In New York City, eight people were killed and 11 injured when a man intentionally drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck 12 blocks down a bike path along Manhattan’s Hudson River on Halloween. The attacker, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov drove the truck down the bicycle lane, killing multiple people before crashing into a school bus. He then reportedly jumped out of the car, waving a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Police say he yelled “Allahu Akbar” which means “God is Great” in Arabic before being shot in the stomach by police. He survived the shooting and is in custody.
Authorities say they uncovered handwritten notes near the truck that suggest Saipov had declared allegiance to ISIS and that he had planned the attack for weeks. There is not yet any evidence that Saipov had direct connections to or support from terrorist groups. Prosecutors say he waived his Miranda rights and confessed during a hospital interview to having carried out the attack after being inspired by ISIS videos he watched on his cellphone. During the interview, he requested to display the black flag of ISIS in his room at Bellevue Hospital, where he is recovering from the gunshot wound in the abdomen.
Saipov made a court appearance shackled and in a wheelchair where did not ask to be released on bail. A criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors accuses Sayfullo Saipov of carrying out the truck attack that killed 8 and injured 12 others. In the document, he is charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. A second count charges him with violence and destruction of a truck that was used in interstate and foreign commerce. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the charges.
Saipov is originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan and immigrated to the United States in March 2010 and has lived in Florida, Ohio and is believed to have been most recently living in Patterson, New Jersey with his wife and three children. He is a green card holder with a “diversity immigrant visa,” meaning he arrived in the country through a lottery program. Authorities say he worked as a commercial truck driver in the US but had been struggling to find work. They believe that he was radicalized by information he saw on the internet about a year after arriving in the US.
Saipov worked as an Uber driver for more than six months and recorded more than 1,400 trips for the service, an Uber spokesperson said. Saipov was subsequently banned from the app but Uber did not immediately specify why Saipov was banned from the service. The company is now aggressively reviewing Saipov’s Uber history, but had not found any concerning safety reports, so far. Uber says it is cooperating with the FBI as the investigation continues. A media outlet reported that Saipov has received four previous traffic violations.
The eight people killed in the attack were two young Americans, a Belgian mother and five Argentine tourists visiting New York City to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. Police identified the victims as Darren Drake, 32, of New Milford, NJ; Nicholas Cleves, 23, of New York, NY; Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, of Belgium; Hernan Diego Mendoza-Espino, 47, of Argentina; Alejandro Damian Pagrucco, 47, of Argentina; Herman Ferruchi, 47, of Argentina; Diego Enrique Angelini, 47, of Argentina and Ariel Erlis, 48, of Argentina.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, men across the world are continuing to resign, be fired or face intense criticism over a slew of allegations of sexual harassment and assault that have surfaced. Accusations against those in Hollywood, the media industry, universities, restaurants and the highest reaches of government have revealed inappropriate conduct from many notable men. The list of those accused of sexual harassment or misconduct continues to grow each day and is sweeping many industries. Let’s take a look at some of those recently accused.
Producer and director Brett Ratner was accused of sexually harassing six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge. Director James Toback was accused of sexually harassing over 300 women over several decades, including Julianne Moore, Selma Blaire and Rachel McAdams. Chris Savino, 46, an animator and writer best known for creating The Loud House, was fired from Nickelodeon after multiple women lodged complaints against him, the network confirmed in a statement.
Actor Kevin Spacey has been accused of sexual harassment by actor Anthony Rapp, who claims he was 14 when Spacey made advances towards him in 1986. Spacey apologized to Rapp via Twitter. The actor also came out as gay in the statement which drew criticism as an attempt at distracting from disturbing claims against a child. Several other accusers have come forward against Spacey, including a former House of Cards crew member, filmmaker Tony Montana and actor Rob Cavazos. On Oct. 31, Netflix announced it would shut down production of the sixth and final season of Cards “until further notice.” In addition, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said it would no longer honor Spacey with the 2017 Emmy Founders Award.
In the media industry, Michael Oreskes, NPR’s senior vice president for news, has resigned after multiple women accused him of kissing them without their consent during meetings for possible employment. At least a dozen women have accused journalist Mark Halperin of sexually harassment or assault, with at least some of the incidents during his time as political director at ABC News. Lockhart Steele, the editorial director for Vox Media, was fired after engaging in several incidents of sexual misconduct. Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, quit five days after being put on leave after a producer accused him of sexual harassment.
