‘It’s a tough place to be in right now’: US police face scrutiny and violence amid angry protests

first_imgamphotora/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News(NEW YORK) — While police officers across the country have come under scrutiny for a series of ugly encounters with protesters demanding justice in the wake of the white officer-involved killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis, law enforcement veterans say controversial videos capturing what appears to be excessive use of force don’t tell the whole story or take into account agitators and brazen criminals capitalizing on the chaos.Demonstrations across the country have turned violent and deadly for U.S. police officers who find themselves walking a delicate balance between protecting protesters’ First Amendment rights and guarding property from being looted and destroyed.A police officer was shot and critically wounded in Las Vegas Monday night when a peaceful demonstration turned violent, authorities said. The officer, whose name was not immediately released, was engaging with protesters near the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino when the shooting occurred, officials said. In a second incident in Las Vegas, police shot a suspect they alleged was wielding multiple weapons outside a courthouse. The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.In St. Louis, four officers were shot and wounded during a protest that drew several thousand people and turned into a free-for-all in which fireworks and gas were hurled at police and mobs began looting businesses, officials said.In New York City, video emerged of an officer being attacked by a group of men in the Bronx who appeared to throw a heavy object at the officer while he was on the ground. Several officers were struck by cars Monday night and there was widespread looting and vandalism across the city, including at luxury stores in Rockefeller Center and the Upper East Side, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD). At least 500 arrests were made Monday night and into Tuesday morning in New York, where a curfew went into effect at 11 p.m. Monday.On Friday night, Dave Patrick Underwood, a Federal Protective Service contract officer, was shot and killed at the federal building in Oakland, California. Underwood was slain while on duty and the FBI says shots were fired by an unidentified person in a vehicle. Authorities are investigating whether it was tied to a protest.“This is what we’re looking at right now. It’s a tough place to be in right now,” Robert Boyce, the retired chief of detectives of the NYPD and an ABC News contributor, said of police on the front lines of American discord.Eddie Johnson, the former Chicago police superintendent, added that police are juggling two volatile situations: legitimate protesters venting their anger in a peaceful way and violent agitators bent on destruction.“That’s unfortunate because it takes away from the real message of how police interact with people in general, especially people of color, African Americans,” Johnson told ABC News. “It’s completely taken away from that message and now all the focus is on violence and it’s a shame.”Nearly 800 people were arrested in Chicago during protests over the weekend when groups split off from demonstrations and began looting and vandalizing businesses, police said.On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump, who critics say has fueled some of the violence with inflammatory tweets suggesting protesters could be shot for looting, said he has seen enough and threatened to use the military to quell the violence. In a White House Rose Garden speech, with protesters assembled right outside the gates, Trump implored governors across the nation to boost the presence of National Guard troops in cities to “dominate the streets.”“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” he said. “We will end it now.”The president said he is “ally of all peaceful protesters” while at the same time the National Guard and police were using force to disperse a peaceful protest outside the White House gates so Trump could cross the street to a vandalized St. John’s Episcopal Church to be photographed holding a Bible.Jarrod Burguan, the former police chief of San Bernardino, California, and an ABC News contributor, said police commanders nationwide are weighing how much leeway to give legitimate protesters. But when conditions deteriorate, decisions have to be made to protect lives and property, he said.“When things turn violent and when things have reached kind of the point that we are at now, you realize that the only way to really, truly put it down is to truly respond with force and find a way to stop the looting and stop the violence that’s happening,” Burguan said in an interview on the ABC News podcast “Start Here.”Caught on videoBut in some cases, police officers trying to keep a lid on rising tensions while allowing peaceful protests to go on have been caught on camera seemingly committing the very acts people are protesting against.In Seattle, a video surfaced over the weekend showing a police officer with his knee on the neck of a pinned protester, an act that was similar to circumstances surrounding Floyd’s May 25 death. Protesters screamed for the officer to remove his knee until a colleague pushed it away. The incident is under investigation.In Atlanta, two police officers were fired and three others were yanked off the streets and placed on desk duty after they were caught on video deploying stun guns on two black college students who were in a car simply driving home from a protest, authorities said.In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a police officer was suspended after a video showed him pushing a kneeling black woman to the ground during protests.In New York, police officers are under investigation after video footage surfaced of them using their vans to ram a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn after demonstrators hurled projectiles at their vehicles and used a metal barricade to block their path. In a separate incident, a New York City police officer is now the subject of an internal investigation after he was recorded on video aggressively shoving a female protester to the ground for apparently getting too close to him.“One of your biggest fears is that it only takes one officer on that front line to lose his cool because … he’s got people yelling at him,” Burguan said. “Maybe you got a water bottle thrown at him whatever it might be. It just takes one officer to lose their cool and pull out their pepper spray or start poking people with their baton or start doing things that are gonna agitate the crowd that’s going to make your job infinitely more difficult. And I guarantee you that there are chiefs all over the country that are going to evaluate the actions of their specific officers and how things went down. And there’s going to be that due process [in] those investigations that happen on the backside.”Not only do officers assigned to skirmish lines have to deal with protesters screaming obscenities in their faces, they also have to cope with agitators who infiltrate legitimate demonstrations in order to wreak havoc and career criminals bent on looting businesses, Boyce said.“To be quite honest with you, these anarchists are very well organized, they’re anti-everything — anti-religion, anti-capitalism, anti-globalism, you name it they’re anti,” he continued. “They want a complete breakdown of structure and that’s what we’re kind of going through right now.”