Copter crashes on NYC roof
NEW YORK — A helicopter crashed on the roof of a rain-shrouded midtown Manhattan skyscraper Monday, killing the pilot and briefly triggering memories of 9/11, though it appeared to be an accident. The crash near Times Square and Trump Tower shook the 750-foot AXA Equitable building, sparked a fire and forced office workers to flee on elevators and down stairs, witnesses and officials said. The pilot was believed to be the only one aboard, and there were no other reports of injuries, authorities said. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, or why the Agusta A109E was flying in a driving downpour with low cloud cover and in the tightly controlled airspace of midtown Manhattan. A flight restriction in effect since President Donald Trump took office bans aircraft from flying below 3,000 feet within a 1-mile radius of Trump Tower, which is less than a half-mile from the crash site. The helicopter went down about 11 minutes after taking off from a heliport along the East River, a little more than a mile away. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said it may have been returning to its home airport in Linden, New Jersey.
Ortiz on his way to Boston
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — David Ortiz left a hospital in the Dominican Republic on Monday on his way to Boston after the former Red Sox slugger affectionately known as Big Papi was ambushed by a gunman at a bar in his native country, authorities said. The 43-year-old retired athlete had been in stable condition in intensive care at a Santo Domingo hospital after doctors removed his gallbladder and part of his intestine, according to his spokesman, Leo L¯pez. He said Ortiz’s liver was also damaged in the shooting Sunday night. Ortiz is one of the most beloved figures in sports history in the Dominican Republic and Boston, a fearsome power hitter with a ready smile. He led the Red Sox to three World Series championships, was a 10-time All-Star and hit 541 home runs. Dozens of fans crowded the hospital earlier Monday, causing a traffic jam. In the U.S., fans prayed for his recovery and wished him well, with New England Patriots star Julian Edelman assuring him on Instagram: “Papi, all of New England has your back.” The Red Sox offered “all available resources” and sent an aircraft to bring him back to Boston.
OJ: Life is fine after prison
LOS ANGELES — Twenty-five years after the grisly killings that transformed him from Hall of Fame football hero to murder suspect, 71-year-old O.J. Simpson says he is happy and healthy living in Las Vegas, plays golf nearly every day and stays in touch with his children. “Life is fine,” Simpson recently told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home. He added that neither he nor his children want to talk about June 12, 1994, the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death. Simpson was ultimately acquitted of the crime in what came to be known as “The Trial of the Century.” “We don’t need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives,” he said as Wednesday’s anniversary of the killings approached. “The subject of the moment is the subject I will never revisit again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives.” Relatives of the two victims are disgusted Simpson is able to live the way he does while their loved ones had their lives cut short so tragically.
Crane collapse victim identified
DALLAS — Authorities have identified 29-year-old Kiersten Symone Smith as the woman who was killed when a crane fell on a Dallas apartment building Sunday amid severe thunderstorms that also uprooted mature trees and left thousands without power across the city. Smith, a resident there, was pronounced dead at a hospital, after the construction crane smashed into a five-story building near downtown destroying peoples’ apartments and reducing parts of an adjacent parking garage to a pile of concrete and mangled cars. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said Monday that the five other people were hospitalized after the collapse and they are all expected to recover. Oncor, Texas’ largest electricity provider, said early Monday that their crews were working around-the-clock to restore electricity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company said that at the peak more than 350,000 of their customers were without power, and more than 140,000 have since had it restored. As of late Monday morning, almost 500 traffic signals were inoperable across Dallas, and about 170 were flashing red lights.
Biker hit by lightning, dies
DELAND, Fla. — Lightning struck a motorcyclist on the helmet as he drove on an interstate in Florida, causing a crash and his death. Benjamin Austin Lee, 45, of Charlotte, N.C., died Sunday afternoon on I-95 near Daytona Beach. Lightning burned his helmet. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An off-duty Virginia state trooper witnessed the lightning strike and its aftermath.
Big ‘dead zone’ predicted
NEW ORLEANS — Scientists are predicting a near-record Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” where the water holds too little oxygen to sustain marine life. “A major factor contributing to the large dead zone this year is the abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release Monday. That led to record amounts of water carrying large amounts of fertilizer and other nutrients downriver, it said. The nutrients feed algae, which die and then decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen from the bottom up in an area along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. he low-oxygen, or hypoxic, area is likely to cover about 7,800 square miles — roughly the size of Massachusetts or Slovenia, NOAA said. A Louisiana-based team has estimated the dead zone will be 8,700 square miles. The record set in 2017 is 8,776 square miles , a bit smaller than Turkey.
