Teenager dies after being mauled by bear during race in Alaska

 

Teenager dies after being mauled by bear during race in Alaska

Authorities say a black bear killed a 16-year-old runner while he was competing in a race near Anchorage, Alaska, on Sunday.

Anchorage television station KTUU reports that the teenager, whose identity has not been released, was a participant in the juniors division of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb three-mile race between Anchorage and Girdwood.

Race director Brad Precosky said the runner had apparently made it to the halfway-point turnaround for juniors on steep Bird Ridge trail and was on his way down when he texted a family member that he was being chased by a bear.

Officials from a number of agencies responded up the mountain to locate the boy, whose body was found about a mile up the path, at about 1,500 vertical feet.

“This is the worst thing that could happen,” Precosky said.

Alaska State Troopers released a statement Sunday saying the boy’s remains were transported from the scene and his next of kin was notified.

A park ranger shot the 250-pound bear in the face, but it ran away.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Seattle Police Fatally Shoot Pregnant Woman Armed With Knife: Had Tasers, Didn’t Use Them

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

Seattle Police Fatally Shoot Pregnant Woman Armed With Knife

11:52 AM ET
Seattle police on Sunday fatally shot a woman who authorities say was armed with a knife. The 30-year-old woman, identified by relatives as Charleena Lyles, was killed after she confronted officers who were inside her home responding to a burglary call, authorities said.

Lyles’ relatives said she was pregnant and had mental health issues. Police had previously responded to an incident at her home in which she “presented an increased risk to officers.” Because of that history, two officers, instead of one, were dispatched in response to the burglary call on Sunday, authorities said.

Audio released Monday by the Seattle Police Department depicts an encounter that quickly escalated into violence. Two police officers can be heard having a calm exchange with Lyles, who details how someone broke into her home and stole some items, including a video game console. About two minutes into the exchange, at least one of the officers shouts, “Get back! Get back!”

“We need help,” an officer says.

A female voice in the background utters an expletive as the officers repeatedly warn her to back away. Multiple shots are then fired.

Police said both officers opened fire when the woman, whom they have not formally identified, confronted them “armed with a knife.” It’s unclear what prompted her to pick up the weapon.

Lyles’ family said at a Sunday night vigil that the officers did not need to shoot. Lyles was several months pregnant and had been battling “mental health problems” for at least the last year, according to the Seattle Times.

Her sister, Monika Williams, told the newspaper Lyles was petite and that the officers could have found a different way to respond to a threat. “Why couldn’t they have Tased her? They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down,” Williams said, overcome with emotion.

“There’s no reason for her to be shot in front of her babies,” Williams shouted. “The Seattle police shot the wrong one today.”

There were several young children inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, shortly before 10 a.m., police said. None of them was injured.

Seattle police said both officers were equipped with less lethal force options. The incident is under investigation. The two officers involved, whom police have not named, will be placed on paid administrative leave, Seattle police said.

One officer is an 11-year veteran of the police force while the other is newer to the department, Seattle Police Department North Precinct captain Sean O’Donnell told the Times.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the incident a “tragedy for all involved.”

US responds to Russian threat after shoot-down of Syrian jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

US responds to Russian threat after shoot-down of Syrian jet

U.S. pilots operating over Syria won’t hesitate to defend themselves from Russian threats, a Pentagon spokesperson said Monday in the latest escalation between the two superpowers since a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian aircraft on Sunday.

“We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Capt. Jeff Davis told The Washington Examiner.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford doubled down on that rhetoric during a Monday speech at the National Press Club.

“I’m confident that we are still communicating between our operations center and the Russia federation operations center — and I’m also confident that our forces have the capability to take care of themselves,” Dunford said.

Department of Defense spokesperson Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said coalition aircraft would continue conducting “operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for Coalition partner forces on the ground.”

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” Rankine-Galloway said in a statement.

Earlier Monday, Russian officials threatened to treat U.S.-led coalition planes flying in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, would be considered targets.

The news came one day after the first time in history a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian plane – and the first time in nearly 20 years the U.S. has shot down any warplane in air-to-air combat.

The last time a U.S. jet had shot down another country’s aircraft came over Kosovo in 1999 when a U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle shot down a Serbian MiG-29.