‘Professional agitator’Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, identified one of three protesters arrested on suspicion of tossing Molotov cocktails at NYPD vehicles as someone known to police across the county as a “professional agitator.” Prosecutors, according to court records, say Samantha Shader has previously been arrested 11 times in 11 different states since 2011 for allegedly committing acts of violence and resisting arrest.Shrader was charged with federal crimes of causing damage by fire and explosives to police vehicles. She has not yet entered a plea and remains in federal custody.Two other suspects charged in the firebombings of police vehicles, Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahma, are licensed attorneys who have attended prestigious universities and law schools, according to court records. They, too, were charged with federal crimes of causing damage by fire and explosives to police vehicles, but have yet to enter a plea and remain in federal custody.“As such, the defendants were well aware of the severity of their criminal conduct when they decided to hurl a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle and to incite others to do the same,” federal prosecutors said in court documents.Shader was photographed in a car holding what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail at the scene of one of the New York firebombings, authorities said.“The defendant’s criminal conduct was extraordinarily serious,” prosecutors alleged of Shader in court papers. “She hurled a Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle with emergency lights on and occupied by four police officers, causing damage to the vehicle and putting the officers’ lives in serious danger.”Boyce, who retired from the NYPD in 2017 after a 35-year career with the department, said on Friday night alone 47 police vehicles were torched and 30 officers were injured when peaceful protests turned violent.He said that while he empathizes with protesters seeking justice for Floyd’s killing, he added that the demonstrations are drawing a more nefarious element and police officers are often caught in the middle and often goaded into ambushes or provoked into aggressive behavior that gets caught on viral videos.He said roving bands of well-organized anarchists have been stockpiling bricks, bottles and gasoline bombs in areas where they know protests will occur and then striking at the optimum moment, usually when news media is on hand to witness their actions.“You have Molotov cocktails, you have bricks and bottles being thrown at police officers,” Boyce said. “These are riots right now. This has been completely hijacked.”U.S. Attorney General William Barr used similar language on Saturday to describe the chaos on the streets of American cities in the wake of the Floyd killing.“The voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” Barr said in a televised statement at the Department of Justice.“Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda. In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom traveled from outside the state to promote the violence,” Barr said.Chemical attacksThe Homeland Security Bureau Southeast Florida issued a bulletin on Sunday to federal and state authorities in South Florida listing the incidents in which police officers have been attacked with unknown chemicals during protests over the weekend. In Philadelphia on Saturday, police officers reported sustaining chemical burns during protests, according to the agency, while in Miami people were spotted mixing chemicals in water bottles during a demonstration there. In Fort Lauderdale, dozens of people pelted police with plastic bottles containing unknown fluid, the agency reported.“After the Molotov cocktail attack Friday night, law enforcement remains concerned that protests could give cover to ‘agitators’ looking to use chemicals or gasoline to injure police,” according to the bulletin obtained by ABC News.“I think that people forget, citizens forget these cops are human too and they don’t get paid to get spit on, get bricks thrown at them and the new thing of the day is to throw water bottles at them,” Johnson said. “Now that water bottle could contain water or various other things. They don’t get paid to be punching bags out there. But the majority of the cops do a really good job at showing restraint.”Johnson said that during his 31 years in law enforcement, he has encountered groups of anarchists crossing state lines to cause trouble in Chicago.“They would come from out of town with the one thought of agitating police and what they do is they bait police into doing something or being overly aggressive then they sue,” Johnson said. “And they use that money to continue traveling around the country and causing headaches everywhere they go. So we do have professional people who travel around the country and do nothing but stir up these incidents.”He said he is encouraged to see instances across the country in which legitimate protesters have called out agitators in the act of causing disturbances.“The real protesters who are trying to change things, they don’t want that message getting clouded with agitators out there just to create chaos,” Johnson said. “Our real protesters aren’t trying to clash with the police. They’re trying to get a message out there and they don’t want that message to get conflated with violence.”Johnson noted that many U.S. officers on the front lines of the protests are black and face additional dynamics of weighing their own experience with racism in law enforcement agencies and doing their jobs and watching the backs of their colleagues.“If you saw that video of George Floyd’s life being snuff out and you think that’s OK and you’re a cop then you need to turn in your badge right away because there’s nothing that I saw that was right about that,” said Johnson, who is African American. “Now having said that, I understand people protesting so vigorously because we do have to have change, we do have to create a culture that everybody is looked at equally, not just treated equally, but looked at equally. And their lives have the same value that anybody else lives have. So I empathize with that.”The Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization comprised of police chiefs from the nation’s largest cities, released a letter to its members on Monday, saying, “We need to hear what America is telling us right now.”“The death of George Floyd was, by any measure of professional policing unnecessary, avoidable and criminal,” the letter says.The letter referred to other notable cases in which black lives have been “unjustly lost” to the hands of police, including Eric Garner in New York in 2014, Walter Scott in South Carolina in 2015 and Philando Castile in Minnesota in 2016.“Each of these cases raised different concerns, but collectively they add new and painful chapters to our history that compels all of us to take inventory and be held accountable,” the letter says.“It will take strong leadership from all of us as well as collaborative partnerships from leaders from all walks of life and all levels,” the letter continues. “Actions matter and so do words. Provocative statements create tension that lead to danger for police officers and the public. During challenging times, leaders need to reassure and calm, not instigate and stoke discord. Let us be the example for all leaders to follow. More than anything, this is a time for us to help facilitate healing, learning, listening and then dialogue, particularly in communities of color.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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Today’s niche, tomorrow’s mainstream

