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A tsunami warning was issued for parts of Alaska after a large earthquake struck the peninsulaByThe Associated PressJuly 29, 2021, 9:37 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articlePERRYVILLE, Alaska — A tsunami warning was issued for parts of Alaska after a large earthquake struck the peninsula.The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was magnitude 8.2 and hit 56 miles (91 kilometers) east southeast of Perryville, Alaska at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday. The quake was about 29 miles (46 kilometers) below the surface of the ocean, according to USGS.The US National Tsunami Warning Center issued warnings for South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula, from Hinchinbrook Entrance, 90 miles (144.84 kilometers) east of Seward, to Unimak Pass, and for the Aleutian Islands, from Unimak Pass, 80 miles (128.75 kilometers) northeast of Unalaska, to Samalga Pass, Alaska, which is 30 miles (48.28 kilometers) southwest of Nikolski.A tsunami warning issued for Hawaii has been canceled.Two other earthquakes with preliminary magnitudes of 6.2 and 5.6 occurred in the same area within a half hour of the first one, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a notice that the potential threat to Guam and American Samoa was still under investigation.“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” PTWC said.Based on the preliminary seismic data, the quake should have been widely felt by almost everyone in the area of the epicenter. It might have caused light to moderate damage.Moderate shaking probably occurred in Perryville, Chignik Lake and Sandpoint.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has projected confidence that he’ll ultimately be exonerated of allegations of sexual harassmentBy MARINA VILLENEUVE Associated PressJuly 26, 2021, 10:42 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo projected confidence Monday that he’ll ultimately be exonerated of allegations of sexual harassment, but he also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired to investigate his behavior.Speaking at his first news conference in nearly two weeks, Cuomo said he had “concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” hired by state Attorney General Letitia James.Attacking the integrity of the investigation is an approach Cuomo has increasingly turned to in recent weeks — to the irritation of some members of his own party who had widely praised the lawyers leading the probe as apolitical and fair.James appointed Joon Kim, the former acting U.S. attorney for Manhattan, and the employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to conduct the probe. The lawyers have spent months now speaking to women who say Cuomo subjected them to inappropriate kisses and touching or inappropriate sexual remarks. One woman, an aide to Cuomo, has said he groped her breasts.“Do a little history. Go to Google,” Cuomo told reporters at a press conference at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. “Google the independent investigators.”He didn’t elaborate, but his comments appeared to be a reference to Kim’s work as a federal prosecutor. In that role, Kim helped direct an anti-corruption investigation that sent one of Cuomo’s top aides and close friends, Joseph Percoco, to prison. Percoco was convicted of accepting more than $300,000 from companies that wanted influence with Cuomo’s administration.Kim also was a senior figure in the U.S. attorney’s office during its investigation of corruption in Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development program. A Cuomo ally, the former head of the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute was convicted.The chair of the New York Assembly’s judiciary committee, Charles Lavine, wrote a letter to Cuomo last week warning his office to stop disparaging the investigators. At the time, Cuomo’s spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, had been implying on social media that James’ investigation was motivated by a desire to run for governor.“It is obvious that attempts to demean the Attorney General serve as well to undermine the investigation and send profoundly negative signals to witnesses,” Lavine wrote.Throughout the spring, as he faced calls for his resignation, Cuomo had taken a different approach, praising James and her team and urging the public to wait for the results of the investigation before judging his conduct.“Let the Attorney General do her job,” he said in March. “She’s very good. She’s very competent. And that will be due process and then we’ll have the facts.”Cuomo, James and Lavine are all Democrats.Cuomo was said to have been scheduled to meet two weekends ago with James’ investigators. Azzopardi has declined to say whether that meeting took place.Cuomo, who has denied allegations he inappropriately touched female aides and other women, said he is “eager” for New Yorkers to get the facts of what happened.“And I think when they hear the actual facts of what happened and how the situation has been handled, I think they’re going to be shocked, shocked,” he said.Separately, another team of lawyers working for the state Assembly is investigating whether there are grounds to impeach Cuomo. James’ report is expected to play a critical role in the Assembly’s impeachment inquiry, though Lavine’s committee has hired its own team of lawyers to gather evidence.
