87

By ANITA SNOW from the Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Retired Phoenix Police Capt. Carroll Cooley, the arresting officer in the landmark case partially responsible for the Supreme Court’s Miranda rights ruling that requires suspects be read their rights, has died, the department confirmed Friday. He was 87.

FILE – Retired Phoenix Police Capt. Carroll Cooley demonstrates Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at the Phoenix Police Museum in Phoenix, how Ernesto Miranda was fingerprinted on the same fingerprinting device used on Miranda. Cooley, the arresting officer in the landmark self-incrimination case that led in part to the Supreme Court’s Miranda rights ruling requiring officers to read suspects their rights, died on Monday, May 29, after an unspecified illness, the department confirmed Friday, June 2, 2023. He was 87. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Phoenix police said in a brief statement that Cooley died on May 29 after an unspecified illness. The location and exact cause of his death were not immediately available, nor was information about services or survivors.

Cooley joined the Phoenix department in 1958 and retired two decades later.

On March 13, 1963, Cooley arrested Ernesto Miranda in the kidnap and rape of an 18-year-old Phoenix woman. Miranda was eventually convicted based on his handwritten confession and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.

Miranda appealed, and the case eventually went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a 1966 ruling overturning the conviction, saying that suspects should be advised of their constitutional rights against self-incrimination and to an attorney before questioning.

That decision, along with three other similar cases that were bundled together, led to the so-called “Miranda rights” or “Miranda warning,” which is familiar to anyone who has watched a police procedural drama on television.

“You have the right to remain silent,” it begins. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

“You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you,” it continues.

After the Supreme Court overturned his conviction, Miranda remained in jail on another conviction and was convicted again of raping and kidnapping the 18-year-old. Prosecutors at the second trial didn’t use the confession and instead relied on testimony from a woman who was close to Miranda.

After he was paroled, Miranda was fatally stabbed in February 1976 in a dispute during a card game at a downtown Phoenix bar.

During his career with Phoenix police, Cooley worked in the city’s Maryvale precinct, the general investigations bureau, and the police academy. He rose to become captain, a rank the department said is equivalent to commander today.

After retiring from the police department in December 1978, Cooley went on to work for the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

He also volunteered at the Phoenix Police Museum, where in 2013 he recounted his story before a 50th anniversary display about the Miranda arrest.

Texas firefighter stabbed while fighting blazes along interstate

From the Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas firefighter was stabbed in the thigh early Monday morning by a man accused of starting the multiple fires firefighters were putting out along Interstate 35 in Austin, authorities said.

Austin Fire Department shift commander Eddie Martinez told the Austin American-Statesman that the firefighter’s injuries weren’t life-threatening.

Martinez said the man accused of starting the fires had walked onto the interstate, and as firefighters tried to remove him from the roadway, he became agitated and stabbed the firefighter.

The fire department said on Twitter that the injured firefighter was treated at a hospital and released and that now “he’s home and doing ok.”

Fire officials say the suspect was arrested on the scene.

Authorities did not immediately say what object the firefighter was stabbed with.

Lanes on Interstate 35 near the incident were closed for a time but had reopened by 5:45 a.m.

Thousands evacuate from Nova Scotia wildfires

From the Associated Press

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Wildfires in Canada’s Atlantic coast province of Nova Scotia have caused thousands to evacuate.

Thick plumes of heavy smoke fill the Halifax sky as an out-of-control fire in a suburban community quickly spread, engulfing multiple homes and forcing the evacuation of local residents, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday May 28, 2023. (Kelly Clark/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Halifax Regional Municipality said late Monday that preliminary estimates indicate approximately 200 homes or structures have been damaged, based on initial visual inspections by first responders.

Halifax deputy fire Chief David Meldrum said an estimated 14,000 people were told to flee their homes, most of which are about a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown Halifax.

As firefighters spent a second day battling a wildfire in suburban Halifax, some residents from evacuated subdivisions received the grim news that their homes were among those destroyed by the wind-driven flames. Katherine Tarateski said police told her her home was burned down and they couldn’t find her pets.

Tarateski said she was with her husband Nick and their young daughter Mia at a family gathering on Sunday when they heard about the approaching fires and rushed back to their home in Hammonds Plains to save their dog and cat. But when they arrived police had already blocked their street.

“The house can be rebuilt,” she said. “But my pets … I’m just devastated. It’s hard.”

Fire officials said the out-of-control fire, which started Sunday in nearby Upper Tantallon, has destroyed or damaged dozens of homes, though there hadn’t been any reports of deaths or injuries.

By early afternoon, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources confirmed the wildfire covered about 8 square kilometers (3 miles). Meldrum said firefighters had concentrated on battling spot fires in residential areas in order to protect buildings and prevent the fire’s spread.

“This fire has not been contained, this fire is not under control,” he said. “It did not spread appreciably and that is thanks to weather, the work of the firefighters on the ground and the work of the air units.”

However, Meldrum stressed a change in weather conditions forecast for Tuesday could complicate things.

David Steeves, a forest resources technician with Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources, said the fire was helped by a lack of rain and a wooded area thick with softwood trees, which provide a volatile fuel source. “It was perfect conditions for a fast, quick, dangerous fire,” Steeves said.

No additional evacuations were ordered Monday, despite challenging conditions. In all, about 200 firefighters were battling the fire on Monday.

Florida police search for 3 gunmen who wounded 9 at crowded beach on Memorial Day

By TERRY SPENCER from the Associated Press

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Police launched a search Tuesday for three suspects they believe to be the gunmen who opened fire along a crowded Florida beachside promenade on Memorial Day, wounding a 1-year-old and eight others while sending people frantically running for cover.

A police officer shines his flashlight downward as he pauses on Hollywood Beach while investigating a shooting Monday, May 29, 2023, in Hollywood, Fla. Multiple people were injured Monday evening when gunfire erupted along the beach boardwalk. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Hollywood police sought the public’s help in identifying the gunmen, who ran from the scene during the chaos of hundreds of people fleeing for their lives and diving for cover as shots hit bystanders.

Two people involved in the altercation that led to the shooting have been arrested on firearms charges, police said. Five handguns have been recovered, with one of them reported stolen in the Miami area and another in Texas, they said.

Police and witnesses said the shooting began as a group of people fought in front of a busy stretch of shops on the Hollywood Oceanfront Broadwalk about 7 p.m. Monday.

The sound of gunshots sent witness Alvie Carlton Scott III ducking for cover behind a tree before he fled on foot at the command of a police officer. Another witness, Jamie Ward, said several young men were fighting when one of them pulled a gun and started firing.

The shooting upended busy holiday weekend festivities at the popular beach destination where there was already a heavy police presence to oversee the big crowds.

Police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi said four children between the ages of 1 and 17 were hit, along with five adults between 25 and 65. Six of those shot remain hospitalized in stable condition, while three have been released, police said.

The names of those arrested and those wounded have not been released.

Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said that he was “deeply saddened and angered” by the shooting. Dozens of officers are assigned to the beach on busy holiday weekends and that meant there was an immediate response and multiple people were detained, Levy said in a statement.

“People come to enjoy a holiday weekend on the beach with their families and to have people in complete reckless disregard of the safety of the public and to have an altercation with guns in a public setting with thousands of people around them is beyond reckless,” he said.

Videos posted Monday evening on Twitter showed emergency medical crews responding and providing aid to multiple injured people.

Hollywood Beach is a popular beach destination about 11 miles (17 kilometers) south of Fort Lauderdale and 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Miami. The beach was expected to see more visitors than usual because of the Memorial Day holiday.

1st Maryland Police Department to Deploy Body Camera Analytics

Automated Body Camera Review Platform Empowers Police to Optimize Officer Training

CHICAGO, May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Truleo, the leading provider of automated body camera review and analysis technology for law enforcement, today announced that the Elkton Police Department has signed on to utilize the company’s body camera data analysis platform.

Truleo's body camera analytics was recently featured on CNN

Image: Truleo’s body camera analytics was recently featured on CNN

Truleo processes body camera videos for departments across the country to help automate supervision, facilitate coaching, and promote police professionalism. The technology automatically detects critical events such as uses of force, pursuits, frisking, and non-compliance incidents, and screens for both professional and unprofessional officer language so supervisors can then praise or review officers’ conduct.

Like most departments in the U.S., Sergeants in the Elkton Police Department manually conduct random body camera reviews each month on a small percentage of the videos, but Truleo’s body camera analytics platform will automatically scan 100% of all videos for insights that are designed to provide a more comprehensive review that can facilitate coaching. This “precision guided audit” is designed to save the Sergeant’s time and create a more efficient performance review process.

“Body cameras merely capture and store data. The overwhelming academic evidence now shows that it is the insights buried in that data that is the key to improving outcomes for both officers and the community,” said Anthony Tassone, CEO of Truleo.

About Truleo

Truleo was recently featured on CNN.

To learn about investing in Truleo visit

Truleo analyzes police body camera videos using A.I. to help promote police professionalism. Truleo partnered with FBI National Academy alumni to build models that detect critical events and deconstruct officers’ language into professionalism metrics to help agencies promote best practices, train new officers, and mitigate risk. To learn more about Truleo’s mission to improve trust in the police with body camera analytics, visit

Steer on the run for weeks lassoed, captured on Detroit-area freeway

From the Associated Press

HOLLY, Mich. (AP) — A team of wranglers — including one on horseback — chased down and captured a wayward steer named Lester across several lanes of a Detroit-area freeway.

State police in-car video shows the tail-end of Sunday afternoon’s chase on northbound Interstate 75 in Holly, about 57 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.

A rider on horseback and three people in two ATVs can be seen chasing Lester in and around fields and woods along the east side of the freeway as the state police car follows slowly behind on the shoulder.

At one point, Lester races from near a clump of trees toward the freeway lanes and is quickly cut off by one of the ATVs before running behind the vehicle and into traffic. Three vehicles pass the steer as it runs into the northbound lanes.

The rider on horseback catches up and lassos Lester, which then runs into the median and hops a guardrail onto the freeway’s southbound shoulder before it is stopped.

“Eventually after much tom foolery, the critter was captured and removed from the freeway,” the state police wrote on the agency’s Twitter page. “Troopers reopened the freeway and things quickly got back to normal. The bovine was not charged and is back in the pasture with a story to tell all the other livestock.”

Lester had been on the lam for several weeks from a ranch where Lester and four other bovine were relocated after escaping from pens at an animal rescue facility in Rose Township, said Bill Mullan, a spokesperson for Oakland County.

Another agency called in wranglers who initially captured the group, but Lester escaped again and was on the loose until his recapture Sunday.

Chirping sounds lead airport officials to bag filled with smuggled parrot eggs

By Freida Frisaro from the Associated Press

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. (AP) — The 24 bright green baby parrots began chirping and bobbing their heads the second anyone neared the large cages that have been their homes since hatching in March.

