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Monday, September 26, 2016

Colombia, FARC sign historic peace deal ending long conflict

Colombia, FARC sign historic peace deal ending long conflict


AP Photo
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, front left, and the top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Rodrigo Londono, known by the alias Timochenko, shake hands after signing the peace agreement between Colombia’s government and the FARC to end over 50 years of conflict in Cartagena, Colombia, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Behind, from left, are Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Cuba's President Raul Castro, and Spain's former King Juan Carlos.
  
CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's government and the country's largest rebel movement signed a historic peace accord Monday evening ending a half-century of combat that caused more than 220,000 deaths and made 8 million homeless.

Underlining the importance of the deal, President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, signed the 297-page agreement before a crowd of 2,500 foreign dignitaries and special guests, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Many in the audience had tears in their eyes, and shouts rose urging Santos and Londono to "Hug, hug, hug!" But in the end, the two men just clasped hands and the rebel commander, also known as Timochenko, put on a pin shaped like a white dove that Santos has been wearing on his lapel for years. Seconds later five jets buzzed overhead in formation trailing smoke in the colors of Colombia's flag.

During a minute of silence for the war's victims, 50 white flags were raised. Everyone at the event wore white as a symbol of peace.

Santos proclaimed after the signing that the accord will help Colombia to stop the killing, to end the deaths of young people, the innocent, soldiers and rebels alike. He led the crowd in chants of "No more war! No more war! No more war!" and he urged Colombians to vote to accept the accord in the Oct. 2 national referendum that will determine if it takes effect.

Londono called Santos "a courageous partner" in reaching the peace deal through four hard years of negotiations, calling the accord "a victory for Colombian society and the international community."

He also praised FARC's fighters as heroes of the downtrodden in the struggle for social justice, but repeated the movement's request for forgiveness for the war. "I apologize ... for all the pain that we have caused," he said.

The signing was greeted by wild cheers by about 1,000 FARC rebels in Sabanas del Yari, where the group recently concluded its last congress by endorsing the peace deal. "Yes, we can; yes, we can; yes, we can," they shouted, followed by calls for Timochenko to be president.

"Let no one doubt that we are going into politics without weapons," Londono said in his speech after the signing. "We are going to comply (with the accord) and we hope that the government complies," he added.
Earlier in the day, Santos and foreign dignitaries attended a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, at a baroque church named for St. Peter Claver, a 17th century Jesuit priest revered as the "slave of slaves" for his role aiding tens of thousands of African slaves brought to the New World as chattel.

In a stirring homily, Pope Francis' envoy praised Colombians for overcoming the pain of the bloody conflict to find common ground with the rebels.

"All of us here today are conscious of the fact we're at the end of a negotiation, but also the beginning of a still open process of change that requires the contribution and respect of all Colombians," the cardinal said.

Across the country Colombians marked the occasion with a host of activities, from peace concerts by top-name artists to a street party in the capital, Bogota, where the signing ceremony was to be broadcast live on a giant screen. It was also celebrated by hundreds of guerrillas gathered in a remote region of southern Colombia where last week top commanders ratified the accord in what they said would be their last conference as a guerrilla army.

Colombians will have the final say on endorsing or rejecting the accord in the Oct. 2 referendum. Opinion polls point to an almost-certain victory for the "yes" vote, but some analysts warn that a closer-than-expected finish or low voter turnout could bode poorly for the tough task the country faces in implementing the ambitious accord.

Among the biggest challenges will be judging the war crimes of guerrillas as well as state actors. Under terms of the accord, rebels who lay down their weapons and confess their abuses will be spared jail time and be allowed to provide reparations to their victims by carrying out development work in areas hard hit by the conflict.

That has angered some victims and conservative opponents of Santos, a few hundred of whom took to the streets Monday to protest what they consider the government's excessive leniency toward guerrilla leaders responsible for scores of atrocities in a conflict fueled by the country's cocaine trade.

To shouts of "Santos is a coward!" former President Alvaro Uribe, the architect of the decade-long, U.S.-backed military offensive that forced the FARC to the negotiating table, said the peace deal puts Colombia on the path to becoming a leftist dictatorship in the mold of Cuba or Venezuela - two countries that along with Norway played a vital role sponsoring the four-year-long talks.

"The democratic world would never allow bin Laden or those belonging to ISIS to become president, so why does Colombia have to allow the election of the terrorists who've kidnapped 11,700 children or raped 6,800 women?" he told protesters gathered in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Cartagena.

The stiff domestic opposition contrasts with widespread acclaim abroad for the accord - a rare example in a war-torn world of what can be achieved through dialogue. On Monday, European Union foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini said that with the signing of the peace agreement, the EU would suspend the FARC from its list of terrorist organizations.

Asked whether the U.S. would follow suit, Kerry was less willing to commit but expressed a possible openness to similar action.

"We clearly are ready to review and make judgments as the facts come in," he told reporters. "We don't want to leave people on the list if they don't belong."

The FARC was established in 1964 by self-defense groups and communist activists who joined forces to resist a government military onslaught. Reflecting that history, the final accord commits the government to addressing unequal land distribution that has been at the heart of Colombia's conflict.

But as the war dragged on, and insurgencies elsewhere in Latin America were defeated, the FARC slipped deeper and deeper into Colombia's lucrative cocaine trade - to the point that President George W. Bush's administration in 2006 called it the world's biggest drug cartel.

As part of the peace process, the FARC has sworn off narcotics trafficking and agreed to work with the government to provide alternative development in areas where coca growing has flourished.

Only if the accord passes the referendum will the FARC's roughly 7,000 fighters begin moving to 28 designated zones where, over the next six months, they are to turn over their weapons to U.N.-sponsored observers.

"This is something I waited for my whole life - that I dreamed of every day," said Leon Valencia, a former guerrilla who is one of the most respected experts on Colombia's conflict. "It's like when you're waiting for a child that is finally born, or seeing an old love or when your favorite team scores a goal."

Clinton, Trump poised for must-see debate showdown

Clinton, Trump poised for must-see debate showdown

AP Photo
People wait in the hall for the presidential debate between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.
  
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- With millions watching and the American presidency on the line, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are poised for a must-see showdown Monday night, pitting the Democrat's call for steady, experienced leadership against the Republican's pugnacious promises to upend Washington.

The 90-minute televised debate comes six weeks before Election Day and with early voting already getting underway in some states. Despite Clinton's advantages, including a sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation and a favorable electoral map, the race is exceedingly close.

For Clinton and Trump, the first of three debates is a crucial moment to boost their standing with voters who view both candidates negatively. Clinton struggles with questions about her trustworthiness, while Trump has yet to prove to some voters that he has the basic qualifications to serve as commander in chief.

National interest in the race has been intense, and the campaigns are expecting a record-breaking audience to watch Monday's event at suburban New York's Hofstra University. Both candidates were continuing intensive debate prep nearly until air time.

Clinton aides spent the days leading up to the debate appealing for the media and voters to hold Trump to a higher standard than they believe he has faced for much of the campaign. Their concern is that if the sometimes-bombastic Trump manages to keep his cool onstage, he'll be rewarded - even if he fails to flesh out policy specifics or doesn't tell the truth about his record and past statements.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Monday that he was "concerned that Trump is going to continue to lie."

