(ourmidland.com) – Mud, rain, debris, hamper search for Kentucky flood victims

FLAT GAP, Ky. (AP) — As the Johnson family dug through the wreckage where their trailers once stood, they found a mud-soaked box of family photos, cherished heirlooms and a tiny porcelain statue of Jesus, but not what they were looking for.

Scott Johnson, 34, was swept away two days ago, trying to save his grandmother as a flash flood Monday ravaged this rural eastern Kentucky community.

He is still missing. Three others are confirmed dead, and the fate of four more remains uncertain. Families reported them missing, but they could be stranded in their homes, without power or phone service.

Rescue teams are slogging through knee-deep mud, door-to-door, across the rugged Appalachian terrain, painting orange “X”s on each structure they search. Desperate families roam the banks of the swollen creek, looking for their lost loved ones.

Kevin Johnson last saw his son Scott wading through rushing floodwater with his 74-year-old grandmother on his back.

Scott Johnson had already guided his father, uncle and sister from the raging flood that inundated their cluster of trailers. He turned back one last time to save his grandmother, called Nana, and a 13-year-old family friend.

“We told him, ‘You can’t make it,'” his father recalled. “He said, ‘I’m going to get her out of that trailer.”

Standing in a cemetery on a hill overlooking the creek that had swallowed his son, Kevin Johnson was so overcome with grief he sometimes struggled to speak. He had watched his son push the boy to safety in the branches of a catalpa tree and hoist his Nana onto his back, only to be swept away.

“Scott wouldn’t turn her loose, that’s why he died,” said Veronica Marcum, Scott Johnson’s sister.

The grandmother, Willa Mae Pennington, was found dead Tuesday among debris from the family’s shattered mobile homes, Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby confirmed.

Frisby identified the second known casualty as Herman Eddie May Sr., 65. May was driving alone in a sport-utility vehicle when floodwaters from Patterson Creek started to sweep him away. He drowned after he got out and was swallowed by the rising water, Frisby said.

The body of Richard Blair, 22, of the Flat Gap area, was found Wednesday afternoon, on a creek bank in a pile of tree debris and downstream from the rubble of a broken mobile home, the coroner said.

Rescue crews battled swarming mosquitoes, oppressive humidity and mud so thick it sucked off shoes. Utility crews lined the roads, trying to restore power to thousands still without it. A convoy of National Guard vehicles and heavy equipment rolled through the hardest-hit areas.

Randall Mulkey, chief of Allen Volunteer Fire Department in nearby Floyd County, came to help with the search. He said he’s seen homes splintered into rubble, others split in half and cars strewn in places he never could have imagined. Tromping through the mud is exhausting he said, and it’s devastating to see people’s belongings — clothes, toys, photographs — scattered everywhere, some piled 10 feet high.

As the water receded, a crew found a car upside down and partially submerged in the creek. They called for the jaws of life to tear it open and see if anyone had perished inside. But the car’s owner arrived just in time, and told the crew it had floated there, unoccupied, from her home a mile away.

“Thanks for not being in it,” said Flatwoods Police Officer Justin Stevens. “We really didn’t want to see that.”

Seven cadaver dogs are aiding in the search, which stretches more than 8 miles from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville — an area with 500 homes and 1,200 residents about 120 miles east of Lexington, police said at a news conference. Authorities estimate more than 150 homes were destroyed.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency, giving local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in recovery efforts. Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen toured the destruction Wednesday and called it “gut wrenching.”

“I think all of us who are here and who have seen this in person recognize this as a truly devastating natural disaster,” Luallen said. “People have lost everything.”

Families returned to the ruins of their homes to try to save what little they could. Church groups and others passed out sandwiches and water, neighbors banded together to clear heavy debris and police said they hoped there still might be some happy endings.

Johnson County Deputy Sheriff Terry Tussey spotted a Chihuahua, alone and trembling, pacing a pile of debris on the other side of a creek.

“She was dancing like she wanted to come across the creek but couldn’t do it,” he recalled. He trudged through the muck to find a safe crossing. Then he coaxed the little dog to him and cradled it back to his car. He drove around the afternoon with the tan dog in his lap, looking for its owner.

A shelter was opened at the Paintsville recreation center, though many displaced residents turned to families and friends. Many who lost everything said they felt lucky to be alive.

