China: kidnapper and killer of Chinese scholar, sentenced to life imprisonment



Brendt Christensen, kidnapper and killer of Chinese scholar, sentenced to life imprisonment

Brendt Christensen, kidnapper and killer of Chinese scholar, sentenced to life imprisonment


Zhang Yingying’s parents (first right and center) and brother (second right) appear at the press conference after Brendt Christensen was sentenced on Thursday to life imprisonment without possibility of release.

Brendt Christensen, who kidnapped and killed Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying in 2017, was sentenced on Thursday to life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

Judge James Shadid announced the verdict in a federal court of Peoria in the US state of Illinois, after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether Christensen should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Zhang’s parents didn’t go to the courtroom to hear the verdict, and her mother cried uncontrollably in a press conference after the sentencing. Christensen looked relaxed upon hearing the verdict, and his parents appeared satisfied with their son being spared life.

“After more than two years, we finally see the law brings Zhang’s family justice. The criminal’s cruel deeds are confirmed, which should be punished,” Bian Zhichun, deputy Chinese consul general in Chicago, told reporters.

“I thank all who are making efforts to maintain and promote justice, and I hope all Chinese students who are studying in the United States have a peaceful environment to study and live here,” added Bian.

The 12-member jury last month unanimously ruled that Christensen was guilty of all three charges against him, namely, kidnapping resulting in the death of Zhang in 2017, and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 26-year-old female Chinese scholar went missing on June 9, 2017, after getting into a black Saturn Astra about five blocks away from where she got off a bus on her way to an apartment complex to sign a lease.

Christensen was arrested on June 30, 2017, after being caught on tape pointing out people he described as “ideal victims” during a vigil in Zhang’s honor.

india: 67 Dead In Flood Affected North-East Bihar And Uttar Pradesh



67 dead as IMD sounds red alert in flood affected North-East, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

Close to nine million people in the flood affected regions of North-East, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have been affected with nearly 300,000 living in relief camps.

INDIA Updated: Jul 17, 2019 00:26 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Guwahati/Patna/Lucknow/Chandigarh
North-East,Bihar,Uttar Pradesh
Residents wade through a flooded street following heavy monsoon rains, in Guwahati, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. The water level of River Brahmaputra has risen above the danger level causing flood like situation in many areas.(Photo: PTI)

The death toll in floods in North-East, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh rose to 67 on Tuesday from 45 on Monday, even as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted more rains in these regions.

Close to nine million people in the flood affected regions have been affected with nearly 300,000 living in relief camps.

Union water resources minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who met chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday, announced the release of Rs 251 crore as first installment to the state disaster response fund, the Assam’s disaster management authority said.

“The floods in Assam are a concern for the entire country. I would like to assure that the Centre will extend all help to the state to tackle the situation effectively,” Shekhawat said.

Till Tuesday, 22 people have died in floods, including two in landslides in Guwahati, and five deaths were reported from Barpeta, Dhubri, Morigaon and Nagaon. There are 5.25 million people affected in 30 of the state’s 33 districts. Around with 147,000 displaced persons are taking shelter in 695 relief camps, the state disaster management authority said.

The ongoing floods have taken a toll on the animals residing within the Kaziranga National Park, the biggest habitat of one horned rhinos in the world. Four rhinos and an elephant died in the past 24 hours due to floods, according to divisional forest officer RB Saikia, taking the total animal death toll in the park till Tuesday to 30.

In Bihar where 12 of the state’s 38 districts are facing a deluge, chief minister Nitish Kumar told the state assembly that Rs 6000 will be given as relief to six lakh families affected by the floods, through direct benefit transfer Friday onwards.

“Bihar is hit by disasters, like floods or drought every year, but we don’t get adequate funds. The state only received Rs 500 crore (from the Centre) in the 2017 floods,” he said.

With recovery of nine more bodies on Tuesday, the death toll has reached 33 in Bihar.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, six deaths were reported due to floods in rivers originating in Nepal. Hundreds of villages in Balrampur, Shravastri and Lakhimpur districts remained under water as Rapti and Sharda rivers continued to flow over the danger mark, the state’s irrigation department said.

Punjab’s Bathinda received 178 mm rainfall in eight hours on Tuesday morning — the city receives 375 mm in a year.

The IMD also issued a red alert (over 240 mm in 24 hours) for Kerala’s six districts, including Idukki, Wayanad, Kannur, Ernakulam and Thrissur, from July 18 onwards. These were some of the most affected districts in the 2018 floods, which were the worst that the state had experienced in a century.