On Sunday, it was a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet that shot down a Syrian SU-22 after that jet dropped bombs near U.S. partner forces taking on ISIS.

Russia’s defense ministry also said Monday it was suspending coordination with the U.S. in Syria over so-called “de-confliction zones” after the downing of the Syrian jet.

NAVY SHOOTS DOWN SYRIAN WARPLANE

The United States and Russia, which has been providing air cover for Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2015 in his offensive against ISIS, have a standing agreement that should prevent in-the-air incidents involving U.S. and Russian jets engaged in operations over Syria.

The Russian defense ministry said it viewed the incident as Washington’s “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the de-confliction deal.’

IRAN STRIKES SYRIA OVER TEHRAN TERROR ATTACKS

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in comments to Russian news agencies, compared the downing to “helping the terrorists that the U.S. is fighting against.”

“What is this, if not an act of aggression,” he asked.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed opposition fighters said Assad’s forces have been attacking their positions in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

“Would just tell you that we’ll work diplomatically and militarily in the coming hours to establish deconfliction,” Dunford said.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A 17-Year-Old Muslim Girl Was Murdered While Walking Home From Her Mosque in Virginia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON POST)

A 17-Year-Old Muslim Girl Was Murdered While Walking Home From Her Mosque in Virginia

Updated: 9:16 AM ET | Originally published: 6:05 AM ET

A 17-year-old Muslim girl was assaulted and killed as she made her way home after prayers at a Virginia Mosque.

The Washington Post reports that the body of Nabra Hassanen was identified by relatives after being discovered in pond in Sterling, northern Virginia. Fairfax county police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with her murder. The Post reports that authorities are not investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

A police statement cited by the Guardian said an investigation concluded that Hassanen “was walking outside [the mosque] with a group of friends when they got into a dispute with a man in a car.” The man then “got out of his car and assaulted the victim.” Her friends, unable to find her after the incident, called the police.

An officer had “seen a car driving suspiciously in the area,” and the driver, Martinez Torres, was taken into custody as a suspect, according to the police statement.

“People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,”Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights lawyer who attended the same Sunday evening service as Hassanen, told the Post.

[Washington Post]

Russia ‘Rightfully’ Condemns U.S. For Shooting Down A Syrian Fighter Jet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

A day after a US Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian war plane , Russia says it has stopped using a key communication channel set up to avoid conflict between US and Russian forces in Syria.

Amping up rhetoric against US actions in the area, Russia said Monday it will consider aircraft west of the Euphrates River “air targets” and track them by air and on land.
The Defense Ministry explained the move by saying it will stop abiding by its military cooperation agreement with the US in Syria.
And a top Russian official called the US downing of the Syrian plane an act of aggression that assists terrorists.
A senior US defense official tells CNN the so-called “de-confliction line” remains open with Russia. The official also says the US does not believe Russia is targeting US planes at this time.
This is not the first time that Russia has said the “de-confliction” channel has been suspended. In April, after the US missile strike on a Syrian airbase, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia would suspend the 2015 agreement aimed at minimizing risks of in-flight incidents.

US downing of plane an “act of aggression”

The US military said that it shot down a warplane that had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) fighters. SDF forces are backed by the US-led coalition fighting ISIS.
It’s the first time the US has shot down a Syrian aircraft since it began fighting ISIS in the country in 2014.

“This strike can be regarded as another act of defiance of international law by the United States,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday, according to Russia’s state-run news agency Tass.
“What was it, if not an act of aggression? It was also an act of assistance to those terrorists whom the United States is ostensibly fighting against,” Ryabkov said.

“Considered air targets,” Russia says

The Russian Ministry of Defense called the downing of the plane “a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic” and “military aggression.” It also demanded an investigation by US command.
Further, the ministry’s statement declares that west of the Euphrates River, Russian aircraft will escort any aircraft and unmanned vehicles.
“From now on, in areas where Russian aviation performs combat missions in the skies of Syria, any air-born objects found west of the Euphrates River, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles belonging to the international coalition, tracked by means of Russian land and air anti-aircraft defense, will be considered air targets,” the statement reads.
The US military is prohibited by law from coordinating directly with the Russian military, but given the increased pace and scale of military operations in Syria, the US and Russia have sought ways to ensure that their respective personnel are not targeted by mistake, setting up a series of so-called “de-confliction zones” that delineate areas of operation for the coalition and the Russian forces.

