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.
Disney is set to buy a major part of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. Both sides have said it will likely take 12 to 18 months to complete. They will still have to sell the deal to government regulators, who must review the merger to determine its effects on competitors and consumers. That task will likely fall to the Justice Department, which weeks ago took the rare step of suing companies in a different blockbuster deal: AT&T’s bid for Time Warner.
Members of Congress have already stated that they want to hold hearings on Disney’s billion dollar bid to buy 21st Century Fox. Key voices on competition and consumer protection fear the deal will only solidify Disney’s dominance in entertainment — granting it too many major box-office franchises and too much power over regional sports networks and streaming video services. Lawmakers don’t actually have a say in major mergers but they tend to scrutinize them anyways since the Department of Justice investigations happen outside of public view. Hearings-sometimes featuring testimony from major chief executives — can ultimately shape public opinion about the companies’ plans.
If the deal goes through, Disney will own the rights to everything from the Avatar movies to FX’s The Americans. They will also own the film rights to the Marvel comics characters associated with the X-Men and Fantastic Four, which Marvel sold off to Fox long before either was a Disney subsidiary. Federal Communications Commission regulations state that no one company can own more than one broadcast network and since Disney already owns ABC, Fox broadcast network was off the table.
Fox, will maintain the rights to Fox News, Fox Sports 1, the Fox broadcast network and the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles. Fox broadcast network is home to everything from The Simpsons to New Girl to The X-Files. The network launched in 1986 and by the mid-’90s, it was a mainstay in most American homes, competing with ABC, CBS, and NBC.
The massive deal would consolidate two of the biggest players in Hollywood and would reshape the media and entertainment industries. Disney will also get Fox’s 30 percent share of ownership of Hulu in this deal. Disney already owns a 30 percent share so Fox’s share will now make Disney the majority shareholder in Hulu. NBC still owns a 30 percent stake and Warner Bros. owns the remaining 10 percent.
Disney already announced plans for its own streaming business in 2019, which will feature films from Disney and Pixar, content that specifically won’t be available on Netflix. Hulu already has 12 million subscribers so it remains to be seen whether Disney will piggyback their own streaming business with Hulu or just convert Hulu into Disney’s streaming service. Disney’s Marvel and Lucas film franchise will still appear on Netflix as part of a multiyear agreement, but that runs out in a few years and will almost certainly be exclusive to their own streaming service.
New York City police have identified the suspect in the bombing attack in a Midtown Manhattan subway station that took place during the busy Monday morning commute. The accused attacker was identified as 27-year-old Brooklyn resident and Bangladeshi immigrant Akayed Ullah. Ullah was carrying a pipe bomb strapped to his body with Velcro and zip ties whe he detonated it in a tunnel connecting the busy Port Authority and Times Square terminals. Five people were treated for minor injuries at area hospitals, while the suspect was said to be seriously injured.
Investigators have been pouring over surveillance footage of the area. Ullah was first spotted on a security camera as he climbed the subway station stairs to the 18th Avenue F. train platform in Brooklyn at 6:25 a.m. He then switched to the A train at Jay St./MetroTech stop in Brooklyn before exiting the train at the Port Authority Bus Terminal stop in Manhattan.
The blast detonated around 7:20 a.m. in an underground walkway connecting two subway lines beneath the Port Authority Bus Terminal, near Times Square, which accommodates 220,000 passenger trips a day. Surveillance footage shows commuters walking through a tunnel when a burst of smoke erupts into the hallway, quickly filling it. Commuters flinch and take cover, and when the smoke clears, an injured man, Ullah, can be seen lying on the ground in the hallway.
Law enforcement officials say Ullah was inspired to set off a bomb in retaliation for U.S. attacks against ISIS in Syria. He faces five federal terrorism-related charges and three state terrorism-related charges after he allegedly detonated the homemade device made of a battery, wires, metal screws and a Christmas tree lightbulb during the busy morning commute. According to Department of Homeland Security, Ullah is a Bangladeshi immigrant who has been living in the United States since 2011 on an F43 family immigrant visa. He is a legal permanent resident living in Brooklyn and has no criminal record in the United States.
According to a federal complaint, Ullah admitted to investigators that he built and detonated the device and said he was inspired to do so by ISIS. He said that he was prepared to die and told investigators he was motivated in part by pro-ISIS Christmas attack propaganda circulated about a month ago online with an image of Santa Claus over Times Square. Investigators recovered a passport in his name with a handwritten message: “O America, die in your rage.” Investigators say Ullah’s ISIS radicalization began in 2014 and he began researching how to build improvised explosive devices about a year ago. He began collecting the necessary items to make the device two to three weeks ago, and built the bomb in his home a week ago.