Meanwhile, in Nepal, at least 78 people have died and 40 injured, with around 17,500 displaced due to floods and landslides, authorities said Tuesday.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 16, 2019 23:55 IST

India: 10 killed after century-old Mumbai building collapses



10 killed after century-old Mumbai building collapses

The extension of Kesarbai building, which housed 16 families and four shops on the ground floor, caved-in at around 11.40am, causing tremors in several dilapidated buildings in the low-income neighbourhood in south Mumbai, which also houses some of the city’s most upmarket areas.

INDIA Updated: Jul 17, 2019 00:14 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
mumbai,mumbai building collapse,dongri
Rescue personnel were seen clearing rubble and cutting through iron girders by hand, and taking the help of local residents, who had formed a human chain, to pass the debris.(Photo: Kunal Patil/ Hindustan Times)

Ten people died, nine were injured and 30 were feared trapped after an illegal extension of a 100-year-old four-storey building collapsed in south Mumbai Dongri area on Tuesday morning, spotlighting the decaying infrastructure of India’s crumbling financial capital that is corroded by poor oversight and monsoon showers.

The extension of Kesarbai building, which housed 16 families and four shops on the ground floor, caved-in at around 11.40am, causing tremors in several dilapidated buildings in the low-income neighbourhood in south Mumbai, which also houses some of the city’s most upmarket areas. Chief fire officer P Rahangdale said many adjoining buildings were rendered unstable, and had to be evacuated. Some part of Kesarbai building was left standing after the collapse.

Cramped and crowded lanes leading up to the site made it challenging for rescue equipment to reach the building, added Rahangdale. Rescue personnel were seen clearing rubble and cutting through iron girders by hand, and taking the help of local residents, who had formed a human chain, to pass the debris.

“My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted earlier in the day. “I hope the injured recover soon.” Union home minister Amit Shah called the collapse “ very tragic”. “Rescue operations are in full swing,” he added. There was no clarity on the number of people stuck under the rubble, which was yet to be fully cleared at the time of going to press even as rescue operations were in their tenth hour. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said the building was roughly 100 years old and illegal, promising that an inquiry will be ordered.

As night fell on the city, hundreds continued rescuing people from under the rubble of the building, located in a bustling lane off Tandel Street. Television channels showed dramatic visuals of a child, wrapped in a cloth, being carried out of the debris by rescue workers. The child is alive, officials said.

Building collapses are common in Mumbai during the June-September monsoon season, when heavy showers lash India’s largest city and weaken the foundation of already decrepit structures. Earlier this month, multiple wall collapses killed 27 people. This was the deadliest collapse of a building since September 2017, when the 117-year-old Husaini building crumbled in Bhendi Bazaar, killing 33 people.

Moreover, ageing infrastructure, poor planning and a maze of conflicting by-laws, building codes and jurisdiction mean that no single authority is responsible for the upkeep of structures, leading to a cycle of accusation after each tragedy.

This was on display on Tuesday. Within minutes of the collapse, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) clarified the building was owned by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). It also confirmed that in July 2017, the BMC brought to the Mumbai’s building repair and reconstruction board’s (MBRR) — a wing of MHADA — notice that the building was dilapidated and unfit for habitation. A senior BMC officer told HT, “There is no doubt that the collapsed Kesarbai building is owned by MHADA.”

Hours later, Vinod Ghosalkar, chief of the MHADA repair board, denied that the agency owned the building. “So the responsibility of evacuating it or taking action against any persons for its collapse does not rest with MHADA. This is an illegal building, even though it is in the middle of MHADA colony in Dongri,” he said. State housing minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who visited the spot in the afternoon, said, “The building is illegal, and it is privately owned. We are probing about who will be held responsible for the collapse.”

Residents of neighbouring buildings recalled hearing a loud boom. Abdul Gaffar Shaikh, 85, who lives in nearby Kasai building that was among those vacated, said, “Our building experienced tremendous vibrations when the other building collapsed. Everything shook.” BMC opened a shelter centre at nearby Imamwada School for residents of nearby evacuated buildings to take shelter.

Congress leader Milind Deora said it was time for the people of Mumbai to seek an explanation from the government. “This is unfortunately something that happens in Mumbai every year during monsoon. Walls collapse, there are potholes on roads where people die and young boys fall into manholes,” he added.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 16, 2019 23:51 IST

6 Year Old Girl Dies From Golf Ball Hit By Her Dad In Tragic Accident



6-year-old girl who died after ‘tragic’ golf ball accident was ‘full of joy and compassion’

A tragic golfing accident killed 6-year-old Aria Hill at a Utah golf course. Hill was accidentally struck in the head by her father’s ball. Buzz60


Community members are grieving after a 6-year-old girl died following a tragic accident at a Utah golf course.

Kellen Hill and his daughter Aria were golfing at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem, Utah, Monday morning. The ball hit by Hill struck Aria in the back of her head while she was waiting in a golf cart 20 yards away, KUTV-TV reported..