first_imgIn an exclusive visit to Wrightbus, the firm lifts the lid on its latest product, its fuel cell StreetDeckThere’s a tough dilemma facing bus operators running into UK cities – what technology do you buy to be future-proofed?Euro 6c diesel is exceptionally clean, yet legislators are not convinced. Three main technologies are in the frame: Biogas, electric and hydrogen.The merits of all three have been picked apart during the last 12 months in routeONE, in our ‘Energy on the move’ articles.The development team is led by William Wright (centre)As yet, no city has mandated a specific technology, although London has set out a ‘zero-emission’ strategy. While this rules out biogas, exactly what zero-emission means is a moot point.Wrightbus is the first to produce a genuine zero-emission battery-electric bus. Its StreetAir, debuted last year, uses electric heating, rather than the diesel-fired heating of most of its competitors.Now it is upping its game in the hydrogen sectorJump to the JiveThis is driven by procurement underway, led under a framework by Transport for London (TfL), sourcing up to 56 hydrogen single and double-decker buses to be used in Birmingham, Dundee, Aberdeen and London. The latter two already run hydrogen buses. Eight Wrightbus single-deckers are now in their seventh year of operation in the capital the RV1 (Covent Garden-Tower Gateway). The daily route runs 19 hours a day with a 10-12 minute frequency.Now, Wrightbus has built an all-new pre-production StreetDeck hydrogen bus, being followed by two more currently in build.In an exclusive visit to the firm’s Ballymena, Northern Ireland, HQ we were able to examine all three.TechnologyInvented in 1838, modern fuel cells were developed as part of space exploration. Now they are being developed for extensive use in vehicles.Hydrogen means a bus can be fuelled, driven in its normal cycle, then at the end of the day, re-fuelled and cleaned the same as diesel buses. This ‘fuel-drive-refuel’ cycle, without the constraints of range limitations, while having a quiet and zero-emission bus is very attractive.The stumbling block is the price. The EU’s JIVE project – like a ‘green bus fund’ for hydrogen aims to make the capital cost commercially acceptable (see panel).In very basic terms, a fuel cell comprises an anode and a cathode, with an electrolyte that allows positively-charged hydrogen ions to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. An electro-chemical reaction of the hydrogen and air produce electricity. The exhaust is water condensate. Colourless and odourless, the vapour can only be seen on cold days.Heart of the machine. The fuel cell is the black box, mounted vertically. In the second installation it is horizontal for better packaging of other componentsAnother benefit is that a fuel cell is compact, contains no moving parts, does not involve combustion and produces electricity for as long as fuel and air are supplied. Fuel cell life has been in excess of that predicted – as London’s in service trials prove – with the expectation that at least 25,000 hours (roughly eight years) life is easily achievable.Clever stuffWrightbus is one of a number of bidders in the JIVE programme. As procurement is underway with bids not yet revealed we can’t share all details, but we were able to have a close look at the first fuel cell StreetDeck and two further under-construction in the firm’s bespoke alternative technology workshop at Ballymena.One of these will be a two-door London-spec ‘decker. Specification of the third example, currently at the chassis framing stage, is yet to be revealed. All use Wright’s standard StreetDeck chassis.With its long history of innovation, Wrightbus has plenty of experience. As this is a commercial project, it is using tried and tested components from respected suppliers in the build.A fuel cell is most efficient (and long-lived) when generating electricity at a constant rate. Therefore batteries are used to store energy, from the fuel cell, or regenerative braking. To maximise engine bay and internal space, ZF’s AVE 130EV portal axle with electric hub motors are used, rather than a traction motor/drivetrain.The batteries are the same as those used in Wright’s hybrid buses – this is a hydrogen electric hybrid. In the pre-production bus they are under the