Guilty of killing family of 4
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A Southern California man was convicted Monday of bludgeoning a couple and their two little boys to death, then burying their bodies in a remote desert area where the crime remained hidden until an off-roader stumbled across skeletal remains. After a trial that spanned more than four months and depended largely on circumstantial evidence, jurors in San Bernardino found 62-year-old Charles “Chase” Merritt guilty of the first-degree murders of business associate Joseph McStay, McStay’s wife, Summer, and the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old sons. Merritt closed his eyes and looked down when the court clerk said the word “guilty” the first of four times. Sobs came from the packed courtroom. Someone called out, “Yes!” Prosecutors said Merritt killed the family with a sledgehammer at a time when he owed McStay money and was being cut out of the victim’s business making and selling custom water fountains. The judge scheduled the penalty phase to begin Tuesday. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
Search river for missing writer
SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities using boats and drones searched a Northern California river Monday for a veteran automotive journalist who went missing while test-driving a motorcycle for a story. Calaveras County Lt. Anthony Eberhardt said crews were searching the Mokelumne River and a reservoir near the town of Mokelumne Hill for David Gordon Johnson, who was reported missing June 5. Eberhardt said no foul play is suspected. His girlfriend, Jacklyn Trop, said Johnson, who went by the byline Davey G. Johnson, 44, was heading home after test driving the motorcycle, a Honda CB1000R, for two days in California and Nevada to write an article for Motorcyclist magazine. Trop said she and a friend last heard from him early last Wednesday, when he texted them. “He said he was tired and alive and well and that he loved me very much,” Trop said. A few hours later he texted a friend and sent him a photo of himself in the river, she said. He was reported missing later that day to Sacramento authorities. Search crews found the motorcycle at a rest stop Friday. The next day, they found his clothes, cellphone and a laptop a few feet away from the fast-moving river.
NYC street named for B.I.G.
NEW YORK — A New York City street has been named for rapper Notorious B.I.G. Community members and elected officials gathered in a downpour on Monday at the intersection of St. James Place and Fulton Street. Rapper Lil’ Kim — embracing the event’s themes of social justice and making a difference — exclaimed: “We did it, Brooklyn!” B.I.G., who was born Christopher Wallace, was shot to death in Los Angeles in 1997. He detailed street life in Brooklyn in songs and on albums that dominated the pop charts.
120 whoopie pies go missing
SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Apparently hungry and thirsty vandals have trashed a fairgrounds booth in Maine, stealing 120 whoopie pies and drinking half a gallon of iced tea. John Youney, a director of the Skowhegan Lions Club, said a refrigerator full of cookies was also emptied and that plastic gloves and silverware littered the floor. Youney says there’s about $1,000 worth of damage or stolen goods. Youney says whoever is involved can confess and work off their crime by assisting the club with its volunteer work.
Tow truck driver sentenced
COVINGTON, La. — A tow truck driver has been sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting three women who had called him to tow their cars. Dale Boudreaux Jr., 53, denied all of the allegations, but was convicted at trial in May. Each woman testified that Boudreaux touched her sexually without permission between June and October 2014. One woman said he tried unsuccessfully to make her perform oral sex on him.
Ski resort wants out of lawsuit
PARK CITY, Utah — A Utah ski resort where Gwyneth Paltrow is accused of crashing into and injuring a skier asked Monday to be dismissed from a lawsuit, contending the dispute should be settled between the Oscar-winning actress and the alleged victim. Deer Valley Resort is shielded from responsibilities for skiing collisions under a law that takes into account the inherent dangers of skiing, said attorney Adam Strachan, representing the well-known resort during a hearing in Park City, Utah. He compared the resort’s inclusion in the lawsuit to parking lot owner being sued by a driver who was hit in a fender by another driver. Lawrence Buhler, an attorney for the man suing the resort and Paltrow, countered that Deer Valley is responsible for the actions of a ski instructor who was with Paltrow and her family on Feb. 26, 2016. That instructor berated the injured skier and didn’t call ski patrol for help, Buhler said. Retired optometrist Terry Sanderson suffered severe emotional distress after the instructor skied up to him as he lay face down in the snow, having suffered a concussion after Paltrow slammed into him, Buhler said. The instructor yelled, “What did you do? What did you do,” the attorney said. The instructor then lifted Sanderson up on to his skis and skied off with Paltrow and her family, he said. “He could have been dead, he could have had a broken neck,” Buhler said.