Strike followed attack on SDF-controlled area

The Syrian aircraft was destroyed, the Russian ministry said. The pilot of the Syrian Air Force self-ejected over the area controlled by ISIS, and his fate is unknown, the ministry said.
The strike came a little more than two hours after forces allied with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked the north-central Syria town of Ja’Din, which was controlled by the SDF.
A number of SDF forces were wounded in the attack, the statement from the Combined Joint Task Force said. The attack drove the SDF from Ja’Din, which is west of Raqqa, the coalition statement said.

U.S. aircraft shoots down a Syrian government jet over northern Syria, Pentagon says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

U.S. aircraft shoots down a Syrian government jet over northern Syria, Pentagon says

June 18 at 6:21 PM

A U.S. strike aircraft shot down a Syrian government fighter jet Sunday shortly after the Syrians bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Pentagon said the downing of the aircraft came hours after Syrian loyalist forces attacked U.S.-backed fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the village of Ja’Din, southwest of Raqqa. The rare attack was the first time a U.S. jet has shot down a manned hostile aircraft in more than a decade, and signaled the United States’ sharply intensifying role in Syria’s war.

The incident is the fourth time within a month that the U.S. military has attacked pro-Syrian government forces.

A statement distributed by the Syrian military said that the aircraft’s lone pilot was killed in the attack and that the jet was carrying out a mission against the Islamic State.

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administrating terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region,” the Syrian statement said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Before it downed the Syrian plane, the U.S. military used a deconfliction channel to communicate with Russia, Syria’s main ally, to prevent the situation from escalating, the Pentagon said.

U.S.-led jets stopped the fighting by flying close to the ground and at a low speed in what is called a “show of force,” the Pentagon said.

About two hours later, despite the calls to stand down and the U.S. presence overhead, a Syrian Su-22 jet attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces, dropping an unknown number of munitions on the U.S.-backed force. Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said that the Syrian aircraft arrived with little warning and that U.S. aircraft nearby tried to hail the Syrian jet after it had dropped its bombs. Thomas also said U.S. forces were in the area but were not directly threatened.

After the hailing attempts, a U.S. F/A-18 shot down the Syrian aircraft “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” the Pentagon said.

Thomas rejected the Syrian government’s claims that the aircraft was bombing the Islamic State, adding that Ja’Din is controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces and that the terrorist group had not been in the area for some time.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of predominantly Arab and Kurdish fighters, is a key proxy force for the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. The fighters were instrumental in retaking towns and villages from the Islamic State in recent months and are fighting to retake the extremist group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa.

Also on Sunday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that it had launched a rare cross-border missile attack against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria. The missile strikes, launched from Iran, were in retaliation for twin Islamic State attacks earlier this month in Tehran, the Iranian capital, on the parliament and the tomb of the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution that killed 18 people, according to a statement carried by Iran’s official news agency.

The missile attacks had targeted a militant command center and other facilities in Deir El-Zour, a contested region in eastern Syria, where the United States, Iran, and other powers and proxy forces are fighting for control. The strikes had killed “a large number” of militants and destroyed equipment and weapons, the statement said.

Earlier this month, a U.S. jet downed a pro-Syrian government drone that dropped an apparent dud munition near U.S.-led coalition forces near the southern Syrian town of At Tanf. U.S.-led forces have increased their presence in Tanf to deter pro-Syrian government forces in the area. Iran-backed Shiite militias, along with other pro-Syrian government forces, have steadily advanced around Tanf despite repeated warnings from the U.S. military.

Tanf is a key town on the Iraq-Syrian border that has been home to a U.S. Special Operations training outpost for months.

“The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon’s statement said. “The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

Fahim reported from Istanbul. Louisa Loveluck contributed to this report from Beirut.

This article is developing and will be updated.

Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills As Adult-Use Sales Cleared For Early Start

 

MPP Blog


Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start

Posted: 16 Jun 2017 12:51 PM PDT

Nevada is moving toward well-regulated and accessible medical and recreation marijuana programs – Governor Sandoval signed marijuana-related bills into law and the state has approved early-start recreational sales!

