Pearl Harbor fete will go on
HONOLULU — Officials will beef up security as usual for the ceremony to remember those lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor 78 years ago, with service members and dignitaries confronting a fresh tragedy after a U.S. sailor killed two civilians, wounded another and then turned the gun on himself at the storied military base. The National Park Service, which is hosting the event with the Navy, would not give specifics on the heightened security measures, many of which aren’t readily apparent, Pearl Harbor National Memorial spokesman Jay Blount said. The commemoration of the anniversary of the Japanese bombing that propelled the United States into World War II will go on as planned Saturday, he said. It’s expected to draw survivors, veterans, dignitaries and the public to honor more than 2,300 Americans who perished on Dec. 7, 1941. “We have not heard of anyone canceling plans to attend the event due to security concerns and want the public to know that it will be a safe, fun and enjoyable day for everyone,” Blount said. Across the harbor at the naval shipyard, a sailor shot three men working for the U.S. Department on Defense on Wednesday, killing two, before taking his own life. The wounded victim was hospitalized in stable condition. The gunman was 22-year-old G. Romero. Romero’s job was to stand watch on the fast attack submarine USS Columbia, which is at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for maintenance. He used his service rifle to shoot the victims, then killed himself with his service pistol. Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, said he didn’t know the motive.
Dems move swiftly on charges
WASHINGTON — House Democrats moved aggressively to draw up formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Thursday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying he “leaves us no choice” but to act swiftly because he’s likely to corrupt the system again unless removed before next year’s election. A strictly partisan effort at this point, derided immediately by Trump and other leading Republicans as a sham and a hoax, it is a politically risky undertaking. Democrats say it is their duty, in the aftermath of the Ukraine probe, while Republicans say it will drive Pelosi’s majority from office. Congress must act, Pelosi said. “The democracy is what is at stake.” “The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said in a somber address at the Capitol. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.” Trump tweeted that the Democrats “have gone crazy.”
US considers sending more troops
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering sending several thousand additional troops to the Middle East to help deter Iranian aggression, amid reports of escalating violence in Iran and continued meddling by Tehran in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the region. John Rood, defense undersecretary for policy, told senators Thursday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper “intends to make changes” to the number of troops deployed in the region. Other officials said options under consideration could send between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East, but they all stressed that there have been no final decisions yet. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The troop deliberations follow several decisions since spring to beef up the U.S. presence in the Middle East because of a series of maritime attacks and bombings in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. and others have blamed on Iran. President Donald Trump has approved those increases, even though he also routinely insists that he is pulling U.S. troops out of the Middle East and withdrawing from what he calls “endless wars” against extremists. In October, Trump told his supporters that despite the sacrificing of U.S. lives in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, the region is less safe and stable today. “The single greatest mistake our country made in its history,” he said, “was going into the quicksand of the Middle East.” Asked about a possible troop increase, Trump told reporters Thursday: “We’ll announce whether we will or not. Certainly there might be a threat. And if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we will be announcing what we may be doing — may or may not be doing.”
Experts split on Alzheimer’s drug
SAN DIEGO — A company that claims to have the first drug to slow mental decline from Alzheimer’s disease made its case to scientists Thursday but left them sharply divided over whether there’s enough evidence of effectiveness for the medicine to warrant federal approval. Excitement and skepticism have surrounded aducanumab since its developers stopped two studies earlier this year because it didn’t seem to be working, then did a stunning about-face in October and said new results suggest it was effective at a high dose. During Thursday’s presentation at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Diego, the developers convinced some experts that the drug deserves serious consideration. But others were dubious. Changes made during the study and unusual analyses of the data made the results hard to interpret. And the newly released results showed the drug made only a very small difference in thinking skills in one study and none in the other. Alzheimer’s patients and families are desperate for any help, no matter how small, adding pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to approve something.
