The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has scheduled a briefing for January 16th, 2018 , to outline how the U.S. public should prepare for the event of a nuclear war. The scheduled briefing comes as tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to rise. A notice on the CDC’s website states “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.”
The session will include information on what public health programs are doing at the federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation, according to the announcement. Additional information will cover how planning for a nuclear detonation is similar to and different from other emergency responses. The website already has information on What to Do During a Radiation Emergency which lists a nuclear power plant accident, a nuclear explosion or a dirty bomb are examples of radiation emergencies.
While officials stress an attack remains unlikely, Hawaii’s emergency management authorities have released guidelines on what to do, while a monthly statewide siren test was resurrected on Dec. 1, 2017. Over the weekend, Hawaii residents were panicked for a short time from an emergency alert notification sent out on Saturday claiming a ballistic missile threat was inbound to Hawaii. The alert turned out to be a false alarm according to state leaders and emergency officials, who blamed it on an employee who “pushed the wrong button.”
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the emergency alert read. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency quickly updated the alert to: “THERE IS NO MISSILE THREAT OR DANGER TO THE STATE OF HAWAII. REPEAT. FALSE ALARM, “ but many residents didn’t get the update for 15 to 30 minutes as many factors such as cell tower and a person’s location came in to play.
Many are hopeful for a thawing of relations Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s Day address that he wanted his country to compete in the Olympics. His statement was seen as an olive branch after a tense year of aggression. Recently, officials from North Korea and South Korea met in the Demilitarized Zone for the first high-level talks in more than two years. During the meeting, North Korea said it would send a delegation of athletes, officials and cheerleaders to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February. The two countries will also reinstate a military hotline that was suspended for nearly two years.
Cartersville, Georgia police are facing criticism after arresting 70 people at a house party in an Atlanta suburb after no one would claim ownership of a stash of marijuana that totaled less than an ounce. Partygoers say police entered the home without permission or a warrant, and arrested everyone inside when they couldn’t determine the owner of the less than an ounce of marijuana they seized.
Cartersville police responded to a “shots fired” call around 2:18 AM on New Year’s Eve at the Morgan Square apartments on Cain Drive. Someone from the apartment complex called 911 to report the noise from the party, drawing police to the site of the party, just blocks from the apartment complex. Partygoers allege that the sounds were fireworks, not gunfire and that while police were checking things out-they smelled marijuana in the front yard. They say police didn’t have a warrant at that point but they said two officers entered the home anyway.
Deja Heard had rented the home where the party was held through Air BnB to celebrate her 21st birthday by having a “Christmas Lingerie Party”. Flyers for the party said “Party Alert. East Atlanta Santa’s 21st Sexy Christmas Lingerie Pajama Party” and advertised a cover for drinks, Jell-O shots, “drunk/strip Twister” and beer pong.
Those arrested ranged in age from 15 to 31 years old and some remained in jail 2 days after the arrest- causing them to lose their jobs. Jail records showed that 63 of the 70 arrestees had all been processed with a single count of marijuana possession under one ounce. Some parents of those arrested have cried foul at the arrests, claiming that if the incident happened in Atlanta, the attendees would’ve walked away with a $75 ticket.
Several of those arrested, now called “the Cartersville 70” on social media, have given interviews to local media outlets saying they fear they will have a criminal record. Austen Davis told a reporter “I was told we were just being detained; one of the officers said we’re putting you in a van to keep y’all warm.” Others say they were verbally abused during their arrest. Along with the attorneys representing the young people arrested, the NAACP is now involved.
The Georgia chapter of the NAACP said most of the drug charges should be dropped because officers didn’t have the right to search the home. “We believe, based on what we know from the police report and independent witnesses and video, that there was a violation of people’s Fourth Amendment rights,” The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of property. The NAACP contends that the house and those attending the party were unlawfully searched and that citations could have been issued, rather than arresting the party-goers.
In a news release, police said they obtained a warrant and found two stolen guns, marijuana individually packaged and several smoking devices throughout most of the first-floor rooms. Individually packaged suspected cocaine and cocaine-related paraphernalia were also located upon initial contact with multiple subjects, the release said. According to Cartersville Police Lt. M.E. Betttikofer, the police investigation is presently ongoing.
A gunman in Denver, Colorado used a rifle to fire at least 100 rounds in an “ambush-style attack” at police who were responding to a disturbance. The suspect, Iraq veteran Matthew Riehl, shot and killed Sheriff Deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, and injured four other officers and two civilians. The gunman used a rifle and fired at least 100 rounds. The gunman, a 37-year-old former soldier and lawyer, was killed in a shootout with SWAT officers.