rear seats, ahead of the rear axle. Although these high back seats look unusual, the sharp eyed will spot that they are from the New Routemaster. The second bus has conventional seats on a second set of dummy wheelboxes, containing the batteries. The batteries are accessed from outside.The fuel cell StreetDeck shares the family ‘DNA’ and trusted componentsFor evaluation, one bus uses a Ballard fuel cell; the other is from an undisclosed manufacturer.New designAnd here is a significant difference to the RV1 buses – the size of the fuel cell. With a 60kW constant output, it’s roughly half the size of that used in the RV1 buses.This is achieved thanks to the batteries, along with the use of ‘smart accessories’ taken from Wright’s Micro Hybrid range.With a smaller fuel cell and hub motors packaging is clever. Under the bonnet the fuel cell – a rectangular box – sits in the engine bay, while Grayson smart fans are on the offside. These cool the fuel cell and hub motors; in winter the water-based system heats the bus, topped up by electric heating.The use of smaller gas tanks means these are also in the engine bay (no high temperatures here) while refuelling – taking under 10 minutes – is at the rear offside.Naturally, there’s a remote cloud-based diagnostic system, while the hydrogen system is fail safe – it will shut down if there’s a fault, but the bus can be driven up to 30 miles on battery power, meaning it won’t be stranded.Test drivenWith the use of standard components there’s nothing to worry operators. Wrightbus has drawn on its hybrid experience to ensure that, from a driver’s perspective, you can’t tell it’s a hydrogen bus.The only clue is a dashboard indicator confirming that the hydrogen system is functioning correctly on start-up.At 10.8m the length is not an issue and on our short test drive, kindly organised by William Wright, we found that as promised, the driving experience is identical to a Wrightbus hybrid.Without a diesel engine, at rest there’s no noise apart from a very faint electrical hum, and certainly no vibration.The driver’s cab is the same as a normal Wright’s decker – well laid out and comfortable – while the only noise that’s detectable (if you listen carefully) is from the electric steering.Underway, power comes quickly thanks to the electric drive’s torque. Acceleration is swift and the throttle responsive to input.In the saloon, the design of ZF’s hub motors means that unlike some others, they are very quiet.Braking uses regeneration, and if you pay close attention, you can just about feel the foundation brakes coming into play at low speed.When stuck in slow moving traffic, the bus happily creeps forward and is easy to drive.In short, the driver and passenger experience are on a par with the best, as you’d expect from Wright’s.New Routemaster interior was fitted for speed of production. The next bus has bespoke wheelboxes with standard seatsroutone CommentWrightbus firmly believes in hydrogen as one of the fuels of the future. Its bus uses well-proven components, and it has the experience of running its previous version in the demanding London environment.It is savvy enough to realise that no one-size fits all, which is why alongside its super-efficient diesel (with smart accessories, it calls it Micro-Hybrid), it also offers hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, pure electric, as well as hydrogen.All of these products continue to be developed, and its latest hydrogen bus is a very strong offering.This is good news as hydrogen offers a high daily range (similar to diesel), no need for new street or depot charging and operational flexibility.Ultimately, the aim is for fuel cell buses to push costs to a commercial level, close to hybrids, and with Wrightbus’ long experience in electric drivetrains and innovation, it is well placed to meet this challenge.Find out more: www.fch.europa.eu and hereIN SHORTJIVE: EU’s hydrogen fundTo help commercialise fuel cell buses, the EU’s Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) project is funding €32m to deploy at least 139 buses, in a six-year project in nine cities.JIVE2, under development, will add another 125 buses.A previous EU fund delivered 56 buses from six OEMs in 10 cities. By 2020 there will be around 400 hydrogen buses in service.last_img read more