Celebrity chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after about two dozen current and former female employees accused him and other male workers of sexual harassment in what they described as a hostile corporate culture where sexual harassment flourished. The New Republic’s publisher, Hamilton Fish, has been placed on leave, after a slew of allegations of sexual harassment when he was the president of The Nation Institute. The New Republic’s most prominent longtime editors, Leon Wieseltier, was also fired over sexual harassment allegations.
Meanwhile, two top staff members at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have been ousted over sexual harassment allegations. National leader Kendall Fells has resigned and Detroit leader Mark Raleigh has been fired. Three Dartmouth professors, Todd Heatherton, Paul Whalen and William Kelley from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences- have been put on paid leave amid a criminal investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
A combat pilot shortage has prompted the invoking of the National Emergencies Act as an executive order was signed that allows the Air Force to voluntarily recall up to 1,000 retired aviators for active duty. The order could help ease the combat pilot shortage in the force and improve military readiness as the administration steps up its new Afghanistan war strategy to defeat the Taliban and terrorists. The new strategy includes additional U.S. troops going to Afghanistan as well as increased U.S. air support for the Afghan military.
According to the Pentagon, the Air Force is currently short by about 1,500 pilots. Before the order was signed, the Air Force was allowed to rehire up to 25 retired officers under what’s known as the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty program and bring them back to active duty in critical aviation-related staff positions. The executive order now allows the Air Force to temporarily exceed the limit of 25 rehires. Other branches of the U.S. military also need more pilots, including the Navy, and the executive order could be used later to help address those challenges.
A release issued by the Air Force said they are now looking to have retired pilots return to the service for up to 12 months in positions that require qualified pilots. The service is looking for retired fliers of any pilot specialty code — which includes bomber, fighter, helicopter, tanker, and remotely operated aircraft pilots — to fill “critical-rated staff positions” and allow active-duty pilots to stay with units where they are needed to meet mission requirements.
The Air Force is combating the pilot shortage with various incentive programs to keep officers in uniform longer. A program launching later this year includes a 100 percent promotion opportunity and an aviator retention pay bonus worth up to $350,000 over a 10-year term that is already in effect. Pay for officers and enlisted personnel will increase for the first time since 1999. Incentive pay, also called flight pay, will increase for all officers, with those who have over 12 years of service potentially seeing the biggest boost, up to a maximum of $1,000 a month. Incentive pay will also increase for enlisted aircrew members — up to a maximum of $600 for those with over 14 years of service.
An Air Force official indicated they had no current plans to act on the authority granted to them by the president’s order. “The Air Force does not currently intend to recall retired pilots to address the pilot shortage,” “We appreciate the authorities and flexibility delegated to us.”
Hundreds of trials for activists who stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline have seen the courtroom but only two have received jail time so far. A judge in North Dakota has sentenced two water protectors to jail time after they were convicted on misdemeanor charges over an October 2016 protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.
Twenty-seven-year-old Alexander Simon, a school teacher from New Mexico was sentenced to serve 18 days in jail for obstruction of a government function. Mary Redway, a 64 year old retired environmental biologist from Rhode Island was sentenced to six days in jail for disorderly conduct. The sentences were imposed by Judge Thomas Merrick despite the fact that the prosecution had not recommended the two serve jail time.
Journalist Sara Lafleur-Vetter, who was filming for The Guardian at the time of her arrest, was acquitted on misdemeanor charges stemming from her reporting on the protest on October 22. Hundreds of unresolved criminal cases related to the months-long resistance at Standing Rock remain open. Hundreds of cases have been
The Water Protector Legal Collective- an indigenous-led legal team defending activists arrested during the months-long Dakota Access Pipeline controversy is currently fighting over 427 criminal cases in North Dakota, according to the legal team’s website. Another 272 cases have been dismissed due to lack of evidence of any crime being committed. Morton County has put out warrants, dismissed cases, recharged water protectors, and failed to send mail or contact arrestees regarding scheduled court dates-all resulting in new warrants being issued for accused water protectors without their knowledge.
