Tag Archive: mark j shuster insurance


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A homemade bomb exploded in a rush-hour subway car injuring 29 people in London on Friday.  Most of those injured suffered flash burns while others were hurt when the blast triggered a stampede.  Police and ambulances were on the scene within minutes and emergency services said none of the injuries were serious or life-threatening.  Britain raised its terrorism threat level to critical — meaning another attack is expected shortly.   The British government is investigating the explosion as a terrorist incident and a manhunt for the perpetrators ensued in what police said was the fourth terrorist attack in the British capital this year.

The bomb went off around 8:20 a.m. as the train was at Parsons Green station in the southwest of the city.  The bomb was hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag but it only partially exploded, sparing the city much worse carnage.  Prime Minister Theresa May said the device “was intended to cause significant harm.”  Witnesses describe a loud bang and a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train, followed by a chemical smell.  As the flames shot up the side of the train chaos ensued as hundreds of people poured from the train.   Others describe a scene of “every man for himself” as people pushed to get out the doors.  Photos taken inside the train showed a white plastic bucket inside a foil-lined shopping bag, with flames and what appeared to be wires emerging from the top.

Trains were suspended along a stretch of the Underground’s District Line, and several homes were evacuated as police set up a 150 foot area around the scene while they secured the device and launched a search for those who planted it.  Hundreds of police investigators, along with agents of MI5 were pouring over surveillance camera footage, carrying out forensic work and interviewing witnesses.

The next day, two suspects were detained over the bombing, an 18-year-old refugee from Iraq and a 21-year old from Syria.  Police searched three addresses, including the house of Penelope and Ronald Jones, of Sunbury.  The couple has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II for fostering more than 200 children, including refugees from Middle Eastern conflicts.  Both of the suspects were fostered by the British couple.

The 18-year-old was detained Saturday at the southeast England port of Dover, a departure point for ferries to France. Later the same day, the 21-year-old man, identified as Yahyah Farroukh, was detained as he left his work shift at a restaurant in Hounslow, West London.  Surveillance footage shows a man near the Sunbury address Friday morning carrying a bag from Lidl supermarket. Images posted on social media following the attack appeared to show wires protruding from a flaming bucket contained in a Lidl bag on the floor of the train carriage.

The threat level was lowered to severe by Sunday and police said the investigation was making rapid progress.  Both men are being held under the Terrorism Act 2000 but neither has been charged.  British authorities say they have foiled 6 terror plots since the since the van and knife attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament in March, which killed five people. Police and MI5 say that at any given time they are running about 500 counter terrorism investigations involving 3,000 individuals.

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Hurricane Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane.  It caused at 84 deaths, including 45 in the Caribbean and 39 in the United States.  For over a week, Irma’s intensity fluctuated between a Category 5 and 2 hurricanes.  It was also the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005.

All 1,800 residents of Barbuda have been evacuated to its sister island of Antigua after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on September 6 made Barbuda “uninhabitable”  for the first time in 300 years.  Downed phone lines ceased all communication with nearby islands-leaving the exact state of the island unclear for hours.  Irma damaged or destroyed 95% of the structures on Barbuda with preliminary damage assessments of at least $150 million.  Antigua sustained minimal damage with leveled roofs and fences, downed power poles lines, and uprooted trees. Some street flooding also took place in low-lying areas.

On September 6, Irma’s center crossed the island of Saint Martin with peak intensity, sweeping away entire structures, submerging roads and cars, triggering an island-wide blackout and killing 3 people.  The majority of the island’s population was left stranded and without water, electricity or phone service.  Premier William Marlin estimates between $1.2 – 1.5 billion in damage from Irma’s destruction.

Damage in the British Virgin Islands included buildings and roads destroyed on the island of Tortola, which bore the brunt of the hurricane’s core.  Satellite images revealed many residential zones had been left in ruins on the island of Cane Garden Bay.  Irma’s most severe damage were on the islands Saint Thomas and Saint John with 12 inches of rain fall and both island’s suffering widespread structural damage.  Both islands had widespread power outages and three deaths were attributed to Irma.

Hurricane Irma reached the Turks and Caicos Islands on the evening of September 7th. While the eye passed just south of the main islands, crossing over South Caicos and the Ambergris Cays, the most powerful winds on the northern side of the eye swept all of the islands for more than two hours. Communications infrastructure was destroyed with extensive residential damage and some neighborhoods reported to be entirely gone.  Minister of Infrastructure Goldray Ewing estimated that damage exceeding $500 million.