Aria was flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City in critical condition, said Lt. Trent Colledge of the Orem Police Department. She died of her injuries later that evening.

“The Orem Police Department is deeply saddened by the tragic death of this young girl,” Colledge told USA TODAY. “Our sincere condolences go out to the family and we cannot even begin to comprehend the grief the family is experiencing at this time.”

Colledge added that police are not considering criminal charges and are treating the  incident as a tragic accident.

“This is a horrible accident and the Orem Police Department’s investigation is being treated as such,” he told USA TODAY.

“Aria was full of joy and compassion,” said David Smith, Aria’s uncle, in a statement to USA TODAY. “She loved her parents and was a proud ‘sissy’ to her younger twin brothers. She loved fully, and will be missed by everyone who knew her.”

“This tragic accident has brought unimaginable difficulty, yet we’re grateful for the overwhelming support our family has received.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to defray the costs of her funeral.

Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib



Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib

Saturday, 13 July, 2019 – 11:30
Members of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) and civilians gather following a reported regime airstrike on the village of Kafriya, in Syria’s Idlib province, on July 13, 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian rescuers and activists said Saturday that 11 civilians, including two families of four, have been killed in regime and Russian airstrikes inside Syria’s last opposition stronghold in Idlib province.

First responders known as White Helmets said airstrikes in Kafriya village Saturday killed a mother, her baby and another man, leaving 11 injured, including one of their volunteers.

The rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said other airstrikes in the town of Khan Sheikhoun hit a farm, killing two families— four children and four parents.

The Observatory said Russian aircraft were suspected of launching the strike.

At least 13 civilians were killed Friday in Syrian regime air strikes in the country’s northwest, including three children, the war monitor said.

Another 45 civilians were wounded in the strikes across Idlib, the Observatory added.

Eastern Kentucky University Researchers Studying Copperhead Snakes In Their Area



EKU researchers studying copperheads in the Gorge


RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) — They’re a common snake found throughout the state. The copperhead snake is one that shows up quite often, especially across eastern Kentucky. Their habitat is best suited in these areas.

“The forest, the plateau, and mountains provide underground retreats. The forest has lots of organisms for them to eat and cover, and leaf litter that they blend in with,” said Dr. Stephen Richter, an EKU biology professor.

Richter is heading a research study in the Gorge area that’s aimed at learning more about copperhead snakes, their habitat, and how to minimize human-snake interaction. The group captures these snakes, insert a microchip, track their movements and collect data. Then, the snakes are recaptured.

“We learn about population size, body, growth-rates, sex ratios, just basic biology,” said Richter.

It’s this information that researchers can make areas of high human activity less attractive for copperheads. Richter says we just have to be more alert with our surroundings.

“Watch where you’re walking. If there is a downed tree over the trail which happens quite a bit, do not step directly over it, step on it. Look on the other side before you do. Just not putting your hands and feet where you cannot see and stepping too closely to an object where they might be hiding for cover,” said Richter.

Richter sais this is a joint research effort that involves EKU, the U.S. Forest Service, The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Louisville Zoo.

Deadly Regime Raids Kill 14 Civilians in Northwest Syria



Monitor: Deadly Regime Raids Kill 14 Civilians in Northwest Syria

Saturday, 6 July, 2019 – 09:00
A government air raid on Deraa, southern Syria. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian regime bombardment has killed 14 civilians including seven children in northwestern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday.

Warplanes carried out air strikes, late Friday, on Mahambel village in Idlib province, killing 13 civilians including the seven children.

Also, another woman was killed early Saturday in regime rocket fire on the outskirts of the town of Khan Sheikhun in the south of the province, the war monitor said.

Idlib is the last major bastion of opposition to the Russia-backed Damascus government after eight years of civil war, AFP reported.

A September deal between Moscow and Ankara was supposed to shield the city from major regime attacks, however, Damascus and its Russian ally have ramped up their deadly bombardment of the region since late April.

More than 520 civilians have been killed since then, the Observatory noted.

According to AFP, Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Deadly critters — 5 animals you should avoid



Deadly critters — 5 animals you should avoid

As the Latin proverb goes, Homo homini lupus – “man is wolf to man,” which is rather unfortunate as wolves are also wolves to men. Sitting in the kind embrace of modern civilization, it’s easy to forget a lineage fraught with fears of bloodthirsty creatures hidden in the dark.

Tool usage and organized social behaviors landed humanity a spot as the apex predator of the animal kingdom across the globe early on in our history, but there are still many creatures that prove a substantial threat under the wrong circumstances. While humans killing humans is a significant source of death around the world, it “only” accounted for about 560,000 deaths in 2016 — a number that pales in comparison to a single entry on the list of deadly animals.

