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'I pray for our cops every day': Law enforcement deaths spiking, guns No. 1 cause

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By KT

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When New York State Police trooper Nicholas Clark responded to a reported suicidal person barricaded in a home this month, the suspect gunned him down before taking his own life.

“A 29-year-old trooper, a stellar trooper with an extraordinary record, his whole life before him,” a grieving New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference hours later. “Great athlete. Well accomplished. He wanted to do one thing — which was help people.”

Clark was not alone. His death followed those of over 70 brothers and sisters in blue across the country already this year.

The number of U.S. law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in the first six months of the year rose about 12 percent to 73 from 65, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said last week.

Guns overtake traffic as No. 1 cause of death

Gunfire was the leading cause of death among the 73 officers killed in the first half of the year, accounting for 42 percent of the deaths, according to the memorial fund.

What’s more, of the 129 total deaths last year, the number involving guns equaled the number of officers who died in work-related traffic incidents, which usually account for more deaths, the organization said.

The overall increase continued in that direction for the first half of this year, when 31 officers died in gun-related incidents, compared with 25 in the same period last year, a 24 percent jump for the six-month period, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said.

Eight of this year’s 31 gun deaths resulted from an arrest attempt; six officers died responding to a domestic disturbance; and three officers died in an ambush, the memorial fund said.

“I think what you’re starting to see is some of these suspects committing their crimes with much more impunity than they have,” ABC News contributor and former Dallas police chief David Brown said. “And officers are continuing to be, I think, a little more cautious in the way that they interact with these folks, trying to wait for cover, trying to give a little bit more time and distance.

“That’s a significant change in the dynamic of officer safety,” he added. “And this becomes a psychological thing for cops when they experience it on their beat or when they hear about the data of more aggression towards cops by armed suspects.”

’73 shattered police departments’

Facing an armed suspect’s aggression is something Brown knows all too well.

Five law enforcement officers were gunned down by a sniper in Dallas in July 2016 — the deadliest day for U.S. law enforcement since 9/11. Brown, who was the police chief at the time of the attack, retired several months later after 33 years with the department.

As with Dallas this time two years ago, police agencies across the country, from Maine to Florida to California, have mourned fallen colleagues this year.

And the deaths go beyond shootings.

Out of the 73 officers killed in the line of duty from January to June, 27 died from traffic-related incidents, while 15 died from other causes, like job-related illnesses, the fund said.

Of the 15 who died from other causes, six of the officers died as a result of an illness from 9/11, the fund said.

“A lot of officers patrol and work in pairs, so you spend a lot of time with your immediate co-workers,” Steve Groeninger, spokesman for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, told ABC News. “So for one of them to be killed in the line of duty, it does have a big impact on any department that loses an officer.

“For smaller departments and agencies it has even a greater impact,” he continued, “because not only are you trying to help your patrol cope with the loss of life and you’re trying to help that family who lost their loved one and process the tragedy, but then as the department head — especially in a small department — you’ve lost a significant amount of your workforce.”

Groeninger stressed, “While we’re throwing around a lot of numbers and percentages, we all must be mindful as a nation that these 73 officers represent 73 shattered families, 73 shattered police departments or agencies, and I would have to guess, 73 upstanding citizens no longer a part of these communities.”

On average, the 73 slain officers in the first half of the year each left behind two children, according to the memorial fund.

“We’re talking about loss of life,” he said. “It goes far deeper than numbers and percentages.”

Hours after state trooper Clark’s July 2 death, New York Gov. Cuomo said, “This is one situation that I’ve gone through before. There’s no answer. There’s no point. It’s just sad and painful.”

Every day is dangerous for police, Cuomo said, from domestic violence incidents to storms to potential terrorism.

“We know the danger that you put yourself in every day when you leave the house,” the governor said. “We know the fear that is in your families’ heart when you’re out there. And we truly and deeply appreciate the risk that you take to keep our families safe.”

‘I pray for our cops every day’

Though officer deaths are on the rise this year, Brown said, “I don’t believe this is sustainable. I don’t think the spike will continue.”

“One officer killed in the line of duty is one too many,” Brown said. “We need them to continue their brave work and their sacrifice… and to know that people support them when they’re doing the job the right way. Officers also need to hear that it’s extremely important, as well, that they be held accountable when they make mistakes.”