The eye of the storm passed over Duncan Town, in the Bahamas on September 8th and “almost directly over” Inagua and South Acklins.  Damage was largely confined to the southern islands with downed power lines, lost communications, flooding and 70% of homes sustaining roof damage.  Irma hit Cuba overnight September 8th as a Category 5 but weakened to a Category 3 hurricane on September 9th causing significant damage.  Many one homes and roads were completely flooded with waves rolling through some towns.  Irma is estimated to have caused at least $2.2 billion in damage and at least 10 deaths across the country.

Irma hit the Florida Keys on September 10th with reports at least 90% of structures in the Florida Keys suffering damage and a quarter of them were destroyed completely.  Irma hit the Keys as a Category 4 storm causing major damage to nearly everything in its path, knocking out power, water, sanitation and communications. The hurricane was downgraded to Category 1, prior to reaching Tampa but still left nearly 4.5 million Florida residents without power for days.   Damage along the length of the Keys, around Naples and Fort Myers area could reach as much as $300 billion, according to insurance analysts.

 

 

Troy Gentry, of country duo Montgomery Gentry, has died at the age of 50, following a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey.  The crash took place around 1pm on Friday September 8th at Flying W Airport where bandmate Eddie Montgomery waited.  Pilot James Evan Robinson, 30, died on the scene and Troy Gentry was taken to nearby Virtua Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.  Montgomery Gentry was scheduled to perform that night at the Flying W Airport & Resort in Medford but the show was immediately cancelled.

Medford police said first responders received news of a helicopter in distress that was returning to the Flying W Airport.  A police statement said “Initial reports were the helicopter was going to attempt to crash land.” “Emergency crews arrived at the airport and shortly thereafter, the helicopter suddenly crashed in a field just south of the airport runway.”  The Federal Aviation Administration has said that the Schweizer 269 helicopter crashed into a wooded area off the Runway 1 at the airport.

Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, described the flight as a “spur of the moment” helicopter ride.  Rayner explained “Not long after takeoff, the pilot announced over the airport frequency – which was being monitored by a number of people – that he was having difficulty controlling engine RPM.”  “A couple of different responses to that challenge were discussed, and he was performing an auto rotational descent to runway one.  The helicopter landed short of the runway in low brush, it was substantially damaged and the occupants were fatally injured.”

Friends long before they made it big, the Kentucky-based duo formed in the late ’90s.  They produced a number of country music hits, including “My Town,” “Headlights” and “Hillbilly Shoes.”  They were named duo of the year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association in 2000, and were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009.

The duo’s recent years were marked with loss and struggle. In 2014, Gentry grieved the death of his brother, Keith.  In 2015, Hunter Montgomery, the 19-year-old son of Eddie Montgomery died from an accidental overdose.  Gentry was also by Montgomery’s side as he battled prostate cancer in 2010. A few years later Troy Gentry’s wife, Angie McClure Gentry, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was eventually declared cancer-free in 2015.  Troy Gentry also lost his father Lloyd Gentry on August 13 of this year.  Troy Gentry leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

 

 

 

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Prosecutors have announced charges against a Kansas City man in the shooting deaths of two men.  He is a suspect in three other killings that occurred along or near the Indian Creek Trail, a hiking trail that runs for miles along south Kansas City.  Fredrick Demond Scott, 22, is jailed on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. Prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to the victims.

The slayings terrorized the community for months and left many residents that frequented the trails daily, feeling it was too dangerous.  Palmer was killed Aug. 19, 2016, in a wooded area near the Indian Creek trail and his body was dragged into a wooded area near the trails where it was later found.  The other victims are Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of the popular Coach’s Bar & Grill, who was found dead May 18 along Indian Creek Trail; David Lenox, 67, found killed Feb. 27 a few feet from his front door while walking one of his dogs; and Timothy S. Rice, 57, who was found dead April 4 inside a shelter at Minor Park.

In May 2017, the FBI began assisting with the investigation and the policed warned that the killings may be the work of a serial killer because they were all near the trails and the victims were middle-aged, white men.  All of the victims had been shot, four were shot in the head — three in the back of the head. One was shot in the back.  Three of the victims had been walking their dogs when they were killed though no details linking the crimes were released to the public.

Prosecutors said Gibbons was shot in the back of the head as he walked along a south Kansas City street.  Surveillance video showed Scott following Gibbons off a Kansas City bus and down a south Kansas City street on Aug. 13 while drinking from an iced tea bottle. He was later seen running from the scene of Gibbons’ shooting and getting back on the bus.

