Bible-Citing Marine Raises Religious Freedom Questions in Appeal
Oct 30, 2015 | by Michael Doyle
Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling. Photo by Wynona Benson Photography/Courtesy of Liberty InstituteMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services |
WASHINGTON -- A North Carolina-based Marine will now get to challenge a court-martial conviction that raises tricky questions about military discipline and religious freedom.
Reinforced by members of Congress and some leading conservative lawyers, former Lance Cpl. Monifa F. Sterling this week convinced the nation's highest military appeals court to hear a case that started with a biblical quote and led to a demotion and orders for a bad-conduct discharge.
Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will weigh whether the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act should shield Sterling's defiance of a command that she remove the biblical quotes from her Camp Lejeune workplace.
"This case is important," Sterling's appellate attorney, Michael Berry, said Thursday, adding that it "has the potential to affect the religious freedom of millions of Americans who serve in our armed forces."
The court's decision Wednesday to hear Sterling's court-martial challenge marks a victory, at least for now, for the many advocates who have rallied around Sterling since her 2013 conviction.
Berry, for one, is director of military affairs for the Liberty Institute, a nonprofit religious freedom legal organization based in Plano, Texas. Forty-two members of Congress, from Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California and four Texas House Republicans to Reps. Walter Jones and Robert Pittenger of North Carolina, joined with the
American Center for Law and Justice in an amicus brief supporting Sterling's appeal.
Adding even more heft, Sterling's petition was assisted by Paul Clement, a former solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration who has argued more than 75 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Clement will be making his first argument before the military court on Sterling's behalf.
"Plainly, her conduct was part of a system of religious belief," Sterling's petition states.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that federal laws that "substantially burden" an individual's exercise of religion must serve a "compelling government interest" and be the "least restrictive" means possible.
Last year, for instance, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act's so-called "contraceptive mandate" violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protections afforded closely held, for-profit corporations. Clement successfully argued that case.
More recently, a federal court relied on the law to support a Sikh ROTC student's right to wear a beard and turban in accord with his religious beliefs, despite the Army's clean-face grooming policy.
Government attorneys said Sterling never demonstrated that the Marine Corps had placed a substantial burden on her religious practice.
"She submitted no evidence that she was pressured to change her religious behavior or modify her religious beliefs," government attorneys argued in one brief. "To the contrary, she refused to modify her behavior, and set her own desires above that of unit cohesion and military discipline."
Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., an attorney who handles military issues and filed a brief in the Sterling case, added Thursday that "there are a lot of hurdles for Sterling to overcome long before" the court reaches the underlying merits.
Sterling's case began in May 2013, when she was working a desk job with the 8th Communication Battalion at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
A devout Christian, Sterling printed three copies of the biblical quote "no weapon formed against me shall prosper." She taped one copy atop her computer tower, one above the computer monitor and one above her in-box.
A staff sergeant ordered Sterling to remove the quotes. Sterling refused, so the staff sergeant took them down. The next day, the biblical quotes were back in place. Again, the staff sergeant removed them.
At the time, a military court subsequently noted, Sterling was "locked in an antagonistic relationship with her superiors" that extended beyond the dispute with over the biblical phrases, and she faced several charges of disobeying orders.
"(Sterling's) misconduct was not minor," the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals wrote in affirming her conviction. "As the Supreme Court has recognized, ‘to accomplish its mission the military must foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment and esprit de corps.'"
In reviewing the case, the higher military appeals court will address questions including whether the staff sergeant's order burdened an exercise of religion and, if it did, whether it was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
Marine Corps Religion and the Military
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European Command Chief Seeks Stronger Navy Presence in Europe
Stars and Stripes | Oct 31, 2015 | by John Vandiver
U.S. European Command boss Gen. Philip Breedlove is pressing the Pentagon for more Navy and intelligence gathering assets in Europe, where a Russian buildup in the Mediterranean and Black Sea represents a growing security challenge.
"There is a requirement for more," Breedlove said at a Pentagon news briefing Friday. "And again, the processes for how we allocate those forces are going on in this building right now and that is part of the reason I am home, to advocate for what I think is an increased need to address the Russian navy."
With Russia's intervention in Ukraine last year, unrest along ally Turkey's southern border with Syria and concerns about a more active Russian navy in the eastern Mediterranean, security challenges are coming from multiple fronts for EUCOM and the U.S.-led NATO alliance.
"Europe isn't what it was 19 months ago or even six months ago," Breedlove said.
In addition to the demand for more Navy ships to contend with Russia, the U.S. will be beefing up its presence at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where U.S. fighter jets are taking part in airstrikes against the Islamic State group, Breedlove said. One unnamed official told The Associated Press that additional F-15 fighters and A-10s will eventually be moved to Incirlik, likely from elsewhere in the region. In addition, the U.S. and NATO are examining ways to shore up Turkey's air defense, though no final plans are in place, Breedlove sad.
Breedlove said he was also advocating at the Pentagon this week for more U.S. intelligence and surveillance capacity in Europe.
"We have a lack of ability to see into Russia, especially at the operational and tactical level," Breedlove said.
U.S. military officials have lamented their limited ability to anticipate Russian moves after decades of downsizing the intelligence gathering mission in Europe, which became less important after the end of the Cold War.
