Tag Archive: health insurance for everyone


 

 

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In Thailand, rescuers raced to free 12 members of a youth soccer team and a coach who had been trapped in a flooded cave for nearly three weeks.  Divers found the teammates and coach alive, but had been unable to rescue them.  In the last 18 days, a local search for the missing 13 turned into a complex rescue operation, involving hundreds of experts who flew in from around the world to help in the rescue efforts.  The rescue has been a race to extract the boys and their coach ahead of monsoon rains that could haved flooded the cave completely.  Cave experts grappled with the problem of how to free the young, malnourished boys, some of whom couldn’t swim, from a flooded cavern as monsoon rains threatened to raise water levels even further.  The boys received a crash course in swimming and the use of SCUBA gear.

The final boy and his coach rescued Tuesday are still being treated at an on-site medical center, while three other boys have been transported to a nearby hospital where eight of their teammates are recuperating after being rescued Sunday and Monday.  Nineteen divers entered the cave at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday (11 p.m. Monday ET), many on their third mission in three days, with the aim of bringing everyone inside the cave out.  Tuesday’s rescue efforts took nine hours from the time the divers entered the cave to bringing out the boys and their coach.

Divers involved in the rescue described dangerous conditions involving fast-moving shallow water passing through very narrow passages. Poor visibility, razor sharp rocks and narrow passages made the rescue very tricky.  As rain threatened to hamper what was already a complicated rescue mission it became clear the boys were going to have to dive out  Officials scrambled to find full-face oxygen masks small enough to fit the boys and experts were sent in to teach them how to use scuba gear.

Two days before the first four boys were rescued, officials warned that oxygen levels within the cave had fallen to 15%.  The “optimal range” of oxygen needed in the air a person breathes in order to maintain normal function is between 19.5% and 23.5%.  Such low levels creates the risk of hypoxia, a condition that causes altitude sickness.

During the hours-long trip out of the cave, each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers helping them navigate the dark, murky water. The most dangerous part required the divers and boys to squeeze through a narrow, flooded channel. Rescuers had to hold the boys’ oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes. Once they completed this section, the boys were then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who helped assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.

All the boys rescued are being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. Medical officials told reporters that they’re healthy, fever-free, mentally fit and “seem to be in high spirits.”  They will remain in insolation until the risk of infection has passed.  Parents of the boys have been able to see their children through a glass window and talk to them on the phone. They’ll be allowed to enter the room if tests show the boys are free of infection.

The permanent secretary of the Thai Health Ministry, said the first group of boys taken out on Sunday were aged 14 to 16. Their body temperatures were very low when they emerged, and two are suspected of having lung inflammation.  The second group freed on Monday were aged 12 to 14.  Authorities will look for signs of Histoplasmosis, also known as “cave disease,” an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings.  They are all likely to stay in hospital for seven days due to their weakened immune systems.

 

 

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A disturbing report by the Associated Press reveals that Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 migrants in the Sahara Desert over the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children.  The expelled migrants have been rounded up, sometimes at gunpoint, and forced to walk in the blistering heat with no food or water.  Survivors interviewed by the Associated Press say they were rounded up, crammed into trucks, driven into the desert and then dropped off and forced at gunpoint to walk into neighboring Niger without food or water. An unknown number of migrants have died during the journey.

The majority head to Niger, across a 10 mile trek through no-man’s-land in temperatures as high as 118 degrees. Some survive while others wander for days before a UN rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish; nearly all of the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply vanished into the Sahara.

Algeria’s mass expulsions have picked up since October 2017, as the European Union renewed pressure on North African countries to head off migrants going north to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea or the barrier fences with Spain.  Algeria provides no figures for its involuntary expulsions but the number of people crossing on foot to Niger has been increasing since the International Organization for Migration (IOM) started counting in May 2017.  An estimated total of 11,276 men, women and children survived the march.  At least another 2,500 were forced on a similar trek into neighboring Mali, with an unknown number succumbing along the way.

The migrants’ accounts are confirmed by videos collected by the Associated Press over several months, show hundreds of people stumbling away from lines of trucks and buses, spreading wider and wider through the desert.  They travel in crammed trucks for six to eight hours before being dropped in the desert and pointed in the direction of Niger.