Gibbons brazen killing in broad day light is what ultimately lead to Scott’s arrest.  Detectives found the iced tea bottle discarded at the scene and traced it back to the nearby convenience store it was sold from.  After reviewing the store’s surveillance footage, they issued Scott’s picture as the suspect in Gibbon’s killing to area law enforcement.  A Kansas City police officer waiting at a stop-light recognized Scott while he sat on a stone wall smoking a cigarette adjacent to the intersection.

The officer called homicide detectives who followed Scott home and the officer picked up his discarded cigarette butt.  When DNA evidence from the cigarette and the iced tea matched, police arrested Scott at his home.  The DNA evidence also linked Scott to a discarded t-shirt left behind at John Palmer’s 2016 killing.   “They didn’t see it coming,” Scott said under his breath while being questioned by detectives.  Scott has admitted to the two killings he has been charged with though police have not established a motive.  Scott repeatedly said he was upset over the death of his brother who was killed in a robbery in 2015 but he did not indicate a motive for the trail slayings.

Scott graduated from Center Alternative School in 2015 at the age of 20.  His mother said she believes that her son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia though he has never been officially diagnosed and has refused to get help.  A municipal citation for harassment documented by the school in January 2014 revealed that Scott threatened to kill himself, shoot up a school and “kill all white people,” according to court records.

Tens of thousands of residents began evacuating coastal communities in Texas as forecasters predicted Hurricane Harvey could make landfall late Friday as a major category-three storm, delivering a life-threatening 35-40 inches of rain to some parts of the Gulf Coast.  Several counties along the Gulf coast, including Nueces county, Calhoun county and Brazoria county, have ordered mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has activated about 700 members of the state National Guard and put military helicopters on standby in Austin and San Antonio in preparation for search and rescues and emergency evacuations.  In the Gulf of Mexico, oil and natural gas operators had begun evacuating workers from offshore platforms.

Harvey intensified on Thursday from a tropical depression into a category 1 hurricane. Early on Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported it had become a category 2. Fuelled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, it was projected to become a major category 3 hurricane.  Typical category 3 storms damage small homes, topple large trees and destroy mobile homes. The wall of water called a storm surge poses the greatest risk.

Hurricane trackers expect the storm’s eye to come ashore near the city of Corpus Christi, where Mayor Joe McComb called for a voluntary evacuation.  Forecasters predict that if Harvey stalls over Texas it could deliver catastrophic flooding before drifting back over the Gulf of Mexico towards Louisiana.

The National Hurricane Center said it expected flash flooding along the middle and upper Texas coast. The storm is expected to stall and unload torrents of rain for four to six straight days. In just a few days, the storm may dispense the amount of rain that normally falls over an entire year, shattering records. The storm is also predicted to generate a devastating storm surge — raising the water as much as 13 feet above normally dry land at the coast.

The National Weather Service office in Corpus Christi said that due to the combination of flooding from storm surge and rainfall, “locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period.” It warned of “structural damage to buildings, with many washing away” and that “streets and parking lots become rivers of raging water with underpasses submerged.”

Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane at 11 p.m. Friday between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas. With 130 mph winds, the storm became the first major hurricane, rated Category 3 or higher to strike U.S. soil in 12 years.  In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit near Galveston, Texas as a Category 2 storm that killed 113 in the US and caused $37.5 billion in damages.

 

 

Three people died and 19 were injured in Charlottesville, Virginia after violence erupted between white nationalist protestors and counter-protesters.  The protests began on Friday night, as thousands of neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white nationalists began descending on the city of Charlottesville to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally.

Hundreds bearing torches marched on the University of Virginia campus and surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson on Friday night, chanting “You will not replace us” and “White lives matter.”  Thousands of counter-protestors also descended on Charlottesville over the weekend, including clergy, students, Black Lives Matter activists, and protesters with the anti-fascist movement known as “Antifa.”

On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 white supremacists marched to the public park, recently renamed Emancipation Park, which is home to the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Many were carrying Nazi flags and other white supremacist paraphernalia, wore body armor and carried assault rifles and pistols. They were met by the thousands of anti-racist counterdemonstrators.

Soon after this march, the violence began as fights broke out with little police intervention.  Around 1:45 p.m., as police were attempting to disperse the crowds, 20 year old James Alex Fields, drove his Dodge Charger into a crowd of counter-demonstrators and then peeled away.  Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio had been rallying with the white nationalists earlier in the day.