While such a shift made strategic sense at the time, a more assertive Russia means intelligence-gathering capabilities need to begin shifting back, Breedlove said.
There have been signs of some progress.
"The IC (intelligence community) already has made some fairly dramatic changes in the last several months," Breedlove said. "We're gently turning the nose of this ship to get back what we need to be looking at."
For the EUCOM mission, which only two years ago critics dismissed as a Cold War relic, the range of challenges has forced the military to adapt. Breedlove said he is coordinating with the Army to increase the presence of rotational forces in Europe and strengthen rapid-response capabilities.
"We must continue to strengthen our deterrence," Breedlove said.
Europe Russia Navy
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Veterans Group Slams Eisenhower Memorial Design
Oct 31, 2015 | by Bryant Jordan
A veterans organization is criticizing plans for a multi-million memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the country's 34th President who led U.S. and Allied forces in Europe in World War II as Supreme Allied Commander. Concerned Veterans for America said the memorial design – to feature 80-foot high columns, metal-sculpted tapestries and statues depicting Eisenhower as President and as a 5-star Army general – is "a disgrace," and also hit the project over costs, recently estimated to be about $144 million.
"The ugly, confusing, and grandiose design does not befit a man who asked to be buried in the same $80 government-issued casket provided to the common soldier," Concerned Veterans for America Outreach and Research Analyst Shaun Rieley said in a statement on Thursday.
The planned memorial, in the works since 1999, has so far cost about $40 million but no work has begun, Rieley said.
Chris Cimko, spokeswoman for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, said that $40 million has been spent over the past 15 years on site selection, design competition and selection, legal work related and more.
"If you divide $40 million over 15 years you'll see a lot of work is being done," she said. "In terms of [the group's] concern, we are used to having veterans be very supportive of this memorial ... We're sorry this veterans group does not support it."
The memorial is to be built on a 4-acre site at the foot of Capitol Hill, across from the National Air and Space Museum.
The memorial has the backing of two of the country's largest veterans' service organizations, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion, Cimko points out.
But the Legion, in a resolution of support for the project, said it supports the memorial "if the design is acceptable to the Eisenhower family." That may pose a problem because the family opposes the current design. "I think, obviously, we're strongly supportive of recognition for the achievements of Eisenhower," Ian DePlanque, legislation director for The American Legion, said. "The project is certainly controversial and I want to make sure we're respectful of the family and their concerns."
A letter signed by Anne Eisenhower, one of the late President's granddaughters, states the family opposes the memorial because it seems to celebrate Eisenhower's rural Kansas roots rather than his accomplishments as World War II commander and President.
The letter also questions the use interactive features that will require "expensive on-going updates" and oversized sculpted tapestries that are not likely to stand the test of time.
One group opposing the memorial design, the National Civic Art Society, posted photos of the metal tapestries that reportedly come from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which approved the design. Rieley is also listed as secretary of the NCAS.
"These photos have barely been seen by the public or media – for good reason," the Society states on the page. "They prove that the [tapestry] screens are a rat's nest of tangled steel, a true maintenance nightmare."
Some Republican members of Congress have also come out against the memorial design, and last year filed legislation attempting to pull federal support.
Rieley, in his statement, said is clear that the current design "lacks consensus from Congress and the public, and that it will never be completed."
Former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, a World War II veteran who serves as finance chairman for the memorial commission, called for an end to the opposition in a column Wednesday in The Washington Times.
"It is ironic that a handful of Republican members of Congress are trying to withhold funds for an effort that was, in fact, established by Congress," Dole wrote. "It's time to start construction on a memorial to a great Republican president. We are hopeful that Congress will appropriate the necessary funds that will, at last, bring alive the vision of the 1999 legislation establishing the memorial."
--Bryant Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bryantjordan.
World War II Military Memorials Bryant Jordan
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Scientists Develop Quick Way for Pilots to Detect Hypoxia Symptoms
UPI | Oct 31, 2015
Researchers with the U.S. Air Force may have found a way to detect hypoxia in pilots in real-time during flights by measuring volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in their breath, according to a new study.
Hypoxia is a deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues. A sudden loss of cabin pressure, speeding up the lack of oxygen flowing through the body, could result in a pilot losing consciousness before being able to take actions in the cockpit for both passengers and to keep the plane in the air.
Researchers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base think an automatic system may be able to detect hypoxia based on pilot's breath, allowing either the pilot or systems on the plane to take action.
"Despite the myriad of advances in aerospace technology, many modern, high-performance aircraft still rely on the pilot to recognize the symptoms of hypoxia in order to initiate appropriate procedures in the event of a malfunction," said Dr. Claude Grigsby, a technical advisor in the Human Signatures Branch in the 711th Human Performance Wing, in a press release. "This research provides the basis for both the utility of exhaled breath monitoring to monitor for hypoxia as well as targets for future solid state senor development."
The researchers worked with eight pilots, simulating a "fairly standard" hypoxic event while in flight. The volunteer participants were exposed to five minutes of reduced oxygen levels to simulate higher altitudes, and then were given five minutes of oxygen "recovery," a typical in-flight response to the condition.
For each of the participants, VOC levels were measured before and after the simulated hypoxia and recovery, as well as every minute during the simulations. Although the results showed VOC levels drop after a hypoxic event, researchers are unsure how this works.