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Sealed With a KISS – Lydia Criss Book and Exclusive Interview

first_imgWe are following up our recent feature book review of Peter Criss, drummer of KISS’ book MAKEUP to BREAKUP, with an exclusive interview and book review from his first wife, Lydia Criss.  She gives a first-hand, behind-the-scenes account of what it was really like to be the first fan of the KISS Army.SEALED WITH A KISS: AN INTERVIEW AND BOOK REVIEW by Bob WilsonLydia Criss spoke with me on January 4th, 2013 about the second printing of her KISS related tome, and some of her other musings and memories, as well. Much the same as as the band, Lydia was never boring, and came across as naturally sweet and gracious. Her book offers over 1,500 insider photos of the band, sundry memorabilia the KISS ARMY will drool over, and her autobiography covering the pre, during, and post Kiss years.Lydia was in the “KISS fold” from before their inception, being the wife of their original drummer Peter Criss. When the band was forming their appearance in costumes and makeup, she helped to work as a seamstress on the now classic outfits.Lydia asked if I knew that her “maden name was DiLeonardo”, before she recounted how she then earned the nickname “Annie Oakley” while working as a bookkeeper for Abercrombie & Fitch in Manhattan, as her duties included cleaning and pricing guns in the sporting goods department. Through these efforts, Peter Criss was able to concentrate his focus on the band, as they ascended to the heights of fame. The two had met in Brooklyn while he was playing at a local club, as she had “gone to the club with a girlfriend.”  Chemistry sparked between her and Criss and they would go on to marry. Her close-knit Italian family eventually warmed to accept the long haired drummer, though, at first, she said her brothers were “skeptical” of him.Photographs cover moments both public and private through an insider’s camera lens. KISS ARMY members will be left drooling over saved backstage passes, and all variety of memorabilia documented here for posterity.  Lydia also recounts her life in three phases, that begin with her early life in Brooklyn, and leave us updated to her current relationship with rock drummer Richie Fontana.Gene and Paul are portrayed by Lydia as solid businessmen, and keeping the band “alive” throughout it’s many incarnations over decades. The two also are said to have “their own spin on KISS lore”, but none can deny their common sense and determination in treating KISS as a business.  Although Ace is described as having the biggest heart of the original four members, in a sense he and Peter were lucky to be brought along for the ride in that aspect.KISS has sold over 100 million records worldwide, 28 of which have gone “gold”. Simply put, love or hate Kiss, these are numbers that rank them with Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and almost anyone else we can name from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee list. Add in Kiss Halloween costumes, dolls, makeup sets, a tv movie (KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM, 1978), a KISS coffin, skateboards, tee-shirts, programs, and concert tickets, and you have quite a gold nugget in your miner’s pan. The group might be viewed more as a “Barnum & Bailey Psycho Circus” than ever being confused with Motzart, but it is hard to argue with their success.Lydia’s book is an accumulation of items that she saved, to be remembrances when she looked back on these wild days later in life. KISS fans will feel fortunate that she decided to share these memories in this voluminous coffee-table book edition.The book can be ordered at lydiacriss.com, or from amazon.com.last_img read more

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moe. announces fall tour – marco benevento, sister sparrow & the Dirty Birds to open select dates

first_imgmoe. has announced some fall tour dates, and have several different openers confirmed over the course of the run, including Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico’s project Floodwood, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, as well as Marco Benevento. Here is an official statement from their website:We are pleased to announce that Floodwood will open for moe. in Buffalo on Friday, 9/27 at the Town Ballroom, and that Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds will open both the Stroudsburg and the Philadelphia shows for us. In addition, Marco Benevento will be our special guest musician at both Higher Ground shows in Burlington VT: Marco will be playing with moe. and not as an opener for these shows. General on-sale for most of the Fall shows begin 7/26 – see you there!For a complete listing of current dates, as well as the recently added fall shows, click here.last_img read more

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Mempho Music Festival Announces 2019 Lineup: The Raconteurs, Wu-Tang Clan, The Revivalists, More

first_imgMempho Music Festival will to Memphis, TN’s Shelby Farms Park for its third year on October 19th and 20th.The two-day event will offer an all-encompassing collection of rock, funk, hip-hop, blues, jam and everything in between. Mempho Music Festival’s 2019 event will be highlighted by headlining performances by The Raconteurs, Brandi Carlile, Wu-Tang Clan, and The Revivalists. Mempho will see additional performances by Margo Price, lovelytheband, Valerie June, PJ Morton, DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia, Matt Maeson, Reignwolf, Missio, Lord T & Eloise, Smith & Thell, Marcella & Her Lovers, Mark Edgar Stuart, and Summer Avenue. Following the festival’s Memphis tribute set last year, which honored Royal Studios, the 2019 festival will honor its Memphis heritage with a tribute set dedicated to Sun Studio. Led by Jerry Phillips—son of Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Studio who hosted notable sessions with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and more–the Sun Studio Tribute will feature Jason D. Williams, Amy Levere, David Brookings, John Paul Keith, Will Sexton, Lahna Deering, Seth Moody, George Sluppick, and Graham Winchester.Nestled in the heart of Shelby Farms Park, Mempho Fest blends today’s top performers with Memphis’ rich musical history, creating a festival experience filled with music, food, and nature for people of all ages.Mempho Music Festival is the first major music festival held in the natural splendor of Shelby Farms Park, which plays host to a diverse range of outdoor activities including biking, canoeing, zip lining, horseback riding, and more. Building off Mempho Fest’s first two years, the festival will offer multiple live music stages and an interactive dome that melds together the worlds of music, art, science, and design.A variety of different ticket pages are now on sale here.Head to Mempho Music Festival’s website for more information on their 2019 event.last_img read more

