Warship destroys Iranian drone
WASHINGTON — A U.S. warship on Thursday destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship, President Donald Trump said. The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries less than one month after Iran downed an American drone in the same waterway and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike. In remarks at the White House, Trump blamed Iran for a “provocative and hostile” action and said the U.S. responded in self-defense. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters as he arrived for a meeting at the United Nations that “we have no information about losing a drone today.” The clash in one of the busiest waterways for international oil traffic highlighted the risk of war between two countries at odds over a wide range of issues. After Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and imposed additional economic sanctions, the Iranians have pushed back on the military front, allegedly sabotaging Saudi and other oil tankers in the Gulf, shooting down a U.S. drone on June 20 and stepping up support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. Adding to the economic pressure on Tehran, the Treasury Department said Thursday it was imposing sanctions on what it called a network of front companies and agents involved in helping Iran buy sensitive materials for its nuclear program. It said the targeted individuals and entities are based in Iran, China and Belgium. Trump said the Navy’s USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took defensive action after the Iranian aircraft closed to within 1,000 yards of the ship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
Man kills 33 at Japan anime studio
TOKYO — A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation studio in Kyoto, doused it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked the country and brought an outpouring of grief from anime fans. Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape what proved to be Japan’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot. The suspect, identified only a 41-year-old man who did not work for the studio, was injured and taken to a hospital. Police gave no details on the motive, but a witness told Japanese TV that the attacker angrily complained that something of his had been stolen, possibly by the company. Most of the victims were employees of Kyoto Animation, which does work on movies and TV productions but is best known for its mega-hit stories featuring high school girls. The tales are so popular that fans make pilgrimages to some of the places depicted. The blaze started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the attacker sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, police and fire officials said.
Trump hits ‘send her back’ chant
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday chided his supporters who chanted “send her back” when he questioned the loyalty of a Somali-born congresswoman, joining widespread criticism of the campaign crowd’s cry after fellow Republicans warned it could hurt the GOP in next year’s elections In a week that has corkscrewed daily with hostile exchanges over race and love of country, Trump also claimed he had tried to stop the chant at a reelection event Wednesday night in North Carolina. “I started speaking really quickly,” he told reporters. “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it” and “would certainly try” to stop any similar chant at a future rally. However, video shows the crowd’s “send her back” shouts resounded for 13 seconds as Trump made no attempt to interrupt them. He paused in his speech and surveyed the scene, taking in the uproar. The taunt’s target — Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — was pressed for a response on Thursday, as Trump was.
Life for killing Chinese scholar
PEORIA, Ill. — A former University of Illinois doctoral student was spared the death penalty Thursday and sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and killing of a 26-year-old scholar from China. Her parents, disappointed he was not sentenced to death, publicly begged for the killer to reveal where her remains are so they can be returned home. Jurors deliberated for eight hours over two days before announcing they were deadlocked on whether 30-year-old Brendt Christensen should be put to death for killing Yingying Zhang, automatically resulting in a sentence of life behind bars without the possibility of parole. The same jurors took less than 90 minutes to convict Christensen last month for abducting Zhang from a bus stop, then raping, choking and stabbing her before beating her to death with a bat and decapitating her. Prosecutors called for the death penalty , which the Zhang family also supported, but a jury decision on that had to be unanimous. Christensen, who has never revealed what he did with Zhang’s remains, lowered his head and looked back smiling at his mother when he heard that his life would be spared.
Utah boy sells ‘Ice Cold Beer’
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah boy has earned widespread social media attention for his neighborhood soda stand thanks to a sign he holds that reads, “Ice Cold Beer” with “root” above the word beer in tiny print. Several residents in the northern Utah city called police earlier this week concerned about a young boy selling alcohol in front of a church, said Brigham City Police Lt. Tony Ferderber on Thursday. Officers that went to check it out realized that it was just a clever marketing ploy and posted pictures of 11-year-old Seth Parker on Facebook with the comment, “a twist on a lemonade stand.” Sen. Mitt Romney, of Utah, tweeted a picture of Seth with the comment, “A lesson in reading the fine print! The future is bright for this young Utah entrepreneur.” Seth’s mother Alexis Parker said Thursday that the family is dumbfounded and excited by all the attention. She estimated that some 60 people a day come to the stand. Seth started the stand because his parents urged him to get out more after they noticed he had struggled to make new friends since the family moved from Georgia last year, Alexis Parker said. Seth thought about a yard sale or lemonade stand but settled on selling the soda because he is a root beer “fanatic,” she said. He chose the sign with the tiny print as a little “wise crack.”
Protesters don’t back down
HONOLULU — Protesters didn’t back down from their long-running effort to stop construction of a $1.4 billion telescope, blocking a road Thursday to the top of a mountain sacred to some Native Hawaiians a day after authorities arrested nearly three dozen people. Activists have fought the Thirty Meter Telescope in the courts and on the streets for years, but the latest protest could be their final stand as they run out of legal options. The state Supreme Court has given the green light to the project that would put one of the world’s most powerful telescopes atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Gov. David Ige has signed an emergency proclamation to broaden the state’s power to keep activists off Hawaii’s tallest peak. It came after police negotiated with protesters for days before arresting a small group of 34 activists who refused to move from the road Wednesday.