In early June, 217 men, women and children were dropped off well before reaching the usual drop-off stop, dubbed Point Zero.  “There were people who couldn’t take it. They sat down and we left them. They were suffering too much,” said 18-year-old Aliou Kande from Senegal.  Kande said nearly a dozen people simply gave up, collapsing in the sand. His group of 1,000 also got lost and wandered for 11 hours in the heat of the desert. He never saw the missing people again.

Despite the threat of violence and expulsion, for many migrants, Algeria is a necessary transit point to recover their strength and to save enough money before attempting to continue their journey towards Europe. Algerian authorities have refused to comment on the AP’s revelations but has denied criticism that it is committing rights abuses by abandoning migrants in the desert in the past, calling the allegations a “malicious campaign” intended to inflame neighboring countries.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old unarmed African-American high school senior who was shot and killed on June 19th by an East Pittsburgh police officer.  Rose was shot in the back as he was trying to flee a traffic stop by Police Officer Michael Rosfeld.  Officer Rosfeld came upon Antwon and another teenager, Zaijuan Hester, when he stopped a car they were riding in that had been seen leaving a drive-by shooting in the nearby town of North Braddock.  Zaijuan, 17, was charged in connection with that shooting.

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have charged Officer Michael Rosfeld with criminal homicide for the fatal shooting.  The charge against Officer Rosfeld capped days of protests in the Pittsburgh area, and came two days after the funeral for Antwon at Woodland Hills Intermediate School, in Swissvale, Pa., where he was a rising senior.  Allegheny County district attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said that Officer Rosfeld had failed basic police procedures in the moments before Antwon was shot, gave statements to investigators that were contradicted by witnesses and had a troubling employment history with other police departments.  Zappala said he’d ask a jury to consider first-degree murder charges against Rosfeld, though the charge of criminal homicide opens the door for a possible conviction on lesser charges—including involuntary manslaughter. Rosfeld surrendered to authorities and was released after posting $250,000 bail.

Officer Rosfeld pulled over the Chevrolet Cruze that matched the description of a vehicle seen near an earlier drive-by shooting in North Braddock, in which a 22-year-old man was struck in the abdomen.  Without waiting for backup, Officer Rosfeld approached the driver’s side of the car and had the driver step out. As he was placing the driver in handcuffs, Antwon, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, and Zaijuan, who was in the back seat, jumped out.  Witnesses said Antwon flashed his hands in the air, showing that they were empty, and then turned to run away.

A video of the encounter posted on Facebook shows the teenagers running from police vehicles as three shots are fired, and Antwon falling to the ground.  Witnesses told the police that they heard Officer Rosfeld fire three shots — all of which hit Antwon. One struck the right side of his face, another hit his right elbow and a third, which was the fatal wound, hit his back and then struck a lung and his heart, an autopsy found.

Officer Rosfeld initially told investigators that Antwon had turned his hand toward him and was holding “something dark,” and that he thought it was a gun.  Yet when he was asked again about what had transpired, Officer Rosfeld said he did not see a gun.  According to the criminal complaint, “When confronted with this inconsistency, Rosfeld stated he saw something in the passenger’s hand but was not sure what it was.” “Officer Rosfeld stated that he was not certain if the individual who had his arm pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired.”

An empty 9 millimeter magazine, which fit into a 9 millimeter pistol recovered under the car’s front passenger seat, was found in Antwon’s front right pocket. The pistol had been reported missing in Monroeville, Pa., that same day.

 

 

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The off-duty FBI agent who accidentally shot a man while doing a back flip on the dance floor of a Denver bar has been charged.  Chase Bishop, 29, whose gun went flying out of his holster at Mile High Spirits bar in Denver, was charged with second-degree assault. The incident was captured in a viral video with many outraged that he had not been charged by the Denver Police.  Police had initially released Bishop to an FBI supervisor while awaiting toxicology results before deciding whether to charge him.

A spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Bishop turned himself in after a warrant for his arrest was issued on Tuesday.  He was being held in Downtown Detention Center in Denver but jail records say Bishop posted a $1000 bond and was released.  Additional charges could be filed based on the results of a blood alcohol content test, which has not yet been received, authorities have said.  Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said the assault charge was filed before that report comes back “because sufficient evidence has been presented to file it.  If an additional charge needs to be filed after further evidence is received, we can file those charges then.”  Results from the BAC test are expected within a week.

The incident happened at 12:45am on June 2.  Bishop’s gun discharged and struck fellow patron Tom Reddington in the leg.  Bishop immediately picked up the weapon but accidentally squeezed off a single round. He then placed the gun in his waistband and walked off the dance floor with his hands in the air, the video shows.  Reddington said “We sat down at one of those picnic tables — I heard a loud bang and I thought some idiot set off a firecracker.  Then I looked down at my leg and see some brown residue… All of a sudden from the knee down it became completely red. Then it clicked that I’ve been shot.”  Reddington told “Good Morning America” that he asked for someone to call 911 before blacking out. A security guard and fellow club-goers applied a tourniquet to his leg.  “I soaked through several blankets, several towels, a few gauze pads,” Reddington said.  Reddington is expected to fully recover.

Though Bishop offered no assistance to Reddington on the night of the shooting, his attorney said his client would like to meet with the man who was injured and is praying for his recovery.  Attorney David Goddard asked that Bishop be allowed to travel because he lives and works in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors did not object, and Denver County Court Judge Andrea Eddy gave Bishop permission to travel.  Chase Bishop, 29, made his first appearance in a Denver courtroomon Wednesday, where a judge issued a standard protection order stating that he must have zero contact and stay at least 100 yards away from the victim, Tom Reddington.

Bishop did not enter a plea and declined to answer any questions as he left the courthouse.  The FBI field office in Denver declined to comment on the incident “to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” said Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman.  Sanders said the field office would fully cooperate with Denver police and prosecutors “as this matter proceeds through the judicial process.”

 

 

 

 

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the University of Southern California (USC) and a former gynecologist there, Dr. George Tyndall, who is accused of sexually harassing and molesting dozens, and potentially hundreds, of students during his nearly 30 years at the university.  The attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Tyndall’s accusers, wrote that USC “actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s sexual abuse for years.”  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven women who claim Tyndall used racist and inappropriately sexual language during consultations and conducted pelvic examinations with his fingers without gloves.

After an LA Times piece published in May exposed the allegations, the Los Angeles Police Department has launched an investigation into the allegations, USC president C.L. Max Nikias has resigned, and the rest of the university faculty has been scrambling to address the school’s shortcomings in regard to issues of sexual misconduct.

Tyndall had a history of allegedly inappropriately touching female students during gynecological examinations, making lewd comments about their bodies, and taking pictures of their genitals. USC acknowledged it had received complaints against Tyndall as early as 2000.  Authorities say school administrators received reports of sexual abuse during pelvic exams dating back to the early 1990s but failed to investigate these reports until 2016. The doctor wasn’t fired until 2017, when his colleagues discovered a box full of pictures of female genitalia in his office.

They finally parted ways with him last June, but only after the university conducted an internal investigation and found out about the ignored complaints.  University officials said the school reached a settlement with the doctor and did not report him to law enforcement or state medical authorities at the time.  Authorities say fifty-two former patients of a Tyndall, who treated thousands of women at the University of Southern California have reported they may have been victims of inappropriate and possibly criminal behavior.  Police estimate Dr. George Tyndall may have seen 10,000 patients and they think there could be more victims among women who were examined by him.

The 71-year-old reportedly admitted that his exams were “extremely thorough” but claimed he never did anything inappropriate. Several former co-workers spoke to the LA Times “They felt like they were violated,” explained one nurse, who spoke with at least five women in 2013 and 2014 who refused to be seen by Tyndall.  “They felt like he was inappropriately touching them, that it didn’t feel like a normal exam.”  Other co-workers claim he was improperly taking pictures of students’ genitals and making inappropriate remarks during pelvic exams.  Tyndall would often commend patients on their “flawless” and “creamy” skin, while also making comments about their bodies, the employees said.  A nurse recalls an exchange where she watched him compliment a student on her “perky breasts.”  “They stand right up there, don’t they?’” she recalled him telling the patient.

