EarthLink – News
Police: 7 dead in multi-vehicle interstate crash in Georgia
Sat, July 6, 2019 10:00 EDT
ATLANTA (AP) — Seven people were killed Saturday in a chain-reaction crash on an interstate in Georgia when an SUV crossed over the median into traffic headed the other way, authorities said. Three other people were injured in the multi-vehicle accident.
The Georgia State Patrol issued a statement to media outlets saying the crash occurred about 1:45 p.m. Saturday and directly involved three vehicles on Interstate 85 in Franklin County in northeast Georgia.
The police statement said a northbound Ford Excursion crossed the median for unknown reasons and entered the southbound lanes of the normally bustling interstate. There, police said, that SUV struck a Chevrolet van that was headed south, causing a chain-reaction crash in the southbound lanes that also involved a Ford van in a nearby lane. The impact of the collisions sent debris flying that also caused minor damage to two additional vehicles, according to the statement.
Authorities say three people were killed and three injured in the Excursion. The injured were taken for medical treatment and media outlets reported one of the injured was in critical condition.
All four occupants of the Chevrolet were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. No one in the Ford van was reported hurt.
Georgia State Police didn’t immediately release the ages or identities of those involved and said a collision reconstruction team was investigating the crash.
The crash occurred about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta on the interstate not far from its approach to the Georgia state line with South Carolina.
Cellphone images obtained by news outlets showed mangled vehicles on the roadway after the crash.
EarthLink – News
Big earthquakes raise interest in West Coast warning system
By JOHN ANTCZAK and CHRISTOPHER WEBER | Mon, July 8, 2019 06:06 EDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The powerful Mojave Desert earthquakes that rocked California ended a years-long lull in major seismic activity and raised new interest in an early warning system being developed for the West Coast.
The ShakeAlert system is substantially built in California and overall is about 55% complete, with much of the remaining installation of seismic sensor stations to be done in the Pacific Northwest, said Robert de Groot of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Areas that have the appropriate number of sensors include Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area and the Seattle-Tacoma region, de Groot said.
The system does not predict earthquakes. Rather, it detects that an earthquake is occurring, rapidly calculates expected intensity levels and sends out alerts that may give warnings ranging from several seconds to perhaps a minute before potentially damaging shaking hits locations away from the epicenter.
Depending on the distance, that could be enough time to automatically slow trains, stop industrial machines, start generators, pull a surgical knife away from a patient or tell students to put the “drop, cover and hold” drill into action.
For alerts to be useful, delivery has to be timely, and that’s a problem with current cellphone technology. For cellphone delivery, the USGS ultimately intends to use the same system that delivers Amber Alerts, sending signals to everyone in reach of cellphone towers in defined areas where damaging shaking is expected.
Pilot programs involving select users have been underway for several years. In October, the USGS announced the system was ready to be used broadly by businesses, utilities, schools and other entities following a software update that reduced problems such as false alerts typically caused by a big quake somewhere in the world being misidentified as a local quake.
Currently, the only mass public notification is possible through a mobile app developed for the city of Los Angeles and functional only within Los Angeles County.
The ShakeAlertLA app did not send alerts for last week’s two big quakes, but officials said it functioned as designed because the expected level of shaking in the LA area — more than 100 miles from the epicenters— was below a trigger threshold.
Thresholds for alerting are important because California has daily earthquakes.
“Imagine getting 10 ShakeAlerts on your phone for really small earthquakes that may not affect you,” de Groot said. “If people get saturated with these messages it’s going to make people not care as much.”
In the Mojave Desert on Monday, rattled residents cleaned up and officials assessed damage in the aftermath of Thursday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake and Friday’s magnitude 7.1 quake centered near Ridgecrest.
It could be several more days before water service is restored to the small town of Trona, where officials trucked in portable toilets and showers, said San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert.
Ten residences in Trona were red-tagged as uninhabitable and officials expect that number to increase as inspectors complete surveys. Wert said he’s seen homes that shifted 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) off their foundations.
Electricity was restored to Trona over the weekend, allowing people to use much-needed air conditioners as daytime temperatures approached 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
Teams will need several more days to finish assessments in nearby Ridgecrest, where the number of damaged buildings will likely be in the dozens, Kern County spokeswoman Megan Person said.