Black community leaders are calling on an Atlanta-area city to preserve a cemetery for African Americans that they say is under threat from a city-approved skate parkBy SUDHIN THANAWALA Associated PressJuly 26, 2021, 10:14 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEWNAN, Ga. — Black community leaders are calling on officials in a city south of Atlanta to preserve a cemetery for African Americans that they say has long been neglected and is under threat from a city skate park.Crews building the adjacent park in Newnan have dumped debris on the burial site, desecrating an important legacy of the city’s Black residents, community leaders say. The site is believed to contain the remains of slaves, and locals worry additional construction around the site may follow.“This is our history. This is our heritage, and we have to preserve it,” Render Godfrey, a Black pastor who lives in Newnan, said Monday. “There are citizens like me that still live here that care about this cemetery because my heritage is laying in one of these graves.”Godfrey and other organizers gathered at the roughly 4-acre (1.6 hectare), wooded burial site. There are no visible grave markers, but Ayisat Idris-Hosch, another organizer, pointed out depressions in the ground where she said people were buried. The site is believed to contain more than 200 graves and date back to at least the early 19th century.Construction equipment working on the adjacent skate park could be heard in the background.The city said in a statement it had held numerous public meetings about the skate park project and remained “committed and open to receiving feedback from residents regarding the city’s redevelopment projects.”Godfrey and Idris-Hosch said Newnan officials had not reached out to leaders in the Black community to get its feedback. Black people make up about a third of the roughly 40,000 residents in Newnan, which lies about 40 miles (64km) southwest of Atlanta.Godfrey and Idris-Hosch marched with about a dozen other people later to the historic Coweta County Courthouse, where they rallied with signs that read, “Don’t Dump on Our Ancestors” and “This Disrespect Would Never Happen in Oak Hill.”The nearby Oak Hill Cemetery contains the graves of Confederate soldiers and is well-manicured and marked.“We cannot allow our legacy to be forgotten, to be dumped on and to be disrespected,” Idris-Hosch, president of Newnan’s African American Alliance, said at the rally.The city has made improvements to a museum next to the African American burial site and planted flowers on the property, spokesperson Ashley Copeland said in an email. She said no one from the city was available for a phone interview.Lillie Smith, another member of the African American Alliance, said the city has invested much more money in other historic sites. She wants it to beautify and clearly designate the Black cemetery.“We’re not here to blame anybody for anything. We’re not looking for apologies,” she said. “We want the cemetery to be a place where people drive by and say, ‘That’s an enslaved African American cemetery.’”
LOS ANGELES — A California sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot this weekend when his SWAT team tried to rescue people held hostage inside a San Joaquin Valley home by a man armed with an AK-47-style rifle and a handgun, authorities said Monday.Four other people were also killed in the shootout, including the gunman — who had been previously arrested multiple times for domestic violence offenses, according to Lt. Joel Swanson, a spokesperson for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.(Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).)Swanson did not know the specifics of the 41-year-old shooter’s previous arrests and he has not yet been named publicly. A restraining order against the gunman — filed by one of the victims and effective June 3 — was supposed to stop him from coming to the home where the killings occurred.Three people inside the home — believed to be the gunman’s sons and their mother — were fatally shot during the standoff Sunday afternoon in Wasco, a small community in the middle of farm fields northwest of Bakersfield.The woman had filed the restraining order, Swanson said, but authorities were still trying to determine what had prompted her to seek legal action against him. The restraining order was also supposed to prevent the gunman from having firearms.The shooting “has the implications of what we see in law enforcement when it comes to domestic violence and how serious it is,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said, “and, quite frankly, how a restraining order is not bulletproof.”Deputies shot and killed the suspect after he began climbing onto the home’s roof with the firearms.Youngblood identified the slain deputy as Phillip Campas and called him “a star in our organization.”Campas, 35, was a five-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and had previously served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. He was an instructor at the academy, as well as a member of the sheriff’s SWAT team and the honor guard.Campas is survived by his spouse and three children, ages 6, 9 and 13, according to the Kern Law Enforcement Association.“We thought he’d been here over 10 years, he’s had that kind of impact,” Youngblood said. “He was here for five.”Deputy Dizander Guerrero was wounded by gunfire and two deputies were struck by shrapnel during the violence.The violence began around 1 p.m., and included a 911 call that had an open line into the home, Youngblood said. The activity heard on the call led deputies to believe at least one person was still alive inside the home.“We felt obligated to go in and try and rescue that victim,” the sheriff said.Two women and two girls were able to escape the home safely, Youngblood said. Their relationship to the shooter and the other victims was not immediately clear, but Swanson said they were believed to be acquaintances of the woman and her sons.The victims inside the home — only described as the gunman’s 17- and 24-year-old sons and their 42-year-old mother — also have not been named publicly.The first deputies to arrive at the home, following multiple 911 calls, were met by one of the women who had escaped. She told them there was a gunman inside the house and two to three people had been shot.Within minutes, Youngblood said, the gunman started firing at the deputies from inside the house. A SWAT team, including Campas and Guerrero, approached the front door and encountered gunfire from a rifle. The deputies fired back at the shooter.Campas and Guerrero were struck and pulled to a safe location so they could be rushed to the hospital. The two deputies who were hit by shrapnel did not leave the standoff, the sheriff said.Over several hours, the suspect fired out of the house at the deputies. Around 6:30 p.m., the gunman climbed onto the roof with the rifle and handgun. Deputies fired at him, fatally striking him.Authorities found the other three victims dead inside the home.More than 100 deputies responded to the scene and 23 — some on the SWAT team and others who were close with Campas — are currently on administrative leave because of the shootings.The SWAT team members were off-duty and not responding to calls on Monday as they grieved.