The Central American natives, seized from a smuggler at Miami International Airport, are being raised by the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation — a round-the-clock effort that includes five hand feedings a day in a room filled with large cages.

At just 9 weeks old, these parrots have already survived a harrowing journey after being snatched from their nests in a forest. They are almost fully feathered now and the staff has started transitioning them from a special formula to a diet of food pellets and fruit.

“You ready to meet the children?” asked Paul Reillo, a Florida International University professor and director of the foundation, as he led visitors Friday into a small building tucked behind a sprawling house in Loxahatchee, a rural community near West Palm Beach.

“They are hand-raised babies,” he said, as the chicks squawked and looked inquisitively at the visitors. “They’ve never seen mom and dad; they’ve been raised by us since they hatched.”

It was the hatchlings’ faint chirping inside a carry-on bag at the Miami airport that brought them to the attention of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The passenger, Szu Ta Wu, had just arrived on TACA Airlines flight 392 from Managua, Nicaragua, on March 23, and was changing flights in Miami to return home to Taiwan, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Miami.

Officers stopped Wu at a checkpoint. He was asked about the sound coming from his bag, which Reillo later described as a “sophisticated” temperature controlled cooler.

Wu reached in and pulled out a smaller bag and showed the officer an egg, the complaint said. The officer then looked inside and saw more eggs and a tiny featherless bird that had just hatched.

He told the officer there were 29 eggs, and that he did not have documentation to transport the birds, according to the complaint.

Wu was arrested, and on May 5 pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling birds into the United States. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 1.

A lawyer who could speak on his behalf was not listed on court records, but Wu told investigators through a Mandarin interpreter that a friend had paid him to travel from Taiwan to Nicaragua to pick up the eggs. He denied knowing what kind of birds they were.

The officer took the bag and contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By then, eight of the birds had already hatched or were in the process of hatching.

It didn’t take long for federal officials to reach out to Reillo.

“They didn’t know what these things were and wanted my advice on it,” Reillo said. Baby parrots are featherless, so it’s difficult to properly identify them.

He helped set up a makeshift incubator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s aviary at the airport in a mad dash to save the now-hatching parrots.

The next day, Dr. Stacy McFarlane, a USDA veterinarian who initially tended to the birds and eggs at the airport, and other officials, delivered the baby parrots and remaining eggs to Reillo’s conservatory.

“At that point we were off to the races,” he said. “We’ve got all these eggs, the chicks are hatching, the incubator’s running and by the time it was all said and done, we hatched 26 of the 29 eggs, and 24 of the 26 chicks survived.”

USDA regulations required the birds to be quarantined for 45 days, meaning that Reillo and his team had to scrub down when entering and leaving the room.

But they still weren’t sure which of the 360 varieties of parrots they were dealing with.

A forensics team at Florida International extracted DNA samples from the eggshells and the deceased birds to identify the species. They discovered the 24 surviving parrots were from eight or nine clutches and included two species — the yellow naped Amazon and the red-lored Amazon.

Both birds are popular in the trafficking and caged-bird industries because they are pretty and have a nice temperament, Reillo said.

The trafficking pipeline out of Central America is well established and has gone on for years, he said.

“In fact, the biggest threat to parrots globally is a combination of habitat loss and trafficking,” Reillo said, adding that about 90% of eggs are poached for illegal parrot trade.

BirdLife International lists the yellow-naped Amazon as “critically endangered” with a population in the wild of between 1,000 and 2,500. The red-lored Amazon is also listed as having a decreasing population.

“The vast majority of these trafficking cases end in tragedy,” Reillo said. “The fact that the chicks were hatching the first day of his travel from Managua to Miami tells you that it’s extremely unlikely that any of them would have survived had he actually gotten all the way to his destination in Taiwan. That would have been another 24 to 36 hours of travel.”

Reillo is now faced with the challenge of finding a permanent home for the birds, which can live 60 to 70 years, or longer. He said he’s working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on a plan “to have the birds fly free and help restore their species in the wild.”

“Parrots live a long time. They are sentient creatures. They’re highly intelligent, very social, and these guys deserve a chance,” he said. “The question will be where will they wind up? What is their journey going to be? It’s just beginning.”

Fire destroys Days Inn hotel in Kittery as firefighters work to find missing people

From the Associated Press

KITTERY, Maine (AP) — A fire destroyed a Days Inn hotel in Kittery Wednesday afternoon, and firefighters worked to find one to two people unaccounted for in the blaze.

Firefighters douse the smoky remnants of a Days Inn in Kittery, Maine, Wednesday, May 17, 2023. Kittery Fire Chief David O’Brien said firefighters are chasing down reports of two missing people. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)

Kittery Fire Chief David O’Brien said the call on the fire came in at 12:03 p.m. He said the fire at the $1.6 million hotel went to five alarms.

“It is a total loss,” he said. “There is nothing left of the building.”

O’Brien said firefighters are chasing down reports of missing people. “At this point, we have one possibly two that are unaccounted for,” he said.

O’Brien said one firefighter was injured with cuts. He also said a passerby was injured but didn’t provide additional details.

Flames tore through parts of the roof, and smoke could be seen from more than a mile away. Part of the building also collapsed.

O’Brien said the fire was under investigation. The size of the fire, the size of the building, wind and lack of water all made it challenging to fight the blaze, he said.


This story has been corrected to say the fire took place on Wednesday afternoon, not Thursday.

Milwaukee faces bankruptcy, police cuts if aid deal can’t be reached

By SCOTT BAUER from the Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Not reaching a deal on a massive bill increasing state aid to Wisconsin’s local governments will only increase the chances that Milwaukee runs out of money, forcing deep cuts to police and fire protection, while smaller communities around the state will also struggle to pay bills, state lawmakers were warned Tuesday.

The urgent warnings came as Republican leaders who control the Senate and Assembly disagree on a key part of the plan — who determines whether the Milwaukee city and county can raise the local sales tax to pay for pension costs and emergency services.

That disagreement has increased fears that the bill being worked on by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, local communities, the GOP-controlled Legislature and groups representing police and firefighters among others, is in jeopardy of not passing.

“Without question, my city’s budgetary situation is dire,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson told senators at a hearing Tuesday. Without an increase in state aid, the city faces potential bankruptcy in 2025 when federal COVID-19 relief funds run out.

Wisconsin state law does not allow for cities to declare bankruptcy, which means the Legislature would have to vote to allow Milwaukee to take that step if no deal is reached and the city runs out of money as projected.

Milwaukee is the only city in America of its size that can’t currently raise additional money by raising sales taxes, Johnson told lawmakers in arguing for giving it that power.

“My city is on a path to catastrophic budget cuts,” he said.

Bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Mary Felzkowski, said without the additional money provided under the plan Milwaukee would be forced to cut 545 police officers and more than 200 firefighters in order to offset pension costs that are rising faster than the rate of inflation.

“I don’t think that’s healthy for the city,” she said. “That is not something I want to see happen.”

Republicans on the Senate committee said they worried that crime would increase in Milwaukee and spread to outlying communities.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers working closely on the proposal urged further compromise to reach a deal.

The Assembly passed a bill last week that would require voters in the city and county to approve any increase. The Senate version of the bill would allow for local elected officials to vote on approving an increase.

Johnson, Milwaukee’s mayor, urged lawmakers to allow for the city to approve the sales tax increase. Putting it in the hands of voters, with so much at stake, “adds a significant element of uncertainty,” he said.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last week that the Assembly would not pass a version of the bill that does not require voter approval of a higher sales tax. He declared that he was “done negotiating.”

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, in a rare public show of bipartisanship, said her talks with Senate Republicans on the measure have been productive.

“While Speaker Vos may have drawn a line in the sand, my caucus certainly hasn’t and we will continue to negotiate in good faith for the betterment of our local communities and our state,” Agard said in a statement.

The wide-ranging bill as passed by the Assembly increases state aid to all towns, cities, villages and counties by at least 15%, except for Milwaukee which would have increases capped at 10% but with the ability to raise more through sales taxes.

Under the bill, Milwaukee could levy a 2% sales tax, and Milwaukee County could add 0.375% sales tax to its current 0.5% sales tax.

In a significant change to current law, aid to local governments, known as shared revenue, would be paid for with 20% of the money the state collects from the sales tax. Future increases in aid would then be tied to sales tax, rather than requiring the Legislature to vote on increasing it.

The shared revenue program to fund local governments, created in 1911, has remained nearly unchanged for almost 30 years, despite overall growth in tax revenues. Shared revenue for counties and municipalities was cut in 2004, 2010 and 2012 and since then has been relatively flat.

City of London Police Strengthens Safety with Body-Worn Cameras from Motorola Solutions


Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI), a global leader in public safety and enterprise security, today announced that City of London Police will roll out VB400 body-worn cameras to its entire police force.

“City of London Police is dedicated to ensuring London is a safe and attractive destination, and the body-worn camera roll out will help our officers continue to serve and protect those who live in, work in and visit the city,” said Superintendent Neal Donohoe, City of London Police. “The new video technology will capture valuable incident footage that provides an objective record to promote transparency and accountability while also helping to keep our officers and communities safe.”

Known for its modern approach to policing, the City’s police force relies on advanced technologies to maintain safety and security throughout London’s bustling Square Mile which hosts around 8,000 residents and 513,000 transient commuters who travel in and out of the City each day. The new VB400 body-worn cameras will integrate seamlessly with the police force’s existing ecosystem of technologies to maximize end-to-end safety, security and productivity. Collaboration with the Pronto mobile digital policing platform will align video footage with other incident report information and connectivity with a wide range of sensors will automate recording when critical events occur, such as an officer pressing the emergency button on theirMXP600 TETRA portable radio.

Designed to streamline an officer’s workflow, after a shift, officers simply place the VB400 into its dock where it will automatically upload footage of the day’s events into VideoManager evidence management software. VideoManager will store the data in-country and organize it with time, date and location details along with supporting incident data reported by officers.

“We’re proud to support City of London Police with an ecosystem of public safety technologies that help officers form a more complete picture of everything that’s happening around them,” said Fergus Mayne, country manager for U.K. and Ireland at Motorola Solutions. “Ultimately, clear and timely information helps them to work more efficiently and make better-informed decisions, leading to better safety and security outcomes for all.”

This is the latest in a series of Motorola Solutions’ body-worn camera deployments both within law enforcement and enterprises globally, including French Gendarmerie and National Police, London Ambulance Services, Malta Police, U.K.’s National Highways and rail operators, MetrôRio and Swedish Rail.

About Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions is a global leader in public safety and enterprise security. Our solutions in land mobile radio communications, video security and the command center, bolstered by managed & support services, create an integrated technology ecosystem to help make communities safer and businesses stay productive and secure. At Motorola Solutions, we’re ushering in a new era in public safety and security. Learn more at

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Police departments can go farther and faster with the new Trikke Positron 72V XL

The ultimate patrol vehicle now comes with more power for police forces that need it.