“Some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet do this job. …read more

Source:: National News

      

Florida, California among top sites for shark attacks in the US

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By KT

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York may have been the site of two suspected shark attacks on Wednesday, but attacks by the creatures in these waters are so rare that there have been only 10 documented cases confirmed in nearly 150 years.

The worst place in America for shark attacks? Florida. Statistics from The International Shark Attack File, a database of shark attacks from around the world, show that Florida’s coast has witnessed a total of 812 confirmed and unprovoked shark attacks since 1837, at least those that have been recorded.

That’s because most sharks prefer warmer waters, said George Burgess, director the International Shark Attack File maintained by the Florida Museum of Natural History. “The waters near the East Coast, in the northern states like New York are cool for most months of the year, and so it’s only in the summertime when a few sharks arrive.”

Which states are more vulnerable to attacks varies widely along the American coastline. Maine has one attack on record since 1837. California has 122. But the pattern is not random, says Burgess. The more coast, the more people and the warmer the waters, the more the attacks.

Still, despite how few attacks New York’s coast has seen, there are enough species of sharks in these waters to prompt a few sightings, Burgess of The International Shark Attack File said.

Not all of them bite humans, not all are even big enough, but here’s a list of the species shark-watchers in the state are more likely to encounter, ranked by how much of a threat they are to humans.

The list is not based on the actual number of attacks these species have already carried out, because that number is too small to analyze. Instead, it’s based on the potential each species has to be a threat to humans along the coats of New York.

“Almost any shark that can grow to about six feet or two metres in length is a potential danger to humans,” Burgess explains. “That’s only because once they get to that size their teeth are sharp and they can cause damage”

1) High Threat: The ‘surf zone’ sharks

The Sandbar shark (up to about 6 feet long) and the Dusky shark (up to about 10 feet long) are both species that are much more comfortable in cooler water than other species of sharks, and they like to stay in the ‘surf zone’ – the part of the sea next to the shore within which waves break, and where beachgoers tend to stay. The Sand Tiger shark (up to about 10 feet long) swims a little further off but still in rleatively shallow waters, where divers often come across them in wrecks.

2) Medium Threat: The offshore sharks

“The south shore of Long Island faces an ocean, and so some species that can travel a little further north sometimes wander in from deeper waters to areas where humans are,” said Burgess. The first of these species is the infamous White shark, better known as the Great White shark (up to about 23 feet in length). The other is the Blue shark (up to about 12 feet in length).

3) Low threat: The vegetarian shark and the sharks that are too small


Every once in a while, a Basking shark (up to about 30 feet in length) will be seen on the coastline or will wash up on the shore, and a lot of attention will be drawn to it because of its size, said Burgess. But this species couldn’t hurt humans if it wanted to. Its teeth are flattened due to a sort of a plate-like surface, as it only feeds on plankton, and it is not at all aggressive, said Burgess. On the other end of the spectrum, the Spiny Dogfish shark (up to about 3 feet long) and the Smooth Dogfish shark (up to about 4 feet long) are both species that love cool waters, but are too small to cause any harm to humans.

But despite the existence of these species of sharks in the waters near New York, Burgess points out that relatively speaking, there’s very little to fear. For example, between 1959 and 2010, there were three shark attacks in New York. All three of the victims survived. In comparison, there were 139 people who died due to lightning strikes.

Even if a shark were to attack a human, it’s usually because they mistook the human for a fish, and they let go immediately, Burgess said.

“The shark interprets the kicking and walking movements of the human body in the water to be activities of a normal prey item,” he said. “And of course in the surf zone, where visibility is poor as a result of the breaking waves, it will bite at things it can’t see well. But it’s usually just one quick bite and then it’s gone, and so we call these hit-and-run attacks.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

Activists fear mass roundup of wild horses with government rule change

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By TJH

Ascent/PKS Media Inc./Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Wild horses, often considered elegant symbols of the American West, may be in danger with a new rule change by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

The change to the Obama-era rule removes restrictions on the horses’ sale, according to activists, who fear the rule change will accelerate “mass round-ups” of wild horses, pave a path towards authorizing their euthanasia, and ultimately lead to their extinction.

The new rule, first released in late May, allows for the sale of up to 25 wild horses, which are federally protected, to one buyer within a six-month period without written approval from the agency’s assistant director – which activists say is a sharp increase from the 2013 rule’s maximum of four horses per buyer.

The American Wild Horse Campaign, an advocacy group, says the new rule means the agency “no longer has a requirement to describe the conditions in which the horses will be held.”