Douglas County Deputies were called to the apartment in the Copper Canyon Apartment Complex at 3 a.m. on a report of a verbal disturbance between two males. Riehl’s roommate told the four officers that arrived that the suspect was acting bizarre and might be having a mental breakdown. Deputies cleared the scene at 3:40 a.m. and left because no crime had been committed. Officers were called back to the scene at 5:14 a.m. on a domestic disturbance call and all four officers were there by 5:35 a.m. Riehl’s roommate returned to the apartment, gave deputies a key and permission to enter the apartment but left before the gunman opened fire at 5:56 a.m.
After the officers entered the suspect’s apartment, they found that he had barricaded himself inside a bedroom. The officers talked with Riehl through the door and determined it to be a mental health call. In the officers body cam footage Parrish is heard saying “It’s deputy Parrish, DougCo Sheriff’s Office.” “Hey, Matt, it’s Zack. Yes we can help you. I’m with the sheriff’s office. Right here man. We can talk out here. I just want to make sure you’re OK.” Deputies talked to Riehl and tried to help him until 5:35 a.m. Parrish is then heard “He’s going through a manic episode,” “We’re going to take him for an M1.” M1 stands for a mental health hold.
Between 5:35 a.m. and 5:57 a.m. deputies were developing a plan to get medical and mental health aid to Riehl, until he opened fire. All the officers were wearing bulletproof vests but were struck in unprotected parts of their bodies. During a news conference, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said all four officers went down within seconds of each other. Deputy Zackari Parrish was shot several times and the wounded officers tried to pull him out but were unable to because of their injuries. The wounded deputies then crawled away while other officers responded to the shots fired call.
SWAT team members entered the apartment at 7:30 a.m. and exchanged gunfire with the gunman. The gunman was killed and another officer was wounded by the suspect. Riehl’s roommate was not injured and has been cooperating with investigators. The injured deputies are Michael Doyle, 28; Taylor Davis, 30; and Jeff Pelle, 32. Castle Rock police officer Thomas O’Donnell, 41, was also wounded. All were listed in stable condition at area hospitals. Two people in adjacent apartments were also wounded, but their injuries were not life-threatening.
During the press conference, Sheriff Spurlock said Riehl was an Iraq war veteran that at one time worked as a lawyer in Rawlins, Wyoming. He had no criminal history but was well known to law enforcement. Spurlock said Riehl has posted a number of anti-law-enforcement videos on YouTube and other social media. Deputy Parrish, who had been a deputy for about 7 months, was rushed to the Littleton hospital but he had suffered mortal wounds. A motorcade of officers from various police agencies accompanied the fallen officer from the hospital to the coroner’s office. Parrish is survived by a wife and two young daughters.
Twelve people were killed and four critically injured, after a fire broke out in an apartment building in the Bronx borough of New York City. Dozens of other victims were rescued with injuries but were expected to recover. The fast moving fire sent residents running into the freezing temperatures for safety just before 7pm on Thursday.
The fire was started by a three year old boy who had been playing with the burners on the stove in a first floor apartment. The boy’s screams alerted his mother that a fire had erupted. The mother fled the burning apartment with the boy and his 2-year-old sibling, leaving the apartment door open. That fatal mistake allowed the fire to spread quickly through the 5 story building-trapping families on the floors above.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the apartment’s stairway acted “like a chimney” as the fire burst from the apartment, feeding the flames and allowing them to spread throughout the building. The smoke from the fire filled the stairway and halls, quickly cutting off visibility to those trapped inside. The 26-unit apartment building was required to have self-closing doors, which swing shut on their own to keep fires from spreading, city Housing Preservation and Development Department spokesman Matthew Creegan said. Investigators will look at whether the door to the apartment was defective or if an obstruction prevented it from closing, he said.
Killed in the blaze were Maria Batiz, 58; her 8 -month-old grand-daughter Amora Batiz; Gabriel Yaw Sarkookie, 48; Justice Opoku, 54; Solomon Donkor, 49; William Donkor; Hannah Donkor, 17; Shantay Young, 19; Karen Francis, 37; Kylie Francis, 2; Charmela Francis, 7 and Emmanuel Mensah, 28. Mensah, has been hailed a hero for heading back into the fire to save others. Private Mensah, had been home from Army duty for the holiday after finishing basic training in Georgia. His father said he had been awarded a medal for marksmanship and was planning to join the military police. He was scheduled to head to Virginia and from there to battlefields unknown. His sister wept as she said he always put others before himself.