“All three wheels are now identical, providing extra grip and cushion for riding the not-so-smooth terrain of inner-city streets.”— Gildo Beleski, CEO

The all-new Positron 72V XL

BUELLTON, CA, USA, May 18, 2023/ / — Trikke Professional Mobility is proud to introduce the Trikke Positron XL, the 72-volt, battery-powered electric patrol vehicle made for those times when law enforcement needs to amp up its capabilities to keep up with the increasing challenges of community policing.

The Positron is quickly becoming the personal electric vehicle of choice for more and more police departments, from the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police in Northern California to the Wheeling, West Virginia PD. Be it through already-existing models — the standard 60V AWD and the Elite 72V — the Positron’s high-performance features are an ideal solution for reliable green transportation. Each three-wheel vehicle comes complete with all-wheel drive, full suspension, and disc brakes, and serves as a stealth-like, emission-free transport for all-weather, continuous operation both indoors and outdoors and on and off-road. The Positron’s maneuverability and versatility make it an excellent tool for navigating crowded areas and interacting with the community. In congested locales, it can provide a faster response time than cars, making it an efficient and effective option for any operation.

“But sometimes more is better,” says Gildo Beleski, CEO of Trikke Tech, Inc, Trikke Professional Mobility’s parent company. “The newest model, the Positron XL, is fitted with new shoes and the much-sought-after wider wheels for navigating rough terrain with comfort, confidence, and increased safety.”

Beleski, the Positron’s chief engineer, notes that the XL frame has a longer wheelbase while the deck is two inches longer and one inch taller. The result: the steering geometry has been improved for working effortlessly with the new tires.

Additionally, the wider tires allow for heavier riders (up to 350 lbs) and can be ridden with lower air pressure, which makes the XL more forgiving when hitting irregularities such as potholes and bumps.

“The power and torque have been increased to a whooping 3.5KW – a 17% increase over the Elite version,” notes Beleski, “and the XL employs new heavy-duty, custom brakes with larger brake pads for enhanced stopping power.”

While the standard and elite models remain the best options for mixed use indoors and outdoors — the new Positron XL is now the ultimate tool when it comes to conquering the (sometimes) mean streets of the city.

Visitors to the annual NSA (National Sheriffs’ Association) conference at the Devos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids. MI, will be able to get an up-close and personal look at the Positron 72V XL, to be showcased in the Trikke Professional Mobility booth # 746 from June 26-29.

To learn more about the Trikke Positron XL or to schedule a demo, click here.

About Trikke Professional Mobility

TRIKKE Professional Mobility is a US-based manufacturer and distributor of rugged professional-grade personal patrol vehicles with all-wheel-drive and a proprietary cambering design for efficiently moving around large campuses, congested areas, and public events. TRIKKE vehicles are quiet and ergonomic, with high-torque electric motors and heavy-duty construction. The frame folds flat for easy deployment and storage in a small footprint, and the lithium-ion battery can be swapped out for quick recharging. These vehicles are designed for around-the-clock operations and are currently in use by many police departments around the US. TRIKKE leads the law enforcement industry in reliable alternative transportation.

LA volunteer police officer hospitalized after getting stung on face by swarm of bees

From the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A volunteer police officer responding to a report of a bee swarm was hospitalized after getting stung multiple times on his face and collapsing onto the street in a Los Angeles neighborhood.

A TV news helicopter recorded dramatic video of the attack Monday afternoon in the Encino area as the man flailed around while trying to swat the bees away. He tripped and fell, hitting his head on the ground.

The uniformed volunteer officer was treated for a fractured eye socket and bee stings to his face and eyes, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement Tuesday. He was in stable condition, the statement said.

The officer and his partner were assisting with traffic control when the attack occurred, police said.

A professional bee-removal service was called to the neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley northwest of downtown LA, the city’s fire department said.

Tennessee governor signs off on eliminating community boards with police oversight power

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI from the Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday signed off on legislation that will gut Tennessee’s community oversight boards and instead replace those panels with review committees that have no power to investigate police misconduct allegations.

FILE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee responds to questions during a news conference Tuesday, April 11, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. The Republican Lee says he plans to call the Tennessee’s legislature into special session in August to consider ways to further tighten Tennessee’s gun laws. (AP Photo/George Walker IV, File)

Lee, a Republican, quietly enacted the measure after the GOP-dominated General Assembly easily pushed through the proposal during this year’s legislative session despite objections from local officials and Democratic lawmakers. They have pointed to the killing of Tyre Nichols — who died after a brutal beating by five Memphis police officers — as a reason to maintain police accountability across the state.

Under the new law, which goes into effect July 1, community oversight boards will now be transformed into “police advisory and review committees,” which will only allow the mayor-appointed members to refer complaints to law enforcement internal affairs units rather than allowing the board to independently investigate the complaints.

Republican lawmakers pushed for the bill as part of a long string of proposals targeting Nashville and other left-leaning cities this year in an attempt to undermine local authorities. Supporters argued that the law was needed to provide uniformity across the state and said, without showing evidence, that some community oversight boards had hindered police investigations.

This is the second time over the years that Republican lawmakers have sought to limit community oversight boards. In 2019, the Legislature required community oversight board members to be registered to vote and prohibited limiting membership based on demographics, economic status or employment history. Additionally, while documents provided to the community oversight boards were deemed confidential, the board’s subpoena power was reduced.

The move came as Nashville voters approved creating a community oversight board just the year before that had subpoena power.

Separately, Knoxville has had a police review committee since 1998 — which includes subpoena power, but it’s never been exercised — and Memphis established its civilian law enforcement review board in 1994 but cannot subpoena officers to come in and testify.

Lee signed off on the contentious bill as he continues to move through the remaining bills passed in the legislative session that ended last month. He has never vetoed a bill in office, but occasionally he has let bills become law without signing them to signal his disapproval or concern over a change.

This week, Lee signed the proposal he backed to raise the minimum teacher salary gradually up to $50,000 for the 2026-2027 school year, while also banning educators from deducting dues for professional organizations from their paychecks. The second component takes aim at the Tennessee Education Association.

In recent days, he also signed bills that protect teachers from lawsuits if they don’t use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns; block state economic incentives for companies when unions try to use the simpler “card-check” method to unionize, with an exception for a big Ford project; and a series of business tax cuts paired with three months of tax-free shopping on many grocery items.

In the wake of a deadly school shooting in March, Lee also has signed off on increased protection from lawsuits for companies in the gun industry, while also approving funding for a variety of school safety upgrades. Lee has announced a special legislative session in August in which he hopes lawmakers will pass a proposal to remove firearms from people judged dangerous to themselves or others.

More than a dozen people, 3 dogs rescued from apartment fire in downtown Portland, Oregon

From the Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Firefighters rescued over a dozen people and three dogs from a dramatic apartment building fire Tuesday in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Portland Fire & Rescue work at the scene of a major apartment fire in downtown Portland, Ore., Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Firefighters rescued people and at least one dog from a dramatic, three-alarm apartment fire in downtown Portland on Tuesday before they were ordered to fall back. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP)

Portland Fire & Rescue tweeted about 10:45 a.m. that they had responded to the blaze and shortly after said rescues were underway. Fire officials said before noon that firefighters had been for a time told to pull back because of the fire’s growth. Crews then did one of several checks to make sure all the firefighters were accounted for, officials said.

Rick Graves, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the department was confident everyone got out of the building, which had about 50 units and was built in 1910. A few cats may have perished, he said.

Photos and video posted by the fire agency showed black smoke pouring out of the four-story building and firefighters helping residents and even a dog down ladders to safety.

Several times, windows exploded as the fire ripped through the structure. Authorities were concerned the building might collapse or the flames might spread to another structure just feet away, Graves said. Huge plumes of thick smoke were visible from most areas of the city.

Graves said they moved fire trucks to areas that would be safe should the building collapse. One firefighter was hit in the forehead with glass while standing across the street. The injury was minor, and the firefighter returned to fighting the blaze, Graves said.

Portland General Electric also cut power to the area at the fire bureau’s request.

The fire in the city’s core also posed dangers for drivers. Transportation officials closed Interstate 405 for about two hours, and surface streets were closed in the immediate area because of low visibility from heavy smoke.

John Rosenthal lives several blocks from the building. “It’s just nonstop hoses going in there,” he said of firefighters flooding the building with water.

From Blake Stroud’s apartment about a half mile away, he could see a smoke plume “oscillating between white and dark smoke,” he said.

More than dozen rescued from major apartment fire

Firefighters rescued more than a dozen people and two dogs from a dramatic apartment fire in downtown Portland (16 May 2023)

“At the bottom of the plume you could see the flames,” he said.

The cause of the blaze wasn’t immediately known, but it appears to have started on the third floor and jumped to the fourth, Graves said.

Around 1 p.m., Graves said the fire had “maxed out” but likely would burn until Wednesday.

It’s unlikely residents will be allowed back inside, he said.

A complaint filed with the Bureau of Development Services late last year said the apartment building didn’t have smoke, gas and carbon-monoxide detectors, had exposed electrical wiring and had “severe leaks” leading to mold and mildew, records show.

Ken Ray, a spokesperson for the fire department, confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive the existence of the complaint and said inspectors had been investigating the issues before the fire Tuesday.

New Zealand police say hostel fire that killed 6 was arson, launch homicide investigation

By NICK PERRY from the Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand police said Wednesday they believe a fire that killed at least six people in a Wellington hostel was arson and launched a homicide investigation.

Morning light bathes the scene Wednesday, May 17, 2023, after an apartment fire at Loafers Lodge in Wellington, New Zealand. A fire ripped through the hostel in New Zealand’s capital Tuesday, killing multiple people and forcing others to flee the four-story building in their pajamas in what a fire chief called his “worst nightmare.” (George Heard/New Zealand Herald via AP)

Police Inspector Dion Bennett said they haven’t yet arrested anybody but they have a list of people they want to speak to and hope to quickly identify any suspects or persons of interest. He declined to say if they had found accelerant or other evidence of criminal behavior at the scene.

Police said there had been a couch fire at the Loafers Lodge hostel about two hours before the large, fatal fire on Tuesday. They said the couch fire was not reported to emergency services at the time, and they were investigating to see if there was any link between the two fires.

Bennett also told reporters there was more reconnaissance and examination to be done in some unstable parts of the four-story hostel building and his “gut feeling” was the death toll could rise.

The homicide investigation represents a change in outlook by police, who on Tuesday said they didn’t believe the fire was deliberately lit.

Bennett said police had accounted for 92 people who were in the hostel and had a list of fewer than 20 others who remained unaccounted for, although were not necessarily missing. Police had earlier said they expected that the final death toll would be fewer than 10 people.