A relative says the last victim of the Florida building collapse has been identifiedBy KELLI KENNEDY Associated PressJuly 26, 2021, 9:58 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleFORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified, a relative said Monday, more than a month after the middle-of-the-night catastrophe that ultimately claimed 98 lives and became the largest non-hurricane related emergency response in state history.Estelle Hedaya, an outgoing 54-year-old with a love of travel, was the last to be identified, ending what her relatives described as a torturous four-week wait. Her younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the news to The Associated Press. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday.It comes just days after rescuers officially concluded the painstaking and emotionally heavy task of removing layers of dangerous debris and pulling out dozens of bodies.“She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” he said, adding he was drawing strength from God, just as he’d seen his sister do in troubling times.The site of the June 24 collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South has been mostly swept flat, the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists and rabbis are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, seeking to recover any additional remains and personal items.In the end, crews found no evidence that anyone who was found dead had survived the initial collapse, Fire Chief Alan Cominsky has said.Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida’s stifling summer heat and thunderstorms. They went through more than 14,000 tons (13,000 metric tonnes) of broken concrete and rebar before finally declaring the mission complete.“For the past 33 days they have searched the rubble as if they were searching for one of their own,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a news conference Monday.Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the site Friday in a convoy of firetrucks and other vehicles. Officials saluted their bravery, saying they had worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site and also dealing with the heavy emotional burden.The tragedy that befell the tiny town of Surfside prompted an outpouring of love from far and wide where locals donated their homes and apartments to victims, children colored cards for rescuers, piles and piles of food were donated and tens of millions of dollars raised for the victims.The mayor expressed hope that those kindnesses would be “a powerful and lasting reminder of how deeply connected we truly are in the best of times and in the worst of times.”The dead included members of the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community, the sister of Paraguay’s first lady, her family and their nanny, along with an entire family of four that included a local salesman, his wife and their two young daughters, 4 and 11, who were buried in the same coffin.Linda March, a 58 year-old attorney and fellow former New Yorker, was close friends with Hedaya. Oddly the two were the last three victims to be identified, along with 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova of Canada.Leah Sutton, who knew Hedaya since birth and considered herself a second mother to her, said she and March were both “forces to be reckoned with.”“My two beautiful amazing fearless friends saved for last, have to believe there was a reason for them to be last,” she said Monday. “Estelle’s love of God was unbelievable and unwavering.”Meanwhile, it’s unclear what will happen at the collapse site. A judge presiding over several lawsuits filed in the collapse aftermath wants the property sold at market rates, which would bring in an estimated $100 million or more. Some condo owners want to rebuild, and others say a memorial should be erected to remember the dead.——Associated Press writer David Fischer contributed from Miami(asterisk)
A 75-year-old man who suffered a cascade of health problems after a Colorado police officer used a Taser on him without warning has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the officer of also putting a knee on his neckBy COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated PressJuly 26, 2021, 9:31 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDENVER — A 75-year-old Colorado man who suffered a cascade of health problems after a police officer used a Taser on him in his home without warning filed a federal lawsuit Monday, accusing the officer of also putting a knee on his neck and causing an injury to his carotid artery that required surgery.After former Idaho Springs Officer Nicholas Hanning used the Taser on May 30, Michael Clark says he lost consciousness and struck a chair as he fell. His lawsuit asserts that Hanning then put pressure on his neck that deprived him of oxygen, prolonged his loss of consciousness and increased his risk of death.Hanning has been charged with third-degree assault and fired. Body camera footage released last week appears to show Hanning’s knee on Clark’s neck as the handcuffed man laid on the ground after being stunned and dragged out of his apartment. The officer’s knee is not always in view, so it’s not clear how long that lasted. Within about 15 seconds, Hanning’s knee can be seen again but on Clark’s back just below the neck.A lawyer for Hanning did not immediately return a telephone call or an email seeking comment.Police initially said Clark and an officer got into an altercation before the Taser was used but later said Hanning initiated the altercation and that Clark put down a sword-like weapon when asked. Police Chief Nathan Buseck, who asked prosecutors to investigate, declined to comment on pending litigation.Colorado lawmakers passed a sweeping police reform law during nationwide protests over George Floyd’s killing last year by a Minneapolis officer who pressed a knee into his neck. It banned officers from using chokeholds, defined as any pressure that could make breathing difficult or impossible or pressure to the carotid arteries to stop the flow of blood to the brain.Clark’s body began sending blood cells to the injured carotid artery within 24 