"We are working to better understand hypoxic episodes mechanistically to validate our findings and to improve our non-invasive chemical sensing platforms," said Dr. Sean Harshman, a research scientist in the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "Our future and ongoing studies seek to confirm the data presented in this manuscript, develop a flight worthy chemical sensor, and begin further mechanistic studies of respiratory hypoxia."
The study is published in the Journal of Breath Research.
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Heroes Work Here: Profile of SSgt Travis Mills
Oct 27, 2015
Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills is a recalibrated warrior, motivational speaker, actor, author and advocate for veterans and amputees. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries. His new book about his challenges and triumphs, As Tough as They Come, is available in bookstores everywhere on Oct. 27.
Travis will be a featured speaker at the Heroes Work Here conference in Chicago on Nov. 3, geared towards helping employers build and implement an
effective veteran and military-spouse hiring program. The free one-day workshop is an opportunity for human resources professionals, recruiters and senior-level representatives to listen, learn and network with national thought leaders from various employers, government agencies and veteran support organizations. For more details on the conference and to attend, see this site. We had an opportunity to talk to SSgt Mills about the event.
Military.com: It's been over three years since you sustained your injuries – how have things been progressing for you physically, mentally and emotionally?
Things have been progressing very well. While I definitely had to overcome some serious physical, mental and emotional challenges during the initial stages of my recovery, I have done my best to overcome these challenges. Thanks to my wife, daughter, family, friends, the incredible team of healthcare providers at Walter Reed, and the prayers of so many across the nation, I was encouraged to "Never give up. Never quit," even in the darkest days of my recovery. Today, for the most part, I have adapted to my new normal. I mean I still have brief moments when I get frustrated like when I drop something such as my credit card and my prosthetic hand just can't seem to get clasp it. But overall, I focus on keeping my attitude positive. I have so much to be thankful for because so many of my brothers and sisters in arms have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Can you summarize your foundation's aims and your current programs?
During my recovery at the U.S. Army's flagship hospital, Walter Reed, I found a passion for inspiring fellow wounded servicemen and women. While at Walter Reed, I consistently toured the facility seeking opportunities to encourage and spend time with fellow wounded soldiers and their families. To carry on my passion, I founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans and their families.
The Travis Mills Foundation is currently in the process of transforming the historic Maine Chance Lodge, originally built and owned by cosmetics pioneer Elizabeth Arden, into a retreat for combat wounded veterans and their families. When it's completed, it will be the nation's first fully-accessible "smart home" facility dedicated to serving the recreational and reintegration needs of combat-wounded veteran families. Scheduled to open Summer 2017, the retreat will fill a vital role in the recovery, camaraderie, spousal support, reconnection, relaxation and reintegration for our military heroes – a true and lasting symbol of a grateful nation.
How did you come to be involved with the upcoming Heroes Work Here Conference?
My friends at CK&D Cause Marketing and Media Group, who have been helping me with my book, Tough As They Come, were working with their clients, Easter Seals, on producing The Walt Disney Company's Heroes Work Here Conference in Chicago. Recognizing that Easter Seals, Disney and I share the same mission
of helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life, and that employment is a key component of reintegration, CK&D introduced me to Easter Seals and Disney. I hope that my presence at the event shows that all veterans, including those with disabilities, are capable and eager to contribute to our communities.
What do you hope to communicate to participants and employers at the conference?
Veterans are a tough group of people who have thrived in stressful environments and have worked together as a team. Most jobs require collaborating with a diverse group of co-workers and veterans are well experienced in that area; they're used to forming tight bonds with people from different racial, religious and socioeconomic groups. People in the armed services go through months of extensive training and learn how to do something the right way. As a leader, I knew I had to be there for those on my team, and I know that everyone I was deployed with would do almost anything for me. That loyalty is something that's instilled in every veteran and something that will benefit an employer.
Do you have a message or piece of advice for veterans out there who are struggling to find a job?
My advice is, as always, to "Never give up. Never quit." As I know firsthand, life can throw some unexpected things at you, but as veterans, we've been trained to adapt to any situation. While we're working to help employers learn about the unique value veterans bring to the workplace, you can also work to help civilians understand the skills you developed during your career in the armed services. Rewrite your resume to replace military jargon and acronyms with simple explanations of the tasks you performed in the military that someone without your experience could understand and highlight how those skills are transferrable to a civilian workplace. While it might seem obvious to you, potential employers might need some help understanding how your military experience has prepared you for a stateside job.
Military Transition Military Friendly Employers Veterans Employment
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New Ribbon Unveiled For Navy Boot Camp's Best
By Mark D. Faram, Staff writer Navy Times 2:16 p.m. EDT August 20, 2015
Boot camp's top graduates are about to get a new ribbon.
Every sailor graduating from Navy Recruit Training receives the National Defense Service Ribbon. As many as three percent of each weekly graduating class will now earn an additional uniform ribbon: the new Navy Basic Military Training Honor Graduate ribbon.