News outlet RNZ identified Liam Hockings, a journalist, as one of the hostel’s residents who was missing. RNZ said Hockings is the brother of the BBC presenter Lucy Hockings.

The fire ripped through the building early Tuesday, forcing some people to flee in their pajamas. Others were rescued by firefighters from the roof or dived from windows.

The Loafers Lodge offered 92 basic, affordable rooms with shared lounges, kitchens and laundry facilities to people of a wide range of ages. Some people were placed there by government agencies and were considered vulnerable because they had little in the way of resources or support networks. Others worked at a nearby hospital.

Emergency officials said the building had no fire sprinklers. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said that under the nation’s building codes, sprinklers were not required in older buildings that would need to be retrofitted.

“I have asked the minister for housing to look particularly at issues around building regulations to see whether there’s anything more that we should be doing right at this point,” Hipkins told reporters Wednesday.

Italian police dog with fine nose for cocaine sniffs out drugs hidden in banana shipment

By FRANCES D’EMILIO from the Associated Press

ROME (AP) — With the help of a high-leaping dog with a fine nose for cocaine, Italian police seized more than 2,700 kilos (about 3 tons) of the drug hidden in 70 tons of boxed bananas shipped from Ecuador, authorities said Tuesday.

Police estimated that the cocaine, which they described as of the finest quality, could have brought traffickers more than 800 million euros ($900 million) in street sales if it had reached its ultimate destination in Armenia.

Customs police became suspicious about two containers on a cargo ship that recently arrived at the port of Gioia Tauro, in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula and a stronghold of a ’ndrangheta organized crime clan.

Police told Italian state radio that documents and a background check indicated the shippers of the bananas weren’t in the business of moving that much fruit.

Officers used scanning machines and the dog, named Joel, to uncover packets of cocaine hidden in boxes stacked meters-high in container trucks.

Joel leaped high and eagerly when the officers opened the back doors of the truck, and pawed furiously at the unloaded boxes to try to move the bananas aside, police recounted.

Had the drug eluded detection, the containers with the cocaine would have continued through the Mediterranean to a Black Sea port in Georgia for eventual transport to Armenia, authorities said.

They didn’t specify just when the container ship arrived in Gioia Tauro.

But customs police said that said just days before the seizure, customs police at the same port found some 600 kilos (1,320 pounds) of cocaine in six container trucks also laden with exotic fruit from Ecuador. Those shipments had been destined for Croatia, Greece and Georgia, the customs police said.

Anti-Mafia investigative police aided in the seizure of the the cocaine.

The Gioia Tauro port, one of Italy’s busiest, has long been under the watch of anti-Mafia investigators because of its proximity to towns where the ’ndrangheta has bases. The crime clan is one of the world’s most powerful cocaine traffickers.

Since the start of 2021, and including the latest seizure, customs police at the port have intercepted and seized a total of 37 tons of cocaine, the police said.

Suspect detained after blast at residential building in Germany injures police, firefighters

From the Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — German police have detained a suspect in connection with an explosion at a residential building that injured dozens of first responders on Thursday, some of them seriously, officials said.

An injured police officer is taken to an ambulance in front of a high-rise building in Ratingen, Germany, Thursday May 11, 2023. A senior security official says at least a dozen people have been injured in an explosion at a residential building in western Germany. Herbert Reul, Interior Minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that 10 firefighters and two police officers were injured in the blast at a high-rise building in the town of Ratingen. (Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa via AP)

Police said two officers and three firefighters received life-threatening injuries in the blast at a high-rise building in the town of Ratingen. Four firefighters were seriously injured and 22 police officers suffered minor injuries, they said.

The body of a dead woman was recovered from the building, police said. The identity of the person and the circumstances of her death weren’t immediately known.

Firefighters and police were initially called to the building in the morning after being alerted about the possibility of a person in distress inside a 10th floor apartment.

Police said they were still investigating what caused the blast, which happened shortly after the suspect opened the apartment door. The man then started a fire, preventing police from entering the unit.

Following the explosion, heavily armed officers took up positions around the site, with television footage showing police snipers on a balcony across the road from the building as smoke poured out of a top-floor apartment.

Hours later, a 57-year-old German man was detained on suspicion of homicide, police said.

The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Herbert Reul, said social media posts indicated the man had shown an affinity for ideas downplaying the threat posed by the coronavirus.

Ratingen is located on the northeastern outskirts of Duesseldorf, the state capital.

Kentucky governor hails law enforcement successes in fight against spread of illegal drugs

By BRUCE SCHREINER from the Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday highlighted law enforcement successes in blocking the spread of illegal drugs in Kentucky, offering an election-year response to Republican criticism of his record in fighting back against the deadly drug scourge.

FILE – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference Louisville, Ky., April 10, 2023. Beshear on Thursday, May 11, 2023, highlighted law enforcement successes in blocking the spread of illegal drugs in Kentucky, offering an election-year response to Republican criticism of his record in fighting back against the deadly drug scourge. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Beshear pointed to the seizure of 142 pounds (64 kilograms) of fentanyl in the past seven months and discussed the work by the state’s Counterdrug Program in supporting seizures of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

The governor also pointed to advances in addiction recovery services as he focused on a comprehensive response to drug woes in a state where drug overdose deaths have surpassed 2,000 per year.

“At this point, we all know somebody that’s not only been touched by addiction, we all know somebody that we have lost to addiction,” Beshear said during his weekly news conference.

Republicans say the state’s illegal drug epidemic worsened during Beshear’s tenure. State Republican Party spokesman Sean Southard said in a recent statement that drug addiction continues to have a “devastating impact” on communities, and that Beshear has “failed to address this crisis adequately.”

The state’s drug woes emerged as a leading issue in the GOP gubernatorial primary, where a dozen candidates are competing for their party’s nomination. Beshear faces nominal opposition in his party’s primary. The primary election is next Tuesday, but three days of in-person, no-excuse early voting started Thursday.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft has made fighting drugs, especially fentanyl, a centerpiece of her campaign. Attorney General Daniel Cameron, another leading GOP gubernatorial contender, points to the nearly $900 million his office secured for Kentucky to fight the opioid epidemic, as part of settlements with companies for their roles in the opioid addiction crisis.

There’s a running debate — which could continue into the general election campaign — about who deserves credit for holding drug companies accountable for the drug crisis.

Cameron has given credit to the office he leads, saying at a campaign stop Wednesday in Shelbyville that “it’s one thing to talk about these issues, it’s another thing to lead on them.”

On Thursday, Beshear said he has fought back against the state’s addiction problems since his term as attorney general, which preceded Cameron’s term. While in that position, Beshear filed multiple lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Beshear recently pointed to statistics showing that drug overdose deaths in Kentucky fell by 5% in 2022, which he attributed to drug treatment efforts. This is the first decline in drug overdose deaths in four years.

Kentucky has increased the number of treatment beds by 50% during Beshear’s term, according to the governor. His administration is seeking support and oversight of mobile crisis intervention service providers in another initiative to help people overcome addiction. The state’s GOP-dominated legislature also has focused on efforts to combat the drug crisis.

Meanwhile, Beshear noted that hundreds of Kentucky National Guard soldiers have been deployed to the nation’s southwest border during his term as governor. The governor has declared in the past that a “strong national security requires strong border security.”

Craft has been outspoken in blaming border security problems for the flow of illegal drugs to Kentucky.

Beshear on Thursday signed the state’s 2024 Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan. He said the action will pave the way for federal funding to back the counterdrug program in Kentucky.

The governor also offered a slew of statistics to showcase drug interdiction successes.

From Oct. 1, 2022 to May 1 of this year, the counterdrug program team supported law enforcement in the seizure of 88,253 fentanyl pills, Beshear said. During the prior fiscal year, only 5,100 fentanyl pills were seized, he said.

Fentanyl has been partially blamed for the state’s high death toll from drug overdoses.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr., who joined the governor at the news conference, said law enforcement agencies will continue working together to “develop innovative ways” to combat the spread of illegal drugs causing the deaths of Kentuckians.

“Here in Kentucky, we continue to send a strong message to drug traffickers that our focus will be upon you if you distribute such poisons in our state,” he said.

Funeral for slain Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy draws 3,000 mourners

From the Associated Press

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) — Some 1,500 law enforcement officers from several states were among 3,000 mourners paying final respects Friday to a Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy who was fatally shot by a suspected drunken driver during a traffic stop.

Law enforcement members comfort each other after St. Croix County Deputy Kaitie Leising’s body was carried into a Baldwin, Wis., funeral home Sunday afternoon, May 7, 2023. Leising was shot and killed during a traffic stop Saturday. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)

The funeral for St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitlin “Kaitie” R. Leising was held in the gymnasium of Hudson High School while a montage of photos from her life were shown on a large screen overhead. Leising’s family, including her wife, Courtney, and their 3-month-old son, Syler, stood to the side of the casket, hugging visitors.

In less than a year with the sheriff’s office, Leising earned commendations and the admiration of her colleagues, Sheriff Scott Knudson said.

“There was so much to like about Kaitie,” he said, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Services lasted more than six hours as officers first arrived for three hours of visitation, then sat for the funeral before silently marching to the high school parking lot for an honor guard, gun salute and helicopter flyover. A law enforcement procession drove the casket to a private gathering of family in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

Courtney Leising said she was “completely heartbroken” that their son will grow up without Kaitlin. Leising’s sister, Jordyn Stevens, remembered her as inspiring and confident, with a competitive streak that went beyond golf and basketball to board games and cribbage.

Mourners included a large delegation from the Pennington County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Office, where Leising worked before moving to St. Croix County last year.

Leising, 29, was slain May 6 in Glenwood, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Minneapolis. Leising and the driver she pulled over, Jeremiah Johnson, were discussing field sobriety tests when he drew a handgun and shot her, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has said. She discharged her weapon three times, but none of the rounds hit Johnson before he fled to a nearby wooded area. Leising was pronounced dead at a hospital.

An hour after the shooting, an officer heard a gunshot in the woods. Johnson, 34, killed himself, investigators said.

Leising’s death was the third fatal shooting of an on-duty law enforcement officer in western Wisconsin in a month, the Star Tribune reported.

Fire chief: 4 hurt in explosion at Madison condo building

From the Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Four people were injured in an apparent explosion at a Madison condominium building Tuesday evening, the city’s fire chief said.

One person was taken to an area hospital by ambulance, and three other people transported themselves for treatment of minor injuries, Madison Fire Chief Chris Carbon said.

There are no reports of any missing people, but firefighters were searching the rubble to make sure no one else was inside, Carbon said.

The building is no longer habitable, Carbon said.

The explosion occurred around 6 p.m., he said.

One of the units in the building was believed to be the origin of the explosion, and Carbon said at least six units were affected. The entire building was uninhabitable, Carbon said.