On the other side, Kellyanne Conway, who took over as Trump's campaign manager last month, accused Clinton's team of engaging in "very public and very coordinated attempts to game the refs." She said the effort reflected worries among Clinton supporters about the Democrat's debating skills.

Trump and Clinton have spent months tangling from afar and are divided on virtually every major issue facing the country. They're sure to face questions about domestic terrorism and police shootings given recent incidents in New York, North Carolina and elsewhere.

The centerpiece of Trump's campaign has been a push for restrictive immigration measures, including a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and an early proposal to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from coming to the U.S. But he's been less detailed about other ideas, including his plan for stamping out the Islamic State group in the Middle East, and Conway suggested he'd be similarly reticent in the debate.

"You will get his view of how best to defeat the enemy - without telling ISIS specifically what it's going to be," Conway said.

Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, is banking on voters seeing her as a steady hand who can build on the record of President Barack Obama, whose popularity is rising as he winds down his second term in office. She's called for expanding Obama's executive orders if Congress won't pass legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system and for broader gun control measures. Overseas, she's called for a no-fly zone in Syria but has vowed to keep the military out of a large-scale ground war to defeat the Islamic State group.

For Clinton, victory in November largely hinges on rallying the same young and diverse coalition that elected Obama but has yet to fully embrace her. Mook told "CBS This Morning" that she understands she still needs to earn voters' trust.

"When she's had the opportunity to talk about not just what her plans are to make a difference in people's lives, but how this campaign is really part of a lifelong mission to fight for kids and families, she's done really well," Mook said.

Former President Bill Clinton planned to travel to the debate with his wife, but it was unclear whether he planned to watch the event from inside the debate hall.

Trump has tapped into deep anxieties among some Americans, particularly white, working-class voters who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying nation. While the real estate mogul lacks the experience Americans have traditionally sought in a commander in chief, he's banking on frustration with career politicians and disdain for Clinton to push him over the top on Election Day.

Trump was often a commanding presence in the Republican primary debates, launching biting personal attacks on his rivals. But at other times, he appeared to fade into the background, especially during more technical policy discussions - something he'll be unable to do with just two candidates on stage.

Clinton has debated more than 30 times at the presidential level, including several one-on-one contests against Obama in 2008 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. But Monday's contest will be her first presidential debate against a candidate from the opposing party.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Walking To Beat The Stigma Attached To Drug Addiction

Walking To Beat The Stigma Attached To Drug Addiction

 Photo credit: KYW's Cherri Gregg 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tens of thousands will take over Penn’s Landing on Friday for the annual recovery walk.  While walking their goal is to stop drug overdose deaths by getting more people into recovery.
Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health estimates that 150,000 residents are battling addiction, but less than 20 percent seek help. Last year, 700 people died of drug overdose in Philadelphia- double the number lost to homicide.

Roland Lamb is deputy commissioner for the department of behavior health said there is a misconception.

“Folks have been made to think there is something wrong with them– that they have, you know, a moral issue,” Lamb said.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Witness says Philippine president ordered killings of 1,000

Witness says Philippine president ordered killings of 1,000

AP Photo
Former Filipino militiaman Edgar Matobato shows the kind of tape they use to wrap up dead bodies as he testifies before the Philippine Senate in Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday Sept. 15, 2016. Matobato said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered him and other members of a squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A former Filipino militiaman testified before the country's Senate on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte, when he was still a city mayor, ordered him and other members of a liquidation squad to kill criminals and opponents in gangland-style assaults that left about 1,000 dead.

Edgar Matobato, 57, told the nationally televised Senate committee hearing that he heard Duterte order some of the killings, and acknowledged that he himself carried out about 50 deadly assaults as an assassin, including a suspected kidnapper fed to a crocodile in 2007 in southern Davao del Sur province.

Rights groups have long accused Duterte of involvement in death squads, claims he has denied, even while engaging in tough talk in which he stated his approach to criminals was to "kill them all." Matobato is the first person to admit any role in such killings, and to directly implicate Duterte under oath in a public hearing.

Human Rights Watch late Friday urged the Philippine government to order an independent investigation into the "very serious allegations" of direct involvement by Duterte "in extrajudicial killings."

Brad Adams, the rights group's Asia director, said: "President Duterte can't be expected to investigate himself, so it is crucial that the United Nations is called in to lead such an effort. Otherwise, Filipinos may never know if the president was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings."

The Senate committee inquiry was led by Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte's anti-drug campaign that has left more than 3,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead since he assumed the presidency in June. Duterte has accused de Lima of involvement in illegal drugs, alleging that she used to have a driver who took money from detained drug lords. She has denied the allegations.

Matobato said Duterte had once even issued an order to kill de Lima, when she chaired the Commission on Human Rights and was investigating the mayor's possible role in extrajudicial killings in 2009 in Davao. He said he and others were waiting to ambush de Lima but she did not go to a part of a hilly area - a suspected mass grave - where they were waiting to open fire.

"If you went inside the upper portion, we were already in ambush position," Matobato told de Lima. "It's good that you left."

The recent killings of suspected drug dealers have sparked concerns in the Philippines and among U.N. and U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, who have urged Duterte's government to take steps to rapidly stop the killings and ensure his anti-drug war complies with human rights laws and the rule of law.

Duterte has rejected the criticisms, questioning the right of the U.N., the U.S. and Obama to raise human rights issues, when U.S. forces, for example, had massacred Muslims in the country's south in the early 1900s as part of a pacification campaign.

Matobato said under oath that the killings went on from 1988, when Duterte first became Davao city mayor, to 2013, when Matobato said he expressed his desire to leave the death squad. He said that prompted his colleagues to implicate him criminally in one killing to silence him.

"Our job was to kill criminals like drug pushers, rapists, snatchers. These are the kind we killed every day," Matobato said. But he said their targets were not only criminals but also opponents of Duterte and one of his sons, Paolo Duterte, who is now the vice mayor of Davao.

Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar rejected the allegations, saying government investigations into Duterte's time as mayor of Davao had already gone nowhere because of a lack of evidence and witnesses.

Philippine human rights officials and advocates have previously said potential witnesses refused to testify against Duterte when he was still mayor out of fear of being killed.

There was no immediate reaction from Duterte. Another Duterte spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said at a news conference that while Matobato "may sound credible, it is imperative that each and every one of us properly weigh whatever he said and respond right."

Matobato said the victims in Davao allegedly ranged from petty criminals to a wealthy businessman from central Cebu province who was killed in 2014 in his office in Davao city, allegedly because of a feud with Paolo Duterte over a woman. The president's son said the allegations were without proof and "are mere hearsay," telling reporters he would "not dignify the accusations of a mad man."

Other victims were a suspected foreign militant whom Matobato said he strangled, then chopped into pieces and buried in a quarry in 2002. Another was a radio commentator, Jun Pala, who was critical of Duterte and was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen while walking home in 2003.

After a 1993 bombing of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Davao city, Matobato said Duterte ordered him and his colleagues to launch attacks on mosques in an apparent retaliation. He testified he hurled a grenade at one mosque but there were no casualties because the attacks were carried out when no one was praying.