Robin Cisco sifted through the remnants of her daughter’s trailer, digging her grandson’s clothes and toys from the mud and rubble. The family barely got away: Her daughter ran from the trailer with her 18-month-old son as the storm hit and water started rising.

“They got out and they’re OK, that’s all we were worried about,” Cisco said. “All this other stuff can be replaced.”

____

Associated Press writers Claire Galofaro and Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.
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(TribLIVE) – Man hospitalized in Greensburg after fall from third-story window 

(Trib Live) –  A man was hospitalized Friday night after falling out of a third-story window in Greensburg.Police Capt. Chad Zucco said officers responded to an apartment on Alwine Avenue at 10 p.m. for a reported domestic dispute. James Hanna, 24, was under the influence of “magic mushrooms” and was destroying items in the apartment, his girlfriend told police.Officers went inside but initially couldn’t find Hanna, Zucco said.“They heard somebody running through an upstairs attic,” the captain said.Hanna then ran through a closed third-story attic window and crashed to the ground next to a police car, Zucco said. Hanna was unresponsive and was taken to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. Zucco didn’t know whether Hanna remains at the hospital or was transferred to another facility. A condition report could not be obtained.
Source: Man hospitalized in Greensburg after fall from third-story window | TribLIVE

(chron.com) – Obama unveils high-speed Internet help for low-income homes

resident Barack Obama speaks in the Choctaw Nation on economic opportunities for underprivileged communities across the nation, on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Durant, Okla.

DURANT, Okla. (AP) — Calling the Internet a 21st century necessity, President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a program to bring faster Internet connections to more low-income households, particularly to help students living in public and assisted housing stay ahead in school.

Under ConnectHome, the public, private and nonprofit sectors have pledged to work together to provide high-speed connections and digital devices to more families at lower cost.

More than 90 percent of households headed by a college graduate have Internet access, Obama said. But fewer than half of low-income households have similar access.

In this day and age, Obama said the “digital divide” puts these individuals at a disadvantage by limiting their educational and economic opportunities because the Internet is increasingly needed to find a job, finish homework or keep in touch with family and friends.

“In this digital age, when you can apply for a job, take a course, pay your bills … with a tap of your phone, the Internet is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Obama said in Durant, Oklahoma, on the first day of a two-day visit to the state.

“You cannot connect with today’s economy without having access to the Internet,” he said.

ConnectHome is similar to ConnectEd, a federal program that Obama said is on track to wire 99 percent of K-12 classrooms and libraries with high-speed Internet by the end of 2017.

ConnectHome will begin in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which is headquartered in Durant. With about 200,000 members spread across much of southeastern Oklahoma, the Choctaw Nation is the nation’s third-largest Native American tribe.

The Choctaw Nation was also among the administration’s first “Promise Zones,” a designation that makes it eligible for tax incentives and grants to help fight poverty.

The only federal money expected to be spent on ConnectHome is a $50,000 Agriculture Department grant to the Choctaw Nation, officials said.

The 27 cities the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development selected for ConnectHome are: Albany, Georgia; Atlanta; Baltimore; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Boston; Camden, New Jersey; Cleveland; Denver; Durham, North Carolina; Fresno, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles; Macon, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; Meriden, Connecticut; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Rockford, Illinois; San Antonio; Seattle; Springfield, Massachusetts; Tampa, Florida; and the District of Columbia.

Obama was spending the night in Oklahoma and on Thursday continuing a weeklong focus on making the criminal justice system fairer.

He planned to meet Thursday with law enforcement officials and inmates during a historic tour of the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution, a medium-security facility west of Oklahoma City that holds about 1,300 male offenders. “I will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison,” Obama said in a speech Tuesday to the NAACP meeting in Philadelphia.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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(Pittsburgh City Paper) – Pittsburgh City Guide 2015

Photo by Heather Mull Photo Assistants: Mark Perrott and Will Owen / Models: Lea DiMarchi and Ebony Cunningham / Location: Row House Cinema, Lawrenceville
Photo by Heather Mull
Photo Assistants: Mark Perrott and Will Owen / Models: Lea DiMarchi and Ebony Cunningham / Location: Row House Cinema, Lawrenceville