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UPDATE: 26-year-old woman shot, killed Wednesday night in Port Arthur

first_img PAPD responded to the call of a shooting at 7:16 p.m. Wednesday. While there they found McZeal had been shot and was taken to a local hospital by a private vehicle.She was pronounced deceased upon arrival at the hospital, according to police.A male victim at the scene also received a gunshot wound, which was non-life threatening.No arrests have been made. PAPD’s Criminal Investigations Division is handling the case.McZeal’s shooting death marks the sixth homicide in the city this year.Other Port Arthur homicides this year include:Jose Ray Riojas, 35, shot to death at his home Jan. 22. Two men have been charged; Larnell Jray Mosley and Jeremy Jamall Roy.Jaylon Howard, 26, shot to death at an apartment at Valley View Estates April 15. Jovan Neveaux is charged with the killing.Taylor Rodriguez, 23, was stabbed to death May 13 in a wooded area off Twin City Highway. His girlfriend, Lachrisha Abshire, 33, was arrested.Eric Marrs, 38, of Port Arthur was shot at a home on 32nd Street June 29. No arrests have been made.Kenneth Swallow, 30, was shot to death on the front porch of a home in the 3100 block of 10th Street on Aug. 16. Darian Petry, 46, went to the police station to make a statement the next day and was arrested for the crime. Police in Port Arthur are working to locate witnesses to a double shooting that left 26-year-old Bria Alisse McZeal dead and a male victim injured.While detectives are not saying how many shooters there were in the Wednesday night killing, they did confirm this was not a case of murder/suicide.Det. Mike Hebert declined to say if or how McZeal and the male victim knew each other.center_img Police are also declining to say if the victim lived in the home where the shooting occurred, which is in the 8600 block of Davis, as well as declining to say if the shooting happened inside or outside the home.Detectives are not releasing a possible motive to the shootings nor are they releasing suspect and vehicle information.Hebert said the case is fluid and detectives have been working since last night.last_img read more

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Secretary of State announces winners of 2012 Poster and Essay Contest

first_imgGrades 9-12 Essay Topic: Young Adult Voter EngagementWinner:                                  Jonathan Liebman,Champlain Valley Union High School, Hinesburg,Ute Otley, Teacher Secretary of State Jim Condos is honoring the winners of the 2012 Vermont Secretary of Stateâ s Poster and Essay Contest today, Tuesday, May 22, at the State House in Montpelier.As part of the awards celebration, contest winners toured the Vermont State House and the Vermont Historical Society or Supreme Court. At 12:15 p.m., in an award ceremony in the State House cafeteria, the first prize winning students were presented with a certificate and a $100 prize donated to each student’s classroom to spend on civics education. There were also a number of honorable mentions for outstanding work.”It was very difficult to select winners from the many fine essays and creative posters we received,” stated Secretary Condos. “This program is a great way to get younger students thinking about their state and its history, while encouraging older students to examine the nature of self governance and its importance in a free society,” said Condos.The Vermont Secretary of Stateâ s Poster and Essay Contest is an annual event to promote awareness of Vermont history, the Vermont Constitution, and the importance of voting and democracy among students in Grades K-12. The winning posters and essays may be viewed on the Secretary of Stateâ s Kids Page website at www.sec.state.vt.us(link is external)Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos’Poster and Essay Contest Individual Winner:       Owen Stark,Castleton Elementary School, Jan Jones,Mosaic Program Teacher Grades K-2: Vermont Symbols Poster Class Winner:              Bridgewater Village School KindergartenDeanne Fitzpatrick, Teacher This yearâ s award recipients are: Grades 6-8 Essay Topic: Rights and Responsibilities of Voters Winner:                                   Raphael Orleck-Jetter,Thetford Academy, Stacy Barton, Teacher Honorable Mention:                Maci Prescott, Tommy Knockenhauer, and Molly Verespy,Green Mountain Union High School, Chester,Ashley Carafiello, Teachercenter_img Honorable Mentions: :            Morgan Daly and Olivia White,Lothrop Elementary School, Pittsford,Justine Farrow, Art Teacher Honorable Mentions:              Ella Kuehn and Olivia Shipley,Castleton Elementary School,Jan Jones, Mosaic Program Teacher Grades 3-5: Vermont History PosterClass Winner:                          Maple Street School 4th Grade, Manchester,Amy Panitz, Teacher Individual Winner:                   Austin Bruno,Castleton Elementary School,Jan Jones, Mosaic Program Teacher Honorable Mentions:            Dana Kaufman, Thomas Keller and Grace Vincent, Champlain Valley Union High School, Hinesburg,Ute Otley, Teacherlast_img read more

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Assistant state attorney promoted to rear admiral