Matobato said some of the squad's victims were shot and dumped on Davao streets or buried in three secret pits, while others were disposed of at sea with their stomachs cut open and their bodies tied to concrete blocks.

"They were killed like chickens," said Matobato, who added he that backed away from the killings after feeling guilty and entered a government witness-protection program.

He left the protection program when Duterte became president, fearing he would be killed, and said he decided to surface now "so the killings will stop."

Matobato's testimony set off a tense exchange between pro-Duterte and opposition senators.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano accused Matobato of being part of a plot to unseat Duterte. "I'm testing to see if you were brought here to bring down this government," he said.

De Lima eventually declared Cayetano "out of order" and ordered Senate security personnel to restrain him.
Another senator, former national police chief Panfilo Lacson, warned Matobato that his admissions that he was involved in killings could land him in jail.

"You can be jailed with your revelations," Lacson said. "You have no immunity."

Duterte has immunity from lawsuits as a president, but de Lima said that principle may have to be revisited now. "What if a leader is elected and turns out to be a mass murderer?" de Lima asked in a news conference after the tense Senate hearing.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Obama calls on Americans to embrace diversity on 9/11

Obama calls on Americans to embrace diversity on 9/11

AP Photo
President Barack Obama, right, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, stand at attention as the national anthem is played during a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by calling on Americans to embrace the nation's character as a people drawn from every corner of the world, from every religion and from every background. He said extremist groups will never be able to defeat the United States.

Obama spoke to hundreds of service members, and relatives and survivors of the attack that occurred at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Defense Department's headquarters, killing 184 people. The youngest victim was only 3 years old.

In all, about 3,000 people lost their lives that day as a result of the planes that crashed into New York City's World Trade Center and in a Pennsylvania field.

The president said extremist organizations such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida know they can never drive down the U.S., so they focus on trying to instill fear in hopes of getting Americans to change how they live.

"We know that our diversity, our patchwork heritage is not a weakness, it is still and always will be one of our greatest strengths," Obama said. "This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to."

Obama spoke on warm, mostly sunny morning, noting that the threat that became so evident on Sept. 11 has evolved greatly over the past 15 years. Terrorists, he said, often attempt strikes on a smaller, but still deadly scale. He specifically cited attacks in Boston, San Bernardino and Orlando as examples.

In the end, he said, the enduring memorial to those who lost their lives that day is ensuring "that we stay true to ourselves, that we stay true to what's best in us, that we do not let others divide us."

"How we conduct ourselves as individuals and as a nation, we have the opportunity each and every day to 
live up to the sacrifice of those heroes that we lost," Obama said.

Obama's comments also came in the heat of a presidential election in which voters will weigh which candidate would best keep America safe.

Republican nominee Donald Trump said he would suspend Muslim immigration into the United States, a policy he later amended by saying he would temporarily ban immigration from "areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats." Obama's speech Sunday reinforced themes he has emphasized in recent months when he has described Trump's proposals on Muslim immigration as "not the America we want."

Obama also marked his final Sept. 11 observance as president with a moment of silence inside the White House to coincide with when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. Atop the White House, the American flag flew at half-staff. Obama invited governors, interested organizations and individuals to follow suit.

Obama said he has been humbled by the people whose 9/11 stories he's come to learn over the past eight years, from the firefighters who responded to the attacks, to family members of those who died, to the Navy Seals who made sure "justice was finally done" in the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. He said the nation's security has been strengthened since 9/11 and that other attacks have been prevented.

"We resolve to continue doing everything in our power to protect this country that we love," he said, facing the benches that are a hallmark of the Pentagon Memorial.

Behind the president, a U.S. flag stretching some three stories tall hung on the section of the Pentagon that was struck on Sept. 11. The president said 15 years may seem like a long time, but he imagined that for the families, it can seem like yesterday. He said he has been inspired by their efforts to start scholarship programs and undertake volunteer work in their communities.

"In your grief and grace, you have reminded us that, together, there's nothing we Americans cannot overcome," Obama said.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Vanished flag from famous 9/11 photo returns to ground zero

Vanished flag from famous 9/11 photo returns to ground zero

AP Photo
Shirley Dreifus, the original owner of the American flag, left, that firefighters hoisted at ground zero in the hours after the 9/11 terror attacks, speaks during an interview at the Sept. 11 museum, Thursday Sept. 8, 2016, in New York. After disappearing for more than a decade, the 3-foot-by-5-foot flag goes on display Thursday at the museum.
  
NEW YORK (AP) -- An American flag raised at ground zero on Sept. 11 in a defining moment of patriotic resolve took its place at the site Thursday after disappearing for over a decade.

The 3-foot-by-5-foot flag took a symbolic and curious journey from a yacht moored in lower Manhattan to the smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center, then to a firehouse about 2,400 miles away in Everett, Washington - and now to a glass case at the National Sept. 11 Museum. A TV show, a mysterious man and two years of detective work helped re-establish its whereabouts.

"In a museum that's filled with such deeply powerful artifacts, this newest of artifacts is certainly one of the most emotionally and historically powerful," museum President Joe Daniels said as the display was unveiled Thursday, three days before the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks.

The flag's absence, he said, "just felt like a hole in the history of this site."

The flag is the centerpiece of one of the most resonant images of American fortitude on 9/11. After plucking the flag from a nearby boat, three firefighters hoisted it amid the ashen destruction as photographer Thomas E. Franklin of The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, captured the scene. The Pulitzer Prize-winning picture inspired a postage stamp, sculpture and other tributes.

Meanwhile, the flag was signed by New York's governor and two mayors and flown at Yankee Stadium, outside City Hall and on an aircraft carrier near Afghanistan - except it wasn't the right flag. It was bigger, and by 2004, the yacht's owners had publicly broached the error.

By then, officials had no idea what had happened to the real flag.

They were in the dark until November 2014, when a man turned up at an Everett fire station with what is now the museum's flag, saying he'd seen a recent History channel piece about the mystery, according to Everett Police Detective Mike Atwood and his former colleague Jim Massingale.

The man, who gave firefighters only the name "Brian," said he'd gotten it as a gift from an unnamed National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration worker who'd gotten it from an unidentified 9/11 widow.

The detectives gathered surveillance video and circulated a police sketch, but they haven't found the man or been able to confirm his explanation of the flag's provenance. DNA tests of material found on electrical tape wrapped around the flag's halyard didn't match the firefighters or other people known to have handled the flag.

But a forensic expert analyzed dust on the flag and halyard and found it consistent with ground zero debris. Meanwhile, the detectives scrutinized photos and videos of the flag-raising and consulted one of the yacht's former crew members to compare the flag's size, material, stitching, hardware and halyard.

Taking all the evidence together, "we feel it's very likely the one captured in the photo," said Massingale, now with the Stillaguamish Police Department on the Stillaguamish Tribe's reservation in Washington.

The yacht's owners, Shirley Dreifus and the late Spiros E. Kopelakis, were so surprised when first told the flag might have resurfaced that Kopelakis wondered whether the call was a prank, Dreifus said. She and Chubb insurance donated the flag to the museum.