City Guide 2015 Bringing you lots of hot spots and cool events to keep you thrilled, no matter the season
By Charlie Deitch

There’s an old joke that goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Pittsburgh, wait five minutes and it’ll change.” Spend five minutes in our fair city and you’ll quickly realize that it’s not a joke at all.As we prepared this guide in June, high temperatures for one weekend ranged from 85 on Friday to 58 on Sunday. We’ve seen it snow in late May and we’ve seen it reach 90 degrees on Christmas. Our weather is crazy, there’s no doubt about it. You have to be prepared to leave the house in the morning dressed for winter and adjust for summer on your evening commute. You can see that confusion in the outfits of our City Guide cover models, Ebony Cunningham and Lea DiMarchi.But regardless of the weather, this city is packed with fun things to do, great food to eat and lots of great neighborhoods to explore. And that’s the theme for this issue: Fun for All Seasons.On the following pages, you’ll find a calendar of seasonal activities. These are special local events and activities that are unique to the four seasons, and if you find yourself here on a visit during that time, you owe it to yourself to check them out.The second part of the magazine highlights some of our favorite spots throughout several city neighborhoods. We’ll even start you out with a few can’t-miss locations, a few highlights which are ideal for the short-term visitor. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage exploring on your own. But this guide will get you started, with suggestions of places and events to keep you busy and optimize your time in Pittsburgh.And if you set out on your adventure and it’s too cold or too rainy … just wait five minutes and you’ll probably be A-OK.
Read More: Pittsburgh City Guide 2015 | Pittsburgh City Paper

(Post Gazette) – When Hurricane Agnes slammed soggy Pittsburgh | Old Pittsburgh photos and stories | The Digs

Damage and death toll were the highest in Pennsylvania, with more than $2 billion in losses and 50 fatalities.

When a storm named Agnes arrived in Pittsburgh in June 1972, she was the first tropical storm of the season and drenched this region with more than eight inches of rain.

Forty three years ago this summer, mountaineers in West Virginia lost their shacks and affluent people in New York’s affluent Westchester County experienced damage to their fancy homes because of the wettest tropical cyclone on record in Pennsylvania’s history.

On June 24, 1972, President Richard Nixon declared five states disaster areas: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, Virginia and New York.

Two weeks before Agnes blew into town, a series of rains swept across New York and Pennsylvania, completely saturating the ground so that it was unable to absorb additional water.

In Pennsylvania, the storm left 220,000 people homeless. Damage and death toll were the highest in Pennsylvania, with more than $2 billion in losses and 50 fatalities.

Harrisburg was inundated; 8,500 people there had to leave their homes.

In Wilkes-Barre, 45,000 people went to emergency shelters; the community’s water supply was contaminated and it lost phone service due to the raging Susquehanna River.

The Ohio River swamped the city of Wheeling, W.Va.

But for the construction of 10 flood control dams that ring Pittsburgh, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated, the waters that inundated the Golden Triangle would have been two feet higher than that of the famous March 1936 flood on St. Patrick’s Day.

Hurricane Agnes inflicted $45 million in damage on Pittsburgh. If the flood control dams had not been built, the Corps of Engineers, estimated, damage would have soared past the $1 billion mark. Erie was the only Pennsylvania county to be spared.

Pennsylvania’s climate, location and terrain all played a role. A wet weather state subject to sudden and violent storms, Pennsylvania typically receives 40 thunderstorm days each year. The state also lies in a hurricane pathway and its steep valleys channel runoff from storms.

Taking into account damage in all five states, Hurricane Agnes killed 122 people, destroyed 5,000 homes and damaged 100,000 more, and left 400,000 people homeless, according to Gen. Richard H. Groves, a corps engineer for the North Atlantic Division who testified before Congress.

Half of Pennsylvania’s National Guard was mobilized to do relief work and used helicopters and boats to rescue people.

Gov. Milton Shapp knew all about the flood because the Georgian mansion he occupied, which is set on land overlooking the Susquehanna River, had two feet of water in it, covering the home’s first floor.

*A note on the images: The Pittsburgh Press librarians were known to fold oversized prints in half to fit them into standard-sized archival envelopes. Thus, many of the paper’s beautiful large photo prints are permanently creased, including many from Hurricane Agnes.

