Beyond the County: California governor’s dog sick; Trump attacks own party; WHO calls for higher taxes on sugary drinks
October 11, 2016
Assault rifle used to kill police in California
PALM SPRINGS — A gunman used an assault rifle to kill two police officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call at the California home of the suspect's family, authorities said Tuesday.
The shooter, identified by police as 26-year-old John Felix, was prohibited from legally possessing firearms because of a prior felony conviction, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.
Police officers arriving at the Palm Springs home on Saturday were told by a relative that Felix had an unknown weapon.
Officers spoke with Felix through a metal screen door before he opened fire without warning, the statement said.
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The officers were wearing ballistic vests as required when they are in uniform and on duty.
Felix was arrested after a gun battle and lengthy standoff with police. He is expected to be charged with murder in the deaths of Palm Springs Officers Jose "Gil" Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny.
Another officer was treated for a gunshot wound and later released from a hospital.
Inmate slashes officer at state prison
SAN QUENTIN, Calif. — Authorities say a death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison slashed a correctional officer with a makeshift weapon inside one of the facility's showers.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the incident happened last Monday as 38-year-old Richard Penunuri was being secured in a shower stall.
Authorities say Penunuri pulled a similar attack on another correctional officer about a decade ago.
The officer's forearm was slashed with a prison-made weapon.
Authorities say the guard is expected to make a full recovery.
Penunuri was sentenced in 2001 for the 1997 gang-related slayings of two teens. Prison officials say the victims were not gang members and were "unintended targets."
Penunuri will receive a rules violation for last week's attack. The district attorney will also review the case for additional charges.
Big progress made in Napa County wildfire
YOUNTVILLE, Calif. — Firefighters made significant progress overnight on a wildfire burning in Northern California wine country
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the 60-acre blaze is burning 3 miles west of Yountville, in Napa County. It is 75 percent contained.
It prompted mandatory evacuations Monday and through the night for hills southwest of Oakville.
No injuries or damaged structures have been reported.
Cal Fire says 12 engines, 180 firefighters, three water tenders, six air tankers, four helicopters and three bulldozers have responded to the vegetation blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Governor's 'first dog' Sutter critically sick
SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Jerry Brown's dog "Sutter" has fallen critically ill and is facing a bleak prognosis.
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said Tuesday that Sutter was rushed to an animal hospital last week and underwent emergency surgery. Veterinarians removed several masses suspected to be cancer from his intestines, lymph nodes and liver.
Westrup says the Browns are awaiting biopsy results but "the prognosis is likely to be very poor."
Sutter is a 13-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi owned by Brown's sister, Kathleen Brown, until she moved out of state following Jerry Brown's election as governor in 2010.
The dog often accompanies Brown to the Capitol and promotes the governor's policies to nearly 10,000 Twitter followers.
Westrup says "the first dog is a fighter and we're all pulling for him."
Officials, parents worry Chicago schools deal won't stick
CHICAGO — Teachers in the nation's third-largest school district pulled back from a threatened strike after a tentative last-minute contract agreement that Chicago officials acknowledged Tuesday may amount to a temporary fix and parents worried would fall apart.
"It wasn't easy, as you all know," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said after Monday's late-night agreement, which now goes to the union's House of Delegates and all 28,000 members for a final vote. Vice President Jesse Sharkey said Tuesday that he's "confident that it'll pass" because it has wins for students and for school workers.
But even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fought bitterly with Lewis before and during the 2012 teachers' strike, praised the union and the Chicago Public Schools in a speech in which he introduced his 2017 budget proposal, it still isn't clear how the financially strapped city will pay for the four-year deal.
The proposal includes a 2 percent cost-of-living increase in the third year and 2.5 percent one in the fourth year. It doesn't require current teachers to pay more toward their pensions — a change CPS had been seeking and the union rejected earlier this year – but future hires will have to pick up that additional pension cost.
A key provision is an agreement by the city to divert about $88 million from a $175 million surplus of the city's at-times controversial special taxing districts — known as tax increment financing, or TIF, funds — to the schools. That figure is less than the $200 million in additional spending the union had sought.
Unshackled, Trump unleashes aggressive attacks on own party
WASHINGTON — The "shackles" gone, Donald Trump stepped up his fierce attacks on his own party leaders Tuesday, promising to teach Republicans who oppose him a lesson and fight for the presidency "the way I want to."