A documentary about the flag's recovery airs Sunday on History.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Prosecutors want 13 other women to testify against Cosby

Prosecutors want 13 other women to testify against Cosby

AP Photo
Bill Cosby arrives for a pretrial hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.
  
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Prosecutors hoping to paint actor Bill Cosby as a serial predator at his upcoming sexual assault trial sought Tuesday to put on testimony from 13 other women who say Cosby gave them quaaludes, other drugs or alcohol before molesting them.

The criminal case against the 79-year-old entertainer involves a single 2004 encounter at his home near Philadelphia with former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. The presiding judge at a hearing Tuesday vowed to start the trial by June 5.

However, Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill did not immediately rule on any of the pretrial disputes over evidence, including the prosecution effort to call other women as witnesses. Under Pennsylvania law, they could be allowed to testify to show an alleged pattern of behavior, even if no charges were ever filed.

Prosecutors said they reviewed accusations made by 50 Cosby accusers and concluded that 13 said they were also drugged or intoxicated and then molested by Cosby. One woman said she declined his offer of quaaludes but accepted Champagne that she believed was spiked. She later woke up naked in a hotel room and said she had been sexually assaulted. Another said she took quaaludes from him, while a third said she believed her drink was spiked with the powerful, now-banned sedative.

The defense is expected to oppose any testimony from other accusers.

The defense will also ask to have the trial moved to another county, given that the decision over whether Cosby should be arrested became a flashpoint in last fall's election for district attorney. Cosby was arrested on Dec. 30, as incoming prosecutor Kevin Steele eyed the approaching 12-year deadline to file felony charges.

Constand told police that Cosby gave her three unmarked pills and then molested her as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

Cosby's lawyers meanwhile asked the judge Tuesday to suppress a 2005 telephone conversation recorded by Constand's mother in Toronto. Cosby had called her from California. The defense said the call violated Pennsylvania's two-party consent law on wiretaps. But prosecutors who played the tape in court argued that 
Cosby said he heard beeps on the call and asked if he was being taped. Gianna Constand denied it.

Cosby in the conversation described the sex act as "digital penetration" but refused to say what pills he had given her daughter. In his deposition, he later said he feared sounding like "a dirty old man" on the call.

Steele will fight to use both the phone call and Cosby's potentially damaging deposition from Constand's sexual battery lawsuit. Cosby settled the suit after four days of questioning. He acknowledged having a sexual encounter with Constand, but said it was consensual. He also admitted to a string of extramarital affairs and sexual "rendezvous," some with women in their late teens and early 20s.

Cosby was arrested in December after the investigation into the allegation Constand first brought in 2005 was reopened, following disclosure of the entertainer's deposition and a stream of new allegations by women going back decades.

Cosby looked noticeably healthier Tuesday than he has at earlier hearings, although his lawyers told the judge that he is blind. O'Neill offered whatever accommodations he might need at trial, but the defense didn't immediately ask for any.

Cosby clutched an aide's arm as he walked, but his eyes appeared less milky and he seemed more engaged and animated as he spoke with his legal team.

As O'Neill pushed for a trial date, lead defense lawyer Brian McMonagle of Philadelphia said he has other trials booked until June.

Cosby has replaced one top-tier Los Angeles law firm with another on his defense team, the second such switch in about a year.

Cosby has so far lost his efforts to have the charges thrown out.

Cosby became known as "America's Dad" for his top-rated show on family life that ran from 1984 to 1992. 

He had been in the limelight since the early 1960s, when the Philadelphian was tapped to star in "I Spy," becoming the rare black actor to star in a network TV show at the time.

The women who accuse him of sexual misconduct for nearly that long say the charges were a long time coming.

Cosby's defenders instead suggest he is a wealthy target for the many women he met during five decades as an A-list celebrity.

Defense lawyer Angela Agrusa told reporters after the hearing that the accusers have been "paraded" before the press by lawyer Gloria Allred and others, without their accounts of abuse being investigated.

"We have seen a barrage of new accusers claiming, 'Me too,'" Agrusa said.

Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt brought race into the equation, saying Allred and others have trampled on Cosby's civil rights. Many of the accusers, including Constand, are white.

"Mr. Cosby is no stranger to discrimination and racial hatred, and throughout his career Mr. Cosby has always used his voice and his celebrity to highlight the commonalities and has portrayed the differences that are not negative - no matter the race, gender and religion of a person," he said in a statement.

Allred rejected Wyatt's accusations, accusing Cosby of becoming desperate in his defense of the case, and stating that several of the alleged victims she represents are African American.

"With his latest pathetic attack on me, he unsuccessfully tries to portray himself as a victim rather than as a defendant in a criminal case accused of aggravated indecent sexual assault," Allred wrote in a statement. She said the case is not about racial bias, but whether Cosby "has committed acts of gender sexual violence."

It is unclear whether Allred represents any of the 13 women prosecutors are seeking to call as witnesses against Cosby. She has held numerous press conferences with women accusing Cosby of sexual abuse and lobbied for legislative hanges in several states.

Allred also represents Judy Huth in a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court that accuses Cosby of underage sexual abuse.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Did fall from tree kill famous human ancestor Lucy?

Did fall from tree kill famous human ancestor Lucy?
 
 AP Photo

 FILE - This Aug. 14, 2007, file photo shows a three-dimensional 
model of the early human ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, 
known as Lucy, on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. 
It's a scientific estimation of what Lucy may have looked like in life. 
A new study based on an analysis of Lucy's fossil by the University 
of Texas at Austin suggests she died after falling from a tree. 
Several scientists, including Lucy’s discoverer, reject that she plunged 
to her death from a tree.
  

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The famous human ancestor known as Lucy walked the Earth, but it was her tree climbing that might have led to her demise, a new study suggests.

An analysis of her partial skeleton reveals breaks in her right arm, left shoulder, right ankle and left knee - injuries that researchers say resulted from falling from a high perch such as a tree.

Lucy likely died quickly, said John Kappelman, an anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin, who published the findings Monday in the journal Nature.

"I don't think she suffered," Kappelman said.

But several other researchers, including Lucy's discoverer, disagree. They contend most of the cracks in Lucy's bones are well documented and came after her death from the fossilization process and natural forces such as erosion.

How Lucy met her end has remained a mystery since her well-preserved fossil remains were unearthed more than four decades ago. Her discovery was significant because it allowed scientists to establish that ancient human ancestors walked upright before evolving a big brain.

Lucy was a member of Australopithecus afarensis, an early human species that lived in Africa between about 4 million and 3 million years ago. The earliest humans climbed trees and walked on the ground. Lucy walked upright and occasionally used her long, dangling arms to climb trees. She was a young adult when she died.

Tim White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, called the study's conclusion a 
"misdiagnosis." The Texas researchers "appear to have focused only on the cracks that they could attribute to an imagined fall, ignoring the additional abundant cracks," White said in an email.

The split highlights the difficulty of pinpointing a cause of death from fossilized remains. Scientists rarely know how early humans died because skeletons are incomplete and bones tend to get crushed under sand and rocks.