Greek police rescue new group of migrants from border islet

From the Associated Press

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A group of 17 stranded migrants, including eight children, have been rescued from a tiny islet in the river that runs along Greece’s northeastern land border with Turkey, police said Wednesday.

A police statement said the migrants were left on the islet in the Evros River by a smuggler who had ferried them across from the Turkish side in a boat. All 17 were in good health, the statement said. They identified themselves as Syrians, police said.

Wednesday’s rescue came a week after a similar incident involving 39 migrants found stranded on an Evros islet. In both cases, police said the migrants phoned humanitarian groups for assistance, who in turn notified Greek authorities and members of the European Union’s Frontex border agency stationed in the area.

The Evros is a major crossing point for thousands of people from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in Europe, who mostly pay smugglers to ferry them to Greece. The Greek authorities are planning to extend a fence designed to stop illegal crossings that currently covers part of the Evros border.

Humanitarian groups have accused Greece of sending migrants caught crossing the Evros illegally back to Turkey without allowing them to claim asylum, in breach of international law. Greece denies that.

UK police under fire over coronation protester arrests

By JILL LAWLESS from the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — An anti-monarchy group says it plans to take legal action against London’s Metropolitan Police after several of its members were arrested as they prepared to protest the coronation of King Charles III.

Members of the anti-monarchist group Republic stage a protest along the route of the procession ahead of the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, in London, Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Sebastien Bozon/Pool via AP)

Civil liberties groups are accusing the police, and Britain’s Conservative government, of stifling the right to protest with new powers to clamp down on peaceful but disruptive demonstrations.

The police force expressed “regret” late Monday that the activists were prevented from protesting, but defended its handling of the coronation, which drew hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of London — hundreds of protesters among them.

Police arrested 64 people around Saturday’s coronation, most for allegedly planning to disrupt the ceremonies. Four have been charged, while most were released on bail. Six members of anti-monarchist group Republic were let go and told they would not face any charges.

Republic chief executive Graham Smith said three senior police officers came to his house and apologized in person for the arrest that saw him held in custody for 16 hours.

“I said for the record I won’t accept the apology,” Smith said, adding that the group “will be taking action.”

The U.K.’s recently passed Public Order Act, introduced in response to civil disobedience by environmental groups, allows police to search demonstrators for items including locks and glue and imposes penalties of up to 12 months in prison for protesters who block roads or interfere with “national infrastructure.”

Police said the Republic members had items that could be used to “lock on” to infrastructure. Republic said the items were ties for their placards and police acknowledged its “investigation has been unable to prove intent to use them to lock on and disrupt the event.”

“We regret that those six people arrested were unable to join the wider group of protesters in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere on the procession route,” police said.

London police chief Mark Rowley defended his officers’ actions.

“Much of the ill-informed commentary on the day is wholly inaccurate. For example, protest was not banned,” Rowley wrote in the Evening Standard newspaper. “I want to be absolutely clear: our activity was targeted at those we believed were intent on causing serious disruption and criminality. Serious and reliable intelligence told us that the risks were very real.”

The Conservative government also defended the way police handled the protests.

“This was the context: a once-in-a-generation national moment, facing specific intelligence threats about multiple, well-organized plots to disrupt it,” Policing Minister Chris Philp said.

“We had specific intelligence that people planned to disrupt the coronation by creating a stampede of horses and covering the ceremonial procession in paint,” he said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the opposition Labour Party, requested “further clarity” from the force. He said the right to peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy.

Conservative lawmaker David Davis said the new powers of arrest were too broad.

“No one wants a day ruined, but the right to put up placards is virtually absolute in British democracy,” he told the BBC on Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police force was already under intense pressure after a series of scandals involving its treatment of women and minorities. Confidence in the force plummeted after a serving officer raped and killed a young woman in London in 2020.

An independent review commissioned after the murder of marketing executive Sarah Everard said the force was riddled with racism, misogyny and homophobia. This year, another officer pleaded guilty to 48 rapes and dozens of other serious crimes committed over a 17-year period. ___

California city’s police car fleet going all-electric

From the Associated Press

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A small Southern California city is transitioning to an all-electric police car fleet.

The city of South Pasadena is acquiring 20 Teslas for patrol duties, administration and detective work, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The plan includes 10 Tesla Model Y vehicles, 10 Tesla Model 3 cars and more than 30 charging ports at South Pasadena City Hall, including some for public use.

Some vehicles are already in use and others still need to be outfitted, Deputy City Manager Domenica Megerdichian told the Times.

While many Americans aren’t yet sold on going electric, South Pasadena took the plunge after a lengthy study.

“We have been investigating this transition for five to six years and determined that these electric vehicles will be the best operationally for us,” South Pasadena Police Chief Brian Solinsky said in a statement.

The transition is expected to be complete by next February.

South Pasadena has a population of about 26,000 in an area of 3.4 square miles (8.81 square kilometers).

Out-of-control wildfires cause evacuations in western Canada

From the Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Fire crews battled wildfires threatening communities in western Canada on Sunday as cooler temperatures and a bit of rain brought some relief, but officials warned the reprieve came only in some areas.

In this photo provided by the Government of Alberta Fire Service, a burned section of forest in the area near Edson, Alberta, smolders, Saturday, May 6, 2023. (Government of Alberta Fire Service/The Canadian Press via AP)

Officials in Alberta said there were 108 active fires in the province and the number of evacuees grew to about 29,000, up from approximately 24,000 Saturday, when a provincewide state of emergency was declared.

Two out-of-control wildfires in neighboring British Columbia also caused some people to leave their homes, and officials warned that they expected high winds to cause the blazes to grow bigger in the next few days.

Provinicial officials in Alberta said the weather forecast was favorable for the next few days, with small amounts of rain and overcast conditions. But they cautioned that hot and dry conditions were predicted to return within a few days.

“People have called this season certainly unprecedented in recent memory because we have so many fires so spread out,” Christie Tucker with Alberta Wildfire said at a briefing. “It’s been an unusual year.”

Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, said accurate damage reports were not yet available because conditions made it difficult to assess the situation. There were of buildings destroyed in the town of Fox Lake, including 20 homes, a police station and a store.

In northeastern British Columbia, officials urged residents to evacuate the areas around two out-of-control wildfires near the Alberta border, saying there were reports of some people staying behind.

“This is impeding the response and putting their lives and the lives of firefighters at risk,” said Leonard Hiebert, chairman of the Peace River Regional District.

A third fire in British Columbia was burning out of control 700 kilometers (430 miles) to the south, in the Teare Creek region, and some residents near the village of McBride were evacuated.

Chicago police officer fatally shot after working her shift

From the Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — An off-duty Chicago police officer was shot and killed early Saturday as she headed home on the city’s Southside after her shift.

The officer was shot about 1:42 a.m. in the city’s Avalon Park neighborhood, police said.

She was found wounded by another officer who responded to an alert from the city’s gunshot detection system, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The second officer rushed her to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. The slain officer had been with Chicago police about three years.

No arrests have been made.

Relatives identified the slain officer to the Chicago Sun-Times as Areanah Preston, 24.

“She was trying to make a change on this Earth,” her father, Allen Preston, told the newspaper.

Preston, who lives in Los Angeles, described his daughter as a “beautiful soul” who “always saw the best in people.”

“This was my baby. Everything I did was for her,” he said. “I don’t know what to do, right now. I’ll be dealing with this for the rest of my life.”

Late Saturday morning, more than a dozen family members gathered outside Areanah Preston’s home.

“She was a definite role model with a career path that just didn’t stop,” said her aunt, Sonia Rawsk.

Areanah Preston earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and law enforcement administration from Illinois State University.

Professor Charles Bell told the Sun-Times that she was “very passionate about making a difference and showing young people that policing is a profession that can make a difference in the community.”

“She was very aware of a lot of the problems that in her opinion had manifested in the Chicago community,” Bell added. “She was a reformer. She saw a problem and she was dedicated to making a difference.”

Police: Tennessee boy stole school bus, drove on interstate

By TRAVIS LOLLER for the Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A 14-year-old in Tennessee stole a school bus on Saturday and drove it around Nashville before police were able to capture the teen as he tried to turn it around in the middle of Interstate 40, according to police.

The teen took the bus from Kipp College Prep in the Antioch neighborhood. He drove it across town to West Nashville where he hit a diesel fuel pump and allegedly tried to run someone over at a service station at around 4 p.m., according to a news release from the Metro Nashville Police Department.

From there, the teen allegedly drove onto I-40 heading west, hitting a car in the process. Officers pursued the bus on the interstate as it traveled at speeds of 60 mph and 65 mph, police said. They deployed a spike strip near exit 192 to try to stop the bus.

“The teen evidently saw the spike strip, slowed the bus, and attempted to turn around in the middle of the west bound lanes,” according to police.

As the teen was trying to make the turn, officers ran up to the bus, broke out the door glass, and used a Taser to capture him. He was taken into custody and placed in juvenile detention. The teen is charged with vehicle theft, aggravated assault, evading arrest, reckless driving, driving without a license, leaving the scene of a crash, and failure to report a crash.

Littlest intruder: Toddler crawls through White House fence

From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A curious toddler on Tuesday earned the title of one of the tiniest White House intruders after he squeezed through the metal fencing on the north side of the executive mansion.

U.S. Secret Service uniformed division police officers carry a young child who crawled through the White House fence on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. The toddler earned the title of one of the tiniest White House intruders after he squeezed through the metal fencing on the north side of the executive mansion. Officers walked across the North Lawn to retrieve the child and reunite him with his parents on Pennsylvania Avenue. (AP Photo/Nancy Benac)

U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division officers, who are responsible for security at the White House, walked across the North Lawn to retrieve the tot and reunite him with his parents on Pennsylvania Avenue. Access to the complex was briefly restricted while officers conducted the reunification. Officers briefly questioned the parents before allowing them to continue on their way.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said officers “encountered a curious young visitor along the White House north fence line who briefly entered White House grounds.”

“The White House security systems instantly triggered Secret Service officers and the toddler and parents were quickly reunited,” he said in a statement.

It may be the first successful intrusion onto the complex since the White House fence was doubled in height to roughly 13 feet (3.96-meters) in recent years after a series of security breaches. While taller, the new fence has an additional inch of space between pickets, for a total of 5½ inches (12.7 centimeters) between posts.

Older children have sometimes become stuck in the iconic barrier, which has also been the scene of demonstrations, with protesters chaining themselves to the fence.

Vampire straw gets passenger arrested at Boston airport

From the Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — An airline passenger was arrested for carrying a self-defense weapon known as a vampire straw through security at Boston’s Logan International Airport, authorities said Tuesday.

Arman Achuthan Nair was detained Sunday evening and charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, Massachusetts State Police said in a statement. A trooper was alerted after the 10-inch-long (25-centimeter-long) titanium straw with a beveled end was found in Nair’s backpack.