"RTC recognizes multiple top performing recruits at graduation, but now the recognition is outwardly visible on an honoree's uniform," said Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans in a statement. Evans commands Navy Service Training Command, which oversees all Navy officer and enlisted accession training except for the Naval Academy. "Wearing of the Honor Grad Ribbon will be a visible sign to peers and superiors at the recipient's future duty stations that the member demonstrated extraordinary excellence and leadership potential during Basic Military Training and is capable of accelerated and increased leadership positions within the Fleet."
The award is effective immediately. The first 15 honor grads will be awarded their ribbons Aug. 20 and can wear them when they graduate on Aug 21.
If you were a past honor graduate, don’t go out and buy one — there are no retroactive awards.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus approved the award Aug. 18, details of which were released in ALNAV message 063/15.
According to a press release, the award was created “to reward recruits for their superb performance during basic military training,” the release said. “The Honor Graduate Ribbon will provide a physical recognition of the sailor’s outstanding achievements in academics, physical fitness, recruit leadership and commitment to the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
According to the rules, no more than three percent of the graduates from each weekly training group will get the honor grad nod.
The ribbon will rank 83rd in the Navy's award order of precedence, just below the Navy Ceremonial Guard Ribbon and above the Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbon. For comparison, the National Defense Service Medal ranks 62nd on that list.
The first Honor Recruits are:
SR JAMIE L. MURRAY
SR MATTHEW P. JONES
SR BRITTANY M. WALKER
SR RENATA Y. CHOI
SR CARLIN E. HATCHER
SR RICHARD M. CASSUBE III
SR STEPHEN E. MCGAHEY
SR ALLISON A. RIVERA-MEDINA
SR GARRETT M. FIRESTONE
SR JOSEPH V. AGBINGPADUA
SR JEREMY J. CRYER
SR HUNTER D. MORROW
SR BETHANY M. VIKOWSKI
SR TIMOTHY A. SEYBOLD
SR JAMES D. BELL III
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the National Defense Service Medal.
Sheriff: 3 firefighters killed in Washington state wildfire
GENE JOHNSON and NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Aug 19th 2015 9:01PM
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Three firefighters have been killed and three to four more have been injured while battling raging wildfires, a sheriff in north-central Washington state said Wednesday.
Okanogan (oh-kah-NAH'-guhn) County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Wednesday evening that the deaths in a wildfire near the town of Twisp had been confirmed. He said he was not immediately releasing further details.
Link To Video and Chart On Wildfires:
Gov. Jay Inslee also confirmed the deaths, saying his heart breaks over the loss of life and that conditions remain extremely dangerous.
Earlier Wednesday, authorities urged people in Twisp and nearby Winthrop to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire, one of many burning throughout the Northwest.
Firefighters have been bracing for high winds in the forecast through Friday that have threatened to stoke wildfires burning across Eastern Washington.
Wildfires burning in Okanogan County had already forced the evacuation of the small town of Conconully. Fire officials said the evacuation order for the town of about 200 people was issued Tuesday night.
Separately, the Chelan Complex of wildfires grew a bit Wednesday to 108.5 square miles, and continued to threaten the resort town of Chelan in central Washington.
Drought and heat have combined to make this fire season one of the most active in the United States in recent years. Nearly 29,000 firefighters are battling some 100 large blazes across the West, including in Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington and California.
Army skydiving team suspends schedule, returns to base following member's death at Chicago show
Published August 17, 2015 | Associated Press
"The Knights are a very close knit team and the military skydiving community is equally close; we will support Corey's family and each other during this difficult time,"
-Col. Matthew Weinrich, commander of the U.S. Army Parachute Team
Members of a U.S. Army skydiving team were planning to return Sunday to their base, where they will have access to counseling after a parachutist from their unit died from injuries suffered during a stunt at the Chicago Air & Water Show, a spokeswoman for the group said.
The Golden Knights demonstration team has been put on a "safety stand down" after the death of Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood, spokeswoman Donna Dixon said. The group will head to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where they can meet with chaplains as the Army works to ensure everyone is mentally and physically fit to continue with the show season, she said. The team's performance schedule could be affected.
Hood, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. A day earlier, he collided in midair with a member of the Navy's precision skydiving team during the event along Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline.
Hood, 32, served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and had earned numerous awards, including two Bronze Stars. He had logged more than 200 free fall jumps and 75 military static line jumps during his career, according to his Army biography.
He is survived by his wife, Lyndsay.
"The Knights are a very close knit team and the military skydiving community is equally close; we will support Corey's family and each other during this difficult time," Col. Matthew Weinrich, commander of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, said in a statement.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement late Sunday that he and his wife were deeply saddened by Hood's death.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the entire Golden Knights community," Emanuel said, calling Hood "an American hero."
The Army Golden Knights and Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams were performing what is known as a "bomb burst" Saturday when the collision occurred, Dixon said. During the stunt, parachutists fall with red smoke trailing from packs and then separate, creating a colorful visual in the sky.
Hood collided with the Navy skydiver and was knocked unconscious, "which resulted in an uncontrolled offsite landing," Dixon said in a statement.
Spectator Heather Mendenhall told the Chicago Tribune she was watching the show from a rooftop and saw Hood strike the roof of a high-rise building next door with his feet and then fall — his parachute trailing behind him.
"His legs caught the tip of the roof, and then he fell over. It was horrible," she told the newspaper.
The other parachutist, who has not been identified, landed on a beach near the main viewing area for the show, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Juan Hernandez said Saturday. He was treated for a broken leg.