Over the years, Lucy's discoverer Donald Johanson has tried to solve the mystery.

Lucy's skeleton, which is 40 percent complete, was recovered in Ethiopia in what was an ancient lake near fossilized remains of crocodiles, turtle eggs and crab claws.

"There's no definitive proof of how she died," said Johanson of Arizona State University.

The Texas team examined Lucy's bones and used high-tech imaging. Kappelman said the scans revealed multiple broken bones and no signs of healing, suggesting the injuries occurred around the time of death.

He reconstructed her final moments: The 3-foot-6-inch (1.06-meter) Lucy fell from at least 40 feet and hit the ground at 35 mph. She landed on her feet before twisting and falling. Such an impact would have caused internal organ damage. Fractures on her upper arms suggest she tried to break her fall.

Kappelman theorized that Lucy's walking ability may have caused her to be less adept at climbing trees, making her more vulnerable to falling from heights.

Not everyone agrees that her tree-climbing skills were lacking. Other scientists point out that there have been documented falls by chimpanzees and orangutans, which spend more time in trees than Lucy's species.

"Without a time machine, how can one know that she didn't just get unlucky and fall?" William Harcourt-Smith of the American Museum of Natural History said in an email.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aftershocks rattle Italian quake zone; toll rises to 250

Aftershocks rattle Italian quake zone; toll rises to 250

AP Photo
Rescuers make their way through destroyed houses following Wednesday's earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Rescue crews raced against time Thursday looking for survivors from the earthquake that leveled three towns in central Italy, but the death toll rose to 247 and Italy once again anguished over trying to secure its medieval communities built on seismic lands.
  
PESCARA DEL TRONTO, Italy (AP) -- As the search for survivors ground on, Premier Matteo Renzi pledged new money and measures Thursday to rebuild quake-devastated central Italy amid mounting soul-searching over why the seismic-prone country has continually failed to ensure its buildings can withstand such catastrophes.

A day after the deadly quake killed 250 people, a 4.3 magnitude aftershock sent up plumes of thick gray dust in the hard-hit town of Amatrice. The aftershock crumbled already cracked buildings, rattled residents and closed already clogged roads.

It was only one of the more than 470 temblors that have followed Wednesday's pre-dawn quake.

Firefighters and rescue crews using sniffer dogs worked in teams around the hard-hit areas in central Italy, pulling chunks of cement, rock and metal from mounds of rubble where homes once stood. Rescuers refused to say when their work would shift from saving lives to recovering bodies, noting that one person was pulled alive from the rubble 72 hours after the 2009 quake in the nearby town of L'Aquila.

"We will work relentlessly until the last person is found, and make sure no one is trapped," said Lorenzo 
Botti, a rescue team spokesman.

Worst affected by the quake were the tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto, 25 kilometers (15 miles) further to the east.

Many were left homeless by the scale of the destruction, their homes and apartments declared uninhabitable. Some survivors, escorted by firefighters were allowed to go back inside homes briefly Thursday to get essential necessities for what will surely be an extended absence.

"Last night we slept in the car. Tonight, I don't know," said Nello Caffini as he carried his sister-in-law's belongings on his head after being allowed to go quickly into her home in Pescara del Tronto.

Caffini has a house in nearby Ascoli, but said his sister-in-law was too terrified by the aftershocks to go inside it.

"When she is more tranquil, we will go to Ascoli," he said.

Charitable assistance began pouring into the earthquake zone in traffic-clogging droves Thursday. Church groups from a variety of Christian denominations, along with farmers offering donated peaches, pumpkins and plums, sent vans along the one-way road into Amatrice that was already packed with emergency vehicles and trucks carrying sniffer dogs.

Other assistance was spiritual.

"When we learned that the hardest hit place was here, we spoke to our bishop and he encouraged us to come here to comfort the families of the victims," said a priest who gave his name only as Father Marco as he walked through Pescara del Tronto. "They have given us a beautiful example, because their pain did not take away their dignity."

Italy's civil protection agency said the death toll had risen to 250 by Thursday afternoon, with more than 180 of the fatalities in Amatrice. At least 365 others were hospitalized, and 215 people were pulled from the rubble alive since the quake struck. A Spaniard and five Romanians were among the dead, according to their governments.

There was no clear estimate of how many people might still be missing, since the rustic area was packed with summer vacationers. The Romanian government alone said 11 of its citizens were missing.

As the search effort continued, the soul-searching began.

Premier Renzi authorized a preliminary 50 million euros in emergency funding and the government cancelled taxes for residents, pro-forma measures that are just the start of what will be a long and costly rebuilding campaign. He announced a new initiative, "Italian Homes," to answer years of criticism over shoddy construction across the country, which has the highest seismic hazard in Western Europe.

But he also said that it was "absurd" to think that Italy could build completely quake-proof buildings.

"It's illusory to think you can control everything," he told a news conference. "It's difficult to imagine it could 
have been avoided simply using different building technology. We're talking about medieval-era towns."

Those old towns do not have to conform to the country's anti-seismic building codes. Making matters worse, those codes often aren't applied even when new buildings are built.

Armando Zambrano, the head of Italy's National Council of Engineers, said the technology exists to reinforce old buildings and prevent such high death tolls when quakes strike every few years. While he estimated that it would cost up to 93 billion euros ($105 billion) to reinforce all of the historic structures across the country, he said targeted efforts in the riskiest areas could be done for less.

"We are able to prevent all these deaths. The problem is actually doing it," he told The Associated Press. 

"These tragedies keep happening because we don't intervene. After each tragedy we say we will act but then the weeks go by and nothing happens."

Some experts estimate that 70 percent of Italy's buildings aren't built to anti-seismic standards, though not all are in high-risk areas.

Funding shortfalls and bureaucracy are obstacles to making the country's buildings quake-resistant. A new law tries to encourage homeowners to make their homes earthquake-proof by reimbursing 65 percent of the cost over 10 years, but it isn't enough to push Italians, who are facing years of economic stagnation, to put up the cash to make the upgrades.

Compounding the problem, many of the oldest and most vulnerable structures are in remote villages inhabited mostly by retired Italians getting by on pensions with no cash to spare. In the cities, upgrades are stifled by the condominium-style rules of buildings requiring the agreement of multiple owners for such investments.

"We're among the best in the world in managing emergencies," Renzi said, praising the men and women, many of them volunteers, who jump into action when crises hit. "But it's not enough to be in the vanguard in emergencies."

Geologists surveyed the damage Thursday to determine which buildings were still inhabitable, while Culture Ministry teams were fanning out to assess the damage to some of the region's cultural treasures, especially its medieval-era churches.

Italian news reports said prosecutors investigating the quake were looking in particular into the collapse of Amatrice's "Romolo Capranica" school, which was restored in 2012 using funds set aside after the last major quake in 2009.

In recent Italian quakes, some modern buildings - many of them public institutions - have been the deadliest. Those included the university dormitory that collapsed in the 2009 L'Aquila quake, killing 11 students, and the elementary school that crumbled in San Giuliano di Puglia in 2002, killing 27 children - the town's entire first-grade class - while surrounding buildings survived unscathed.