Exactly four weeks before Election Day and with his campaign floundering, the businessman reverted to the combative, divisive strategy that propelled him to victory in the GOP primary: Attack every critic – including fellow Republicans. Those close to Trump suggested it was "open season" on every detractor, regardless of party.
"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to," Trump said in a tweet that brought new concern – near panic in some cases – to a party trying to stave off an all-out civil war before Nov, 8.
In another series of tweets, the Republican nominee called House Speaker Paul Ryan "weak and ineffective," Sen. John McCain "very foul-mouthed" and "disloyal" Republicans "far more difficult than Crooked Hillary."
"They come at you from all sides," Trump declared. "They don't know how to win – I will teach them!"
Leaks show Clinton inner circle grappling with email issue
WASHINGTON — Hacked emails show that Hillary Clinton's campaign was slow to grasp the seriousness of the controversy over her use of a homebrew email server and believed it might blow over after one weekend.
Two days after The Associated Press was first to report in March 2015 that Clinton had been running a private server in her home in New York to send and receive messages when she was secretary of state, her advisers were shaping their strategy to respond to the revelation.
Among the emails made public Tuesday by WikiLeaks was one from Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill, who optimistically suggested that the issue might quickly blow over.
"Goal would be to cauterize this just enough so it plays out over the weekend and dies in the short term," Merrill wrote on March 6, 2015.
It did not, and became the leading example of Clinton's penchant for secrecy, which has persisted as a theme among her campaign critics and rivals throughout her election season. Clinton did not publicly confirm or discuss her use of the email server until March 10 in a speech at the United Nations, nearly one week after AP revealed the server's existence.
Dakota Access pipeline work resumes near site of protest
ST. ANTHONY, N.D. — Construction on the four-state Dakota Access pipeline resumed Tuesday on private land in North Dakota that's near a camp where thousands of protesters supporting tribal rights have gathered for months.
In turn, protesters said they're discussing nonviolent opposition measures, including chaining themselves to equipment. And nine people were arrested Tuesday attempting to shut down pipelines in other states as a show of solidarity with the Dakota Access protesters.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners resumed digging trenches and laying pipe, Morton County Sheriff's Office spokesman Rob Keller said, a move that comes in light of Sunday's federal appeals court ruling that allowed construction to resume within 20 miles of Lake Oahe. That Missouri River reservoir is the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation.
"We reiterate our commitment to protect cultural resources, the environment and public safety," the company said in a statement earlier Tuesday. The $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois is otherwise largely complete.
The work area is a few miles from two protester camps, where scores of people have gathered in recent months and say they intend to stay through the winter.
Autopsy: Tulsa police victim had PCP in system when he died
TULSA, Okla. — An unarmed Oklahoma man shot dead by a police officer after his car broke down on a city street last month had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he died, a medical examiner said Tuesday.
Terence Crutcher, 40, had "acute phencyclidine intoxication" when he died Sept. 16. Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter after his death, with a prosecutor saying she reacted unreasonably when Crutcher disobeyed her commands.
Medical literature says PCP, also known as Angel Dust, can induce euphoria and feelings of omnipotence as well as agitation, mania and depression.
Videos from a police helicopter and a dashboard camera showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby on a North Tulsa street with his arms in the air, but the footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot.
Tulsa police had said previously that they had found a vial of PCP in Crutcher's SUV — and the police officer's lawyer said she had completed drug-recognition training and believed Crutcher might have been under the influence of drugs.
North Carolina braces for more flooding in downstream towns
GREENVILLE, N.C. — A state trooper shot and killed an armed man during a search for flood victims in a tense and dispirited North Carolina, and thousands more people were ordered to evacuate as high water from Hurricane Matthew pushed downstream Tuesday, two days after the storm blew out to sea.
Matthew's death toll in the U.S. climbed to 30, half of them in North Carolina, in addition to the more than 500 feared dead in Haiti.
In Greenville, a city of 90,000, officials warned that the Tar River would overwhelm every bridge in the county by sundown, splitting it in half before the river crests late Wednesday. Evacuations were ordered there and in such communities as Goldsboro and Kinston, as rivers swelled to some of the highest levels ever recorded.
Tens of thousands of people, some of them as much as 125 miles inland, have been warned to move to higher ground since the hurricane drenched the state with more than a foot of rain over the weekend during a run up the East Coast from Florida.