The Army is investigating the accident. The team did not perform again on Sunday, the second day of the show that draws millions of people to Chicago. Headliners included the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
Man Killed by Cedar Point Roller Coaster After He Jumped Fence to Pick Up His Cell Phone:
BY MARIA CODER
08/14/2015 AT 10:55 AM EDT
Police say a roller coaster struck and killed a man at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio after he reportedly jumped a fence to pick up his cell phone on Thursday.
James A. Young, 45, had been at the park with friends and had just finished riding the Raptor about 5 p.m. on Thursday, when he hopped a fence to pick up the cell phone he'd dropped, the Associated Press reports.
It's believed Young was either struck by the ride, estimated to be going 57 mph, or by someone riding it. No one else was hurt.
In a Tweet, the park confirmed the death, noting that "at 5 p.m. a guest entered a restricted, fenced area of Raptor and was struck by the ride. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio, is the second-oldest amusement park in the United States and one of the biggest in the Midwest.
North Korea denies role in mine blasts that maimed 2 South Korean soldiers
SEOUL, South Korea — The Associated Press Published Friday, Aug. 14, 2015 4:41AM EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 14, 2015 9:41AM EDT
North Korea denied Friday that it had planted land mines that injured two South Korean soldiers last week and prompted Seoul to restart propaganda broadcasts across the border for the first time in 11 years.
North Korea’s powerful National Defence Commission said it “makes no sense” that it buried mines on the southern side of the border because it only uses such devices for defence on its side, not on an enemy’s side. The statement was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Investigations by Seoul and the U.S.-led U.N. Command blamed Pyongyang for the mines that exploded when soldiers were on a routine patrol near a wire fence in the southern side of the border. One of the soldiers lost both legs while the other lost one leg.
Officials said the mine planting violates the armistice that ended the Korean War.
In its first remarks on the land mines, North Korea argued that South Korea fabricated evidences to put the blame on the North. It said mine blasts are common in the demilitarized zone near the border of the two countries after torrential rain and the latest explosion could also be from the mines that were swept away from the southern side.
The North’s commission asked Seoul to submit video evidence to support its argument that Pyongyang was responsible.
A year after the death of their son during a sprint car race in upstate New York, the Ward family told "Good Morning America" on Friday that Tony Stewart "knew what he was doing."
The parents of Kevin Ward Jr. don't think Tony Stewart intentionally hit their son with his sprint car, but want the NASCAR champion "held accountable" because he lost his temper and could have prevented Ward's death
Kevin and Pamela Ward filed a wrongful lawsuit against Stewart Aug. 7 contending he "could have easily acted reasonably and with prudence to avoid striking" and acted with "wanton, reckless and malicious intent and negligence." The Wards spoke about the civil suit Friday on ABC's Good Morning America, stating they "want justice for our son."
"I don't feel Tony meant to kill my son, but his actions killed my son," Pamela Ward said. "I think he lost his temper.
"We want him held accountable and we feel this is the only action we have left."
Stewart was competing in a sprint car race Aug. 9, 2014, at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park when he and Ward were involved in an incident on the track that disabled Ward's car. The 20-year-old driver then removed himself from his car and began walking down the track gesturing at Stewart, whose car struck Ward with the right rear tire. Ward was pronounced dead 45 minutes later with an autopsy determining he died of massive blunt force trauma.
"I wish (Kevin) wouldn't have gotten out of the car, more than anybody," Pamela Ward said. "But I also acknowledge the fact that if Tony would have stayed low on the track and not have gunned his engine and headed for my son, my son would still be here."
Said Kevin Ward Sr.: "There's no doubt (Stewart) knew what he was doing."
The Wards are seeking an unspecified amount of damages. New York law states an aggrieved party can only attempt to collect for the expected future income Ward would have earned and not for any pain and suffering the family incurred.
An Ontario County grand jury declined to charge Stewart with criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter. In announcing Stewart had been cleared of any wrongdoing last September, District Attorney Michael Tantillo said a toxicology report showed enough marijuana in Ward's system to impair his judgement.
"I do not believe my son was impaired," Pamela Ward said.
Stewart has repeatedly called Ward's death an "accident" and has said the events will forever have a great effect on him. He has not commented on the wrongful death lawsuit publicly.
By Lindsey Bever August 14 at 6:10 AM
Four-year-old Adriana Aviles stepped up to the pitcher’s mound Thursday night moments before her dad, Cleveland Indians infielder Mike Aviles, took on the New York Yankees. Her candy red shoes and patchwork dress matched her twin sister’s and her shaved head matched the players’ on the team, shorn in her support.
For months, Adriana has been battling leukemia. The Indians have rallied around her, designing “Team Adriana” T-shirts and sporting shaved heads in solidarity, including team owner Paul Dolan. “It’s a team thing,” second baseman Jason Kipnis told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in May. “It started with Mike’s daughter because of what she’s going through.”
Then this week, they made good on a promise: Adriana and her twin sister, Maiya, could throw out some ceremonial first pitches in the series finale.
“The biggest thing for me is my joy comes from my kids,” Aviles told theAssociated Press. “I have three girls and a boy on the way. I enjoy just seeing them happy. It makes me happy. That’s what you want to do as a parent, you want your kids to be happy. You don’t want to see them crying. You want to see them always laughing and joking. When they’re having a good time, I’m excited.”