The heat goes on across country
WASHINGTON — The heat goes on: Earth sizzled to its hottest June on record as the climate keeps going to extremes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday announced that June averaged 60.6 degrees, about 1.7 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. It beat out 2016 for the hottest June with records going back to 1880. NASA and other groups also concluded that last month was the hottest June on record. Europe shattered June temperature records by far, while other records were set in Russia, Africa, Asia and South America. France had its hottest month in history, which is unusual because July is traditionally hotter than June. The Lower 48 states in America were near normal.
Endangered orangutan born
NEW ORLEANS — It’s an orangutan! The Audubon Zoo has announced the birth of a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan to longtime inhabitant Feliz and Jambi, a male brought from Germany last fall. The species has been drastically reduced by hunting and by destruction of the forests where they live. Fewer than 14,000 of the great apes with long red hair are believed to exist in the wild, and “overall numbers continue to decline dramatically ,” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Veterinarians don’t yet know the baby’s sex. Zookeepers are keeping a close eye on mother and baby because the first 72 hours are when orangutans learn to nurse. The baby was born early Wednesday and Feliz is an attentive mother. The zoo hopes she’ll be able to do everything needed for the baby.
Remains from WW II battle
HONOLULU — The U.S. military has brought back the remains of more than 20 servicemen killed in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. An Air Force cargo plane flew the remains from Tarawa atoll in the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati (KEE-ree-bas) to Hawaii on Wednesday. Marines carried flag-draped caskets off the plane for a ceremony. The remains are among those discovered in March by History Flight, a nonprofit organization that searches for the remains of U.S. servicemen lost in past conflicts. They’re believed to belong to Marines and sailors from the 6th Marine Regiment who were killed during the last night of the three-day Battle of Tarawa. More than 6,000 Americans, Japanese and Koreans died. Forensic anthropologists with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will work to identify the remains using dental records, DNA and other clues.
New ID of 9/11 victim remains
NEW YORK — Authorities have identified the remains of another 9/11 victim found at the World Trade Center. The New York City medical examiners’ office on Thursday said the woman is the 1,644th person to be linked to remains found at the site, nearly 18 years after hijackers crashed airplanes into the trade center’s twin towers in 2001. The victim’s name, which is being withheld, was confirmed through DNA testing of remains recovered in 2002. It’s the second new identification of a World Trade Center victim’s remains in 2019. The medical examiner says about 40% of the 2,753 people who died have never been linked to identifiable remains.
Epstein denied bail in sex case
NEW YORK — A judge who denied bail for jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges Thursday said he poses a danger to the public and seems to still have an uncontrollable urge for sexual conduct with or in the presence of underage girls. Epstein, 66, also might use his “great wealth and vast resources” to flee the country, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said. Epstein, his hands folded before him, showed no reaction when Berman announced his fate in the morning. Epstein’s lawyers did not comment. “I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” Berman said in court, citing a danger for both the “minor victims in this case and prospective victims as well.”
Duke sued for 2014 coal ash spill
RALEIGH, N.C. — The federal, North Carolina and Virginia governments asked a court Thursday to declare the country’s largest electricity company liable for environmental damage from a leak five years ago that left miles of a river shared by the two states coated in hazardous coal ash. Government lawyers sought to have Charlotte-based Duke Energy declared responsible for harming fish, birds, amphibians and the Dan River bottom. Hazardous substances like arsenic and selenium poured into the river at levels high enough to harm aquatic life, according to a complaint filed in the North Carolina federal court district near the site of the 2014 disaster. The leak of waste Duke Energy stored after burning coal for power coated about 70 miles of the river from a power plant near Eden, renewing national attention on the risks posed by similar storage pits across the country.
‘History on a stick’ signs found
RALEIGH, N.C. — An agency in charge of North Carolina historical markers says two of five markers recently reported missing have been recovered. More than 1,600 of the markers known as “history on a stick” stand along state roads, telling the stories of people and places that shaped the past. North Carolina Highway Historical Markers says the two signs on Harkers Island were found thanks to the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office and rangers from the Cape Lookout National Seashore. The markers had been blown over during Hurricane Florence and were put away for safe keeping by the National Park Service.
20 years for posting bomb guides
MIAMI — A Florida man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison for posting bomb-making instructions on websites frequented by extremist groups such as the Islamic State. U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore imposed the maximum possible sentence on Tayyab Tahir Ismail, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. The FBI says Ismail, 34, posted bomb instructions last year on five occasions and that they were accurate. “It’s the government’s position that no offense could be more serious,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert at a hearing. “Instead of radicalizing people in person, he did the same thing online.”
$4.9B charge over grounded jet
DALLAS– Boeing said Thursday it is booking a $4.9 billion charge to cover possible compensation to airlines that have canceled thousands of flights since the 737 Max jet was grounded after two deadly accidents. The airplane builder also said the Max-related fallout will cut $5.6 billion from its revenue and pre-tax earnings in the April-through-June quarter. The Chicago-based company said the calculations were based on an assumption that regulatory approval for the plane’s return to flying will begin early in the fourth quarter. That timing is earlier than some analysts expected and may have contributed to a rally in Boeing shares in after-hours trading. Boeing is scheduled to report its quarterly results next week.