Polar bears

Credit: ryasick / iStock

Most animals attack humans intruding upon their territory as an instinctual act of self-preservation. Though many of these attacks prove deadly, it’s rare that other predators seek out human beings as prey. Polar bears, on the other hand, are one of the few animal species that will attack human beings for food, if desperate. Lacking an instinctual fear of humans due to a lack of natural exposure, polar bears see humans as an easily overpowered small mammal, and attacks often prove fatal.


Credit: TimothyBall / iStock

Emus do not prey on humans but are characterized by a curiosity towards people moving in their surroundings as they may follow us simply to observe. Emus have earned a spot on the list as tenacious opponents of human conquest. In the winter of 1932, Australian settlers found acquired lands encroached upon by emu migrations numbering in the tens of thousands. The large presence of emus made agriculture nearly impossible and sparked what was known as “The Great Emu War.” Machine guns, bounties, and organized parties proved no match for the flightless birds, who regularly evaded attacks and left settlers with an awkward truce and miles of barrier fencing.

Funnel-web spiders

Credit: ShaftInAction / iStock

The list wouldn’t be complete without due respect to the many deadly creatures of the Outback or one of the most common human fears. Australian funnel-web spiders are the most toxic species of spiders. These arachnids are attracted to water and are often found near swimming pools. Most attacks result from the aggression of wandering males, and the bite of an Australian funnel-web spider can kill a child in hours or an adult in one day. Funnel-web spiders were a significant cause of death during early human colonization of their habitats, though anti-venom treatments are fast and effective. Since the widespread availability of funnel-web anti-venom, no deaths have been reported.


Credit: nattanan726 / iStock

“River horses” are aquatic herbivores that live in herds. The dense mammals are so heavy that they can walk underwater. Hippopotamus calves are frequent targets of crocodiles, and adults have been observed engaging in anti-predator behaviors. In combination with the fierce territoriality of bulls, these behaviors make the creatures a substantial threat to wandering and fishing humans, with death tolls ranging from 500 to 3,000 per year. Hippopotamuses are most dangerous when they perceive threats to their young or the females are in heat.


Credit: nechaev-kon / iStock

The deadliest creature to human beings doesn’t bear fangs, claws, or a machine gun but, rather, fragile wings and a thread-like proboscis. A 2016 report from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation showed that mosquitoes are responsible for the largest number of human deaths related to animals. Carrying diseases as diverse as dengue fever and Zika virus, the most lethal disease that mosquitoes spread in the developing world is malaria with approximately 212 million cases in 2015 and 429,000 deaths.

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death



Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death

San Diego (CNN)Decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of premeditated murder in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq.

While Gallagher was serving Mosul in 2017, Navy prosecutors said he killed a young ISIS fighter who was being treated by US medics, posed for photos next to his corpse and then pressured other SEALs not to report him. Fellow SEALs testified that he also shot at noncombatants.
Gallagher was found not guilty of all but one charge, posing for a photo with a human casualty. He faces a maximum sentence of four months, although he has already served 201 days.
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, left, and his wife, Andrea Gallagher arrive at military court Monday.

Sentencing begins Tuesday afternoon.
Gallagher’s defense portrayed him as an “old-school, hard-charging warrior” who was targeted by younger “millennial” SEALs who harbored “personal animosity” toward him.
The case took an unexpected turn when a key prosecution witness testified that he caused the prisoner’s death, not Gallagher.
Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a SEAL medic, said that he saw Gallagher pull out his knife and stab the prisoner under his collar bone at least once.
On cross-examination, Scott told the defense that he never saw any blood after the stabbing. That’s when Scott claimed he caused the prisoner’s death by holding his thumb over his trachea tube until he suffocated.
Scott described the killing as an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy — a prisoner of the Iraqi forces — would be tortured by the Iraqis.
Scott did not admit to killing the prisoner in previous interviews with investigators and prosecutors. He testified that he was only doing so now because he was granted immunity, which means he cannot be prosecuted for his testimony.
An angry prosecutor called him a liar. He might now face a perjury charge.
In total, the chief special warfare operator was accused of seven criminal counts: premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, posing for a photo with a casualty, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice, and the attempted murders of two noncombatants, a man in June 2017 and a young girl the next month.

Israel: Cop Who Shot And Killed 19 yr Old Ethiopian-Israeli Teen (Unintentionally) To Be Charged



Cop who shot Ethiopian-Israeli said slated to be charged with negligent homicide

Off-duty officer will likely avoid more serious manslaughter charge as he didn’t intend to kill Solomon Takeh, but bullet bounced off ground and hit 19-year-old

Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah who was shot dead by an off-duty policeman in Kiryat Haim on June 30, 2019. (Courtesy)

Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah who was shot dead by an off-duty policeman in Kiryat Haim on June 30, 2019. (Courtesy)

The Times of Israel live blogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.


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