Aviles took emergency leave while she underwent her first treatment. Eight games later, he rejoined the team.
“Mike is one of the best clubhouse guys there is in the entire league,” Kipnis told the Plain Dealer. “He’s been a great person and a great teammate. I think all the guys have done a good job of stepping up to make him feel welcome and back at home and that nothing has changed.
“Numerous guys have told him that if he needs anything at any time that they’ll be there for him.”
One by one, the players started to shave their heads. “She’s going to be losing her hair soon from chemotherapy,” Kipnis said, “and we all wanted to join in.” Then the gesture started to spread. “It might seem silly, shaving your heads, but it’s more the thought that goes with it,” Francona added. “I’m really proud of a lot of people. It’s not just our players. It’s our clubbies, it’s our trainers, it’s our owner, it’s our front office, it’s everybody.”
Aviles buzzed Dolan’s head in the Indians’ dugout. “You have a good-shaped head,” Aviles said.
“It was a chance to show Mike that beyond hits and errors and runs, we care about him and his family,” Francona told the Plain Dealer. “It may be a silly way to show it, but I think the feeling is very legitimate and genuine.”
By the summer, teammates were wearing bright orange T-shirts with Adriana’s name.
“It’s been a tough time, but considering the circumstances, I think things have played out in a good way,” Aviles told MLB.com. “And I think a lot of that has to do with all the support I’ve gotten. Without that, I don’t know if I would have been able to even get through the year.”
Delta and American Air Are Fighting to Fly Hollywood’s Jetsetters
This article was written by Mary Schlangenstein from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
U.S. airlines would love to get their hands on passengers like Danielle Claman Gelber. The television producer flies an average of about once a month from Los Angeles to New York and other points East and for now is loyal to one carrier: American Airlines. She gushes about the amenities and the service in American’s unique first-class cabin. But every time she checks her bags at LAX, American’s rivals get a chance to woo her away.
Airlines are fighting for business at Los Angeles International, the largest destination airport in the U.S., renowned for wealthy, celebrity passengers paying full fare and the highly lucrative New York-to-L.A. route. LAX is one of a handful of major U.S. airports where no one carrier dominates — each of the four biggest airlines now holds market share between 14 percent and 18 percent. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, by contrast, Delta Air Lines Inc. claims 74 percent of passengers.
To court the most desirable passengers, the airlines have been rolling out amenity-laden cross-country flights, lie-flat business-class seats, vented compartments that can house a pet and a slew of more flights. Delta runs special flights to woo the Hollywood crowd. Up next are fancy new terminals: Delta, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co. are spending more than $1.3 billion renovating facilities there.
“L.A. is very attractive real estate,” said Stephen Van Beek, vice president of aviation consultant ICF International. “It’s the latest competitive battle on the West Coast and we’re still figuring out who the winners and losers are going to be and how they try to carve up those markets.”
The stakes shouldn’t be underestimated. Flights between L.A. and New York’s Kennedy will produce almost $1 billion in revenue this year, more than any single route in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
LAX is the second-largest U.S. airport in terms of passengers, behind only Atlanta, according to Airports Council International. It’s the largest in terms of people who start or end their trip there, as opposed to connecting to another flight.
Nearly 70.7 million travelers moved through LAX last year, a 6 percent increase from 2013 and a record. More than 19 million were on international flights, also a record. And good news for the airlines: Despite the stepped-up competition, ticket prices are generally holding steady or even rising, according to data from OAG, an aviation research company.
“It’s important because it’s one of the largest generators of corporate traffic,” Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer, said of LAX. “It pulls more than its weight in terms of the quality of revenue it contributes to the system.”
The flight that Gelber, an executive vice president for Wolf Films, took is part of American’s exercise in pampering customers on the L.A. to New York route.
“It’s beautiful; it’s exquisite; it’s incredible,” Gelber said of American Airlines’ first-class cabins.
Last year the carrier gambled on adding a first-class cabin on 17 planes flown on two transcontinental routes including L.A. to New York. The aircraft are the only ones for U.S. flights with three cabins, for first, business and coach.
Delta runs invitation-only flights to special events, such as the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
“It is a critical market for Delta to be in, and for us to earn customer preference in,” said Ranjan Goswami, Delta’s vice president for sales on the West Coast.
Along with posh services like private check-in, airlines are also adding new destinations from LAX or increasing the frequencies of existing routes. Delta departures are up 17 percent from a year earlier, while American’s have risen 7.6 percent and Southwest’s, 2.5 percent. United’s departures have slipped 20 percent as it replaced some smaller planes with fewer, larger ones.
United, a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., in October will shift the New York end of its transcontinental flights to its hub at Newark’s Liberty airport from Kennedy. The move will let it increase daily LAX-Newark flights to as many as 15 a day from six now, said Brian Znotins, United’s vice president for network.
“With all of those high-yield business passengers, we want to have a good, competitive product from start to finish,” Znotins said.
Southwest, which doesn’t offer a premium product, pooh- poohs the frills competitors offer to first-and-business class customers.