In 2013, eight different medical assistants who were in exam rooms during exams, voiced their concerns about Tyndall to long time nurse Cindy Gilbert, but nothing was done about his behavior.  Gilbert reported the complaints to then-executive director Dr. Lawrence Neinstein who instead chose to handle the situation “independently.”

 

 

 

 

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Two journalists in North Carolina died while covering the landfall of Subtropical Storm Alberto, which brought heavy rain and flash flood warnings to swaths of the Southeast.  News anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer of the NBC affiliate WYFF died when a tree fell on their news truck.  Authorities said a tree became uprooted from rain-soaked soil and toppled on the news team’s SUV, killing the two instantly.  “All of us at WYFF News 4 are grieving,” the station said. “We are a family and we thank you, our extended family, for your comfort as we mourn and as we seek to comfort the families of Mike and Aaron.”

Anchor Carol Goldsmith broke the news of their deaths on air “Anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer both had worked in the Greenville market for more than a decade.  Mike and Aaron were beloved members of our team — our family,” Goldsmith said.  McCormick was a weekend anchor for the Greenville station-covering Spartanburg and surrounding areas. He came to the station in April 2007.  Smeltzer had worked in Greenville for more than a decade, winning four Emmys during his career.

The men were driving on U.S. Highway 176 near Tryon around 2pm when the large tree fell on their vehicle, North Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Murico Stephens said.  McCormick and Smeltzer had just interviewed Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant. They told Tennant to be careful with Alberto’s remnants expected to bring more heavy rains and mudslides to North Carolina. He told them to be careful too.

“Ten minutes later we get the call and it was them,” Tennant said at a news conference, his voice cracking.  The fire chief said the roots of a large tree were loosened in ground saturated by a week of rain. The TV vehicle engine’s was still running and the transmission was in drive when crews found it.  Tennant estimated the tree to be about three feet in diameter.

WYFF anchor Mike McCormick, 36, is survived by his parents, his partner, Brian Dailey and Brian’s daughters, Katy and Emma Dailey; brother, Kevin McMullen (Novi); and nieces, Holly and Kaylee.  He is  remembered as a compassionate journalist who knew how to make everyone around him comfortable. McCormick graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in broadcast journalism and theater arts, WYFF said.  McCormick enjoyed cooking with local, fresh ingredients from the Hub City Farmers’ Market, as well as spending time with his family and two dogs.  McCormick started at WYFF in 2007 as a reporter and became a weekend anchor in 2014.

Photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer, 35, is survived by his fiancée, Heather Michelle Lawter of Inman, South Carolina; Mother and Father-in-law, Stephen and Debbie Lawter of Inman, South Carolina; two brother-in-laws, Matt Lawter and his wife Mandy and Chris Lawter and his wife Angel; two nephews, Trent Lawter and Reec` Marlow and his beloved fur babies, Diesel and Mollie.  He is remembered as a talented photojournalist and an unfailingly kind friend that would make you feel like you were his best friend as soon as you met him.

 

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Amazon’s Echo devices are garnering scrutiny over potential eavesdropping after a family in Portland, Oregon had their private conversation recorded by their Amazon Echo device and sent to someone in their contact list.  They learned of the invasion of privacy when they received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago.  “Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” a voice on the other line said. “You’re being hacked.”  The caller, an employee of the husband, had received audio files of their conversations.

The Portland family had an Echo smart home speaker in every room of their house to help control their heat, lights and security system.  The woman, who identified herself only by her first name, Danielle said “My husband and I would joke and say, ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying.”  She added that the device did not tell her that it would be sending the recorded conversations.

Danielle said they unplugged all the devices, contacted Amazon and spoke to an Alexa engineer, who apologized multiple times.  Although Amazon offered to “de-provision” the devices of their communications features so they could keep using them to control their home, Danielle and her family reportedly want a refund instead.  Though the conversation was a mundane one – they were talking about hardwood floors, the couple said they will never plug the devices in again.

Amazon’s full statement on the issue seems to show Alexa, the company’s virtual personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence, was trying a little too hard.  Their statement explained: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right.” As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.