first_img U.S. NAVY RESERVES Rear Adm. Matt O’Keefe, left, with Rear. Adm. Jack Scorby, in Washington, D.C.Assistant state attorney promoted to rear admiral Senior Editor Matt O’Keefe has his hands full juggling two jobs. He’s an assistant state attorney in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, where he serves as division chief in two areas. He’s also an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves, promoted to rear admiral (lower half) at the Navy Memorial Plaza in Washington, D.C., in October. “A dual mission closely aligned,” is how the 50-year-old Florida lawyer views his two roles. “On 9/11, the bad guys took the fight to our backyard. That is unacceptable to us,” O’Keefe said. “So there is an enduring presence of the U.S. military to fight the global war on terror. “From a global sense, what the U.S. Navy Reserves does is provide security and provide that sense of protection, not only to our national interests, but to our global interests. We partner with our friends to protect democracy and independence and freedom and all those things we hold near and dear to us,” O’Keefe said. “Humbly, I believe the state attorney does that work, too. We work with our law-enforcement partners in the community to protect our freedom and democracy and safety.” Sometimes, on short notice, O’Keefe must leave his role prosecuting criminal defendants to others, so he can fulfill his military duties. His most recent mobilization was spending 15 months at Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. military base in Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa that borders Somalia and is only 17 miles across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. As described by The Washington Post in 2012, “Camp Lemonnier, a sun-baked Third World outpost established by the French Foreign Legion, began as a temporary staging ground for U.S. Marines looking for a foothold in the region a decade ago. Over the past two years, the U.S. military has clandestinely transformed it into the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone, a model for fighting a new generation of terrorist groups.” Closer to home, in early October, when Category 2 Hurricane Matthew churned along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, O’Keefe was activated to serve as the Florida National Guard liaison, as well as the Navy’s emergency preparedness liaison officer to help coordinate the Navy’s and the City of Jacksonville’s efforts. “We had to make sure the Navy was aligned with the City of Jacksonville on messaging, like evacuations. Make no mistake, Mayor [Lenny] Curry was the lead. Whatever he did with his decisionmakers, I made sure the Navy was aligned. When the mayor made the difficult decision to evacuate the beaches, I coordinated that with the Navy. What did they need? The City of Jacksonville was extremely well-equipped and had practiced emergency operations. They needed nothing,” O’Keefe said. “But the Navy was standing by in case they did, such as rotary-wing helicopters to do rescues. Matthew did a turn to the right and was not as catastrophic as we had feared.” O’Keefe’s military career began as a college student at Jacksonville University, where he was in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Following graduation, he served eight years of active duty, where he learned to fly helicopters and he transitioned into the reserves. He flew helicopters for 19 years, primarily out of Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville. After receiving his law degree from the University of Florida in 1998, O’Keefe’s first legal job was at the Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office. He’s been a prosecutor ever since, and never yearned to go into private practice. “Humbly, it’s the only legal job I’m aware of where my marching orders are simple: Do the right thing every day. I’m not beholden to a client paying me for my services. There’s no hidden agenda. If I do the right thing every day, I can go to sleep with a clear conscience knowing I did my job,” O’Keefe said. When military duty calls, he has to leave decisions about doing the right thing to his fellow prosecutors. “I went full-time, and I had to leave the office and leave behind my comrade in arms to carry the load, carry the water,” O’Keefe said of his fellow prosecutors. “When I go overseas, I have a lot to worry about. But I do not have to worry about coming back to civilian employment or worrying my boss is upset that I’m gone.” While federal laws protect reservists, O’Keefe points to “a series of incidents that occurred with the U.S. Postal Service, where reservists returned to their jobs with less responsibility, and change in pay.” “I have amazing support from my office, and have never had that issue,” O’Keefe said. “I can go and do what I need to do and return to open arms, I am extremely blessed.” With his recent promotion to rear admiral, O’Keefe’s new job is “reserve deputy commander of Navy installations command.” His responsibilities “can change week to week and month to month. I don’t know what I’m doing to support the Navy in December,” he said in early November. As he explains: “There are 71 U.S. Navy bases worldwide. My boss runs those bases. We are manning, training, and equipping the folks who serve on the fleets, the fighters, and supporting their families. We like to say we do everything from roads to commodes and everything in between.” Supporting military families is a big part of the mission, he said. “Please don’t ever forget that the real sacrifice is made by service members’ family members. Any service member will quickly admit, it’s the easier role, regardless of the setting. When I am gone, my wife has to do everything else. Life does not stop because I leave. The kids, the house, the car, the dog now fall on the shoulders of my wife and two sons. It’s a huge burden. It is a joint sacrifice. “I could not do what I do to serve my country, without the undying 100 percent commitment of my family.” And a very understanding boss. December 1, 2016 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular News Assistant state attorney promoted to rear admirallast_img read more

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The Ways Food Tricks Our Brains

first_imgThe Atlantic: In 1998, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published a study that might strike you as kind of mean.They took two people with severe amnesia, who couldn’t remember events occurring more than a minute earlier, and fed them lunch. Then a few minutes later, they offered a second lunch. The amnesic patients eagerly ate it. Then a few minutes later, they offered a third lunch, and the patients ate that, too. Days later, they repeated the experiment, telling two people with no short-term memory that it was lunch time over and over and observing them readily eat multiple meals in a short period of time.This might seem like a somewhat trivial discovery, but it unveils a simple truth about why we eat. Hunger doesn’t come from our stomachs alone. It comes from our heads, too. We need our active memories to know when to begin and end a meal.…We are “a country of low-fat foods and high-fat people,” Brian Wansink and Pierre Chandon begin memorably in their paper showing that “low-fat” labels can contribute to over-eating, just as previous studies showed that labeling food samples as “small” seems to reduce our consumption guilt and encourage us to eat too much. Read the whole story: The Atlantic More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Think tank sees big risks in flu gain-of-function research