Read More: When Hurricane Agnes slammed soggy Pittsburgh | Old Pittsburgh photos and stories | The Digs

(CBS Pittsburgh) (Trib live) – Report: Pa. Making Millions By Selling Drivers’ Personal Info

 Local Report: Pa. Making Millions By Selling Drivers’ Personal Info July 15, 2015 1:26 PM Share on email View Comments (Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson) (Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

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Report: Pa. Making Millions By Selling Drivers’ Personal Info
July 15, 2015 1:26 PM
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(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)
(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pennsylvania is selling drivers’ personal information to insurance companies, credit businesses, and employers at $9 per driver.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the sold information includes gender, license class, expiration date, and up to 10 years of traffic violations.

The practice grossed $41 million for the Commonwealth in June, hitting a five-year high.

“In general, people don’t like it when companies, or in this case, government agencies, sell their data… Why should you be able to make money off of my data?” Carnegie Mellon University Professor Lorrie Cranor, who runs the school’s privacy engineering program, told the Trib.

While the Commonwealth’s practice raises privacy concerns, David Thaw, University of Pittsburgh School of Law information security expert said, “I would not place this on the high-risk end of the spectrum… providing the department and the insurance companies are following the rules.”

According to PennDOT spokesman Michael Moser, around two dozen other states also monetize drivers’ personal information.

By Melissa Daniels
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 10:54 p.m.
Updated 15 hours ago

Pennsylvania is making tens of millions of dollars a year selling drivers’ personal information, raising concerns among some motorists and privacy experts who said they weren’t aware of the practice.

The records include gender, license class, expiration date and up to 10 years of traffic violations, all of which is available to insurance companies, credit businesses and employers at a price of $9 per driver.

Stephen Chesney, 41, an attorney from Brighton Heights, said he had no clue. “It’s definitely concerning,” he said. “No one likes their information being sold.”

Annual collections from the practice hit a five-year high of $41 million in June, according to the most recent figures, up from $30 million the year before. The increase is mostly because of a fee hike to $8 from $5 in April 2014 to raise money for state transportation projects; the fee increases to $9 this summer.

“For the state, it’s a revenue stream, but for the drivers, it’s a privacy concern,” said Mark Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Pennsylvania has about 8.9 million drivers. Insurance companies can use their histories to validate what customers are reporting on their policies. Jonathan Greer, vice president for the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, said the federal Driver Privacy Protection act governs what kinds of records can be requested, and companies aren’t permitted to sell them to third parties.

Raising concern

Paying for the information does not concern the industry, Greer said. Neither did the fee increase.

“It’s the cost of doing business,” he said.

Lorrie Cranor, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who runs its privacy engineering program, said it’s the state’s profit that’s bothersome.

“In general, people don’t like it when companies, or in this case, government agencies, sell their data,” Cranor said. “It’s, ‘Why should you be able to make money off of my data?’ ”

The profit factor shocked Mary Lechok, 58, of Ross. “People don’t know that,” Lechok said. “They make money off everything.”

PennDOT maintains contracts with wholesale companies to purchase driver information in bulk, defined as at least 5,000 transactions per month. Those include LexisNexis, Acxiom, American Driving Records, Explore, Hireright, Insurance Services Office and TML Information Services. Drivers or their attorneys can request their information.

David Thaw, an information security expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said the kinds of records that can be obtained don’t necessarily pose a threat of identify theft.

“I would not place this on the high-risk end of the spectrum,” he said, “providing the department and the insurance companies are following the rules.”

A proposal from state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana County, that passed 46-3 in June would allow companies to acquire driver records for all residents in a household without having all the drivers’ names to determine who isn’t paying correct premiums.

Privacy issue

Gov. Tom Wolf opposes the proposal, citing privacy concerns, said PennDOT spokesman Michael Moser. But White said the practice is used in two dozen other states.

“This is routine information that PennDOT already has,” White said. “This will help with a small segment of the uninsured drivers in a household that aren’t added to a policy when they should be.”

Moser said the agency requires applicants to supply names, addresses and license numbers for drivers whose records they are requesting. They must declare they will use the information for one of several lawful purposes and sign an affidavit under penalty of two years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

Frank Zuber, 43, of West View, said he accepts that private companies sell consumer information for millions of dollars.