Three water protectors are currently imprisoned while awaiting trial: Red Fawn Fallis, Little Feather and Dion Ortiz. Fallis, the most seriously charged water protector, was arrested at Standing Rock on October 27, 2016 accused of possessing and discharging a firearm as she was being restrained by police near construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Fallis, the organizer of the “Frontline Camp” was arrested during the October 27th raid on the camp when over 300 police officers—some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests advanced to remove all remaining protestors. Four officers left formation and tackled Fallis to the ground, holding her face down. Four additional officers assisted in trying to handcuff her as she was being tased. In the course of the raid, the police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries. Fallis was held in a Rugby, North Dakota jail until her transfer to a halfway house in Fargo in June 2017. Her jury trial was originally slated to begin on July 17, but it has now been postponed until December 5.
In California, the death toll from unprecedented wildfires has risen to at least 42, with over 400 more missing, as firefighters continue to battle 15 major blazes across the state. At least 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate, with about 75,000 people still displaced. Some area residents only had a brief window to escape as the fire quickly spread through neighborhoods with 20 mph winds and 40 mph wind gusts. Search teams are using drones with three-dimensional cameras and search dogs in an effort to locate missing people in neighborhoods that have been reduced entirely to ash and rubble. The death toll has risen daily as search teams gain access to previously unreachable areas.
The state’s insurance commissioner says the unprecedented wildfires have caused over $1 billion in insured losses. The wildfires have scorched more than 200,000 acres—roughly the size of New York City. The fires have destroyed over 8,000 homes and businesses and are now the deadliest in California since record keeping began.
The fires started Oct. 8 and 9 and steadily burning through forests, neighborhoods, farms, wineries and other infrastructure—including cell phone towers used by the state’s emergency services. High winds and dry weather statewide have hampered efforts to contain the multiple blazes-making them the most destructive wildfires in California’s history.
Firefighters have continuously fought to contain the series of fires using air tankers, helicopters and more than 1,000 fire engines. Hundreds of firefighters poured in to California as crews arrived from Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona. Other teams came from Canada and Australia. Crews were using 840 fire engines from across California and another 170 sent from around the country.
The fires have been particularly bad in Sonoma County, where 30 marijuana farms and three marijuana manufacturers have lost everything to the blazes. Cannabis cultivators cannot insure their businesses since federal law prohibits banks and financial institutions from participating in the marijuana industry, even in the eight states where recreational pot is legal, because marijuana is illegal according to federal law. Twenty-seven wineries have reportedly suffered damaged. Many wineries have reported either complete losses or significant damage.
California governor Jerry Brown has remained in state capital Sacramento this week, issuing emergency declarations and securing federal disaster relief. “This is truly one of the greatest tragedies that California has ever faced,” Brown said. “The devastation is just unbelievable. It is a horror that no one could have imagined.”
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Comments Off on Many In Puerto Rico Still Without Water or Electricity
People fill containers with water from a stream near the Puerto Rico Highway 52 in Cayey on Tuesday. People have been without water service in their homes after Hurricane Maria roared through a week ago.
Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, officials are warning the island’s health system is in dire condition as the island still has severely limited electricity and running water. Many residents have contracted bacterial diseases, likely as a result of their exposure to contaminated floodwaters but without electricity and clean water-treatment is scarce. The official death toll from Hurricane Maria has now risen to 45.
Hurricane Maria knocked out the water system for more than half the island’s 3.4 million people, leaving many reusing what little water they can get their hands on. Medical experts say it is one of the factors that make them deeply concerned over a possible spike in infectious diseases in coming weeks. Twenty of the island’s fifty-one sewage treatment plants are still out of service allowing raw sewage to contaminate rivers, streams and reservoirs. Those without running water bathe and wash their clothes in contaminated streams, and some islanders have been drinking water from condemned wells.
Nine out of 10 homes on the island still have no electricity, leaving fans and air conditioning units unavailable to stave off mosquitos carrying illness in the storm’s aftermath. Neither electricity nor running water is expected to be fully restored for months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says 64 of the island’s 68 hospitals are open but only 25 are hooked up to the power grid. The remaining hospitals are running off of generators that aren’t meant to be used for such long periods and rely on erratic diesel supplies.
Some 11,000 U.S. military personnel have come to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and convoys of military vehicles carrying pallets of bottled water and meals are visible in the interior. Mosquito control units deployed in six municipalities, officials said, and five temporary biomedical waste stations have been set up.
FEMA has 16,000 federal and military assets are on the ground in Puerto Rico and about 350,000 Puerto Ricans have registered so far in the FEMA system to receive financial assistance. Roads and highways have been washed out, hampering relief efforts to the interior of the island. Some remote areas have not received any help since the storm. Food and basic supplies remain scarce in the mountainous interior making the threat of waterborne diseases grow.
Authorities hope the arrival of the USNS Comfort will help ease problems at hospitals around the island. The hospital ship has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States and is equipped with three operating rooms, 50 ICU beds along with another 200 other beds, and some 500 medical personnel. Two MH-60 helicopters sit on its landing-pad deck.
The ship will treat patients and also provide services to other hospitals such as refilling tanks for medical-grade oxygen and re-sterilizing hospital gear. The ship’s staff had already treated 64 patients shortly after its arrival and medical personnel expected to see many others with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and lung problems.
Tom Petty has died at the age of 66, after he was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his California home. Longtime manager of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tony Dimitriades released a statement “On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered full cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
The music legend was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital where he was put on life support and his pulse returned. Later the decision was reportedly made to remove him from life support after it was found that he was lacking brain activity. Petty is survived by his wife, Dana; daughters Adria and AnnaKim, from his earlier marriage to Jane Benyo; and a stepson, Dylan.
Petty rose to fame in the 1970s as leader of The Heartbreakers and is best known for hit songs including “I Won’t Back Down,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “American Girl” and “Refugee.” Together, they released 13 albums over their 40 years together and Petty released 3 solo albums as well. He was also a member and co-founder of the late 1980s super-group the Traveling Wilburys which included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, for their contribution to the recording industry. In 2001, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Petty received the Billboard Century Award, their highest honor for creative achievement. Over the span of his music career, he won three Grammys, had 18 nominations and sold more than 33 million albums in the U.S. alone. In interviews he frequently credited his early interest in music with meeting Elvis and watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
On Sept. 25th, Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour. Earlier this year, in an interview Petty told Rolling Stone Magazine it would be the last major tour for the group but that it would continue to play concerts. “I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” he told the outlet. “We’re all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”
Thousands of people have been evacuated on the Indonesian island of Bali and on Ambae island in Vanuatu as two volcanoes threaten to erupt. The entire population of Ambae, around 11,000 people, is being moved from the path of the “increasingly active” Manaro volcano while more than 144,000 people from Bali have been taken to shelters as authorities warn that Mount Agung could erupt at any time. The National Disaster Management Agency has said that 447 temporary shelters have been set up outside the exclusion zone around the volcano. Thousands of evacuees sleep on floors and wait for something to happen.
Seismic activity continues in the volcano and the alert level for an eruption is at the highest on the scale. A statement from Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department said “Ambae volcano is in an ongoing moderate eruption state, people in local villages could experience the danger of flying rocks, volcanic gases and acid rain.”
Experts explain that there are very good indications that an eruption is imminent. Seismic tremors beneath the volcano are increasing in number, intensity, and the reduction in their depth in the last week is a very good indication that magma is moving up to the surface. Another signs of an eminent eruption include gas emissions from the summit as a sign that pressure underground has become to great and bulging on the volcano’s surface.
On September 25, the area experienced 844 volcanic earthquakes and by mid-afternoon on September 26, had experienced another 300-400 earthquakes. Seismologists say the force and frequency are alarming and it has taken much less for similar volcanoes to erupt.
Mount Agung last erupted in 1963 when more than 1,700 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. Lava flowed for 4.7 miles from the crater for over 20 days ash reached the capital, Jakarta, about 620 miles away. The most devastating effect of an eruption is the pyroclastic flows which are waves of superheated gas, ash and rock that can travel hundreds of miles an hour.
In the 1963 eruption, these flows devastated numerous villages, killing an estimated 1,300 people. Cold lahars caused by heavy rainfall after the eruption killed an additional 200. A second eruption months later, led to pyroclastic flows that killed another 200 people. Minor eruptions and flows followed for almost a year. During the 1963 eruption, there was no evacuation plan and people had seconds to minutes to escape the pyroclastic flows which led to a devastating death toll.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said no one should be within 6 miles of the crater and within 7.5 miles to the north, northeast, southeast and south-southwest where lava flows, lahars (a type of mudflow) or rapidly-moving white-hot ash clouds from where an eruption could reach.