“Most people fly behind the curtain and don’t want a lie- flat bed and a box of potpourri,” said Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s vice president for network planning and performance. Southwest has the fewest daily LAX departures of the big four.
While sprucing up their onboard products, the carriers are also spending on badly needed terminal upgrades.
For passengers who aren’t paying for the premium services, “the airlines recognize they can make their airport terminal experience better and maybe the travelers will say, ‘This airline is easier for me to use at LAX,’” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group.
In June, Delta debuted its $229 million refurbishment of LAX’s Terminal 5. United has a $573 million renovation underway at LAX that’s expected to be completed in 2017, and Southwest is spending $509 million to redo terminal 1.
American, which renovated parts of its check-in facilities at LAX several years ago, is working on a “significant” investment to upgrade some areas, Nocella said.
Some of the airlines are offering special terminal entrances with private check-in, and lounges with concierge services for their elite status fliers.
For Gelber, 56, executive producer of the Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. television series, the terminal upgrades can’t come too soon.
“There’s nothing special-feeling about it,” the American AAdvantage Gold member said of LAX. “You don’t feel like you’ve landed in Los Angeles, the city of angels, the locus of Hollywood. I really think there should be.”
Bumble Bee Foods Will Pay $6M After Worker Was Cooked to Death
by Chris Fuhrmeister Aug 12, 2015, 5:15p @ccfuhr
The grisly incident occurred in 2012.
Bumble Bee Foods, which is best known for its eponymous canned tuna line, has agreed to pay $6 million to settle criminal charges after an employee was killed in an industrial oven. It's the largest-ever payout in a California workplace-violation death, reports the Associated Press.
Jose Melena was performing maintenance in a 35-foot-long oven at Bumble Bee's Santa Fe Springs, Calif., plant in 2012. While he was working, two co-workers loaded the oven up with 12,000 pounds of canned tuna and turned it on. During the two-hour process to cook and sterilize the cans, temperatures inside the oven reached 270 degrees fahrenheit, essentially baking Melena to death. When the oven was opened, Melena's body was found.
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun, a veteran of more than 40 murder cases in two decades, told the AP he's seen a new low: "This is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed. I think any person would prefer to be — if they had to die some way — would prefer to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked in an oven. "
The Bumble Bee employees who turned the oven on were sentenced to fines, community service, probation, and worker safety classes. Melena's family will reportedly receive $1.5 million under the settlement, but can still sue the company in civil court and receive workers' compensation funds.
Just how much firing can a Glock take before it melts?? Well check this out!!!! The Glock was put to the test in McDoungh, GA. Thanks to Quiet Riot Fire Arms and Piney Moutain Ammunition who helped put together this demonstration. Along with SGM Tactical who provided the magazines for the Gen 3 Glock 17 used in this video.
Low oil and gas prices could continue another three years: Moody’s
CALGARY — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 12:05AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 9:29AM EDT
The oil- and gas price malaise could last for another three years, putting more pressure on energy companies to slash development, production and overhead costs, Moody’s Investors Service says.
Deeper cuts are on tap for the North American exploration and production sector following major cost reductions in the first half of this year to deal with squelched cash flows, the credit-rating agency said in a new report that studied 90 companies.
A miserly operating structure is crucial for reinvesting into new reserves to replace output while also servicing debt as prices languish. Costs vary widely among companies and regions, and producers with high costs and debt levels face the biggest risks, said Moody’s vice-president and senior credit officer Gretchen French.
“It puts into question the sustainability of their asset base through a period of prolonged weak commodity prices,” Ms. French said.
Moody’s published the study as Canadian heavy oil prices slumped to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and benchmark North American oil prices have fallen back to the low $40s (U.S.) per barrel. To cope, producers have cut both head office and field staff, as well as budgets and dividends.
Moody’s said the commodities could remain weak through 2018, averaging $50 a barrel this year and not rebounding to $60 until 2017.
The agency concentrated on “leveraged full-cycle costs” – the amount needed to produce a barrel, replace it with new reserves and service debt. The median for the group is $42 per barrel of oil equivalent, which Moody’s sees as low enough to withstand expected weak pricing. The median is higher for oil and gas liquids producers than it is for companies with more natural gas production.
Among liquids producers, Calgary-based Seven Generations Energy Ltd., which operates in Alberta’s Montney region, has the lowest full-cycle costs at $20 per barrel, the agency said.
Lightstream Resources Ltd. and Northern Blizzard Resources Inc. have among the highest costs at $102.52 and 130.88 a barrel, respectively.
For gas-weighted producers, Canbriam Energy Inc. is the Canadian leader at $2.66 per thousand cubic feet, below the group’s median of $3.98.
The downturn has forced several companies to seek concessions from lenders, as well as to bolster their balance sheets through equity issues and asset sales. The price collapse has weighed heavily on credit ratings, Ms. French said.
“We’ve had a number of challenged credits in the space and we’ve had a number of downgrades, particularly if you’re looking at B-rated and below, where liquidity concerns have been most paramount,” she said.
“You have seen pressure on ratings because of inability to meet covenants, limited availability on revolving credit facilities and unsustainable capital structures.”
Residents gather at the site of a truck bomb attack at a crowded market in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday. Reuters
Dozens Killed in Baghdad's Sadr City as Massive Truck Bomb Explodes
At least 76 people were killed and 212 wounded in a bomb attack on Thursday at a market in Baghdad's Sadr City district, police and medical sources said.