“That’s quite a scam,” Zuber said. “I expect it from a lot of things, but from the government, I don’t know.”

Then he paused and chuckled.

“Well,” he said. “I guess that’s sort of a stupid statement.”

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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(The Guardian) – Greek crisis: Protests in Athens turn violent as Tsipras urges MPs to back him

Riot police have clashed with anarchist groups in Athens tonight, as Greece’s PM Tsipras faces rebellion over the country’s bailout plan
Read More: Greek crisis: Protests in Athens turn violent as Tsipras urges MPs to back him – live updates | Business | The Guardian

 

 

 

A column of anti-austerity protesters are currently marching in a loop through central Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and its seafront.

The mood is calm, and not everyone is in the streets – the marchers just passed a pirate-themed ship full of revellers.

“Maybe there’s about a thousand here – with VAT,” jokes one protester, in a reference to the huge VAT hikes that the new bail-out will precipitate, inflating the cost of daily living.

There is a sense of anger, but also of disorientation – and uncertainty about what to do, and who to blame.

“I feel very confused about the situation,” says Giorgos, a middle-aged pharmacist who lost his job two weeks ago.

“I feel very angry about the memorandum, but also I have no problem for the moment with Tsipras. He was under a lot of pressure, and this is a coup.”

Giorgos is resentful of the EU, whose leaders have shown no compassion to a family like his – a family whose two breadwinners have lost their jobs. But equally he doesn’t want to leave the euro, not yet anyway.The feeling shared by other marchers.

“It’s more complicated than that,” says Varvara Kyrillidou, an Italian teacher and Syriza member protesting against her party leader’s decision.

“To leave Europe behind, we need a plan – without a plan it’s very risky for our people. And at the moment we haven’t got one.”

Greece ideally needs to sit down and have a rethink, says Kyrillidou – but she knows there isn’t time.

“We’re between two walls that are closing in on us.”

(reuters) – Bank of America hires sales staff in latest effort to boost revenue

 (Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has been hiring more sales staff, in areas ranging from commercial lending to wealth management, in his latest effort to boost revenue that has barely budged for years.

The hiring push is part of a shift in how the bank is trying to sell more products to existing customers. Previously, Bank of America tried training individual employees to sell multiple products, but now it is focusing more on hiring specialized sales staff that can refer business to one another.

So instead of a bank teller trying to sell a branch customer a credit card and a mortgage, the teller might refer the client to a home loan specialist.

The bank has added some 1,000 financial advisors since the second quarter of 2014, and increased the number of sales specialists for products like mortgages and credit cards by 3.5 percent to 6,963.

On a call with analysts, Moynihan said that while the bank is still encouraging individual employees to sell different products, having enough sales staff is important as well.

“It is really just having more of them,” he said.

The bank’s chief financial officer, Bruce Thompson told reporters on a conference call, “Ultimately revenues are driven by the number of client-facing personnel that you have and how well they do relative to their peers.”

So far, these new hires have had a limited impact on results. The bank posted a tepid 1.7 percent increase in revenue in the second quarter from the same period a year ago. Quarterly revenue at the bank has hovered around $22 billion since 2011.

With weak revenue growth, the bank has been trying to boost profit by cutting costs. Overall, the bank is laying off staff. It had fewer than 66,000 full time employees at the end of the second quarter, nearly 10 percent less than the same quarter last year. Bank of America has a regular cost-cutting program in place it calls “Simplify and Improve.”

Spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said Bank of America has been steadily increasing its sales force for some time.

But that growth has not been uniform across all products. While the number of consumer sales specialists for products such as credit cards and auto loans has steadily increased, the number of financial advisors dipped from 2013 to 2014, then rose over the past year. Bank of America doesn’t disclose the size of its sales force for loans to businesses. (Reporting by Dan Freed; Editing by Dan Wilchins and Nick Zieminski)

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(delcotimes.com) – Mercy Fitzgerald shooter Richard Plotts pleads guilty but mentally ill to murder charge

MEDIA COURTHOUSE >> Richard S. Plotts entered an open plea of guilty but mentally ill on Tuesday to charges of murder in the first degree, attempted murder and illegally possessing a firearm in the July 24, 2014, shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.

Killed during the shooting inside the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center on Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital’s Yeadon campus was Plotts’ mental health caseworker, Theresa Hunt.