Mensah, lived in Apartment 11, on the 3rd floor with a friend of his father’s who was at home with his wife and four children when the fire broke out. After Mensah got that family to safety, he returned and pulled out four more people. He was last seen heading back into the fire to help others. When he couldn’t be found, family members said they were hoping he was among those injured in the fire. His remains were found in Apartment 15 on the 4th floor.
One family, the Stewarts, lost four family members during the deadly blaze. Karen Stewart-Francis, Kylie Francis, Charmela Francis, and their cousin Shawntay Young were killed. In all, 13 family members — cousins, uncles, aunts – all lived in the building after emigrating from Jamaica between 1980-2004 and deciding to stay close. Another family member, Holt Francis, emerged alive from the deadly mix of smoke and flames, but was put into a medically induced coma with a dire prognosis. Family members say he’s a fighter and the family wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. His wife Karen was killed in the blaze.
Officials say three people are confirmed dead and 70 injured in the derailment of an Amtrak passenger train that plummeted off an overpass in Washington state. Part of the train was left dangling over a busy freeway between Olympia and DuPont at the height of the Monday morning commute. The high-speed passenger train was on a trip from Seattle to Portland when it derailed. Federal investigators say the Amtrak train was traveling at 80 miles per hour when it barreled off the tracks in a 30-mile-per-hour zone. The accident sent some of the train’s cars tumbling onto the highway below.
The train, identified by Amtrak as the high-speed Train 501 from Seattle to Portland, was carrying 77 passengers and seven crew members when it derailed just after 7:30 a.m. local time. All but one of its cars and engines jumped the tracks and at least one fell to the roadway below. Multiple vehicles on the roadway below were struck by train cars that left the train tracks. Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency to aid the response to the crash, which also clogged one of the state’s busiest roadways, used by some 60,000 people every day.
Amtrak Cascades trains began using a faster, more direct route that day, making this its inaugural trip. Previously, it used to snake along the edge of Puget Sound, which was a slower route but began running on tracks known as the Point Defiance Bypass, which are owned by the Sound Transit agency. The Washington State Department of Transportation says the Federal Railroad Administration funded and reviewed recent upgrades to the tracks. All told, the project’s budget was nearly $181 million.
The change in route was met with criticism from some residents in the area after it was announced. Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson even predicted a deadly accident. “Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens” Anderson said.
The National Transportation Safety Board says it’s too early to tell what caused the derailment and that its investigators would spend a week or more scouring the wreckage for clues. Ahead of the crash, the mayor of the city of Lakewood raised safety concerns about the new rail line, predicting earlier this month it could lead to multiple deaths. The train was not utilizing positive train control—a technology mandated by Congress, but rarely operating in Amtrak trains—which could have prevented the crash.
Around 1,500 people including, bereaved family and survivors of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for a memorial service, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and the royal family. The fire killed 71 people when it swept through a poorly built public housing tower and was the worst fire in Britain since World War II. The memorial ceremony lasted just over an hour and at the end of the service, a Grenfell banner was carried out of the cathedral, followed by mourners, who held white roses and photographs of their loved ones.
Of the 293 people believed to be in the 27 story building, 222 escaped; 65 of those survivors were rescued by firefighters. Some residents appear to have moved up the building to escape the flames, only to become trapped in the apartments of friends and neighbours on the upper floors. Twenty one people died on the top floor of the tower block and the fire to raged for 60 hours before finally being contained.
Two days after the disaster, the Prime Minister promised families would be rehoused within three weeks. Six months after the fire, according to a report published by the government, of the 395 households displaced by the fire, 300 were living in hotels, 75 were in apartments, nine were living with friends and family on a temporary basis and only 11 had found new permanent accommodation by the end of September.
Maxine Holdsworth, the official responsible for rehousing the people who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire says Theresa May made and unachievable commitment in the aftermath of the fire. The current promise is that everyone will be rehoused within a year. The number of staff working on rehousing Grenfell tenants has increased since the summer from five to 20. They have been given a budget of $235 million to replace the homes lost in the tower. They are currently in the process of buying 300 new homes, at a rate of two a day, and hope to have done that by Christmas.
A review of building regulations ordered after the Grenfell Tower fire found the system is “not fit for purpose” and open to abuse by those trying to save money. The report into building safety called for an overhaul of the construction industry to put safety above cutting costs. The report called for an end to cost-cutting on materials. It is suspected that an attempt to drive down the price of refurbishing the tower in west London led to cheaper, flammable material being installed on its exterior.
The tower was built in 1974 but was remodeled in 2016. Fire safety experts have pointed to cladding on the building as a possible reason the blaze spread so quickly. New cladding was fitted as part of the refurbishment of the tower in May of last year. Footage has shown the fire travelling up one side of the building, before engulfing the entire block.
Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, 36, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for the deadly shooting of unarmed motorist Walter Scott-who was pulled over for a broken tail-light. U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, when he shot and killed 50-year-old Scott on April 4, 2015. The second-degree murder ruling came with a recommended 19 to 24 year sentence. Slager has 14 days to appeal.
Slager initially claimed self-defense, but witness cellphone video that surfaced shortly after the encounter showed the officer fatally shooting Walter Scott five times in the back as he ran away. He was fired from the force after the shooting. Slager was charged in South Carolina with murder and pleaded not guilty. During the state murder trial, Slager’s attorney said his client shot Walter Scott because he was in fear for his life.
Federal prosecutors sought a life sentence, arguing Slater, had committed second-degree murder and also should be punished for obstructing justice by providing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division with false statements. In 2016, the case ended in a mistrial. The state retrial and federal trial were expected to take place this year, but in May, Michael Slager pleaded guilty to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights in federal court, ending the federal case against him and also resolving the state charges that were pending after the mistrial.
Before the sentence was announced, Scott’s family addressed the court and gave the judge their victim impact statements. Judy Scott broke down in tears as she recalled the memory of her son. Speaking to Slager, Scott also said she forgave the former officer, a sentiment echoed by Walter Scott’s brother, Anthony Scott. Scott’s family has repeatedly expressed forgiveness to Slager, saying they needed to in order to let go of the pain of losing Walter.
Before hearing his sentence in federal court, Michael Slager called each family member out by name and apologized, thanking them for forgiving him. “I wish this never would have happened,” he said. “I wish I could go back to the day and change the events, but I can’t.” For the past 31 months, he said, he had thought about the moment he opened fire. “Walter Scott is no longer with his family, and I’m responsible for that,” Slager said, adding the Scott family would be forever changed without Walter.
The Scott family said at the subsequent press conference that Slager had sought to make amends with them. “He apologized to the family,” said Rodney Scott, one of Walter’s brothers. “He called each and every last one of our names in court today and apologized. So who are we not to forgive?”
He said his family is “thankful for the justice system that worked on our behalf,” but added that “a lot of work” still needs to be done in the justice system. Another one of Walter Scott’s brothers, Anthony Scott, thanked Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, for being “brave” enough to film what he saw that day.
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South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals has more than doubled the prison sentence for Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. The sentence has now been increased from six years to 15 years, with time served. Under that initial sentence, which the court called “shockingly lenient,” Pistorius could have been released on parole in mid-2019. Now, the earliest he’ll be eligible for parole is 2023. Supreme Court judges are generally reluctant to change sentences handed down by trial courts, and it’s rare for them to change one so dramatically.
Pistorius killed Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 by shooting four times through a closed toilet cubicle door with his 9 mm pistol. He claimed he mistook the 29-year-old model and reality TV star for an intruder. Throughout the trial, the prosecution had been looking to prove that the couple had gotten into an argument, and Pistorius intentionally murdered his girlfriend. A few of Pistorius’s neighbors testified to hearing an argument that lasted nearly an hour, followed by a woman screaming before and during the shots being fired.
A police ballistics expert concluded that the first shot fired through the bathroom door hit Steenkamp in the hip and caused her to collapse. The second shot missed. Prosecutors tried to prove that Steenkamp screamed while she was hit by two more shots as she covered her head with her arms in a desperate attempt to protect herself.
Pistorius was initially convicted of manslaughter by trial Judge Thokozile Masipa. That conviction was overturned and replaced with a murder conviction by the Supreme Court in 2015. Masipa then sentenced Pistorius to six years for murder, which prosecutors called much too lenient.
Supreme Court Justice Willie Seriti said a panel of judges unanimously upheld an appeal by prosecutors against Pistorius’ original six-year sentence for shooting Steenkamp. The Supreme Court agreed that the sentencing was too leniant, saying in a full written ruling released later that “the sentence of six years’ imprisonment is shockingly lenient to a point where it has the effect of trivializing this serious offence.” The Supreme Court said Pistorius “displays a lack of remorse, and does not appreciate the gravity of his actions.” As Seriti delivered the verdict he said “Pistorius should have been sentenced to the prescribed minimum of 15 years for murder.”
The new sentence of 13 years and five months took into account the one year and seven months Pistorius served in prison and under house arrest after his manslaughter conviction. The new sentence was backdated to start on the day he began his murder sentence, on July 6 last year. Pistorius must serve at least half of the 13 years and five months — nearly seven years — before he can be considered for parole. He has served a year and five months of his murder sentence.