Major quakes in Italy are often followed by criminal charges being filed against architects, builders and officials responsible for public works. In the case of the L'Aquila quake, prosecutors also put six geologists on trial for allegedly failing to adequately warn residents about the temblor. Their convictions were overturned on appeal.

In Pescara del Tronto, rescue crews were looking Thursday for three people believed crushed in a hard-to-reach area.

"The dogs from our dog rescue unit make us think there could be something," said Danilo Dionisi, a spokesman for the firefighters.

Emergency services set up tent cities around the quake-devastated towns to accommodate the homeless, housing about 1,200 people overnight. In Amatrice, 50 elderly people and children spent the night inside a local sports facility.

"It's not easy for them," said civil protection volunteer Tiziano De Carolis, who was helping to care for the homeless in Amatrice. "They have lost everything: the work of an entire life, like those who have a business, a shop, a pharmacy, a grocery store."

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Latest: Officials try to increase swimmer Feigen's fine

The Latest: Officials try to increase swimmer Feigen's fine

 AP Photo
   

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The Latest on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (all times local):
8 p.m.

Brazilian prosecutors made a last-ditch effort to increase the amount of money that American swimmer James Feigen pays before he leaves the country.

In a statement late Friday, prosecutors said they would appeal a judge's ruling that Feigen pay about $10,800 to a charity and ask that he pay $47,000 instead.

But Feigen was already at the airport.

The fine dispute is largely a moot question. Feigen will be out of Brazil long before a decision on the appeal is made. If prosecutors win, Feigen would have to pay the fine if he ever wanted to return to Brazil.

Earlier this week, a judge had ordered the passport seized while police investigated what swimmer Ryan Lochte had said was an armed robbery.

Police have said that the robbery story was fabricated. Police have said that Lochte, Feigen and two other swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom early Sunday after a night of partying and were confronted by armed guards.
---
7:40 p.m.
Tom Daley of Britain is the leading qualifier after the men's 10-meter platform diving preliminaries.
He totaled 474.65 points over six rounds Friday night, getting a perfect 10 for his fifth dive, a forward reverse 3 ½ somersault. Daley earned bronze four years ago in London.

Qui Bo of China is second at 464.85. He was the silver medalist in London. Qui's teammate, Chen Aisen, finished third at 448.15.

Defending Olympic champion David Boudia of the United States was fourth at 410.15.
Among the men moving on was American Steele Johnson, who grabbed the 18th and last spot for Saturday's semifinals.
---
7:25 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: Germany has defeated Sweden 2-1 to win the women's soccer gold medal for the first time.

Germany opened the scoring with a goal by Dzsenifer Marozsan in the 48th minute and added to the lead with an own goal by Swedish defender Linda Sembrant in the 62nd.

Sweden pulled one closer with Stina Blackstenius in the 67th but was not able to get the equalizer despite some good late chances at the Maracana Stadium.

A two-time World Cup champion, Germany had previously won three bronze medals. It was playing in the Olympic final for the first time.

Sweden has won its first silver in women's soccer. It had never been on the podium.
---
7:20 p.m.
A Brazilian court says that the passport of American swimmer James Feigen has been returned after he made a payment of approximately $10,800 for falsely reporting a crime.

A court statement late Friday said the fine had been paid and the passport returned, meaning that Feigen is free to leave the country.

A judge had ordered the passport be seized earlier this week while police investigated what swimmer Ryan Lochte had said was an armed robbery.

Police have said that the robbery story was fabricated. Police have said that Lochte, Feigen and two other swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom early Sunday after a night of partying and were confronted by armed guards.
---
6:55 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT-UPSET: Britain stunned the top-ranked Netherlands in a shootout to win its first-ever gold medal in women's field hockey.

The Netherlands was trying to become the first nation to win three consecutive gold medals on the women's side Friday night.

The score was tied 3-all at the end of regulation, during which the Netherlands outshot Britain 17-7.

Britain's Helen Richardson-Walsh scored a penalty stroke in the shootout, then Hollie Webb scored the winner. Britain goalie Maddie Hinch did not allow a goal in the shootout.
---
6:50 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: Iran's Hassan Yazdani scored a takedown in the final 10 seconds to win the gold medal in men's 74-kilogram freestyle wrestling.

Yazdani was down 6-2 at one point to Russian Aniuar Geduev, who earlier Friday upset American favorite Jordan Burroughs.

But Yazdani rallied despite continued stops so the Russian could adjust the bandages covering up his bloody head, exposing Geduev on his last move to win 6-6 on criteria.
---
6:45 p.m.
Australia's Chloe Esposito has captured gold in women's pentathlon with an Olympic record of 1,372 points.
Esposito started the running/shooting combination final in fourth, but ran past her competitors with a strong push.

France's Elodie Clouvel captured silver with 1,356 points and Poland's Oktawia Nowacka earned bronze after leading through the equestrian event.

Esposito was seventh after swimming, sixth through fencing and moved up to fourth with a solid ride in equestrian. Her father competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Games and her brother, Max, is a member of the Australian men's pentathlon team.
---
6:35 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: Australia's Chloe Esposito has captured gold in women's pentathlon after starting the final segment fourth.

(Corrects item to show Esposito started the final segment fourth.)
---
6:25 p.m.
Germany and Sweden were tied 0-0 at halftime of the women's soccer final at the Maracana Stadium.

Both teams had a few good chances to score but couldn't capitalize.

It is the first Olympic final for both teams. It also is the first all-European final since women's soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996.

Germany has won the bronze medal three times, in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. Sweden has never been on the podium.
---
6:20 p.m.
South Korea will have another chance for a gold medal in taekwondo - the sport it created - when Oh Hyeri fights in the women's 67-kilogram final Friday night.

Oh, ranked sixth, will face France's number one Haby Niare, who won a bronze at the European championships in May. South Korea's Kim So-Hui won the women's 49-kilogram division in taekwondo Wednesday.

The gold in the men's 80-kilogram division will be contested by Britain's fifth-ranked Lutalo Muhammad and Cote d'Ivoire's Cheick Sallah Cisse, who won the African Championships and is seeded third.

Muhammad previously won a bronze at the London Games and beat taekwondo's most decorated athlete, American Steven Lopez in the quarterfinals.

Leading medal contender Aaron Cook, who was born and raised in the U.K. but fights for Moldova, was eliminated in the first round. Top-seeded Mahdi Khodabakhshi also was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
---
5:55 p.m.
The International Olympic Committee has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the incident involving Ryan Lochte and three of his U.S. swimming teammates at a Rio de Janeiro gas station.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams tells The Associated Press the panel was formed Friday to look into the behavior of Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen.

Adams had no other immediate details.

IOC disciplinary commissions have the power to issue sanctions.

Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, apologized Friday for his behavior surrounding the early-morning incident. He reiterated his view that a stranger pointed a gun at him and demanded money to let him leave the station.

Lochte had called it a gunpoint robbery; Brazilian police said he and the three other swimmers vandalized a bathroom while intoxicated and were confronted by armed security guards.
---
5:50 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: Georgia wrestler Vladimer Khinchegashvili has won the 57-kilogram gold medal in the men's freestyle tournament.
Khinchegashvili scored the final point to beat Japan's Rei Higuchi 3-3 on criteria on Saturday.