The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t allow vampire straws to be carried onto a flight. The company that makes the straw bills it as a self-defense weapon since it can be used like a dagger. It also can be used as a straw to slurp down smoothies and other drinks.

“These items are not allowed in passenger carry-on bags,” the TSA said Monday in a tweet that included a photo of the straw. “A passenger found that out yesterday.”

Nair, 26, of Chicago, posted bail and is scheduled to be arraigned May 30 in East Boston Municipal Court. A phone and text message seeking comment was left with his attorney. A phone number could not be found for Nair.

Canada contract accord ends strike for most public workers

From the Associated Press

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The Canadian government reached a tentative contract agreement Monday with its largest workers union, ending a 12-day strike by more than 120,000 public servants.

FILE – A flag flies as Public Service Alliance of Canada members walk the picket line outside government buildings, April 21, 2023 in Gatineau, Quebec. The Canadian government has reached a tentative contract agreement with its largest workers union, ending a 12-day strike by more than 120,000 public servants. The four-year deal reached Monday, May 1, affects a majority of the Public Service Alliance of Canada workers, including immigration workers, administrative personnel across various agencies, maintenance workers, port workers and firefighters. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP, file)

The four-year deal affects a majority of the Public Service Alliance of Canada workers, including immigration workers, administrative personnel across various agencies, maintenance workers, port workers and firefighters.

But some 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency workers remain on the picket line.

Chris Aylward, the union’s national president, said in a statement that group “held the line” and “secured a fair contract that keeps up with the cost of living, increased protections around remote work and creates safer, more inclusive workplaces.″

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier called the deal “fair and competitive.”

“We negotiated, we compromised and we found creative solutions,” she told a news conference.

Fortier said the deal will increase wages 11.5% over four years and will cost Canadian taxpayers CDN$1.3 billion (US$96 million a year).

The union said the contract agreement secured wage increases totaling 12.6% compounded over four years, along with a one-time, pensionable CDN$2,500 (US$1,896.00) lump sum payment that represents an additional 3.7% of salary for the average union member in Treasury Board bargaining units.

It said members will have access to additional protection when the employer makes arbitrary decisions about remote work, and that managers will have to assess telework requests individually, not by group, and provide written responses.

The union said the tentative deal also addresses its demands regarding seniority rights in the event of layoffs. Also, when there are layoffs, an employee who can carry out work that is being conducted by a hired contractor will not lose their job.

Fortier said talks with the tax agency workers continue.

“They’re still at the table and negotiating as we speak and we’re looking forward to see how this will unfold,” she said.

Public servants had hit picket lines at locations across the country for a dozen days in what the union said was one of the biggest job actions in Canadian history.

Service disruptions loomed large during the strike, from slowdowns at the border to pauses on new employment insurance, immigration and passport applications.

Initial negotiations on a new collective agreement had initially begun in June 2021, and the union had declared an impasse in May 2022, with both parties filing labor complaints since then.

Brazilian police probe deadly shooting on Indigenous land

From the Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s federal police said Sunday they are investigating a shooting that killed one and wounded two Yanomami Indigenous people, saying the main suspects were illegal gold miners working in that area of Roraima state.

A Yanomami Indigenous youth paints his face while traveling on a bus to a civic center to attend an event related to the annual Free Land Encampment protests, in Boa Vista, Roraima state, Brazil, Tuesday, April 25, 2023. The Free Land Encampment protests by Indigenous groups, held annually in Brazil’s capital, demand that the government protect their rights. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A police statement said in a statement that the incident took place Saturday and added that the government sent members of the Air force and the Indigenous issues agency FUNAI to help with the probe.

Earlier this year, Brazil’s government pushed illegal gold miners out of Yanomami territory, saying their mining had caused widespread river contamination, famine and disease for one of the most isolated groups in the world.

Brazil’s government estimated about 20,000 people were engaged in illegal mining in February, often using toxic mercury to separate out gold. Since then, several federal police and military raids have made it harder for gold miners to reach that area.

An estimated 30,000 Yanomami people live in Brazil’s largest Indigenous territory, which covers an area roughly the size of Portugal and stretches across Roraima and Amazonas states in the northwestern corner of Brazil’s Amazon.

Kyrgios helps police catch man who allegedly stole his Tesla

From the Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Tennis star Nick Kyrgios helped police catch a man who allegedly stole his Tesla at gunpoint from a home in Australia’s capital city, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday.

FILE – Australia’s Nick Kyrgios plays a forehand return to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during an exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 13, 2023. Kyrgios has helped police Tuesday, May 1, 2023, catch a man who allegedly stole his Tesla at gunpoint from a home in Australia’s capital city. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

The ABC said court documents showed the 2022 Wimbledon finalist used the Tesla app to track and slow down the vehicle as police pursued it on Monday morning in Canberra.

The ABC said documents from court proceedings Tuesday allege a man pointed a gun at Kyrgios’ mother, Norlaila Kyrgios, demanded the keys for the car and asked her how to drive it. When he got into the car, she fled and screamed for help. Kyrgios, who was nearby, telephoned a police emergency number and helped them track the vehicle.

The police pursuit ended when the car entered a school zone but a man was arrested soon after with help from a police tactical response team.

A 32-year-old man was denied bail Tuesday after appearing in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court on five charges relating to the incident, including aggravated robbery, driving a stolen vehicle, furious driving, and failing to stop for police.

Kyrgios reached the final at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open quarterfinals last year but hasn’t played a competitive match at the elite level since withdrawing from a tournament in Japan last October because of a left knee injury.

The 28-year-old Australian has a career-high ranking of No. 13.

Man sentenced to life in death of NYC ambulance driver

From the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A 31-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Wednesday for killing a New York City emergency medical technician by running her over with her own ambulance.

FILE – In this photo provided by the New York City Mayor’s Office, pallbearers from the New York City Fire Department carry the casket of fallen FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo into St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, in the Bronx borough of New York, March 25, 2017. Jose Gonzalez, convicted of murder in the death of Arroyo when he ran over her with her own ambulance in 2017, has been sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, April 26, 2023, in New York. (Michael Appleton/New York City Mayor’s Office via AP, File)

Jose Gonzalez was convicted of first-degree murder last month in the March 2017 murder of Yadira Arroyo, a 14-year Fire Department veteran and mother of five, in the Bronx.

Prosecutors said the fatal encounter started when Gonzalez grabbed the back of Arroyo’s ambulance and rode on it, then jumped off and stole a man’s backpack.

The robbery victim flagged down the ambulance and Arroyo got out and spoke briefly to Gonzalez, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said.

Gonzalez then jumped into the driver’s seat of the ambulance, backed up over Arroyo and drove forward, dragging her across an intersection, Clark said. Arroyo was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The case against Gonzalez was delayed by psychiatric evaluations to determine his fitness to stand trial. He was convicted on March 8 after a month-long trial.

Clark said in a statement that the sentencing “closes a long and difficult chapter for the victim’s family and her FDNY colleagues, who have waited for justice for six years.”

The Daily News reported that Arroyo’s mother, Leida Rosado, said in court before the sentencing, “At night, before I close my eyes, Yadi is the last thought on my mind. Taken from me in the most savage way.”

Gonzalez told the courtroom, “I apologize to the victim’s family. I never knew what was going on.”

Gonzalez’s attorney had sought a sentence of 20 years to life.

US Grassroots Effort Brings Supplies to Ukraine First Responders–Firefighters Come to US to Plead Cause for More Local Citizen Support

PRESS RELEASE: Paid content from PR Newswire

INDIANAPOLIS, April 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Polsky Foundation is pleased to announce the Help Ukrainian Firefighters In Need Project has brought three Ukrainian firefighters to the United States to attend the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC). The conference will take place from April 24-29, 2023 at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The firefighters, Roman Kachanov, Oleksii Chernomorchenko, and Serhii Bilous, have been working in an active war zone amidst constant fires and threats to their lives. Ukrainian firefighters have become some of the best in the world, but they cannot combat such an incredible undertaking alone.

That’s why for the last 14 months, the Polsky Foundation has undertaken the effort of supporting firefighters and those they are serving in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine Fire Service has conducted nearly 82,000 visits to Ukrainian victims, amounting to 196 visits a day. The Polsky Foundation, lead by Tonya Polsky and Yana Feyganova, coordinated more than 200 tons of firefighter/EMS equipment that has been shipped to Ukrainian firefighters. The group’s effectiveness in supporting the emergency personnel during an active war has been acknowledged with support, but more is still needed, the Polsky and Feyganova said.

“Lives and families are at stake, and the firefighters are receiving support from local people in the United States for them to continue helping war victims,” Feyganova said. “They may be a whole continent away, but they are feeling and receiving our support. This war is very personal to us and to many who are helping.”

This conference offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet highly motivated and involved Ukrainian first responders who have devoted their lives to protecting and serving others in the war zone. The conference will provide an opportunity for the Ukrainian firefighters to share their experience, meet with US firefighters, promote awareness of the war and challenges they face in Ukraine, and gain potential support to help this important cause.

The Polsky Foundation hopes to accomplish the following goals during the tour:

  • Raise awareness of the conflict in Ukraine among fire professionals in the United States of America.
  • Raise awareness and visibility of the valiant and innovative work that the firefighters’ methods in Ukraine have been doing.
  • Establish meaningful connections with prospective as well as current sources of funding and equipment donations.
  • Make it possible for firefighters to express their gratitude to current and potential donors.
  • Raise the profile of The Polsky Foundation in the media by highlighting its work on the fireman initiative and its support of first responders in Ukraine.

In addition to attending the FDIC Conference, the Ukrainian firefighters will also be meeting conference organizers, sponsors, dignitaries, and local fire departments in Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C. The Polsky Foundation invites interested individuals to visit their website or contact them for more information and ways to help this important cause.

For more information and to help support the effort, please contact:

View original content:

SOURCE The Polsky Foundation

Pollution lawsuit could curb use of aerial fire retardant

By MATTHEW BROWN from the Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A legal dispute in Montana could drastically curb the government’s use of aerial fire retardant to combat wildfires after environmentalists raised concerns about waterways that are being polluted with the potentially toxic red slurry that’s dropped from aircraft.

FILE – An aircraft drops fire retardant to slow the spread of the Richard Spring fire, east of Lame Deer, Mont., on Aug. 11, 2021. A legal dispute in Montana could drastically curb the government’s use of aerial fire retardant to combat wildfires. Environmentalists have sued the U.S. Forest Service over waterways being polluted with the potentially toxic red slurry that’s dropped from aircraft. Forest Service officials have acknowledged more than 200 cases of retardant landing in water. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

A coalition that includes Paradise, California — where a 2018 blaze killed 85 people and destroyed the town — said a court ruling against the U.S. Forest Service in the case could put lives, homes and forests at risk.