The bombing was one of the largest attacks on the capital since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi took office a year ago.
"A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up inside Jamila market at around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET on Wednesday)," police officer Muhsin al-Saedi said. "Many people were killed and body parts were thrown on top of nearby buildings."
A statement circulated online by ISIS supporters said the blast had targeted what it called a stronghold of the "charlatan army" and Shiite Muslim militias. The Sunni extremist group regularly sends bombers into the capital.
Firefighters hose down a burnt vehicle after a truck bomb exploded at a crowded market in Baghdad, Iraq. Reuters
A Reuters witness at the site saw fruit and vegetables mixed with blood and body remains littering the blast crater. The market, in a northeastern suburb, is one of the largest wholesale food markets in the capital.
Abadi took office last summer following the army's collapse in ISIS' takeover of the northern city of Mosul, which left the Baghdad government dependent on the Shiite militias to defend the capital and recapture lost ground.
3 Fighters Ronda Rousey Must Beat Before She Cleans out the 135-Lb. Division
Let's face it, at this point in the game, there are not many challenges left for Ronda Rousey. She has seemingly beat every legitimate fighter in the division at this point.
That said, there are still a couple of enticing fights that Rousey could secure. Although she finds herself staring down a third meeting with Miesha Tate in the near future, there are a couple of match-ups that could make sense for her going forward before she effectively clears out the division.
So, who are the three ladies that Rousey must beat before declaring the division cleaned out? Let's take a look and examine these potential suitors.
Of the three women listed, she is probably at the end of the line. That is because she is still young in her MMA career and improving.
And although she has been a tad underwhelming since coming to the UFC, Holly Holm is still somebody that would be an interesting fight for Ronda Rousey to take before 135 is cleaned out.
A boxing world champion, Holm has some of the best striking in women's MMA. She evidenced that before she ever stepped foot in the UFC, knocking out opponent after opponent.
Despite a lackluster premiere in which she narrowly beat Raquel Pennington, Holm looked much more relaxed and at ease in her most recent bout. There, she dominated Marion Reneau to put some wind back in her sails.
If she can pick up a win or two more, there is no doubt she will be in line for a title shot. This is especially because Rousey has already dominated pretty much everybody else in front of her in the rankings at this point.
If there is a "most improved fighter award" for the UFC women's bantamweight division, chances are Amanda Nunes would have taken that award.
In seeing her most recent performances, that may have parlayed her into the title picture and earned her a potential bout with the champion, Rousey.
The turning point for Nunes came last weekend when she laid waste to former title challenger and Olympic silver medalist wrestler SaraMcMann. Not only did she dominate the American, but Nunes finished her with an impressive rear-naked choke that put her in the minds of most fans.
In looking ahead of her in the rankings, ladies like Miesha Tate, CatZingano, McMann, Sarah Kaufman and others have had their changes and failed. Nunes has not had her chance, and given her recent performances, she should get her shot before the division is declared cleared out.
Cris "Cyborg" Justino
Yes, this is the fight fans want to see. I won't go on writing about how she's the only challenge left for Rousey because every writer and his mother have written an editorial about how Cris Justino is the only challenge left for Rousey and how the fans need this fight.
We get it. It's the best fight left for Rousey and a potential box-office explosion for the UFC.
Here's the thing though. Before Justino gets her fight with Rousey, it makes sense that she makes the 135-pound weight class once and fights there to prove she can make it.
Imagine the disaster that would come if Justino missed weight againstRousey, especially if she skips the process of doing it once before withInvicta (or the UFC). It would be a massive money loss, a let-down to the fans and an absolute shame to what would be a truly special fight.
Until then we wait, knowing Cyborg lurks in the shadows.
ISIS Group Claims to Have Hacked Information on U.S. Military Personnel
by PHIL HELSEL
A hacker group claiming to be affiliated with the terror organization ISIS on Tuesday posted what it said was the personal information of hundreds of members of the military and government personnel, and urged terrorists to carry out attacks.
Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant, said it could not authenticate the claim by the so-called "Islamic State Hacking Division" or the accuracy of the information. Islamic State is another name by which ISIS is known.
The Twitter account used has been affiliated with infamous ISIS fighter Abu Hussain Al Britani, Flashpoint said. The account has since been suspended.
The group claimed the information contained names, emails, passwords, and phone numbers of personnel that included individuals from the Air Force, the Marines, NASA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. There is no indication as to how old the information is, or whether the email addresses and passwords are still valid.
"We are aware of the report but cannot confirm credibility at this time," a spokesperson for the Department of Defense said in an email. "The safety of our service members is always a primary concern."
The group had previously claimed it hacked American servers and distributed information on military personnel, but analysts believe that claim was overstated, and the information was instead culled from freely available social media accounts, Flashpoint said.
Pentagon Urges Caution After ISIS Publishes 'Kill List' 2:15
The information released Tuesday also included the purported credit card information of several U.S. State Department officials as well as screenshots of private Facebook messages between purported U.S. servicememebers.
Flashpoint analysts said the "hack" — if true — could be significant as it would represent a growing effort by pro-ISIS groups to distribute personal information that could be used in lone-wolf attacks.