Khinchegashvili, who won silver at the London Games four years ago, is just the third Georgian to win Olympic gold. He also won the world title last year.
---
5:35 p.m.
The U.S. men's basketball team has advanced to its third-straight Olympic gold-medal game, beating Spain 82-76 on Friday.

Klay Thompson scored 22 points for the Americans, who will play Australia or Serbia on Sunday for their third-consecutive Olympic title.

The U.S. was just good enough again against Spain, winning a much different game than the all-offense matchups that decided the last two gold-medal games. This one featured several technical fouls and neither team got into an offensive flow. It was the lowest-scoring game for the Americans in the Olympics since the 2004 semifinals, when they managed 81 in a loss to Argentina.

Kevin Durant added 14 points and Kyrie Irving had 13 for the U.S.

Pau Gasol scored 23 points for Spain, which made it tough on the Americans for the third straight Olympics, but again had to settle for coming close against the world's No. 1 team.
---
5:25 p.m.
Three Russian athletes, including a silver medalist in a track relay race, have been retroactively disqualified from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after they tested positive in rechecks of their doping samples.

The International Olympic Committee says Anastasia Kapachinskaya has been stripped of the silver in the women's 4x400 relay, along with her Russian teammates. Jamaica stands to move up from third to silver and Belarus from fourth to bronze.

The IOC says Kapachinskaya tested positive for the steroids stanozolol and turinabol. She also was disqualified from her fifth-place finish in the individual 400 meters.

Alexander Pogorelov tested positive for turinabol, and his fourth-place finish in the decathlon was annulled.
Ivan Yushkov, who finished 10th in the shot put, tested positive for stanozolol, turinabol and oxandrolone.

The IOC stores doping samples for 10 years so they can retested when improved methods become available. The three cases announced Friday were among 98 positive tests recorded in reanalysis of samples from Beijing and the 2012 London Games.
---
5:25 p.m.
Poland's Oktawia Nowacka has retained her lead through the equestrian portion of women's modern pentathlon.

Nowacka took the lead after winning the knock-out fencing portion and remained there with a solid ride on a course that had been giving riders trouble. She has 847 points and France's Elodie Clouvet is second with 835.

Canada's Melanie McCann is third with 818 points heading into the final event, a combination of running and shooting.
---
5:20 p.m.
France left it to the last second, but beat Germany 29-28 to qualify for the gold medal game in Olympic men's handball Friday.

European champion Germany came from seven goals down to tie the score at 28-28, but in the last second Daniel Narcisse scored for Olympic and world champion France with a low shot to take the win.

That sparked wild celebrations from the French players, who will chase a record third consecutive gold medal when they face either Poland or Denmark in Sunday's final.

Narcisse led France with seven goals, while Uwe Gensheimer had 11 for the Germans. Goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer was a key player on the French team, making 12 saves off 39 shots.
---
5:15 p.m.
Claressa Shields is one win away from her second Olympic boxing gold medal, and the American middleweight is making it look easy.

Shields won a unanimous decision over Kazakhstan's Dariga Shakimova on Friday, dominating the scorecards while punching circles around another overmatched opponent.

Shields hasn't lost a fight since before the London Olympics, where she was the surprise gold medalist. Four years later, the gap between Shields and the other middleweights is still larger than in any division of the Rio field - and even Shields knows it.

She says she showed that she "was the better, stronger and more skilled fighter."

Shields faces the Netherlands' Nouchka Fontijn on Sunday for her second gold in a rematch of May's world championship final, won unanimously by Shields.
---
4:50 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: The U.S. women's water polo team is golden again.

Ashleigh Johnson made nine saves and Kiley Neushul scored three times, helping the United States beat Italy 12-5 in the Olympic final. The Americans stretched their win streak to 22 games with their sixth victory in Rio by a combined score of 73-32.

The U.S. also won gold in London in 2012. It's the only two-time winner since the tournament was added to the Games in 2000.

Federica Radicchi scored two goals for Italy, which also won its first five games in Rio.

Russia captured the bronze with a wild 19-18 win over Hungary in penalty shots.

In another Olympics dominated by U.S. women, Maggie Steffens and company shined brightly. The water polo team currently holds each of the major titles in the sport, adding a second Olympic gold to its world championship, World Cup and World League Super Final titles.
---
4:40 p.m.
MEDAL ALERT: French fighter Estelle Mossely has defeated China's Junhua Lin to win the lightweight gold medal.
 
Mossely celebrated her 24th birthday in style, winning a split decision to take gold. Each fighter won a scorecard 39-37 and one was scored 38-38. The Puerto Rican judge, who scored it a tie, got to choose the winner and she picked Mossely.

She has plenty to celebrate on the biggest day of her career. French fighter Tony Yoka, her boyfriend, won his super heavyweight fight earlier in the day.

Mossely jumped into his arms for a big hug. He dropped her off outside the ring, and she took a victory lap with the French flag fluttering behind her like a cape.
--
4:35 p.m.
Inbee Park of South Korea has a two-shot lead going into the final round at Olympic Golf Course.

But it wasn't easy in gusts that reached 30 mph. And she now has to cope with the No. 1 player in women's golf - Lydia Ko - for the gold medal.

Park made three bogeys on the back nine and shot a 1-under 70.

Ko raced into contention with her first hole-in-one, and the Kiwi made all pars in the wind on the back nine for a 65. She was two shots behind along with Gerina Piller, the American who has yet to win on the LPGA Tour. Piller shot a 68.

Even though Piller hasn't won, her most famous moment was last year in Germany when she made the winning point at the Solheim Cup. She says playing for the flag brings out the best in her.
Park was at 11-under 202.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Police chief was surprised by violence after fatal shooting

Police chief was surprised by violence after fatal shooting

AP Photo
Police move in on a group of protesters throwing rocks at them in Milwaukee, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. Police said one person was shot at a Milwaukee protest on Sunday evening and officers used an armored vehicle to retrieve the injured victim during a second night of unrest over the police shooting of a black man, but there was no repeat of widespread destruction of property.
  
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Following a night of violence that left half a dozen businesses in flames, the Milwaukee police chief expressed surprise at the level of unrest that erupted after the fatal shooting of a black man by a black officer.

"This was, quite frankly, unanticipated," Chief Edward Flynn said Monday, two days after the worst of the rioting hit the Sherman Park neighborhood on the city's economically depressed and largely black north side.

The chief's statement raised questions about whether authorities could have taken steps to curb the violence, perhaps by sharing details of the shooting earlier, including the officer's race or footage from his body camera.

Randolph McLaughlin, a Pace University law professor and a civil rights attorney, questioned how Milwaukee leaders could have expected the streets to stay quiet on Saturday night given the national debate about law enforcement and race.

"For a mayor to say everything's fine (and) we just killed somebody, that's turning a blind eye to his town," McLaughlin said.

He said Mayor Tom Barrett should have reached out to residents and community leaders and asked, "What do we need to do to make sure your community is safe?" McLaughlin said. "He needs to stay on the job."