hours and he had a stroke the next day, according to the lawsuit against Hanning, another officer with him at Clark’s apartment, their supervisor and the city.According to the footage and court documents, Hanning and his partner knocked on the door to Clark’s apartment without announcing they were police. A 30-year-old woman who had just moved in next door had accused Clark of punching her in the face, which Clark later denied. The lawsuit alleges the woman was intoxicated, offered authorities varying accounts of what happened and had no injuries.Clark had yelled through the wall at his new neighbors about making loud noise as he was trying to sleep, according to the lawsuit. He answered the door with a collectible sawfish snout sword, thinking it might be the neighbors coming to confront him, but only realized it was the police once he opened the door, it said.The officers’ body camera footage shows Hanning going into Clark’s apartment and telling him to put down the sword, which Clark does immediately. The lawsuit says Hanning also kicked Clark in the knee and punched him in the head.Clark then refused the officers’ conflicting commands to get on the ground and get out of the apartment, forcefully saying “No,” the video shows. Then, as Clark was talking about his neighbors being noisy, Hanning used his Taser on him, less than a minute after Clark opened his door.Eight weeks after Clark was wheeled out of his apartment building with his arms and ankles tied to a stretcher, he has not been able to return home and is in a nursing home in need of surgery on his heart and to remove a burst appendix, according to the lawsuit. Doctors do not think his heart is strong enough to undergo surgery on his appendix and they do not want to operate on his heart and risk infection caused by the ruptured appendix, it said.
INDIAN FALLS, Calif. — Erratic winds and the potential for dry lightning added to the challenges facing firefighters battling California’s largest wildfire, one of numerous blazes burning Monday across the U.S. West.Over the weekend, the massive Dixie Fire merged with the smaller Fly Fire and tore through the remote Northern California community of Indian Falls. The blaze had already leveled at least 16 houses and other structures, but a new damage estimate wasn’t immediately available because flames were still raging in the mountain area.“Fire behavior has been so unpredictable, it hasn’t been safe for inspectors to go in to work,” said Mitch Matlow, a fire spokesman. “Until things settle down, we won’t know the extent of what’s burned.”Flames spread in remote areas with steep terrain crews can’t easily reach, Matlow said. Gusty winds also hindered containment efforts and the problem could get worse with the predicted arrival later Monday of pyrocumulus clouds — literally meaning “ fire clouds ” — which can bring lightning and the risk of new ignitions.Fire officials said the blaze had charred nearly 309 square miles (800 square kilometers) of timber and brush in Plumas and Butte counties, about two hours northeast of Sacramento. It was 22% contained and more than 10,000 homes were still under threat.Authorities were hopeful that improving weather will help them continue to make progress against the nation’s largest wildfire, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon. It was 53% contained after scorching 640 square miles (1,657 square kilometers) of remote land. On Monday, an additional crew of Oregon National Guardsmen were sent to help out the more than 2,200 people battling the blaze.The lightning-caused fire has burned at least 70 homes, mainly cabins, and some 2,000 residences were under evacuation orders.In Montana, four firefighters were released from a hospital and a fifth was being treated at a burn center Monday after a wildfire overran them last week, authorities said. The five were building a defensive line at the Devil’s Creek Fire in Garfield County when winds shifted suddenly and blew flames back at them.The firefighter still being treated — a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee — “is making good progress and is in good spirits,” spokesperson Kari Cobb said.Crews were trying to keep the 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) fire from reaching Fort Peck Reservoir along the Missouri River in central Montana. It’s one of three major fires in the state.Firefighters have frequently dealt with perilous fire behavior, with flames consuming huge areas of vegetation each day. Such conditions are often from a combination of unusual random, short-term and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change. Global warming has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years.Across the West this summer, firefighters have confronted an unusually large number of unpredictable early season fires, U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said.He recalled a recent small blaze in the Lava Beds area of California that firefighters thought they had doused, only to have the fire flare up again after it burned through a system of tree roots and travelled beneath a containment line.“It’s off the charts in terms of how some of these fires are behaving,” Moore said.Elsewhere in California, the 105-square-mile (272-square-kilometer) Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe continued to burn through timber and chaparral and threatened communities on both sides of the California-Nevada state line. The fire, sparked by lightning July 4 in Alpine County, California, has destroyed at least 23 buildings, including more than a dozen in Nevada. It was 45% contained.In north-central Washington, firefighters battled two blazes in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes and again caused hazardous air quality conditions over the weekend. And in northern Idaho, east of Spokane, Washington, a small fire near the Silverwood Theme Park prompted evacuations Friday evening at the park and in the surrounding area. The theme park was back open with the fire half contained.More than 85 large wildfires were burning across the country, most of them in Western states. They had burned over 2,343 square miles (6,068 square kilometers) of land.