The three UCLA basketball players who were accused of shoplifting at three high-end stores in China publicly apologized before coach Steve Alford announced they were being suspended indefinitely. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley won’t be allowed to suit up, practice or travel with the team while the university continues to sort out the circumstances of the incident in Hangzhou, China. Alford didn’t specify what the indefinite suspensions mean, saying only that the three players would have to earn their way back onto the team and at some point the trio may be permitted to join team workouts, meetings and practices, but that timeline has yet to be decided.
The players were in China as part of the Pac-12′s global initiative that seeks to popularize the league’s athletic programs and universities overseas. UCLA was scheduled to play Georgia Tech on November 11th. The incident occurred when the team was given 90 minutes of free time on Nov. 6th in Hangzhou. The trio visited several stores, took items from three stores and returned to the hotel. The next day, police arrived at the hotel shared by UCLA and Georgia Tech and interviewed both teams in an attempt to identify the culprits. Police searched the players’ personal belongings and the team bus before identifying Ball, Hill and Riley. The three players were accused of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store.
The players were arrested and taken to a police station for questioning. They were later released on $2,220 bail on Nov. 8th. They had to give up their passports and agree to travel restrictions. Upon their release, they remained in a hotel at UCLA’s insistence. After their teammates beat Georgia Tech, the team moved on for the next game while the three accused players remained in Hangzhou to face their charges. Chinese law is often criticized for being harsh and the nation boasts a 99% conviction rate. Crimes like shoplifting can carry a sentence of 3 to 10 years in prison.
UCLA had been cooperating with the authorities in China following the arrested. White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, had been working with Chinese officials, UCLA coach Steve Alford, and the families of the players to help find a resolution. President Trump was in China last week as part of his 12-day tour through Asia. He said he had a long conversation with Chinese president Xi Jinping about the status of the freshmen players and asked that the matter be resolved quickly.
The Chinese authorities reduced the charges and the three players were told they could return home. They arrived back in Los Angeles after a 12 hour flight home on November 14th. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution.”
Dr. Larry Nassar, the acclaimed osteopathic physician accused of molesting over 100 young athletes and children while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pled guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault. Nassar, the 53-year-old father of three appeared in an Ingham County courtroom on seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving girls who were 15 years old or younger. He remains in custody while awaiting sentencing on those charges.
The charges relate to Nassar’s time as a faculty member at Michigan State University, from 1997 to 2016, when, the university said, he was fired after the allegations surfaced. Three of those charges applied to victims under 13, and three applied to victims 13 to 15 years old. Nassar had been charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level but the other charges were dismissed or reduced as part of a plea agreement. Nassar also agreed to a minimum sentence of 25-40 years in prison.
As part of the plea agreement, the Michigan Attorney General’s office will no longer prosecute cases reported to MSUPD, which is a total of 115 cases. In exchange for Nassar’s admissions of guilt, U.S. attorneys in Michigan will not pursue charges related to “interstate/international travel with intent and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places,” between 2006 and 2012 involving two other children. Prosecutors also agreed to not pursue allegations that Nassar assaulted two children in his family’s swimming pool in the summer of 2015.
Separately, Nassar is also awaiting sentencing on federal charges of receiving child pornography, possessing child pornography and a charge that he hid and destroyed evidence in the case. In that plea deal, Nassar has agreed to plead guilty to three federal charges related to possession of child pornography with each charge carrying a potential sentence of up to 20 years. In exchange, U.S. attorneys will recommend a combined prison sentence of about 22 to 27 years for all crimes. All 125 victims who reported assaults to Michigan State Police will be allowed to give victim impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing, according to the plea deal.
Seven former Team USA gymnasts and dozens of other women have accused Nassar of sexual assault. Nassar served as a volunteer physician for USA Gymnastics, the organization that trains and selects Team USA gymnasts, for nearly 30 years, and treated gymnasts at four Summer Olympics. Nassar also worked full-time in the school of osteopathic medicine at Michigan State, where he treated the Spartans’ gymnasts and other college athletes. The majority of the more than 100 women who have sued Nassar and Michigan State have alleged assault in connection with his employment at the university.
Officials at USA Gymnastics have received heavy criticism over their handling of the situation. Once they were aware of allegations, they investigated on their own for five weeks before reporting him to the FBI.USA Gymnastics ended its relationship with Nassar in July 2015, but did not publicize the separation. In that time, Nassar continued to work at Michigan State, and treat athletes and children at a university clinic, until last August, when a woman filed a criminal complaint with the university police.