An advocacy group that’s suing the agency claims officials are flouting a federal clean water law by continuing to use retardant without taking adequate precautions to protect streams and rivers.

The group, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, requested an injunction blocking officials from using aerial retardant until they get a pollution permit.

The dispute comes as wildfires across North America have grown bigger and more destructive over the past two decades because climate change, people moving into fire-prone areas, and overgrown forests are creating more catastrophic megafires that are harder to fight.

Forest Service officials acknowledged in court filings that retardant has been dropped into waterways more then 200 times over the past decade. They said it happens usually by mistake and in less than 1% of the thousands of drops annually, and that environmental damage from fires can exceed the pollution from retardant.

“The only way to prevent accidental discharges of retardant to waters is to prohibit its use entirely,” government attorneys wrote. “Such a prohibition would be tantamount to a complete ban of aerial discharges of retardant.”

Government officials and firefighters say fire retardant can be crucial to slowing the advance of a blaze so firefighters can try to stop it.

“It buys you time,” said Scott Upton, a former region chief and air attack group supervisor for California’s state fire agency. “We live in a populous state — there are people everywhere. It’s a high priority for us to be able to use the retardant, catch fires when they’re small.”

Forest Service officials said they are trying to come into compliance with the law by getting a pollution permit but that could take years.

“The Forest Service says it should be allowed to pollute, business as usual,” said Andy Stahl, who leads the Eugene, Oregon-based group behind the lawsuit. “Our position is that business as usual is illegal.”

A ruling from U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen is expected sometime after the opposing sides present their arguments during a Monday hearing in federal court in Missoula.

Christensen denied a request to intervene in the case by the coalition that includes Paradise, other California communities and trade groups such as the California Forestry Association. The judge is allowing the coalition’s attorney to present brief arguments.

As the 2023 fire season gets underway, California Forestry Association President Matt Dias said the prospect of not having fire retardant available to a federal agency that plays a key role on many blazes was “terrifying.”

“The devastation that could occur as a result of the Forest Service losing that tool could be just horrific,” Dias said.

More than 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of fire retardant were used during the past decade, according to the Department of Agriculture. It’s made up of water and other ingredients including fertilizers or salts that can be harmful to fish, frogs, crustaceans and other aquatic animals.

A government study found misapplied retardant could adversely affect dozens of imperiled species, including crawfish, spotted owls and fish such as shiners and suckers.

Health risks to firefighters or other people who come into contact with fire retardant are considered low, according to a 2021 risk assessment commissioned by the Forest Service.

To keep streams from getting polluted, officials in recent years have avoided drops inside buffer zones within 300 feet (92 meters) of waterways.

Under a 2011 government decision, fire retardant may only be applied inside the zones, known as “avoidance areas,” when human life or public safety is threatened and retardant could help. Of 213 instances of fire retardant landing in water between 2012 and 2019, 190 were accidents, officials said.

The remaining 23 drops were necessary to save lives or property, they said.

Stahl’s organization suggested in court filings that the buffer zones be increased, to 600 feet (182 meters) around lakes and streams.

In January — three months after the lawsuit was filed — the Forest Service asked the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a permit allowing the service to drop retardant into water under certain conditions. The process is expected to take more than two years.

Forest Service spokesperson Wade Muehlhof declined comment on the case.

No injuries after massive fire put out at Louisiana sawmill

From the Associated Press

BOGALUSA, La. (AP) — Firefighters from departments across southeast Louisiana and nearby areas of Mississippi worked for hours before extinguishing the flames from a massive fire at a sawmill on Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore early Monday.

The fire at the site of Hood Industries, north of Bogalusa, started about 10 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported.

Pearl River County firefighters said in a post on Facebook that the “large and dangerous” blaze was under control around 3:30 a.m. Monday.

It is still unclear how much damage was caused by the fire or what had started it.

The sawmill on Highway 21 is one of the largest employers in Washington Parish with additional locations in Mississippi and Georgia.

Georgia city suspends 6-member police drug unit amid inquiry

From the Associated Press

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) — A middle Georgia city has suspended its police department’s six-officer narcotics unit after the district attorney began investigating alleged misconduct.

Houston County District Attorney William Kendall told local news outlets Monday that he began investigating after he was told of the unspecified allegations against Warner Robins officers on April 11, getting assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Kendall said no one has yet been charged, but he said if the investigation finds illegal activity, he will ask grand jurors to consider indictments.

“This is just like any other case for us, regardless of whether police officers are involved,” Kendall said. “If people are found to have violated laws, then we’ll hold them accountable.”

The district attorney said he could know by May whether he will seek indictments.

Kendall said if no illegal activity is found, the matter will be returned to the department for an internal inquiry into possible violations of department policy.

Warner Robins Police Chief Roy Whitehead said he placed the six officers on paid administrative leave on April 12. Whitehead said none of the officers can do police work while prosecutors are investigating and that the police department has given prosecutors “full access.”

“We take these matters very seriously, and we will ensure that the appropriate actions will be taken as a result should the district attorney find any wrongdoing,” Whitehead said in a statement.

Police: Man causes disturbance at airport, assaults officer

From the Associated Press

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A man caused a disturbance at a checkpoint at the Burlington International Airport and assaulted a police officer after he was taken into custody for refusing to leave, police said.

The 63-year-old man became agitated and disruptive at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint Wednesday after his hands were swabbed during a routine security procedure. police said. The checkpoint had to be closed briefly. Police and South Burlington Fire Department personnel tried to calm the man and offered him medical care, which he refused, police said.

Airport officials said the man would not be allowed to fly and needed to leave the airport, which he refused to do, police said. He was taken into custody for unlawful trespass and disorderly conduct and transported to police headquarters. A judge ordered that the man be released with conditions. The man then refused to leave the holding area and assaulted an officer, police said.

He then tried to kick and bite officers and head-butted a fire department employee as they attempted to take him to the University of Vermont Medical Center for a mental health evaluation, police said. He was admitted to the hospital.

Some UK nurses end strikes but others vow more walkouts

By JILL LAWLESS for the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — A British nursing union on Friday rejected a pay offer from the government, dashing hopes of a quick end to a months-long wave of public-sector strikes that has disrupted schools, hospitals and services.

People take part in a rally in Trafalgar Square in support of striking NHS junior doctors, as the British Medical Association holds a 96-hour walkout in a dispute over pay, in London, Tuesday April 11, 2023. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA via AP)

However, another major health union voted to accept the deal.

The Royal College of Nursing said its members would walk out again later this month. after 54% voted to reject the offer of a lump sum payment for 2022-23 and a 5% raise this year.

General Secretary Pat Cullen said members would strike for 48 hours starting April 30. For the first time, the walkout will include nurses working in intensive care, emergency rooms and cancer wards.

“What has been offered to date is simply not enough,” she said, adding: “Until there is a significantly improved offer, we are forced back to the picket line.”

In contrast, Unison, which represents health workers including ambulance crews, hospital porters and some nurses, said 74% of its members voted to accept the offer

“Clearly health workers would have wanted more, but this was the best that could be achieved through negotiation,” said Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton. “Over the past few weeks, health workers have weighed up what’s on offer. They’ve opted for the certainty of getting the extra cash in their pockets soon.”

A wave of strikes has disrupted Britons’ lives for months, as workers demand pay raises to keep pace with soaring inflation, which stood at 10.4% in February.

Firefighters and London bus drivers have reached deals to keep working. But many other professions remain locked in pay disputes. Ambulance crews, teachers, border staff, driving examiners, bus drivers and postal workers – as well as doctors and nurses — have all walked off their jobs to demand higher pay.

Unions say wages, especially in the public sector, have fallen in real terms over the past decade, and a cost-of-living crisis fueled by sharply rising food and energy prices has left many struggling to pay their bills.

Thousands of junior doctors in the state-funded National Health Service held the final day of a four-day walkout on Friday. The early-career medics are seeking a 35% pay increase, a demand the government calls unreasonable.

Civil servants also announced a new strike on Friday after rejecting the government’s offer of a pay raise of 4.5% to 5%. The Prospect union said its members, who include weather service staff and health inspectors, will walk out on May 10 and June 7.

Indianapolis firefighters rescue dozens from apartment blaze

From the Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Firefighters in Indianapolis rescued dozens of people from a fatal blaze in a multilevel apartment building early Monday morning.

Multiple people called to report the fire in the three-story, 44-unit building around 4:45 a.m., the Indianapolis Star reported.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames. They used ground ladders to rescue at least 30 people from the building, the Indianapolis Fire Department tweeted. Other residents escaped by leaping from balconies.

Emergency responders discovered a dead woman in the building. Nine people were hospitalized, including four children. A firefighter also suffered a minor injury.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Alabama police searching for clues in shooting that killed 4

By KIM CHANDLER and JEFF AMY from the Associated Press

DADEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Students at a small-town Alabama school, its flag flying at half-mast Monday, returned to class as investigators worked to piece together what happened at a Saturday night shooting that killed four people, including two Dadeville High School students.

The 485-student school is a center of civic life in Dadeville, population 3,200, where “Home of the Tigers” is painted on the water tower. The melee at a teenager’s birthday party also injured 28 at the Mahogany Masterpiece dance studio, were the teen-age sister of one of the victims was celebrating her Sweet 16.

The weekend was marked by a series of high-profile shootings in the U.S.. One left two people dead and four wounded Saturday in Louisville, Missouri; another resulted in four men being shot — one fatally — in Los Angeles; and a third left two women wounded at Lincoln University in southeastern Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t clear if all of the 28 people injured in Alabama were shot, although Heidi Smith, spokesperson for Dadeville’s Lake Martin Community Hospital, said 15 people with gunshot wounds were received there. Others were taken to other hospitals.

The dead include Marsiah Emmanuel “Siah” Collins, 19, of Opelika; Corbin Dahmontrey Holston, 23, of Dadeville; Philstavious “Phil” Dowdell, 18, of Camp Hill and Shaunkivia Nicole “Keke” Smith, 17, of Dadeville, Tallapoosa County Coroner Mike Knox told The Associated Press on Monday. Relatives had identified Dowdell and Smith on Sunday.

Tallapoosa County Superintendent Raymond Porter said counselors would be present at the school Monday. Smith said her hospital and others would provide at least some of those, saying students “are going to arrive today to a tragedy.”

“It’s going to be a tough time for graduation and for these kids and we will be here for them and their families for the duration,” Smith said.

It’s also unclear who may have started the shooting and why, or whether investigators have made any arrests. Sgt. Jeremy Burkett of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency did not take questions during news conferences Sunday. Officials repeatedly asked others to come forward with information on the shooting.

Dowdell was a Dadeville High School student who planned to attend Jacksonville State University to play football.