Person says officials are bringing in counselors to help residents still on edge as aftershocks rattle the area.
“You can’t feel every single one, but you can feel a lot of them,” she said. “Those poor people have been dealing with shaking ground non-stop since Thursday.”
EarthLink – News
South African aiming to be 1st black African in space dies
Mon, July 8, 2019 06:50 EDT
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Mandla Maseko, a South African man who had won the opportunity to become the first black African to go into space, has died in a motorcycle crash. He was 30.
Maseko was killed in Pretoria over the weekend, according to a family statement reported by local media Monday.
Maseko became known as an “Afronaut” and was an inspiration to many South Africans when he won an international competition to get a place in the Axe Apollo Space Academy and spent a week in training at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2015. His goal was to go into suborbital flight in which he would experience weightlessness.
“I want to be able to float and see outside the window and see this big round blue and white ball that is called earth,” Maseko told The Associated Press in 2014.
Maseko, who came from a poor township outside Pretoria, said that his role model was Nelson Mandela.
“He broke new ground by being the first black president in South Africa … that was inspiration for me,” said Maseko.
Although the space flight didn’t take place, Maseko was still trying. He was working as a part-time disc jockey and was a candidate officer in the South African air force, according to South Africa’s Eye Witness News.
Maseko gave motivational speeches in South Africa, and in 2014 he said: “Defy gravity in everything that you do by shooting for the moon.”
EarthLink – News
Financier Jeffrey Epstein due in court over sex charges
By MICHAEL R. SISAK and JIM MUSTIAN | Sun, July 7, 2019 01:28 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — Wealthy financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is due in court following an arrest in New York on new sex-trafficking charges involving allegations that date to the early 2000s, according to law enforcement officials.
Epstein, a wealthy hedge fund manager who once counted as friends former President Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew, and President Donald Trump, was taken into federal custody Saturday and is expected to appear Monday in Manhattan federal court, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
One of the officials said Epstein is accused of paying underage girls for massages and molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the pending case.
A message was sent to Epstein’s defense attorney seeking comment. Epstein is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Epstein’s arrest, first reported by The Daily Beast, comes amid renewed scrutiny of a once-secret plea deal that ended a federal investigation against him.
That deal, which is being challenged in Florida federal court, allowed Epstein, who is now 66, to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution.
Averting a possible life sentence, Epstein was instead sentenced to 13 months in jail. The deal also required he reach financial settlements with dozens of his once-teenage victims and register as a sex offender.
Epstein’s deal was overseen by former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who is now Trump’s labor secretary. Acosta has defended the plea deal as appropriate under the circumstances, though the White House said in February that it was “looking into” his handling of the deal.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida ruled earlier this year that Epstein’s victims should have been consulted under federal law about the deal, and he is now weighing whether to invalidate the non-prosecution agreement, or NPA, that protected Epstein from federal charges.
It was not immediately clear whether the cases involved the same victims since nearly all have remained anonymous.
Federal prosecutors recently filed court papers in Florida case contending Epstein’s deal must stand.
“The past cannot be undone; the government committed itself to the NPA, and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
They acknowledged, however, that the failure to consult victims “fell short of the government’s dedication to serve victims to the best of its ability” and that prosecutors “should have communicated with the victims in a straightforward and transparent way.”
The victims in the Florida case have until Monday to respond to the Justice Department’s filing.
According to court records in Florida, authorities say at least 40 underage girls were brought into Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for what turned into sexual encounters after female fixers looked for suitable girls locally and in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.
Some girls were also allegedly brought to Epstein’s homes in New York City, New Mexico and a private Caribbean island, according to court documents.
Saturday’s arrest also came just days after a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of nearly 2,000 pages of records in a since-settled defamation case involving Epstein.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse released a statement Saturday calling for Epstein to be held without bail pending trial.
“This monster received a pathetically soft sentence last time and his victims deserve nothing less than justice,” Sasse, R-Nebraska, said in the statement. “Justice doesn’t depend on the size of your bank account.”
Sisak reported from Port St. Lucie, Florida. Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Curt Anderson and Tom Hays contributed to this report.