An angry Gov. Pat McCrory asked people to stop ignoring evacuation orders and driving around barricades on flooded roads: "That is unacceptable. You are not only putting your life danger, you are putting emergency responders' lives in jeopardy."
Haitians await aid, help each other regain some normalcy
LES CAYES, Haiti — People throughout Haiti's devastated southwest peninsula formed makeshift brigades Tuesday to clear debris and try to regain some semblance of their pre-hurricane lives as anger grew over the delay in aid for remote communities more than a week after the Category 4 storm hit.
A community group that formed in the southern seaside community of Les Anglais began clearing tree limbs from streets and placing them into piles while others gathered scraps of wood to start rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew.
Carpenter James Nassau donned a white construction helmet as he rebuilt a neighbor's wall with recycled wood, hoping to earn a little money to take care of 10 children, including those left behind by his brother, who died in the storm.
"My brother left five kids, and now I've got to take care of them," he said. "Nobody has come to help."
The scene repeated itself across small seaside and mountain villages dotting the peninsula, where people pointed out helicopters buzzing overhead and questioned why they haven't received any help.
Airstrike in Yemen deepens war, puts pressure on US
SANAA, Yemen — More than 1,000 mourners were packed into the funeral hall, including some of the most powerful figures in Yemen's rebel movement. Ali al-Akwa, who was just about to start reciting the Quran, heard warplanes overhead — but that wasn't strange for wartime Sanaa. Surely a funeral would be safe, he thought.
Moments later, a huge explosion struck, tearing bodies apart. The ceiling collapsed, walls fell in and a fire erupted. As people scrambled frantically to get out, a second missile struck, killing more of them.
Nearly 140 people were killed and more than 600 wounded in Saturday's airstrike — one of the deadliest since Saudi Arabia and its allies began an air campaign in Yemen in March 2015. The coalition is trying to uproot the Shiite Houthi rebels who took over the capital and much of northern Yemen from the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The coalition seems to have been hoping to take out a significant part of the Houthis' military leadership and its allies, who were expected at the funeral. Instead, the attack is likely to deepen the stalemate in a war that has already pushed the impoverished country into collapse.
The bloodshed has eclipsed new U.N. efforts to secure even a brief cease-fire. Amid popular anger, the coalition has lost potential tribal allies. In an attempt to expand the war, the Houthis have retaliated by firing rockets into neighboring Saudi Arabia and at U.S. warships.
Zika 'syndrome': Health problems mount as babies turn 1
RECIFE, Brazil — Two weeks shy of his first birthday, doctors began feeding Jose Wesley Campos through a nose tube because swallowing problems had left him dangerously underweight.
Learning how to feed is the baby's latest struggle as medical problems mount for him and many other infants born with small heads to mothers infected with the Zika virus in Brazil.
"It hurts me to see him like this. I didn't want this for him," said Jose's mother, Solange Ferreira, breaking into tears as she cradled her son.
A year after a spike in the number of newborns with the defect known as microcephaly, doctors and researchers have seen many of the babies develop swallowing difficulties, epileptic seizures and vision and hearing problems.
While more study is needed, Zika-caused microcephaly appears to be causing more severe problems in these infants than in patients born with small heads because of the other infections known to cause microcephaly, such as German measles and herpes. The problems are so particular that doctors are now calling the condition congenital Zika syndrome.
Zika, mainly transmitted by mosquito, was not known to cause birth defects until a large outbreak swept through northeastern states in Latin America's largest nation, setting off alarm worldwide. Numerous studies confirmed the link.
WHO urges countries to raise taxes on sugary drinks
GENEVA — The U.N. health agency on Tuesday recommended that countries use tax policy to increase the price of sugary drinks like sodas, sport drinks and even 100-percent fruit juices as a way to fight obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
The World Health Organization, in a statement timed for World Obesity Day, said that the prevalence of obesity worldwide more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, when nearly 40 percent of people globally were overweight.
In a 36-page report on fiscal policy and diet, WHO also cited "strong evidence" that subsidies to reduce prices for fresh fruits and vegetables can help improve diets. It said that tax policies that lead to a 20-percent increase in the retail prices of sugary drinks would result in a proportional reduction in consumption.
Drawing on lessons from campaigns to fight tobacco use, WHO says imposing or increasing taxes on sugary drinks could help lower consumption of sugars, bringing health benefits and more income for governments such as to pay for health services. The health agency has long recommended that people keep intake of sugar to less than 10 percent of their total energy needs.
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