“Since riding a horse to his first day of work, Interior Secretary [Ryan] Zinke has galloped down a deadly path for America’s wild horse and burro herds – from asking Congress for permission to slaughter tens of thousands of these cherished animals to promoting the mass surgical sterilization of mustangs and burros on the range,” Suzanne Roy, the American Wild Horse Campaign’s executive director, said in a statement. “Zinke is pushing the livestock industry agenda to rid our public lands of wild horses and trampling on the wishes of American citizens in the process.”

“The May 24, 2018 Instruction Memorandum that was released provides internal guidance for what is considered a sale eligible animal. It in no way changes the obligations and authorities given by Congress prohibiting the sale for slaughter or euthanasia of healthy animals. Secretary Zinke has made abundantly clear that he does not support slaughter or euthanasia of healthy horses and burros,” the Bureau of Land Management told ABC News in a statement.

While wild horses have freely roamed the nation’s public lands for centuries, the Bureau of Land Management is concerned they’ll eventually overpopulate the land and become diseased.

Meanwhile, ranchers, who lease over 60 percent of Bureau of Land Management-owned public lands, have been pushing the agency to round up these untamed horses, claiming they compete with the ranchers’ livestock for grazing resources.

“Population control must be implemented to protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals. To carry out this mission, the BLM controls herd growth…through the periodic removals of excess animals and the placement of those animals into private care,” the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Program webpage reads.

In January, the Bureau of Land Management considered allowing the euthanasia of wild horses for the first time in nearly 50 years. In late April, the agency submitted a report to Congress recommending euthanasia as an option for population control.

Currently, the ban on selling wild horses for the purpose of euthanasia is still in place.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

Steam pipe blast creates huge crater in the middle of New York City

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By TJH

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A New York City neighborhood was rocked Thursday morning when a steam pipe exploded and created a huge crater in a street.

The blast occurred about 6:40 a.m. in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, just blocks from the iconic Flatiron Building, according to the New York City Fire Department.

“It was a loud boom and the building just shook,” Byron Chavers, who works in the area, told ABC station WABC-TV.

Chavers said firefighters evacuated his building and others nearby.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The explosion left a crater in the middle of the busy intersection of Fifth Avenue and 19th Street during the morning commute and prompted police to close off streets in the neighborhood.

The blast sent steam swirling into the air and rattled windows and nerves.

The cause of the subterranean explosion is under investigation.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

Grannies across the U.S. unite to caravan to the southern border to protest

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By TJH

ABC News(McALLEN, Texas) — Nearly 30 grandparents will pack into two 15-seat vans to caravan from New York to the U.S.-Mexico Border at the end of this month to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

The week-long caravan comes after more than 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their families at the southern border, a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Trump has since signed an executive order to end the policy but numerous families remain in detention or separated.

“When the children started being separated from their parents at the border, I just couldn’t believe it. I was horrified,” said Michelle Clifton, a 74-year-old grandmother. “I thought, ‘what am I going to be able to do as an individual to have an impact on this and to bring attention to it?'”

The result: Grannies Respond, also referred to as Abuelas Responden, a group of grandparents and supporters which formed three weeks ago and says its ready to take to the road to protest.

The journey will begin in Beacon, NY on July 30, wend some 2,000 miles southward to the U.S.- Mexico Border, and arrive in McAllen, Texas on Aug. 6. Along the way, the group will stop in seven cities to host rallies, offer a message of compassion and demand the reunification and release of separated families.

“It’s deeper than that,” said Dan Aymar-Blair, creator of Grannies Respond. “Those are just specific demands but this is about respecting human dignity. This is about respecting human life and caring for every member of our society.”

Aymar-Blair says he came up with the idea when he was studying effective methods of protest. He claims that protests similar to a “journey” are “powerful” because they collect build momentum, empathy and people for a cause.

“To me, grannies mean something very, very, strong towards children just in terms of what we grannies and grandpas are,” Claire Nelson, a 66-year-old grandmother said. “[We are ] strong, we’re elderly, we’re wise, we have unconditional love for our children and children of the world. I felt like that we could respond and make a difference in many ways.”

Barry Nelson, 70, wants to set an example for his five grandchildren.

“People are being treated poorly and are being denied entrance into this country,” Barry said. “Even people who are seeking political asylum and that’s just wrong and something we have to change and really work on to call attention to this and to everybody in this country.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

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