first_imgThe Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a Washington, DC, group that works to limit the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, contends in a risk assessment report that “gain of function” (GOF) research on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses poses a serious risk of triggering a deadly flu outbreak.The report attempts to estimate the risk of accidental infection of a lab worker and ensuing transmission of the virus to others on public transportation. It concludes that 1 year of research by one lab poses a risk of releasing a virus that would cause between 180 and 1,100 deaths, and that research by additional labs and for longer periods would multiply this risk.The assessment was written by Lynn C. Klotz, senior science fellow at the center and a former Harvard professor and biotechnology executive. The report is one of very few attempts thus far to estimate the risk associated with research that involves manipulating highly pathogenic avian flu viruses such as H5N1 to make them more transmissible in mammals. A major aim of such experiments is to identify dangerous mutations so that scientists can watch for them in circulating viruses.Last year two teams of scientists published studies that involved generating mutant H5N1 viruses that showed airborne transmissibility in ferrets. The studies were published only after a prolonged controversy and scrutiny of the findings by the US National Science Advisory Board for Biodefense (NSABB), which was concerned that publishing the details would pose a risk of the intentional or accidental release of dangerous viruses.The controversy led to a voluntary moratorium on GOF research on HPAI viruses.As noted in the risk assessment, last month 22 virologists announced their intention to conduct GOF research on the H7N9 avian flu virus, which emerged this year in China and has caused 135 illnesses and 43 deaths so far. The virologists’ plans include studies designed to identify mutations and gene combinations that lead to increased transmissibility of the virus in mammals, such as ferrets and guinea pigs.Klotz’s risk assessment is billed as a “likelihood-weighted consequence analysis,” a standard method for assessing risk. The formula estimates the possible number of deaths associated with 1 year of research in one lab on the basis of three factors: the probability of a virus release, the probability that a releases leads to a pandemic, and the number of deaths in a pandemic.The approach rests on a variety of assumptions. A key one is that the basic reproduction number for the novel virus—the number of new cases generated by each case introduced in an uninfected population—would be 2.0. Another is that the case-fatality rate (CFR) would be 10%. That is far higher than the approximately 2% seen in the 1918 flu pandemic, but much lower than the 60% CFR among known human H5N1 cases.An additional assumption is that a pandemic would cause 100 million deaths worldwide, which is the high end of published estimates of the global toll in 1918. The number is based on the assumption that 15% of the world population of 7 billion would be infected, with a 10% CFR.The estimate incorporates a recent report that four previously unreported lab-acquired infections occurred in US select-agent labs between 2004 and 2010. It also employs assumptions about the proportion of lab workers who use public transit (10%) and the numbers of people who would be exposed to an infected worker on buses and trains, among other things.Using all these factors, Klotz comes up with the estimate that the risk associated with one lab in 1 year of GOF research would be anywhere between 180 and 1,100 deaths. With more labs doing such research, he writes, the risk would increase dramatically.”Whatever number we are gambling with, it is clearly far too high a risk to human lives around the world, so this particular PPP [potential pandemic pathogen] research must be shut down,” he concludes.Nicholas Kelley, PhD, a research associate with the BioWatch program at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News, said the risk assessment has some limitations but offers a starting point for discussions on how to estimate the risks of GOF research. Kelley was a coauthor of a major CIDRAP report on flu vaccines, published in 2011.”I think some of the assumptions are well within the range of the assumptions we see for influenza,” he said. “There are not a whole lot of these risk assessments out there, so I think it’s a good start for a conversation on how to conduct these risk assessments.”Kelley said the assumed basic reproduction number of 2.0 is higher than the typical number for seasonal flu and for the 2009 pandemic but about what was seen in the 1918 pandemic.As for the 10% CFR, he said government reports about severe pandemic scenarios typically cite a CFR of 2%. The 2009 pandemic CFR was much lower, as were the pandemics of 1957 and 1968. “It would be nice to see a simulation of a variety of CFRs and how that would affect the risk assessment,” he added.”These risk assessments get more useful the more all-encompassing they are; this primarily focused on infection leaving a lab based on transmission during transportation to and from work,” Kelley commented. “There are other means of exposure. They make your model more complex but provide better insight into the risks associated with this kind of work.””We need a lot more work to fully understand the risk of these studies,” he said. “I’m glad some people are starting to conceptualize what some of these risks are and starting discussions on it.”See also: Center for Arms Control report: The Human Fatality Burden of Gain of Function Flu Research: A Risk AssessmentAug 7 CIDRAP News story on virologists’ plan to do GOF research on H7N9Feb 21 CIDRAP News story “Feds unveil new policies for dual-use H5N1 research”last_img read more

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