Plotts, 50, of Upper Darby, also admitted to shooting at psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman after killing Hunt. Silverman returned fire with a firearm he keeps in his desk drawer, critically wounding Plotts and allowing for his capture.

As a convicted felon for a prior robbery conviction with a history of weapons charges going back to 1990, Plotts was not allowed to own or possess a firearm.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Mattson offered a post-mortem report Tuesday indicating Hunt had died from two gunshot wounds to the head, as well as transcripts of statements given by Silverman to law enforcement and an affidavit of probable cause as the basis for the plea.

Plotts is currently housed at the State Correctional Institution in Graterford, where he said he has weekly access to a psychiatrist. He was well groomed with beard stubble and dressed in a blue, button-down Department of Corrections shirt at Tuesday’s hearing.

Mattson and defense attorney Chuck Williams also stipulated to a psychiatric evaluation by psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Mechanick.

District Attorney Jack Whelan said following his arrest that Plotts had more than 30 additional rounds of ammunition in his pockets and investigators believe he was prepared to kill more people.

Plotts appeared lucid and aware Tuesday as he answered questions from his attorney and indicated he wanted to enter the plea.
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(DOD) – Airstrikes Hit ISIL in Syria, Iraq

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 14, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven airstrikes in Syria:
— Near Hasakah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
— Near Aleppo, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL towed artillery piece.
— Near Dayr Az Zawr, two airstrikes struck nine ISIL staging areas.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, attack, and fighter-attack aircraft conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
— Near Fallujah, six airstrikes struck five ISIL tactical units destroying two ISIL excavators, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun position, an ISIL mortar system and an ISIL fighting position.
— Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicle bombs, an ISIL armored personnel carrier and an ISIL excavator.
— Near Haditha, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units destroying an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL structure.
— Near Makhmur, one airstrike struck an ISIL rocket position.
— Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
— Near Ramadi, five airstrikes destroyed an ISIL excavator, an ISIL vehicle bomb factory, an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL structure and four ISIL vehicle bombs.
— Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL buildings, two ISIL light machine guns, and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
— Near Tal Afar, one airstrike had inconclusive results.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(CSMonitor.com) – New York to pay Eric Garner’s family $5.9 million in ‘I can’t breathe’ settlement

In this Aug. 23, 2014, file photo, demonstrators march to protest the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner in the Staten Island borough of New York. Nearly a year has passed since Garner had the encounter with New York City police that led to his death. Since then, his family has become national advocates for police reform and the department is changing how it relates to the public it serves.John Minchillo/File/AP

Scott Stringer said the terms of settlement means that the city does not admit liability, but offers some measure of comfort to the family of the deceased father of six.
By Kevin Truong, Staff writer
A few days before the anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, New York City officials announced a $5.9 million settlement stemming from his controversial death during an arrest in Staten Island last summer.In his announcement of the payout, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the terms of settlement means that the city does not admit liability, but offers some measure of comfort to the family of the deceased father of six.“I believe that we have reached an agreement that acknowledges the tragic nature of Mr. Garner’s death while balancing my office’s fiscal responsibility to the City,” Mr. Stringer said in a statement.Recommended: Race equality in America: How far have we come?On July 17, 2014 – a beautiful summer day – Mr. Garner was approached by two police officers on suspicion of committing the misdemeanor of selling loose unlicensed cigarettes. The father of six protested and was taken to the ground in what the medical examiner ruled a chokehold by New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo. A grand jury declined to indict Officer Pantaleo last fall. A federal civil rights investigation is ongoing. Race equality in America: How far have we come? A New Age of Street Protests After being subdued on the ground, Garner became unresponsive. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead one hour later.The cell phone video of Garner’s arrest went viral, sparking protests in New York, and his name was added to the list in the chants in the Black Lives Matter movement. Demonstrators took to the streets again last fall after the grand jury decision.His last words – “I can’t breathe” – became a rally cry for the movement.The announcement took note of the impact that Garner’s death had on the national consciousness.“We are all familiar with the events that lead to the death of Eric Garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our City and our nation,” Stringer said in the statement. “It forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve.”Edward Mullins, the head of the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association lambasted the city for the settlement, saying a jury would have come to more fair terms based on “neither politics nor emotion.”“In my view, the city has chosen to abandon its fiscal responsibility to all of its citizens and genuflect to the select few who curry favor with the city government,” Sergeant Mullins told the New York Post. “Mr. Garner’s family should not be rewarded simply because he repeatedly chose to break the law and resist arrest.”A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide stemming from the chokehold, compression on Garner’s chest, and the 43-year-old’s existing health problems. Chokeholds which are described in the NYPD handbook as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air” have been banned by the department since 1993.A series of bills to officially criminalize police use of the chokehold – inspired by Garner’s arrest – has been winding its way through City Council.  The NYPD, which has prohibited the use of chokeholds since 1993, announced plans last month to match the language in the police handbook with the language of the legislation, The New York Times reported.