Local paralegal Heather Heyer was killed in the attack, and at least 19 others were injured. Two state troopers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, also died Saturday, when their helicopter crashed en route to the scene of the violence.

James Alex Fields, Jr. was initially charged with 1 count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death.  Police have now charged him with five additional charges.  The five additional charges include two more counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding.  No bond was set, and he remains in custody.

Fields grew up in Kentucky and recently moved to Ohio, his mother, Samantha Bloom.  She told the Associated Press that she knew he was attending the “Unite The Right” rally this weekend and that he supported President Donald Trump, but said she didn’t know it was a white nationalist rally.  She added that she didn’t “get involved” with her son’s political views.  Neighbors describe him as a quiet teenager who had trouble making friends.  Former class mates , teachers and school officials noticed Fields had “deeply-held, radical” beliefs on Nazism and race.

 

Barcelona Terrorist Attacks

 

In Barcelona, Spain, 13 people died and over 100 were injured when a van plowed into a pedestrian walkway on La Rambla during a terrorist attack.  The driver of the van then fled on foot, killing a 14th victim during a carjacking while escaping the scene of the van attack.   Two hours later, the attacker then rammed a police barricade, exchanged gunfire with an officer who was injured and fled the scene, later abandoning the car.

Nine hours after the Barcelona attack, five men wearing fake suicide vests, drove into pedestrians in nearby Cambrils, before emerging and attacking people with knives.  One woman was killed and six others injured in this attack. All five attackers were shot by police as they were carrying out the attack.

Police have now connected an explosion that occurred in a house in Alcanar the night before to the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks. The explosion was initially thought to be a gas leak but the investigation revealed the home had over 120 gas canisters inside, which police believe were planned to be used in a larger terror attack.

Police say that the 40-year-old imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty,  thought to be the mastermind of the terrorist cell, accidentally caused the explosion.  The second man police believe was in the house, identified as Youssef Aalla, brother of one of the Cambril attackers- is missing and presumed dead.

In the aftermath, 15 people of nine different nationalities were killed, 13 died during the La Rambla attack, one stabbed during the carjacking and  and one in the Cambrils attack.  Over 100 people from over 34 nations were injured, 15 critically.

The police believe a terrorist cell of twelve members is responsible for the attacks.  Eight of them are dead and four are in police custody. The imam Abdelbaki Es Satty died in the Alcanar gas explosion and Youssef Aalla is believed to have also died in the explosion.

The five attackers killed in Cambrils were identified as Moussa Oukabir, Omar Hychami, El Houssaine Abouyaaqoub, Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hychami.  The man believed to have been the van driver in the Barcelona attack, Younes Abouyaaqoub, was killed by police on August 21st.  Four additional suspects have been detained by police.  The  men arrested are the owner of the car used in the Cambrils attack, the brother of Moussa Oukabir, a 20-year-old who survived the Alcanar explosion and a fourth man.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has become a dire situation as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the number of cases has reached over 400,000.   U.N. leaders say the outbreak has increased the number of people in need of assistance to nearly 21 million.  Since late April, the total has reached 402,484 suspected cases, 1,880 of them fatal.  Illnesses have been reported in all but 2 of the country’s 23 governorates.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, along with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley, said in a statement that more than 2 years of hostilities have crippled health, water, and sanitation systems, creating ideal conditions for the disease to spread.

“We now call on the international community to redouble its support for the people of Yemen. If we fail to do so, the catastrophe we have seen unfolding before our eyes will not only continue to claim lives but will scar future generations and the country for years to come,” the three said in their statement.

They warned that Yemen is on the brink of famine and 60% of the population doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. They added that nearly 2 million of the country’s children are acutely malnourished, making them susceptible to cholera, which leads to more malnutrition.

The outbreak began last year but a second wave of the waterborne disease has spread even more quickly in the last couple of months.  UNICEF and WHO have attributed the outbreak to malnutrition, collapsing sanitation and clean water systems due to the country’s ongoing conflict.

The impact of the outbreak has been exacerbated by many factors including the collapse of the Yemeni health services, where 30,000  health workers have remained unpaid for 10 months but are still reporting for duty. Less than half of Yemen’s medical centres are still functional.  WHO officials said “We have asked the Yemeni authorities to pay these health workers urgently because, without them, we fear that people who would otherwise have survived may die.”

Local authorities and humanitarian groups have set up more than 1,000 treatment centers and oral rehydration units.  The UN is working with the World Bank on a partnership to support the response needs and maintain the local health system.