Michael Taylor, an assistant coach, said he met Dowdell when the boy was 9 and coached him in youth football. Taylor said the team was invited to Atlanta to play in the stadium used by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“He did some amazing things there, and he never stopped doing them since then,” he said. “He was the No. 1 athlete in the school.”

Smith was also a Dadeville High senior who managed the basketball and track teams.

Collins had played football at Opelika High School before graduating in 2022, his father, Martin Collins, told Collins was an aspiring rapper and his father said Collins planned to attend Louisiana State University, where the father is a law student.

Keenan Cooper, the DJ at the party, told WBMA-TV the party was stopped briefly when attendees heard someone had a gun. He said people with guns were asked to leave, but no one left. Cooper said when the shooting began some time later, some people took shelter under a table where he was standing, and others ran out.

At least five bullet holes were visible in the windows of the front of the dance studio Sunday. Investigators combed the scene for more than 12 hours, including climbing onto the roof of the one-story brick building to look for evidence.

The shooting sparked what Mayor Frank Goodman said was a “chaotic” scene at the town’s small hospital, where emergency workers, relatives and friends swarmed on Saturday. Smith said six people were treated locally and have been released, but said others were transferred to larger hospitals in Birmingham, Montgomery, Opelika and Columbus, Georgia. She said transfers by helicopter were slowed by stormy weather Saturday.

“It’s very traumatic in a health care setting, in an emergency room setting when you have one gunshot wound come through, but when you have 15 and they’re all teenagers, our staff has been through a lot,” Smith said.

Antojuan Woody, from the neighboring town of Camp Hill, was a senior and fellow wide receiver with Dowdell on a Dadeville Tigers football team that went undefeated before losing in the second round of the playoffs last year. He said he and Dowdell had been best friends for all of their lives.

He described the victims “as great people who didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

Tallapoosa County Superintendent Raymond Porter said counselors would be present Monday at the system’s schools. Flags flew at half-staff outside Dadeville High Monday as an electronic sign displayed information about the prom and make-up days to take college entrance exams.


Amy reported from Atlanta.

Secret Chinese police outpost revealed in NY; 2 men arrested

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and ERIC TUCKER for the Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Two men have been arrested on charges that they helped establish a secret police outpost in New York City on behalf of the Chinese government, and more than three dozen officers with China’s national police force have been charged with using social media to harass dissidents inside the United States, the Justice Department said Monday.

The cases, taken together, are part of a series of Justice Department prosecutions in recent years aimed at disrupting Chinese government efforts to locate in America pro-democracy activists and others who are openly critical of Beijing’s policies.

One of the cases concerns a local branch of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, which operated inside an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood before closing last fall amid an FBI investigation. The two men charged with establishing the outpost were acting under the direction and control of a Chinese government official, and deleted communication with that official from their phones after becoming aware of the investigation, according to the Justice Department.

The men, identified as “Harry” Lu Jianwang, 61, of the Bronx, and Chen Jinping, 59, of Manhattan, were arrested at their homes on Monday morning. It was not immediately clear if they had lawyers who could comment on their behalf.

At no point did the men register with the Justice Department as agents of a foreign government, U.S. law enforcement officials said. And though the police outpost did perform some basic services, such as helping Chinese citizens renew their Chinese driver’s licenses, it also performed a more “sinister” function, including helping the Chinese government locate a pro-democracy activist of Chinese descent living in California, according to the officials.

“New York City is home to New York’s finest: the NYPD,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said at a news conference announcing the arrests. “We don’t need or want a secret police station in our great city.”


Tucker reported from Washington.

No known threats to Boston Marathon, but police are prepared

By MARK PRATT from the Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — There are no known threats to this year’s Boston Marathon, but on the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed three spectators, federal, state and city law enforcement leaders said Thursday that they are prepared for anything.

Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox, left, and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, attend a news conference in Boston, Thursday, April 13, 2023, to discuss public safety at the Boston Marathon. The race on Monday, April 17, is the 10th anniversary of a terrorist attack at the finish line that killed three spectators. (AP Photo/Mark Pratt)

“At this point in time, the FBI is not aware of any specific or credible threats targeting this year’s race,” Joseph Bonavolonta, head of the FBI’s Boston office, said at a news conference. “And while we’re confident in this assessment at this particular time, we are asking you to remain vigilant because we all know how quickly the threat landscape can change.”

Law enforcement agencies are more coordinated and prepared than ever to respond to any emergency, officials said, but the public remains the first line of defense. Spectators have been urged to report anything suspicious.

In addition to the multitude of uniformed police officers along the marathon’s route, plainclothes officers will also be dispersed throughout the crowds, officials said.

Bomb squads, hazardous material teams and SWAT units will also be standing at the ready to respond to any emergency situation, police said.

“As you can see, we have a multilayered approach and a well-coordinated plan by both the city, state and federal partners,” Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said.

Spectators were urged to take public transportation not just to the marathon, but to the annual Patriots’ Day Boston Red Sox game and a possible Boston Bruins playoff game, Cox said.

Marathon fans should also be prepared to pass through security checkpoints in some areas where they will be subjected to bag checks, authorities said.

In addition to the three people killed in the 2013 attack, 17 people lost limbs and nearly 300 others were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded at the finish line, putting a violent end to that year’s race.

Those victims and their families will be on everyone’s minds this year, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said.

“This year’s 10-year anniversary, the marking of a decade since the horrific attacks, brings with it another set of emotions and reflections,” she said.

Baltimore police hope reform can coexist with lowering crime

By LEA SKENE for the Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore police leaders hope to show that crime reduction and police reform aren’t mutually exclusive as they push to overhaul the troubled department.

Praise for the city’s police has been hard to come by in recent years. Baltimore has a court-enforceable agreement with the federal government to reform its police department, known as a consent decree, which began in 2017 after the U.S. Justice Department discovered longstanding patterns of excessive force, unlawful arrests and discriminatory police practices.

But on Thursday, the federal judge overseeing the consent decree said it’s clear reform is possible.

“Now the question is: Will the job be completed here?” U.S. District Judge James Bredar said at a quarterly review hearing. “City and police leaders now know what to do, but will they find and allocate the necessary resources?”

The police department has already overhauled its training and technology, improved efficiency despite a deepening manpower shortage, and strengthened accountability measures to address officer misconduct, according to agency leaders.

Crime in Baltimore is also trending downward: Violent crime has decreased about 16% since 2018 and property crime about 26%, according to a report the department released this week.

“We’re demonstrating we can do it, both reform and crime fighting,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said during the court hearing. “But we still have a long way to go.”

Other law enforcement leaders from across the country are taking note and trying to emulate Baltimore’s accomplishments, Harrison said, calling his department “the greatest comeback story in America.”

The bigger challenge is rebuilding trust with Baltimore residents, whose deep-seated skepticism comes from decades of negative experiences with police. Harrison’s critics, including leadership of the city’s police union, also argue some reform efforts are hobbling officers’ ability to prevent crimes.

“The narrative is changing, but it is slow and it is hard,” Harrison said in an interview Wednesday.

The federal investigation that led to the consent decree was launched after Freddie Gray’s 2015 death from spinal injuries while in Baltimore police custody. Not long after the decree was announced, the Gun Trace Task Force scandal revealed abuse and corruption inside an elite plainclothes unit. Settlements from lawsuits connected to the task force have cost the city more than $22 million.

Harrison was appointed police commissioner in 2019, a tumultuous time for the department. He moved to Baltimore from New Orleans, where he also led a embattled police department implementing court-ordered reforms.

He highlighted a number of recent accomplishments to show how far the department has come, including decreased use of force, fewer complaints from civilians and more gun seizures. He also said the department is doing more to engage with the community.

One of the city’s flagship anti-violence programs, the Group Violence Reduction Strategy, offers services to people most at-risk of becoming involved with gun violence. It also uses law enforcement action to create what officials called a combination of positive and punitive consequences.

Keko Thompson, 36, said the program changed his life. He agreed to accept services not long after losing his cousin to gun violence. With support from a life coach and others, he started working in a warehouse six months ago and got his forklift certification — the longest he’s ever stayed at a job.

“I have given myself a chance, something I’d never done,” he said during a news conference alongside city and police leaders Wednesday.

Baltimore’s homicide rate is down about 17% compared to this time last year, according to police department statistics.

Still, the homicide rate remains among the highest in the nation and shootings of children and teens have increased within the past few months.

Harrison said the drivers of gun violence extend far beyond policing. Reducing violence in the long term will require a robust effort, he said, one that addresses underlying social challenges like poverty, addiction, mental illness, housing instability and struggling schools.

UK junior doctors begin 4-day strike, seeking hefty pay hike

From the Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Tens of thousands of doctors walked off the job across England on Tuesday, kicking off a four-day strike billed as the most disruptive in the history of the U.K.’s public health service.

People take part in a rally in Trafalgar Square in support of striking NHS junior doctors, as the British Medical Association holds a 96-hour walkout in a dispute over pay, in London, Tuesday April 11, 2023. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA via AP)

The walkout by junior doctors, who form the backbone of hospital and clinic care in the National Health Service, is due to last until 7 a.m. on Saturday.

Picket lines formed outside major hospitals and hundreds of doctors marched past the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. residence to Parliament, chanting “We are off to Australia” — in reference to doctors’ higher wages abroad.

Junior doctors — those in the first years of their careers — make up almost half of all NHS doctors. Health service bosses say as many as 350,000 scheduled operations and appointments will be canceled during the walkout. Senior doctors and other medics have had to be drafted in to cover for emergency services, critical care and maternity services.

Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, said the walkout “is going to be the most disruptive period of strike action that we’ve seen this winter, probably the most disruptive period of action in NHS history.”

The British Medical Association, the doctors’ trade union, is seeking a 35% pay raise to make up for what it says are years of below-inflation increases. The union says newly qualified medics earn just 14.09 pounds ($17) an hour — the U.K. minimum wage is just over 10 pounds an hour — though salaries rise rapidly after the first year.

“Four of my close friends went to Australia and New Zealand to work and never came back,” said Dr. Mike Andrews, standing on a picket line outside the Royal London Hospital. “I can’t leave because of my family but I am worried about how I am going to do my job in a week, a month, a year’s time when we can’t staff the wards already because they are leaving.”

Dr. Vivek Trivedi, co-chairperson of the union’s junior doctors committee, said the walkout could be stopped if Health Secretary Steve Barclay made a “credible offer” on pay. The government says it is willing to negotiate if the strike is called off, but calls the 35% demand unaffordable.

A wave of strikes has disrupted Britons’ lives for months, as workers demand pay raises to keep pace with soaring inflation, which stood at 10.4% in February.

Nurses, ambulance crews, teachers, border staff, driving examiners, bus drivers and postal workers have all walked off their jobs to demand higher pay.

Unions say wages, especially in the public sector, have fallen in real terms over the past decade, and a cost-of-living crisis fueled by sharply rising food and energy prices has left many struggling to pay their bills.