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(CNN) – Amazon, Walmart reveal crazy deals ahead of big sales day – Jul. 14, 2015

One of Amazon deals

Amazon, Walmart reveal crazy deals ahead of big sales dayBy Ahiza Garcia   @ahiza_garciaSneak peek at Amazon ‘Prime Day’ dealsMy sale is better than yours.Just hours after Amazon teased some of its major deals ahead of the kickoff of its “Prime Day,” Walmart previewed some of its own deep discounts to CNNMoney.The 24-hour sale-a-thon is set to begin at 12:01am PT on Wednesday.Amazon’s special savings day on Wednesday is to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary and is being promoted as having “more deals than Black Friday.”After Amazon announced its plans last week, Walmart jumped in with a sales day of its own on the same day that will be filled with what it calls “atomic specials” and thousands of deals.Some of the Amazon discounts revealed Tuesday include a 40-inch TV for $115, savings of up to 70 percent on top kitchen brands, an Amazon Fire HD 7 tablet for $60 off (regularly retails for $139), over 50% off two Nikon COOLPIX cameras, and an iRobot Roomba Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robot for under $300, for a savings of at least $99 and possibly more depending on the model.Walmart’s specials included an Apple iPad Mini 2 for $265 (for a savings of $174), a Black and Decker Drill and 133 piece Home Project Kit for $50 (usually retails for $80), and a Toshiba 15.6″ Satellite laptop for $377 (customers save $253).One of Amazon’s dealsRelated: Amazon says new ‘Prime Day’ will bury all other salesThe Amazon sales are available only to its Prime members but Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) is currently offering the membership, normally $99 a year, for free as a 30-day trial.Shoppers will be privy to enticements such as “Lightning Deals” and “Deals of the Day” throughout Wednesday and will receive free and unlimited two-day shipping.Prime Day will also allow members the chance to win from $1,000 to $25,000 in Amazon gift cards and tickets and a trip to the season two premiere of Transparent, an Amazon original show.In addition to announcing its own sale, Walmart criticized Amazon for only opening the sale to Amazon Prime members. Amazon shot back, questioning the logic of retailers who make prices cheaper for online versus in-store shoppers.CNNMoney (New York) July 14, 2015: 12:51 PM ET

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(businessinsider.com) – Rapper 50 Cent files for bankruptcy

Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, has filed for bankruptcy.

ALY WEISMAN

Curtis Jackson, better known as rapper 50 Cent, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday.
“In court papers filed in the US Bankruptcy Court in Hartford, Conn., Mr. Jackson reported assets and debts each in the range of $10 million to $50 million,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

The filing comes just three days after the “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” rapper was ordered to pay $5 million to his rival Rick Ross’ ex-girlfriend, Lastonia Leviston, who sued him for posting a sex tape online to millions of viewers in an attempt to embarrass Ross.

The Hollywood Reporter points out that “The chapter 11 filing allows him to reorganize his business interests, as opposed to a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, which would mean liquidation of his assets.”

The rapper’s attorney further explained to THR:

“The filing allows Mr. Jackson to reorganize his financial affairs, as he addresses various professional liabilities and takes steps to position the future of his various business interests. Mr. Jackson’s business interests will continue unaffected in the ordinary course during the pendency of the chapter 11 case. This filing for personal bankruptcy protection permits Mr. Jackson to continue his involvement with various business interests and continue his work as an entertainer, while he pursues an orderly reorganization of his financial affairs.”