Other smart home speakers carry similar risks that privacy advocates have been warning about as the popularity of these types of devices grows.  Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a staff technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said that the intuitive nature of connected devices can mask their complexity and the possibility of malfunction. “The Amazon Echo, despite being small, is a computer — it’s a computer with microphones, speakers, and it’s connected to the network,” he said. “These are potential surveillance devices, and we have invited them further and further into our lives without examining how that could go wrong. And I think we are starting to see examples of that.”

Last year, a North Carolina man said the same thing had happened to him.  His Echo device recorded 20 seconds of his conversation and sent it to his insurance agent without his knowledge.  Google had to release a patch last year for its Home Mini speakers after some of them were found to be recording everything.  While “home assistants” such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have been big sellers in the past few years, they’ve brought with them many concerns over privacy.  These recorded-conversation incidents show what can happen when people welcome devices into their home that are always listening.

 

 

 

 

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NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room without penalty if they prefer.   The vote was made by team owners without involvement from the NFL Players Association.  The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team personnel do not show respect for the anthem. That includes any attempt to sit or kneel, as dozens of players have done during the past two seasons to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Those teams also will have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction.

The previous policy required players to be on the field for the anthem but only that they “should” stand. When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 as a protest against racial injustice in the United States, the league had no rule it could use to prevent it.  The movement grew with other players kneeling and drew increasing criticism with many who believed it was a sign of disrespect toward the flag and country.  As the movement grew, the negative responses included suggestions that players who protest should be fired.

Others displayed their disapproval of players’ protests by leaving the stadium immediately after the protests or refusing to watch games at all.  Owners had been divided on how to extricate the league from criticism. Some owners, including the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, wanted all players to stand. Others, such as the New York Jets’ Christopher Johnson, wanted to avoid any appearance of muzzling players.  Some suggested clearing the field prior to the anthem but the idea was rejected by some owners who thought it would be interpreted as a mass protest or a sign of disrespect.

After spending months in discussions, and another three hours over two days at the leagues spring meetings, owners said they found a compromise that will end sitting or kneeling with an edict that stops short of requiring every player to stand.  In a statement accompanying the announcement, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league wanted to eliminate criticism that suggested the protests were unpatriotic.  “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said. “This is not and was never the case.”

Goodell added “All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag,that that is a very important moment to all of us, as a league, as clubs, personally and to our country, and that’s a moment that we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion. And that, that was something that was very strongly held in the room.”

As for the man who started the movement, on March 3, 2017, Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, becoming a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.  Kaepernick went unsigned through the offseason and 2017 training camps, leading to allegations that he was being blackballed because of his on-field political actions as opposed to his performance.  Many players, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and former teammate Alex Smith, have stated that they believe his sporting ability is competitive in the NFL and they are incredulous of his prolonged unemployment.  Kaepernick and former 49ers safety Eric Reid have both filed collusion cases against the league after failing to find jobs as free agents.

 

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A 58-year-old convicted murderer has been charged in the road rage stabbing death of a Missouri Air National Guard member that occurred around 7:30pm on May 5th in Lee’s Summit, Mo.  Nicholas M. Webb is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Cody Harter, 23, of St. Joseph, Mo.   The killing appeared to stem from a dispute over a lane merge as Webb and Harter both drove along northbound Missouri 291 at the merger of Interstate 470 in Lee’s Summit according to Webb’s statement to police in court documents.

At the scene, multiple drivers called police to the area after seeing Harter stumbling into traffic. By the time EMT’s arrived, Harter had collapsed in the median and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Lee’s Summit Police Department.  Witnesses told police they had seen a vehicle stopped in front of Harter’s truck and that he was arguing with another person with his hands in the air when the person swung at Harter.  Police believe that that the swing was when Harter was actually stabbed once in the chest before he stumbled back into the lanes of traffic and later died.

Police asked for the public’s help in finding the killer who fled north on I-470 or anyone that may have seen the confrontation.   “Literally hundreds of cars would have passed by and possibly saw the actual incident along 470.  What we’re asking people to do is come forward and help this family get closure and help us bring them justice in this case,” Sergeant Depue told reporters.  Harter’s family also made a tearful plea to the public in finding the suspect.   Police identified Webb as the suspect after viewing nearby security footage of the vehicles stopped along the highway from over 40 businesses in the area and through statements of 51 witnesses who came forward with information.