According to law enforcement officials, Ullah had two homemade devices with him but they did not elaborate on the second device. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview that the device was an amateur, “effectively low-tech device” that partially detonated. The explosive chemical ignited, but the pipe itself did not explode, lessening its impact. Cuomo added “Fortunately for us, the bomb partially detonated, he did detonate it, but it did not fully have the effect that he was hoping for.”
The death toll in a bomb and gun attack on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai has risen to 305, with 27 children among the dead and another 128 people wounded. The deadly assault began when between 25 to 30 men arrived at the al Rawdah Sufi mosque in Bir al-Abed in five all-terrain vehicles and were armed with automatic machine guns.
The attackers positioned themselves at the main door and all of the mosque’s 12 windows. They also torched seven cars parked outside the mosque, which belonged to worshiper’s inside. After an explosion went off in a building adjacent to the mosque – worshippers began to flee. Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque. The gunmen then went inside the mosque and began shooting people. The attackers used their vehicles to cut off escape routes and opened fire on ambulances as they reached the scene.
Survivors say some of the attackers were masked and those who were not- had heavy beards and long hair. All of the shooters wore camouflaged pants and black T-shirts. They spoke of worshippers jumping out of windows, a stampede in a corridor leading to the washrooms and of children screaming in horror as the shooting began. Everyone laid down on the floor and kept their heads down. Witnesses say the shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate as the attackers shot anyone they weren’t sure was dead. The attackers were shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great as they shot.
The gunmen appear to have escaped from the scene after the massacre before Egyptian security forces could arrive. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but suspicions fall on ISIS and the Levant’s (Isil) affiliate in the Sinai desert, which has waged a bloody insurgency against the Egyptian military and the country’s Christian minority. The Egyptian military kicked off a hunt for the attackers, combing the area in their search. The attack is thought to be the deadliest terror attack on the country’s soil. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared three days of national mourning, vowing to restore security and avenge those killed.
The mosque is known as the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.
Egyptian security forces have been battling ISIS-aligned militants in northern Sinai for years. Suicide bombers attacked two Christian churches as worshipers were gathering on Palm Sunday in April of this year. At least 45 people were killed in the two attacks in Alexandria and and the city of Tanta. Four months before that, a suicide bomber killed 29 people in a chapel next to a Christian cathedral in Cairo.
The White House requested Congress approve $44 billion in disaster relief in what would be the largest single round of disaster aid to address the widespread damage inflicted by hurricanes and wildfires over the last three months. It is the third request since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria slammed the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. The new request would add another $24 billion to the disaster relief this fall and bring the total close to $100 billion. It would also establish a new $12 billion grant program for flood risk mitigation projects. Smaller amounts would go to small business loans and to aid farmers suffering crop losses.
The White House is proposing the increased funding be offset by cuts to federal programs in hopes to deter members from Congress who might not vote for a disaster assistance package that adds to the deficit. Two previous disaster relief bills totaling nearly $51.8 billion that Congress approved earlier this year had no such offsets.
And that’s before most of the money to rebuild Puerto Rico’s devastated housing stock and electric grid is added in. Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has asked the federal government for $94.3 billion in disaster relief funds to help repair critical infrastructure and rebuild housing following Hurricane Maria. He said the sum will help the U.S. territory adequately recover from Hurricane Maria. Over half of Puerto Rico is still without power almost two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. More than 10 percent of the island is still without running water.
The largest chunk of Rosselló’s request, $31 billion, goes to housing assistance with $17.7 billion to rebuild the island’s power grid and $14.9 billion for health care. “This is a critical step forward in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico where we’re not only looking to rebuild as was before but we want to make it much stronger and much more resilient and make Puerto Rico a model for the rest of the Caribbean,” Rosselló said. Ricardo Rosello also urged Congress to adopt a tax overhaul plan that addresses the territory’s specific needs to avoid an exodus of the companies that currently generate 42% of the island’s gross domestic product.
The relief request is over $30 billion more than a $61 billion relief request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of metro Houston and East Texas. The Florida congressional delegation has asked for $27 billion. It is likely that Congress will pare down the amount as they did after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
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.