Two years of conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels have taken a heavy toll on Yemen, causing widespread internal displacement and leaving millions facing famine.  The collapse of the country’s infrastructure has led to 14.5 million people, including nearly 8 million children,  having no access to clean water and sanitation.

With thousands more cases reported each day the number of cholera cases in Yemen is expected to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year.

 

 

A federal judge in Michigan has blocked the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals, giving them time to make their cases in court before the government may deport them.  U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request made by attorneys for the Iraqi nationals who had asked him to halt their deportation, saying they would be persecuted in Iraq. Goldsmith said the possible deportees, many whom are Chaldean Christian, would face “grave harm and possible death” in Iraq because there they are members of a persecuted minority.

In June, 234 Iraqi nationals were arrested and detained on removal orders that in most cases had been dormant for five to 10 years. For many years Iraqi has refused to accept deportees from the U.S. but they recently agreed to start accepting them after their country was taken off of the travel ban.

In addition to the 114 arrested during the ICE raids in Michigan in June, the judge’s order applies to 85 other Iraqis arrested outside the state. In total, there are 1,444 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. with final orders of deportation who could be affected by the judge’s ruling.

Judge Goldsmith entered a preliminary injunction to give the Iraqis 90 days to argue their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the courts before the government can deport them back to Iraq.  Goldsmith said that the government made legal representation of the immigrants difficult because many of them have been moved around from state to state to different immigration centers.  Many of those targeted entered in the U.S. as children, and more than half of them have been in the country for more than a decade because Iraq refused to take them back, according to the ruling.

The court said that those detained have been housed around the country in federal detention facilities with limited access to legal advocates and their families.  Most of them are from Detroit, which has a large Chaldean Christian population.  They were targeted for deportation because they overstayed their visas or committed crimes — typically misdemeanors, according to advocates.

Clarence Dass, an attorney who represents about 25 of the 114 Iraqis arrested last month said “For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime,” Dass said. “All we are asking is for a chance to show that deportation of these particular individuals is a death sentence, and the judge’s decision today allows us to do that. Once we show those facts and circumstances, I am hopeful we will be able to save their lives.”

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the agency declined to comment on the ruling. ICE has said previously that the Iraqis detained have criminal records, pose safety threats, and have already had their cases heard in courts. The crimes they were convicted of range from marijuana possession to homicide.

 

 

 

Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has retired from the NFL just before the first full-team practice of training camp.  His decision  came two days after a medical study indicated that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in nearly 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research.  A team source said that the findings weighed heavy on Urschel’s decision to retire.

The study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that of the 111 NFL players whose brains were studied, 110 of them had signs of CTE, which can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia—often years or even decades after players retire.  Several top names in the game- including Junior Seau, Frank Gifford, John Mackey and Kenny Stabler — were diagnosed with the disease after their deaths.

Coach John Harbaugh said he was surprised when Urschel called him 90 minutes before practice to inform him of his retirement.  “He said he’s going to retire from football, that it was something that’s been on his mind for quite a while and throughout the offseason.”

In August 2015, Urschel suffered a concussion in a helmet-to-helmet collision, which he said “I think it hurt my ability to think well mathematically,” Urschel said. “It took me about three weeks before I was football-ready. It took me a little bit longer before my high-level visualizations ability came back.”

Urschel will now pursue his PhD in Mathematics fulltime at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focusing on spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra and machine learning.  He had been pursuing it in the offseason prior to his retirement.  Urschel was recently named to Forbes’ “30 under 30” in the field of science. He has published six peer-reviewed mathematics papers to date and has three more ready for review.  According to the Ravens website, Urschel is an expert mathematician who gets straight A’s while also grinding away in the NFL trenches.

Urschel who played on the offensive line for three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, received a $144,560 signing bonus when joining the Ravens in 2014. The bonus prorated at $36,140 per year. With one year left on the contract, Urschel owes the Ravens $36,140 upon retirement.

Urschel released a statement shortly after the announcement.  “Thank you to everyone for the kind words today. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one for me,” Urschel said in a statement. “There’s no big story here, and I’d appreciate the right to privacy. I’m extremely grateful to the Ravens, and blessed to have been able to play the game I love at the highest level.

It is a great game. There are some games — like the playoff game at Pittsburgh — that I will never forget. I’m excited to start working on my doctorate in mathematics full time at MIT. I’m looking forward to the chance to take courses that are only offered in the fall semester, while spending time with my fiance and preparing myself for the new challenges that will come with fatherhood. We’re expecting our first child in December.”