UCLA says gynecologist accused
LOS ANGELES — The University of California, Los Angeles says a former gynecologist at the student health clinic has been charged with sexually abusing patients. UCLA says Dr. James Heaps surrendered to law enforcement on Monday to face charges of sexual battery involving two patients he saw in 2017 and 2018. He worked at the clinic for nearly 30 years. UCLA says it removed Heaps from practice and moved to fire him last year after investigating his conduct. That led to his retirement.
Locusts plague sheep ranchers
ROME — An unusually large swarm of local locusts, estimated in the millions, is plaguing farmers raising sheep and other livestock in Sardinia. The Italian farmers’ lobby Coldiretti has asked for government help, even though it’s likely too late to save the hay crop and grassland that livestock needs. Farmers have been trucking in hay from other parts of the Italian Mediterranean island, raising costs. A locust expert, Alexandre Latchininsky, said Monday that if the insects devour all the fodder, there’s a risk they could attack other crops, such as grape vines, on Sardinia. It’s not known why the locusts are so particularly numerous this year. Sheep’s cheese is an important Sardinian product.
Assailants raid village in Mali
BAMAKO, Mali — Assailants raided a central Mali village early Monday, killing at least 95 people in the latest massacre in a growing ethnic conflict that has been enflamed by Islamic extremists. Nineteen people were missing after the ethnic Dogon village of Sobame Da was attacked around 3 a.m. Homes were burned and animals slaughtered. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though tensions have been high since a Dogon militia was accused of carrying out a massacre in an ethnic Peuhl village in March that left at least 157 dead.
Court to hear ‘Stairway’ appeal
SAN FRANCISCO — “Stairway to Heaven” will get another hearing, this time to a packed house. A panel of eleven judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Monday to hear Led Zeppelin’s appeal in a copyright lawsuit alleging the group stole its 1971 rock epic from a 1960s instrumental, “Taurus” by the band Spirit.
Stern words from Iran
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s foreign minister warned the U.S. on Monday that it “cannot expect to stay safe” after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions. A stern-faced Mohammad Javad Zarif offered a series of threats over the ongoing tensions gripping the Persian Gulf. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s decision over a year ago to withdraw America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Trump also reinstated tough sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil sector. “Mr. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran,” Zarif said. “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war.” Zarif also warned: “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it.” Zarif’s ramped up rhetoric marked a sharp departure for the U.S.-educated diplomat and signals that Iran is taking a harder line toward the West. His public threats, which came during a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, were striking because Zarif was the one who helped secure the nuclear deal, alongside the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani. However, he does not make the decision on whether to go to war. That is left to the supreme leader.
Frustration with Fed’s policies
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump complained Monday that President Xi Jinping enjoys a major advantage in the U.S.-China trade war in that he controls China’s central bank while Trump must deal with a Federal Reserve that is “very destructive to us.” Trump made clear in an interview with CNBC his frustration with a system that provides political independence for America’s central bank — something most economists see as vital to its credibility. Trump noted that China’s president, by contrast, is essentially also head of the Chinese central bank. “He can do whatever he wants,” Trump said in the interview. Trump also complained that even though he selected four of the Fed’s five board members, including elevating Jerome Powell to chairman, “We have people on the Fed that really weren’t, you know, they’re not my people.” Speaking of the Fed’s policymaking committee, the president expressed exasperation that the panel raised its key short-term rate four times last year and acted to reduce the Fed’s balance sheet — action that had the effect of tightening credit — despite his public warnings against it.
County questions security deal
SAN FRANCISCO — An annual retreat staged in California by an elite club that has included powerful U.S. political and business leaders is facing scrutiny for excluding women after female county supervisors questioned whether they should continue allowing sheriff’s deputies to provide security for the event. When the previously routine issue came up in a meeting last week, Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane scribbled a note then read it out loud: “How can we contract tax-funded services with a club that openly discriminates against women?” After 11 years on the board and in the third year of its female majority, Zane was finally inspired to speak up, though she said she has long questioned the exclusivity of the Bohemian Grove campouts that have been held at the private Sonoma County site for nearly all of the club’s 147-year history. “Women’s rights are being shredded throughout the country and we are kept out of decision-making,” Zane said. “This is another way it’s happening in our own backyard.” The event from July 10-28 is for members of the Bohemian Club, headquartered in San Francisco. It maintains a confidential membership list and has long had a reputation for secrecy.