David Klinger, a University of Missouri-St. Louis sociology professor who studies police use of deadly force, said it would not necessarily have helped for police to release the officer's race sooner. He pointed out that the city saw disruptions on Sunday night, after his race had been publicized, though the intensity was less than the previous night.

He also said the city may have hesitated to give the officer's race sooner for fear it would identify him.

Remy Cross, a criminologist at Webster University in St. Louis, said the officer's race probably does not matter to many people in the community.

"They see the institution as racist, not the individual," Cross said. "Once you put on the uniform, you're blue, and blue sees black as bad."

Flynn said it was "an error in narrative to assume" that because police shot someone that the shooting will be controversial "so let's have a riot."

Cecil Brewer, 67, who owns an apartment house directly across from the intersection where protesters burned a gas station on Saturday night and hurled rocks at police on Sunday night, said the rioting was all but inevitable.

"There's so much anger in these kids," Brewer said. The shooting "was like a spark in a powder keg. It doesn't matter to them if what the authorities are saying is true."

On Monday, the mayor issued a proclamation applying the city's curfew to 17-year-olds. Until then, it had applied to teenagers 16 or younger. Barrett also moved the summer curfew back by one hour, to 10 p.m., 
and warned that the rule would be enforced more tightly.

The problems began Saturday afternoon when police stopped a rental car that was driving suspiciously, Flynn said. Sylville Smith bolted from the car with a gun, leading an officer on a short foot chase before the officer shot the 23-year-old. Police said the man was fleeing a traffic stop but released few other details.

The violence erupted later that evening.

During a news conference around midnight calling for calm, Barrett said people were gathering at the scene when he left at 5 p.m. Saturday, but they were peaceful and he thought everything was under control.

At another news conference Sunday afternoon, Flynn offered new details, revealing that the officer who opened fire was black, like Smith, and said body-camera video showed Smith had turned toward the officer and refused to drop his weapon. He also said the officer shot Smith in the chest and arm. Some people interviewed on the north side had speculated that Smith was shot in the back.

The body-camera footage has not been released. It's in the custody of the state Justice Department, which is leading the investigation into the shooting.

Flynn activated the department's 150-member crowd-control team on Sunday night, and Gov. Scott Walker put the National Guard on standby if needed. Hundreds of people gathered near the scene of the shooting that evening, but remained peaceful. Most of them eventually dispersed.

Around 10:30 p.m., however, a group of perhaps 100 demonstrators began marching through the streets, eventually blocking an intersection next to a BP gas station that burned down the night before. They threw bottles, chunks of concrete and rocks at officers. Dozens of officers arrived and forced the group down the street.

Seven officers were injured and 14 people were arrested by the time it was over. An 18-year-old was shot near the intersection. Police had to use an armored vehicle to rescue him. He was taken to a hospital, but Flynn said his life was not in danger.

Smith's death was just the latest in a string of shootings involving police and black men to spark demonstrations and protests.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where 37-year-old Alton Sterling was fatally shot in July during a struggle with two white police officers, protests largely dissipated after three law enforcement officers were killed in a shooting attack that appeared to target police. Demonstrations also unfolded after 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot and killed in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, during a traffic stop by a Latino police officer. Those protests dwindled in the ensuing weeks.

Last year, the state Justice Department agreed to review Milwaukee police procedures after a white officer shot Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man, in a downtown park during a scuffle.

DeShawn Corprue, 31, who lives behind the burned-out BP station, said nothing that police released about Smith's death would have stopped the weekend's unrest.

"People are just so angry," he said.

Flynn blamed a Chicago chapter of the Revolutionary Communist Party for coming to town and inciting Sunday's violence.

"There is ample opportunity for second-guessing, I'm sure," Flynn said.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Terminally ill woman holds party before ending her life

Terminally ill woman holds party before ending her life
  

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: "These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness."

And just one rule: No crying in front of her.

The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state's new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill.

"For me and everyone who was invited, it was very challenging to consider, but there was no question that we would be there for her," said Niels Alpert, a cinematographer from New York City.

"The idea to go and spend a beautiful weekend that culminates in their suicide - that is not a normal thing, not a normal, everyday occurrence. In the background of the lovely fun, smiles and laughter that we had that weekend was the knowledge of what was coming."

Davis worked out a detailed schedule for the gathering on the weekend of July 23-24, including the precise hour she planned to slip into a coma, and shared her plans with her guests in the invitation.

More than 30 people came to the party at a home with a wraparound porch in the picturesque Southern California mountain town of Ojai, flying in from New York, Chicago and across California.

One woman brought a cello. A man played a harmonica. There were cocktails, pizza from her favorite local joint, and a screening in her room of one of her favorite movies, "The Dance of Reality," based on the life of a Chilean film director.

As the weekend drew to a close, her friends kissed her goodbye, gathered for a photo and left, and Davis was wheeled out to a canopy bed on a hillside, where she took a combination of morphine, pentobarbital and chloral hydrate prescribed by her doctor.

Kelly Davis said she loved her sister's idea for the gathering, which Betsy Davis referred to as a "rebirth."

"Obviously it was hard for me. It's still hard for me," said Davis, who wrote about it for the online news outlet Voice of San Diego. "The worst was needing to leave the room every now and then, because I would get choked up. But people got it. They understood how much she was suffering and that she was fine with her decision. They respected that. They knew she wanted it to be a joyous occasion."

Davis ended her life a little over a month after a California law giving the option to the terminally ill went into effect. Four other states allow doctor-assisted suicide, with Oregon the first in 1997.

Opponents of the law in lobbying against it before state legislators argued that hastening death was morally wrong, that it puts terminally ill patients at risk for coerced death by loved ones and could become a way out for people who are uninsured or fearful of high medical bills.

Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, said her heart goes out to anyone dealing with a terminal illness, but "there are still millions of people in California threatened by the danger of this law."

Davis spent months planning her exit, feeling empowered after spending the last three years losing control of her body bit by bit. The painter and performance artist could no longer stand, brush her teeth or scratch an itch. Her caretakers had to translate her slurred speech for others.

"Dear rebirth participants you're all very brave for sending me off on my journey," she wrote in her invitation. "There are no rules. Wear what you want, speak your mind, dance, hop, chant, sing, pray, but do not cry in front of me. OK, one rule."

During the party, old friends reconnected and Davis rolled in and out of the rooms in her electric wheelchair and onto the porch, talking with her guests.

At one point, she invited friends to her room to try on the clothes she had picked out for them. They modeled the outfits to laughter. Guests were also invited to take a "Betsy souvenir" - a painting, beauty product or other memento. Her sister had placed sticky notes on the items, explaining each one's significance.

Wearing a Japanese kimono she bought on a bucket-list trip she took after being diagnosed in 2013, she looked out at her last sunset and took the drugs at 6:45 p.m. with her caretaker, her doctor, her massage therapist and her sister by her side. Four hours later, she died.

Friends said it was the final performance for the artist, who once drew pictures on a stage with whipped cream.

"What Betsy did gave her the most beautiful death that any person could ever wish for," Alpert said. "By taking charge, she turned her departure into a work of art."

Her guests agreed to meet again on her birthday in June to scatter her ashes.

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