Indonesia, the country of thousands of islands is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Mount Agung is 1 of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Playboy founder and icon Hugh Hefner died on Wednesday evening at the age of 91. Hefner passed of natural causes at his home, the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, surrounded by loved ones. Playboy began on Hefner’s kitchen table 64 years ago and spawned an empire that encompasses print and digital publications, merchandise and other portfolio companies. After leaving his job as a copywriter for Esquire magazine, Hefner put up his furniture as collateral for a loan, raising money from various investors and borrowing the rest from family and friends. He published the very first issue of Playboy in December of 1953 which featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover.
For decades, Playboy was the most successful men’s magazine in the world and the company branched into movie, cable and digital production, sold its own line of clothing and jewelry, and opened clubs, resorts and casinos. Playboy Enterprises’ chief executive, Scott Flanders, acknowledged that the internet had overrun the magazine’s province causing the brand to fade over the years with its magazine’s circulation declining to less than a million.
In 2012, Hefner announced that his youngest son, Cooper, would likely succeed him as the public face of Playboy. Mr. Hefner remained editor in chief but in 2016, he handed over creative control of Playboy to his son Cooper Hefner.
Hefner is survived by his wife Crystal, and four grown children from his two previous marriages. Over the years, Hefner became known and highly criticized for moving an ever-changing group of young women into the Playboy Mansion. His reputation was highly criticized and overshadowed the fact that he staunchly advocated freedom of speech in all its aspects, for which he won civil liberties awards. He supported progressive social causes and lost some sponsors by inviting African-American guests to his televised parties at a time when much of the nation still had Jim Crow laws.
In 1966, during the civil rights era, Hefner sent African-American journalist Alex Haley to interview George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party-who has been described as the “American Hitler”. Rockwell agreed to meet with Haley only after gaining assurance from the writer that he was not Jewish though Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout the interview.
Hefner was also a philanthropist who donated $100,000 to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to create a course called “Censorship in Cinema”, and $2 million to endow a chair for the study of American film. Through his charitable foundation, Hefner contributed to many charities and threw multiple fundraiser events for Much Love Animal Rescue. In 1978, he helped organize and raise funds for the restoration of the Hollywood sign and in 2010, Hefner donated the last $900,000 sought by a conservation group for a land purchase needed to stop the development of the famed vista of the Hollywood Sign. Children of the Night founder and president Dr. Lois Lee presented Hefner with the organization’s first-ever Founder’s Hero of the Heart Award in appreciation for his unwavering dedication, commitment and generosity. He also supported legalizing same-sex marriage, and he stated that a fight for gay marriage was a fight for all our rights.
Tension between North Korea and the U.S. along with its allies are at an all-time high right now. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for pressure to be put on North Korea as he warned diplomatic attempts have failed. Prime Minister Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades. China and Russia have repeatedly called for international diplomacy to deal with North Korea’s crisis of its weapons program. Prime Minister Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades.
On September 11, the UN Security Council increased sanctions against North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, imposing a ban on the isolated nation’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil. China said it would ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles, to comply with new sanctions by the United Nations Security Council. China’s support of the sanctions would be insufficient to cripple the North Korean economy and force it to the negotiating table, Chinese experts have said.
South Korea opposes the use of force, fearing war on the peninsula and an attack on Seoul. China also does not want war on its border, hoping that North Korea will remain a Communist buffer against South Korea and its ally, the United States. Tensions rose when President Trump warned North Korea in his speech to the U.N. that the United States would “totally destroy” the country if threatened, adding that while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options could soon run out. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump escalated when the US chief said at the UN: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
Both the president and Defense Secretary James Mattis have said all options are on the table for dealing with the threat from North Korea. While the U.S. could take military action, Trump urged the U.N. to join together in curtailing North Korea’s nuclear efforts. “We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump said, issuing a call to action that hinged on the responsibility of governments to their citizens.
Days after the U.N. speech, the Pentagon said the Air Force had sent B-1B bombers and F-15C fighters over waters north of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, in response to what it called the North Korean government’s “reckless behavior.” It was the farthest north any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century. Dana W. White, the Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat.”
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho gave a General Assembly address in which he called Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea an irreversible mistake. He also said the North’s nuclear program was a deterrent intended to avert an invasion, with the ultimate goal being “balance of power with the U.S.” “We do not have any intention at all to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the countries that do not join in the U.S. military actions against” North Korea, Mr. Ri said.