Of the bills, the first, SB344, requires marijuana edibles be in unattractive, childproof packaging; the second, AB422, lowers medical marijuana patient fees; and the third, SB487, imposes a 10% tax on recreational marijuana sales – adding the revenue to the state’s rainy day fund and regulating limited access of the fund until 2019.

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed AB259, a bill that would have expunged criminal records of those convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana or violating any provision of law involving marijuana that is now legal.

The approved bills will join four bills signed into law this session providing a framework for Nevada’s new recreational marijuana industry, while preserving the state’s medical marijuana program.

Additionally, Nevada’s adult-use marijuana industry could begin adult-use sales by July 1. The Department of Taxation approved temporary regulations and applications have already been accepted. However, adult-use sales could be delayed by a legal challenge from alcohol distributors. MPP is monitoring closely and will be working to avoid any delay.

The post Nevada Governor Signs Marijuana Bills as Adult-Use Sales Cleared for Early Start appeared first on MPP Blog.

At his golf courses alone, Trump reported $288 million in income in the past year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

President Trump reported hundreds of millions of dollars in income Friday in financial disclosure forms that shed more light on his vast business holdings.

At his golf courses alone, Trump reported $288 million in income in the past year. That includes $19.8 million from his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has spent some weekends as president.

Trump reported $37.2 million in income in the past year from Mar-a-Lago, the private Florida resort where Trump hosted the president of China and ordered missile strikes against Syria. The club has doubled its membership fee in the past year.

The Mar-a-Lago income figure was $7.4 million higher than on his previous financial disclosure filing, in May 2016.

Trump reported $19.7 million in income through mid-April at his luxury Washington hotel, which has been a center of concerns about conflict of interest because of the possibility that foreign governments can curry favor with the president by booking rooms there. The hotel opened in September.

The president reported up to $7 million in book royalties, including $1 million to $5 million from his book “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America.” He reported nearly $11 million from the Miss Universe pageant and an $84,000 pension from the Screen Actors Guild.

Related: Read the full disclosure report

Trump has said that he sold all his stock holdings in June 2016 to avoid conflicts of interest. He later said he did so because it was improper to own stocks “when I’m making deals for this country that maybe will affect one company positively and one company negatively.”

The disclosure form appeared to confirm that he had sold those stock holdings. It did include income from capital gains and dividends, presumably before the stock sales.

The form, released by the Office of Government Ethics, reflects the president’s investments, other assets, income, retirement accounts and other holdings.

It is different from a federal tax return, which Trump has refused to make public and which would reveal much more about his business and financial dealings including any foreign business partners.

Federal law did not require Trump to file a new financial disclosure until next year, said Ken Gross, a Washington lawyer who has advised business executives and political appointees on finances and ethics.

“It’s particularly important that he made the voluntary filing in view of the fact we don’t have tax returns,” Gross said.

The White House said in a statement that Trump “welcomed the opportunity” to file the form “voluntarily.”

Norman Eisen, a Brookings Institution visiting fellow and former ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, said the document is missing a great deal of valuable information.

“We still don’t know the extent or sources of foreign emoluments, the identity of all his investors, partners and financial actors involved in his businesses, the purchasers, including possibly foreign ones of his condos and other properties,” Eisen said.

Eisen is chairman of an organization involved in two lawsuits against Trump over foreign payments to his businesses, which the plaintiffs say violate a constitutional clause prohibiting the president from accepting foreign gifts, or emoluments.

Trump last released information about his finances in May 2016, as a candidate. It showed Trump was worth at least $1 billion.

Trump refused to sell his business holdings as president, as experts in government ethics urged him to do. Instead, he transferred them into a trust in his name. Any business profits will ultimately accrue to him when he leaves office.

CNNMoney’s Matt Egan, Julia Horowitz, Jeanne Sahadi and Mike Tarson contributed to this report.

US Navy warship collides with cargo ship off coast of Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

US Navy warship collides with cargo ship off coast of Japan

The USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel while operating off the coast of Japan and there have been injuries, according to a statement Friday from the U.S. military.

The Japanese Coast Guard has arrived on the scene, about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Live footage shot from a helicopter Saturday morning by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed heavy damage to the mid-right side of the Navy ship, which appeared to be stationary in the water. People were standing on various parts of the deck.