EarthLink – News
Rapinoe fuses politics, pay and tech with World Cup win
By ROB HARRIS | Sun, July 7, 2019 10:43 EDT
LYON, France (AP) — A Women’s World Cup stirred by heated debates on politics, pay and technology saw the narratives fused in Sunday’s final by the undisputed and outspoken star of the tournament: Megan Rapinoe.
By opening the scoring with a penalty awarded after a video review, Rapinoe claimed a sixth goal and — thanks to three assists and playing fewer minutes — finished as the Golden Boot winner of the most-watched FIFA women’s tournament.
Winning the top player prize provided the pink-haired captain renowned for her individuality and activism with a platform for both after the Americans completed their title defense with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.
The forward got to collect her scoring trophy before the main prize was handed out in Lyon, and revel in the adulation.
But only after the introduction of French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA counterpart Gianni Infantino for the on-field trophy presentation was followed by boos and chants of “equal pay” — thousands taking up Rapinoe’s campaign for more equitable prize money from the World Cup organizers and compensation from the U.S. federation.
“A little public shame never hurt anyone,” Rapinoe said with a winners’ medal around her neck. “So I am down with it.”
Not down with a visit to the White House, though, with Rapinoe’s rejection of a post-tournament visit delivered publicly in a video that emerged during the World Cup.
“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!” President Donald Trump responded in tweet that lit up the tournament. “Finish the job!”
When the job was finished Sunday, thanks to Rose Lavelle also scoring, only congratulations came from Trump — for the entire team.
“Great and exciting play,” he tweeted. “America is proud of you all!”
In the hours before the Americans won a record fourth World Cup, Rapinoe found an advocate for the pursuit of greater pay equality in the French president.
“We need to go progressively toward that,” Macron said. “We should progressively converge.”
That is undermined by the prize money for the men’s World Cup in 2022 jumping to $440 million when the women’s teams will only split $60 million in 2023.
This time, it is only half that.
Victory gave the Americans $4 million — double the amount earned four years ago — as part of a $30 million prize pot but lagging the $38 million earned by France for lifting the men’s trophy last July in Moscow.
On the eve of the final, sitting in the same news conference position occupied by Infantino a day earlier, Rapinoe rebuked the head of soccer’s governing body for disrespecting women as the prize-money gulf widens with the winners of the men’s World Cups.
Rapinoe chose not to confront Infantino on the field.
“There was a wry smile, for sure,” she said. “He knows. He did say we’ll have a conversation or something. I said, ‘I’d love to.'”
Rapinoe has something to be thankful to Infantino for: the introduction of VAR, which has had a disruptive debut in women’s soccer as referees and players have adjusted to the new technology. Replays confirmed Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt’s high challenge on striker Alex Morgan and Rapinoe took on penalty duties for her 50th international goal.
“VAR wouldn’t miss the final, she had to show up somewhere,” Rapinoe said. “It has gotten a lot of stick in the tournament. There’s some inconsistencies but this is the first time all these referees have actually used it. So overall I think it’s been pretty good.”
What has been less of a success were FIFA’s efforts at attracting fans to some games.
FIFA knows it has to do more to raise attendance. The sellout crowd of 58,000 on Sunday was a rarity.
In a month when FIFA challenged the world to “Dare to Shine,” efforts were dimmed by marketing mishaps around ticket promotions that saw swathes of empty seats in stadiums.
The choice of venue will be scrutinized more closely with FIFA now realizing going to stronger soccer cities — rather than Montpellier and Nice — could have produced fuller stadiums.
“A lot can be done to popularize our sport a bit more, like the men’s World Cup is kind of seen as a destination even for those that aren’t pure football fans,” said Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s head of women’s soccer. “We need to do a lot more to promote the game to attract that kind of fan.”
While the United States, Canada and Mexico were picked last year as joint hosts of the 2026 men’s World Cup, FIFA has yet to pick the destination for its next women’s showpiece in four years and the decision could be delayed again.
The FIFA Council was due to make the pick in March but Infantino said Friday the bidding process might have to be re-opened after revealing plans to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams.
In a sign of soaring interest in the women’s game, FIFA already has nine countries interested in hosting in 2023: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.
Rapinoe will be hoping players aren’t still fighting over pay by then.
“Everyone’s is kind of asking what’s next and what we want to come of all this,” she said. “It’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay, are we worth it, the investment piece. … It’s time to kind of sit down with everyone and really get to work.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports