Category Archives: Breaking News

Video shows police beating: Floyd Dent Beating

Video shows police beating: Floyd Dent Beating, Fighting back tears, a Detroit man and longtime auto worker with no criminal history, described how Inkster police officers dragged him from his car one night in January, choked him, beat him and Tasered him during a traffic stop that was caught on patrol car video.

“He was beating me upside the head,” Floyd Dent, 57, told a horde of reporters and TV crews during a press conference at his attorney’s office Wednesday afternoon, as tears trickled his cheeks. “I was trying to protect my face with my right arm. I heard one of them say, ‘tase the M…F. ‘”

The Jan. 28 incident was caught on police video cameras and is making national news. It shows Inkster police pulling over Dent in his 2011 tan Cadillac near South River Park Drive and Inkster Drive shortly before 10 p.m. The two officers approach with their guns drawn. As Dent opens the door, they pull him out and shove him to the ground. Dent does not appear in the video to be resisting arrest.

As he is on the ground, a police officer later identified as William Melendez has him in a choke hold, and is repeatedly pounding him on his head. A second officer is attempting to handcuff him behind his back, but Dent has his right arm up, trying to protect his face and head against Melendez.

Another officer arrives and kicks him, and then another officer Tasers Dent in the thigh and stomach as he is handcuffed. Dent, who has worked for Ford for 37 years, said he was hospitalized for two days for injuries to his face and head.

East Village Explosion

East Village Explosion, An off-duty FDNY firefighter and a bystander were being lauded as heroes last night when they fearlessly clambered up a fire escape in Manhattan’s East Village to rescue stranded residents following a restaurant gas explosion that injured 19, four of them critically.

The explosion triggered a fire in a building that housed a sushi restaurant and it then razed another five-story structure to the ground. The blaze continued smoldering well into early Friday morning.

Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked New York’s bravest for their rapid response to the emergency following the explosion at the Sushi Park restaurant on St Marks Place.

‘Thank you to our @FDNY heroes who arrived on site in #EastVillage within 2:47 minutes after getting the call,’ the mayor wrote on Twitter.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, sounded a similar note, publicly expressing her gratitude to the ‘1st responders on the scene.’

Part Time Ferguson Mayor In Full Time Spotlight

Part Time Ferguson Mayor In Full Time Spotlight, In the days since the release of a Justice Department report that found widespread racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department, the mayor of the St. Louis suburb has become a part-time public servant in a full-time spotlight.

The attention has only intensified as six city employees – most notably the police chief and city manager – have been fired or stepped down.

But Mayor James Knowles III remains, making just $4,200 a year in a job he called basically ceremonial before a white police officer shot an unarmed black 18-year-old in August, prompting weeks of sometimes-violent protests and the Justice Department inquiry. He’s now so involved that he’s opened a City Hall office and insists he will stay to see the city through the changes it must make.

On Friday, five residents filed an affidavit seeking to recall Knowles. They have 60 days to collect enough signatures – 15 percent of registered voters in the last mayoral election – to qualify for a special election.

Knowles said he has no plans to step aside.

“Obviously there are people on the street calling for my resignation, but my voicemail, my text messages and my Facebook are full with literally hundreds of people who want me to stay,” Knowles said in an Associated Press interview Friday. “Somebody has to show leadership, and I’m focused on how we can move this community forward.”

He argues that Ferguson’s city manager form of government made him more figurehead than administrator, leading the city council but lacking the power to do much else. But critics say he must have known about the lax police oversight, racial profiling and profit-driven court practices cited in the Justice Department report released March 4.

“I want the mayor out,” said Kayla Reed, 25, of the Organization for Black Struggle. “True accountability means clean house, top to bottom.”

Knowles, who grew up in Ferguson, was just a few years out of Truman State University when he defeated an incumbent for election to the city council in 2005. He was elected state chairman of the Missouri Federation of Young Republicans in 2008 and was on the fast-track, earning mention in 2009 in the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30″ list. He was elected to his current post in 2011, becoming one of Missouri’s youngest mayors, and re-elected without opposition in 2014.

But he was little known outside the area until Aug. 9, when Officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown and Ferguson found itself suddenly in the national spotlight. After the shooting, Knowles and Police Chief Tom Jackson became the public face of Ferguson, holding news conferences, hosting public forums and reaching out to civil rights leaders and protesters. Meanwhile, City Manager John Shaw, who made $120,000 a year until he resigned Tuesday, remained out of sight. Assistant city manager, Pam Hylton, has been named the interim city manager.

Knowles has a full-time job: general manager of the state-contracted motor vehicle license office in Ferguson. He said he typically works about 60 hours a week, evenly splitting the time between the two duties.

“I’m a phenomenal multitasker,” he joked, adding that he bounces between the offices, which are within walking distance of each other, throughout the day.

Knowles has sought to be a reassuring presence for supporters and critics alike. At a council meeting Tuesday, he sat patiently as some residents loudly called for his ouster. He was equally passive as others praised him and the council. When a brief shouting match began between a city critic and supporter, he urged both sides to calm down.

Knowles, who is white, has deep roots in the city of 21,000, where two-thirds of residents are black. He was a top wrestler at McCluer High School and has been an assistant wrestling coach at another mostly black high school for several years. He and his wife are expecting their first child in May.

He was drawn to politics in fourth grade, when his father ran for city council (he lost but won on a subsequent try.) Former Mayor Brian Fletcher, who worked alongside him when he was a young councilman, said Knowles has a bit of ego, like most politicians. He isn’t up for re-election for another two years, and Fletcher believes he’ll ride out the storm.

At Least 10 Americans Being Flown To U.S. After Possible Ebola Exposure

At Least 10 Americans Being Flown To U.S. After Possible Ebola Exposure, At least 10 Americans possibly exposed to the deadly Ebola virus were being flown to the United States from Sierra Leone for observation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

They will be transported by non-commercial air transport and will be housed near the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, or Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the CDC said.

All of the individuals who are being flown back to the United States are free of symptoms, the CDC said.

A U.S. healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola while in Sierra Leone arrived at the NIH on Friday and was in serious condition, the NIH said.

It is not clear how the person became infected with Ebola, CDC said.

While the virus has killed about 10,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, only a handful of cases have been seen in the United States, Spain and Britain.

CDC spokesman Thomas Skinner said 10 people who may have been exposed to the unidentified Ebola patient or who had a similar exposure to the virus as the patient were being flown to the United States. But he said the investigation was continuing and there may be more Americans evacuated from Africa.

A CDC statement said the 10 individuals will follow the center’s recommended monitoring and movement guidelines during the 21-day incubation period.

If someone shows symptoms, they will be transported to an Ebola treatment center for evaluation and care, the CDC said.

On Friday, CDC sent a team to Sierra Leone to investigate how the healthcare worker became exposed, and determine who might have been in contact with the infected person.

CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes did not know where all of the patients would be sent, but he said the CDC is working out a plan with the U.S. State Department to determine who is coming back and where they will be sent.

The CDC said one patient was being sent to Emory University Hospital’s special isolation unit, where several Ebola patients have already been treated.

Four others are being sent to Nebraska Medical Center to be near their special isolation unit in case they develop Ebola symptoms.

Kerry Cautious Before New Iran Talks, Cites ‘Important Gaps’

Kerry Cautious Before New Iran Talks, Cites ‘Important Gaps’, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday delivered a highly cautious assessment ahead of the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, citing “important gaps” in the way of a deal before an end of March deadline.

At a news conference in Egypt, where he attended an economic conference, Kerry also said a U.S. decision would come shortly on unblocking hundreds of millions in suspended military assistance for the Egyptian government.

Three days before Israel’s election, America’s top diplomat expressed hope that any government voted into power “meets the hopes for peace” in the Middle East.

But on the Obama administration’s No. 1 foreign policy priority, talks with Iran to curb its nuclear program, Kerry was circumspect.

He said only a negotiated agreement could provide long-term assurance that Tehran would not develop nuclear weapons. But with a deadline just two weeks away, he could not say whether the United States and other world powers would be able to reach a framework accord with the Iranians or even were close.

“We have made some progress but there are still gaps, important gaps, and important choices that need to be made by Iran in order to move forward,” Kerry told reporters in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. “The purpose of these negotiations is not just to get any deal,” he said. “It is to get the right deal.”

In an interview with CBS News, Kerry suggested that an extension of the talks was unlikely because it would be unproductive.

“We believe very much that there’s not anything that’s going to change in April or May or June that suggests that at that time a decision you can’t make now will be made then,” Kerry said in an interview to air Sunday on “Face the Nation.” He added: “If it’s peaceful, let’s get it done. And my hope is that in the next days that will be possible.”

Speaking at the news conference after a week of U.S. political fighting over the diplomatic outreach to Iran, Kerry lambasted Senate Republicans who signed an open letter to Iran’s leaders suggesting any deal they reach with the administration could expire the day President Barack Obama leaves office.

Calling such tactics unprecedented, Kerry said they will inevitably raise questions among Iran and America’s allies in the talks. In his interview with CBS, Kerry said he would not apologize to the Iranians – “not on your life” – for the Senate Republicans’ letter and then criticized freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican behind the missive.

“I’m not going to apologize for the … unconstitutional, unthought-out action by somebody who’s been in the United States Senate for 60-something days. That’s just inappropriate,” Kerry said. “I will explain very clearly that Congress does not have the right to change an executive agreement. Another president may have a different view about it. But if we do our job correctly, all of these nations – they all have an interest in making sure this is in fact a proven, peaceful program.”

Vanuatu Struggles To Account For Cyclone Damage, Deaths

Vanuatu Struggles To Account For Cyclone Damage, Deaths, Vanuatu’s president said the cyclone that hammered the tiny South Pacific archipelago was a “monster” that has destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the buildings in the capital Port Vila and has forced the nation to start anew.

Looking weary and red-eyed, Baldwin Lonsdale said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press that the latest information he has is that six people are confirmed dead and 30 injured from Cyclone Pam. Lonsdale was interviewed in Sendai, northeastern Japan, where he had been attending a disaster conference when the cyclone struck.

He appealed for international aid for the place he calls “paradise.”

“This is a very devastating cyclone in Vanuatu. I term it as a monster, a monster,” he said. “It’s a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out.”

The president said because of the break in communications, even he could not reach his family. “We do not know if our families are safe or not. As the leader of the nation, my whole heart is for the people, the nation.”

Lonsdale and other top Vanuatu government officials were preparing to return home later Monday from Sendai.

Officials in Vanuatu had still not made contact with outlying islands and were struggling to determine the scale of devastation from the cyclone, which tore through early Saturday, packing winds of 270 kilometers (168 miles) per hour.

Paolo Malatu, coordinator for the National Disaster Management Office, said officials had dispatched every plane and helicopter they could to fly over the hard-hit outer islands.

“The damage to homes and infrastructure is severe,” Malatu said. “The priority at the moment is to get people water, food and shelter.”

He said bridges were down outside the capital, making travel by vehicle impossible even around the main island of Efate.

New Zealand radio journalist Frances Cook and her husband traveled to Vanuatu for their honeymoon two days before the cyclone struck. She said they knew a storm was coming but figured from the forecasts it wouldn’t be too bad.

“It’s been exciting,” she joked.

Instead of zip-lining through the jungle and looking at active volcanoes as planned, she has instead been reporting back home on the devastation. She said a lot of stranded tourists are desperate to leave and some are afraid for their security.

“It’s a glorious place and the people are so lovely,” she said. “It’s quite upsetting to see this happen.”

The airport in Port Vila has reopened, allowing some aid and relief flights to reach the country. Lonsdale said a wide range of items were needed, from tarpaulins and water containers to medical supplies and construction tools.

Georgina Roberts, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, said two defense force planes would arrive Monday to retrieve about 100 stranded New Zealand tourists. Some commercial flights have resumed as well, although services are limited.

Up To 51 Dead After Bus Crash In Southern Brazil

Up To 51 Dead After Bus Crash In Southern Brazil, As many as 51 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.

The bus, en route from the neighboring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of meters before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were still trying to rescue survivors and recover the bodies of the victims late in the day.

Initially, police had reported 32 killed, but later said recovery crews believed an additional 19 were dead. Police did not know how many passengers in all were aboard the bus or whether the driver was one of the victims, but said that at least six survivors were being treated for injuries.

The bus was about 10 km (6 miles) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.

Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.

Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads.

Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.

The country averages more than 18 highway deaths per 100,000 people per year, compared with only about 10 in high-income countries, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The tolls in nearby Argentina, Colombia and Chile average only about 13.

U.S. Shuts Saudi Embassy Over Security Fears

U.S. Shuts Saudi Embassy Over Security Fears, The US embassy in Saudi Arabia said it had suspended consular services in the kingdom for two days due to “heightened security concerns”, after warning of threats against Western oil workers.

All services in Riyadh and at the consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran have been cancelled for Sunday and Monday, it said in a statement posted on its website Saturday.

The embassy warned US citizens to take extra precautions and keep a low profile if they were out in public.

“All US citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country,” it said.

“The Department of State urges US citizens to carefully consider the risks of travelling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country.”

The embassy on Friday had warned that Western oil workers risked being attacked or kidnapped by “terrorist” groups.

It did not identify the source of the threats and said no details were available on the planned attacks.

Saudi Arabia is taking part in US-led air strikes that began in September against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, raising concerns about possible retaliation.

Westerners in Saudi Arabia have come under attack four times since October.

The latest was last month when US defence contractor Vinnell Arabia said two of its American employees were shot at in Eastern Province, where most of the kingdom’s oil wealth is concentrated.

Saudi police said that one of them was wounded but results of the investigation that followed have not yet been revealed.

In October, another Vinnell employee was shot dead and another wounded at a petrol station in Riyadh, in what Saudi authorities have said was not a “terrorist-related” incident.

A Dane was wounded in November as he was driving away from his workplace when he was fired upon from another car.

Authorities said the three Saudis arrested on suspicion of involvement in that attack had acted “in support of” the Islamic State group.

A week after the Dane’s shooting, a Canadian was stabbed and wounded while he shopped at a mall on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast.

Shiite-populated Eastern province is also the scene of unrest sparked by members of the minority who occasionally clash with police.

Saudi Arabia has also blamed IS-linked suspects for the November killing of seven members of the Shiite community in Eastern Province, including children.