The collision occured at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time on June 17.

Three compartments aboard the guided-missile destroyer are flooded, according to a Pentagon official.

“There is no danger of the ship sinking,” one official told Fox News.

There are plans to tow the US warship back to Yokosuka, Japan
home to a US Navy base.

The incident will be investigated.

Fitzgerald, a guided-missile destroyer, carries Tomahawk cruise missiles and missiles capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, part of the regions ballistic missile defense program.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Trump By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Would Be American Jobs To China: Creating A China first Policy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Jobs To China

Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion. Avik Roy, Opinion Editor.

GUEST POST WRITTEN BY

Grant Harris

Mr. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was senior director for Africa at the White House from 2011-2015.

It is old news that China has aggressive commercial ambitions in Africa, but fresh numbers reveal the depth of China’s success—and raise the stakes for U.S. dithering.

A recent Ernst & Young report shows that China more than doubled its foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa in 2016, and that the value of these projects outweighs U.S. investments by a factor of 10. Moreover, China’s Commerce Ministry recently announced that China-Africa trade increased by 16.8% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017. As if that was not enough, various African leaders were courted at a summit in Beijing last month, which promised extensive deals in infrastructure and trade under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. All of this serves as an exclamation mark on the following sentence: The United States must step up its game on U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI (C-L) and Li Biao (C-R), Chairman of the Chinese group Haite, attend the launch of a Chinese investment project in Morocco on March 20, 2017, at the royal palace near Tangiers. (Photo credit: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the U.S. has been slow to stake out a serious commercial strategy toward Africa, and U.S. companies by and large continue to overestimate the risks of doing business in the region. In contrast, China has sustained a policy of deliberate engagement and investment on the continent—and is making enviable returns in the process. Across Africa, China’s infrastructure projects generate earnings worth around $50 billion a year, which directly and indirectly translate into numerous jobs for Chinese citizens.

Building on a strong legacy of bipartisanship regarding U.S.-Africa policy, the Obama Administration deepened commercial ties on the continent, including through initiatives like Power Africa (designed to double electricity access in the region) that garnered broad Republican support. Indeed, U.S. FDI in Africa surged by over 70% from 2008 to 2015, on a historic-cost basis. Yet, in absolute terms, much more remains to be done to fully capitalize on Africa’s potential to contribute to U.S. growth.

Worryingly, the Trump Administration is so far heading in exactly the wrong direction. The policy signal to increase U.S. investment in Africa is no more. Whereas President Obama called for stronger U.S.-Africa economic ties—as did key Cabinet-level champions—the Trump Administration has shown no senior-level interest in this agenda. The raft of vacant positions across key federal departments compounds the problem.

Worse, President Trump is actively trying to eviscerate some of the vital tools needed to promote a serious commercial agenda. Though the “budget wars” are ongoing, fortunately Congress has so far rejected President Trump’s shortsighted proposals to eliminate funding for the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Both are important for trade and investment globally, and in Africa in particular. Between 2009 and 2016, OPIC’s commitment of about $7 billion in financing and insurance to secure projects in Africa catalyzed an additional $14 billion in investments in the region. Over that same time period, USTDA more than doubled its Africa portfolio of grants and technical assistance for infrastructure projects, boosting U.S. exports by at least $2.5 billion.

These and other tools should be strengthened—not demolished—to support U.S. businesses in Africa and to successfully compete with China. This includes the U.S. Export-Import bank, which has been outpaced by the China Export-Import Bank (some estimates say by a factor of 37 for loans to Africa) despite having a Congressional mandate to prioritize helping U.S. exporters compete for business in Africa.

The Trump Administration still has the opportunity to advance a serious commercial agenda in Africa, but we are reaching an inflection point, beyond which it will be increasingly difficult to make up for lost ground. As a dynamic continent of over one billion people (who will comprise one quarter of the world’s population and workforce by 2050), Africa’s role in the global economy will certainly increase over time. As the U.S. economy looks for new global growth to fuel domestic jobs, Africa represents a critical commercial frontier. Seizing this opportunity, however, depends on the interest and capacity of American companies to do business in Africa. There is still time to change course but, failing that, middling policy and weakened tools to promote U.S. investment in Africa essentially constitute a “China First” policy.

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