Webb was taken into custody around 6 p.m. Wednesday at his home in Pleasant Hill.  Webb was previously sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1981 for the strangling death of a 15 year old girl in Belton, MO in 1980. He served 15 years for that murder and was released in 1996.  In 1997, he was sent back to prison for violating parole and was released again in 2003.  In 2005, Webb was taken back into custody and remained in prison until his most recent parole in July 2017.  Police say Webb had several convictions including some for assault.  He was arrested in Liberty for drug possession and DUI on the same day of the deadly confrontation with Harter.  Information from that arrest said Webb had a knife in his pocket at the time of his arrest.

After the arrest, Cody Harter’s family and his girlfriend Shelby Berkemeier said they were thankful to the people who rushed to his aid, held his hand and prayed with him as he passed.  Harter’s mother Kerrie said her son was a loadmaster with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 180th Airlift Squadron who served a tour in Iraq and was in Quatar.  He also helped with hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico. He was one semester away from completing his degree in technical engineering from Missouri Western State University.  During a press conference, his loved ones shared several stories about the kindness Cody showed people every day.  His sister Kylee spoke of a time he was driving with his girlfriend when he stopped to shovel the driveway after seeing an older woman outside in the snow.  Another time he was at the dirt bike track and took time away from his own riding to fix a little boy’s bicycle chain after it broke.  “He had the biggest heart and would do anything to help anyone at the drop of a hat,” said Kylee Harter.  “It was senseless. He’s been to war and back and to die because someone was angry, for someone to just take everything from him… They didn’t know him. He didn’t deserve this and we don’t deserve the pain that came with it.”

 

 

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Hawaii’s governor has readied plans for a mass evacuation of the state’s Big Island-warning residents to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, as an eruption at Kilauea volcano strengthened.  Officials say levels of toxic sulfur dioxide are rising, as is the threat of an explosion that could send lava, rocks and even large boulders into residential areas.  Hundreds of residents continue to evacuate the area and more than two dozen homes have been destroyed so far. Geologists say the volcanic eruptions are expected to continue.

Concerns have been mounting since the Kilauea erupted May 3, sending 2,200-degree lava bursting through cracks into backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, destroying 36 structures, including 26 homes. As the magma shifted underground, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake also rocked the Big Island.    A new fissure spewing lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano formed in the southeast corner of the Big Island, raising anxieties as the state braces for potentially violent eruptions.

The new fissure, a crack in the ground allowing lava to pour out, appeared to be several hundred yards long and was producing spatter rising “many tens of feet into the air,” the U.S. Geological Survey said.  It was spotted west of state Highway 132 and led state officials to call for some residents along Halekamahina Loop Road to leave their homes.  Steam and lava spatter could be seen from the new fissure, officials said.

Residents have been warned about the possibility of an explosive eruption at the volcano’s Halema’uma’u Crater because of the withdrawal of lava from the Kilauea summit lake.  “This could generate dangerous debris very near the crater and ashfalls up to tens of miles downwind,” the warning said. The danger comes from the lava level that is dropping inside the volcano. If it falls below the water table, water will pour onto the lava, generating steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower of rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.  Boulders as big as refrigerators could be tossed a half-mile and ash plumes could soar as high as 20,000 feet spread over a 12-mile area, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense.

President Trump declared the Big Island a disaster area. The move will allow federal financial assistance for state and local governments as they repair roads, parks, schools and water pipes damaged by the eruption.  The Big Island, also known as the island of Hawaii, has a population of about 190,000 people.  The Hawaii National Guard has prepared to use ground convoys and even helicopters to pluck hundreds of residents out of danger if necessary.  The Hawaii National Guard is prepared, with only 90 minutes’ notice, to rescue 2,000 people in troop-carrying vehicles and Blackhawk or Chinook helicopters

“We can move 226 people in one convoy. So we could move 226 at once with about an hour and a half notice, and we would drop them off somewhere. The vehicles could come back, and we would just do that round-robin,” Lt. Col. Shawn Tsuha said.