50 Cent was previously one of the world’s wealthiest rappers, largely thanks to his minority stake in Vitamin Water. In 2007, the Coca-Cola Company acquired Vitamin Water from Glacéau for $4.1 billion.

50 cent vitamin waterVitamin Water50 Cent reportedly earned “between $60 million and $100 million” after the Vitamin Water sale in 2007.

According to The Washington Post at the time, “50 Cent was thought to have walked away with a figure somewhere between $60 million and $100 million, putting his net worth at nearly a half billion dollars.”

While the rapper no longer has an equity stake in the company, he continued to act as a spokesman for Vitamin Water.

Additionally, the rapper’s studio albums alone have sold more than 21 million units, and he has starred in a long list of film and TV projects, including Starz’s new hit “Power.”

In May, Forbes estimated 50 Cent’s net worth at $155 million, ranking him No. 4 on the list of the wealthiest hip-hop artists.

The bankruptcy claim comes just days after The New York Times published a glowing profile of the rapper, praising his “exceptional business instincts.”

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(CNN.com) – NASA’s New Horizons probe makes history at Pluto

NASA says its New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Pluto, making its closest pass at 7:49 a.m. ET. Tuesday.

Pluto’s mysterious heart seen in this NASA Photo (CNN)

(CNN)NASA says its New Horizons spacecraft completed a historic flyby of Pluto on Tuesday, making its closest pass over the small, icy world at 7:49 a.m. ET.

The unmanned, piano-sized spacecraft was expected to be traveling nearly 31,000 miles per hour when it passed about 7,750 miles over Pluto.

It’s the first mission to Pluto and its five moons.

Because the spacecraft will be busy gathering data during the flyby, it won’t phone home to update its status until around 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

“That’s going to be a very highly anticipated event,” Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator said at a briefing Monday.

The wait will be a tense one.

“There’s that small element of danger, so I think we’re all going to breathe the final sigh of relief at 9 p.m., and that’s when we can really call it a successful flyby,” Stern said.

Quiz: Test your knowledge of Pluto
When will you see photos from the flyby? It takes four hours for the probe to get a signal back to Earth, and then NASA has to process the data. Mission managers expect the images from the close encounter to be released online and on NASA TV at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Scientists on Monday said New Horizons already has settled one debate about Pluto — it’s size. Information gathered by the probe indicates Pluto is 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter. That’s somewhat bigger than earlier estimates, and it means Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Probe is carrying ashes of man who discovered Pluto
The probe already has beamed back several crisp photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

“Pluto and Charon are both mind-blowing,” Stern told CNN on Saturday. “I think that the biggest surprise is the complexity we’re seeing in both objects.”

The mission completes what NASA calls the reconnaissance of the classical solar system, and it makes the United States the first nation to send a space probe to every planet from Mercury to Pluto. The probe traveled more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto.

12 things to know about Pluto

Why go to Pluto?
New Horizon’s core science mission is to map the surfaces of Pluto and Charon. It also will study their atmosphere.

The spacecraft was launched on January 19, 2006, before the big debate started over Pluto’s status as a planet. In August of that year, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.
But Stern disagrees with the IAU’s decision.

“We’re just learning that a lot of planets are small planets, and we didn’t know that before,” Stern said earlier. “Fact is, in planetary science, objects such as Pluto and the other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt are considered planets and called planets in everyday discourse in scientific meetings.”

New Horizons has seven instruments on board to help scientists better understand how Pluto and its moons fit in with the rest of the planets in our solar system.

The planets closest to our sun — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — are rocky. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are gas giants. But Pluto is different: Even though it is out beyond the gas giants, it has a solid, icy surface.

Beyond Pluto
New Horizons looks like a gold foil-covered grand piano. It’s is 27 inches (0.7 meters) tall, 83 inches (2.1 meters) long and 108 inches (2.7 meters) wide. It weighed 1,054 pounds (478 kilograms) at launch.

The probe won’t orbit Pluto and it won’t land. Instead, it will keep flying, heading deeper into the Kuiper Belt, a region that scientists think is filled with hundreds of small, icy objects.

“The universe has a lot more variety than we thought about, and that’s wonderful,” Stern said. “The most exciting discoveries will likely be the ones we don’t anticipate.”

Stern said mission managers will decide later this year where to point New Horizons for the next part of its journey.

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