All 3 crew killed in copter crash
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — All three Minnesota National Guard soldiers were killed when the Black Hawk helicopter they were riding in crashed Thursday in central Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed. The identities of the soldiers were not released, pending notification of family. The Guard lost contact with the helicopter shortly after taking off on a maintenance test flight from St. Cloud on Thursday afternoon, Guard Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens said. The helicopter called mayday about nine minutes after takeoff. Television aerial footage showed the wreck of the helicopter along a tree line near open fields near St. Cloud, a city about 59 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Apparent scorch marks encircled the flattened wreckage in the snow.
Blind inmate executed in Tenn.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A blind prisoner convicted of killing his estranged girlfriend by setting her on fire in her car was put to death Thursday in Tennessee’s electric chair, becoming only the second inmate without sight to be executed in the U.S. since the reinstatement of the nation’s death penalty in 1976. Lee Hall, 53, was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. at a Nashville maximum-security prison. He chose the electric chair over Tennessee’s preferred execution method of lethal injection — an option allowed inmates in the state who were convicted of crimes before January 1999. He also became the first blind inmate in U.S. modern history to die by electrocution. Hall had his vision when he entered death row decades ago, but his attorneys say he later became functionally blind from improperly treated glaucoma. Only one other known blind inmate has been executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976: Clarence Ray Allen, 76, received a lethal injection in California in 2006. Court documents state that Hall killed 22-year-old Traci Crozier on April 17, 1991 by setting her car ablaze with a container of gasoline that he lit and tossed in her vehicle while she was inside and trying to leave him. The container exploded and Crozier suffered burns across more than 90% of her body, dying the next day in the hospital.
Ex-Playboy model sues Fox News
NEW YORK — The former Playboy model who took a $150,0000 payoff to squelch her story of an affair with a pre-presidency Donald Trump sued Fox News on Thursday, claiming prominent host Tucker Carlson slandered her by saying that what happened “sounds like a classic case of extortion.” Karen McDougal’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York, says the host and network were “grossly irresponsible.” “They accused McDougal of committing a felony under state and federal law” to an audience of roughly 3 million, “without justification or excuse,” McDougal’s lawyer, Eric Bernstein wrote. Fox News said it “will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims.” The suit came two days after CNN was hit with a lawsuit from U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, seeking $435.4 million in damages for what he called a “demonstrably false hit piece” about him published on Nov. 22. and discussed on-air. CNN declined to comment.
3K sexual assaults on Uber rides
SAN FRANCISCO — Uber, as part of along anticipated safety report, revealed that more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during its U.S. rides in 2018. That figure includes 229 rapes across the company’s 1.3 billion rides. The ride-hailing company noted that drivers and riders were both attacked, and that some assaults occurred between riders. The Thursday report, which the company hailed as the first of its kind, provides a rare look into the traffic deaths, murders and reported sexual assaults that took place during billions of annual rides arranged in the U.S. using Uber’s service. It is part of the company’s effort to be more transparent after years of criticism over its safety record. In 2017, the company counted 2,936 reported sexual assaults during 1 billion U.S. trips. Uber bases its numbers on reports from riders and drivers, meaning the actual numbers could be much higher. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported. “I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted about the report. “Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right.”
Chase ends with shootout, 4 dead
MIAMI — Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed Thursday after robbers stole the driver’s truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy Florida intersection during rush hour. Both robbers were shot and killed, and the fourth victim was in a nearby vehicle when shots rang out at a crowded intersection in Miramar, about 20 miles north of where the incident began, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said. Television news helicopters showed first responders tending to at least one person who fell out of the UPS truck, moments after several shots were fired when the chase ended. It all began shortly after 4 p.m., when police in Coral Gables received a silent alarm at the Regent Jewelers store in the city’s Miracle Mile area. Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak said two suspects were at the store and that shots were being fired when police arrived. The suspects fled in a truck, then carjacked the UPS delivery truck and its driver not long afterward to start the chase into the southern portion of Broward County, running red lights and narrowly avoiding some crashes along the way. The UPS truck finally stopped in one of the middle lanes of a busy roadway, caught behind a wall of other vehicles waiting for a red light to turn green. Television footage showed several officers on foot, some with guns drawn, approaching the truck once it stopped from the rear and the driver’s side. News helicopters were following the chase and at least one showed the conclusion live, with one person falling out of the vehicle’s passenger side after several shots were fired. It was unclear if the shots were fired from inside the truck, from law enforcement who were moving in or some combination thereof.
Apparent Nazi salute surfaces
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a photo surfaced of West Virginia correction officer trainees giving what appears to be the Nazi salute, state officials quickly suspended some employees and the governor ordered the firing of those involved. The image, showing more than two dozen trainees with their arms raised and faces blurred, was released Thursday by the state. A line of text reading “Hail Byrd” tops the picture, which an agency spokesman said was a reference to the trainees’ instructor. Before the photo was made public, the agency’s secretary, Jeff Sandy, released a memo describing the image of Basic Training Class Number 18 as “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate.” He wrote that the picture “betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees.” Republican Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement condemning the photo and ordering the firing of the people involved.
Bacteria linked to heroin kills 7
SAN DIEGO — A flesh-eating bacteria linked to the use of black tar heroin has killed at least seven people over the past two months in San Diego County, authorities said. Nine people who injected black tar heroin between Oct. 2 and Nov. 24 were hospitalized with severe myonecrosis, a soft-tissue infection that destroys muscle, county health officials said Wednesday. Of the seven who died, five were men. The nine patients ranged from 19 to 57. Investigators are trying to determine the source of the heroin. Symptoms of myonecrosis include pain, swelling, pale skin, blisters with foul-smelling discharge, fever, excessive sweating and increased heart rate. If left untreated, myonecrosis can spread through the body and cause people to go into shock. It can lead to amputations or death.
Indoor ski slope debuts at mall
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — An indoor ski slope that has been the most visible feature of the long-delayed American Dream megamall in New Jersey for more than a decade has finally opened. Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn took the first official run down the 1,000-foot slope Thursday. Mall owner Triple Five says it’s the only indoor slope in North America. The ski slope was one of the first elements built more than a decade ago and could be seen from the adjacent New Jersey Turnpike. The retail and entertainment project began in 2003 next to the Meadowlands sports complex but stalled because of financing problems. Triple Five took over in 2010 and began a phased opening in October. All elements are expected to be open by spring. The ski slope measures 180,000 square feet and includes a beginners’ area. It is 16 stories high with a 160-foot vertical drop. It is equipped to make more than 4 tons of snow per hour.
Angered by ketchup, she pulls gun
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An irate woman pointed a gun at fast food workers because they gave her ketchup instead of jelly. Asia Vester, 20, was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon, news outlets are reporting. Vester was in the drive-thru line of a McDonald’s last week when she received her food and realized her request for jelly was either forgotten or unheeded. She instead received ketchup. Words were exchanged with several employees. Vester was accused of pulling out a gun and pointing it at employees. Surveillance video led police to Vester. Since Vester is under 21, it is illegal for her to possess a weapon.
Tried to pry open lion’s jaws
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — A Southern California woman punched a mountain lion Thursday and tried to pry its jaws open to save her dog from an attack in her backyard. The woman suffered a minor cut after the mountain lion attacked her miniature Schnauzer in the city of Simi Valley near Los Angeles. Her dog died. The attack happened after a report that another dog was injured by a mountain lion in the same area late Wednesday. The lion ran away after state wildlife officers arrived.
Bears causes a stir in Delaware
WILMINGTON, Del. — A bear has caused an uproar after running through the streets of Wilmington. Police spent part of Thursday morning trying to catch the animal while bystanders rushed to get a look. Some residents were told to shelter in place. But by 11:15 a.m., police in Delaware’s largest city said the bear left their jurisdiction. It’s unclear where the animal went. The state rarely sees bears.
R Kelly charged, paid bribe
NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors are accusing singer R. Kelly of scheming with others to pay for a fake ID for an unnamed female a day before he married R&B singer Aaliyah, then 15 years old, in a secret ceremony in 1994. The revised indictment filed Thursday in New York, accuses Kelly of paying a bribe in exchange for a “fraudulent identification document” for someone identified only as “Jane Doe” on Aug. 30, 1994. A day later, Kelly, then 27, married Aaliyah in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage was annulled months later because of her age. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22.