TIME New York

Sharks Spotted Off New York Beaches

Shark
Getty Images

They were swimming just 15ft off the shore

Thousand of swimmers were ordered out of the water on Thursday after two sharks were spotted swimming close to shore in Long Island.

A lifeguard initially spotted a shark swimming off shore, reports ABC News. Police helicopters later spotted two 6ft long sharks swimming up the coast that who were a mere 15ft from the beach.

“It was a really big shark — it was thin and long and it was scary,” said beachgoer Wendy Stechman to NBC.

After 11 shark attacks off the coast in North and South Carolina, authorities took no chances and ordered swimmers out of the water around noon. Swimmers were allowed back when lifeguards sounded the all-clear at 3pm.

TIME Crime

Trainwreck Star Amy Schumer ‘Heart is Broken’ Over La. Theater Shooting

Hollywood expresses its grief over Thursday night's shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana

Trainwreck actress Amy Schumer has expressed grief over the news of Thursday night’s shooting, which unfolded during a screening of the romantic comedy in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The comedy central star wrote of her devastation on Twitter:

Other stars despaired over the tragedy that left 2 dead and 7 injured after a 58-year-old man fired a handgun into the audience at Grand 16 Theater before turning the weapon on himself.

Clerks actor and director, Kevin Smith, expressed his sadness on the social networking site:

The Office’s Jenna Fisher called out for gun reform:

Louisiana Governer Bobby Jindal called for prayers for the families of those affected from the scene. “This is a time for us to come together,” he said. “What we can do now is pray. We can hug these families, shower them with love, thoughts and prayers. This is an awful night for Lafayette, an awful night for Louisiana, an awful night for the United States.”

The shooting happened hours after President Barack Obama said that the lack of gun control in the U.S. was his biggest frustration.

TIME Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Says Air Strike Has Killed al-Qaeda Operative

Ash Carter, Otto Liller
Carolyn Kaster—AP U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, center, stands as he observes Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service forces participate in a training exercise at the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Academy on the Baghdad Airport Complex on July 23, 2015

The airstrike killed Abu Khalil Al-Sudani on July 11

(IRBIL, Iraq) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says a U.S. airstrike has killed a senior Al-Qaeda operational commander in eastern Afghanistan.

He said in a statement Friday that the airstrike killed Abu Khalil Al-Sudani on July 11.

Carter called Al-Sudani a senior shura member and head of Al-Qaeda suicide and explosive operations, and said he is directly linked to plots to attack the United States.

He said Al-Sudani also directed operations against coalition, Afghan and Pakistani forces, and maintained a close association with Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda.

Carter added that two other “violent extremists” were killed in the airstrike. He did not name the two others.

The strike was in the Bermal district of Paktika province.

TIME White House

The Lack of Change in Gun Laws During His Presidency Has Been ‘Distressing,’ Obama Says

Michelle Obama Hosts 2015 Beating The Odds Summit At White House
Mark Wilson—Getty Images U.S. President Barack Obama greets guests during a surprise visit to First Lady Michelle Obama's event on higher education in the East Room of the White House July 23, 2015

The President spoke of feeling "most frustrated and most stymied" over the issue

Failure to pass what he called “common-sense gun-safety laws” during his tenure in the White House has ranked among his greatest frustrations, Barack Obama has told the BBC, in a wide-ranging interview covering much of the last years of his presidency.

Obama said he felt he had made strides in many political arenas but that it was “distressing” not to have affected significant change in gun laws “even in the face of repeated mass killings.”

With less than two years left in power, Obama said guns were the policy area that made him feel “most frustrated and most stymied. “If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100,” he said. “If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands.”

During a turbulent summer that saw nine African Americans killed at a South Carolina prayer meeting in June, Obama told reporters that “politics in [Washington]” precluded most options for change in gun control policy.

The BBC interview was conducted previous to the July 23 shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana and did not touch on that event.

[BBC]

TIME Crime

3 Dead After Shooter Opens Fire in Louisiana Movie Theater

At least 9 people were injured

A gunman opened fire at a screening of Trainwreck in a Louisiana movie theater Thursday night, leaving three people dead—including the shooter—and nine others injured, officials said.

About 20 minutes into the 7 p.m. show at the Grand 16 Theater in Lafayette, the shooter, identified by law enforcement officials Friday morning as John Russel Houser, stood up in the theater and began firing a handgun into the audience. The shooter, who authorities said was a white male “drifter” in his late 50s, then turned the weapon on himself.

“We heard a loud pop we thought was a firecracker,” Katie Domingue, who had gone to see Trainwreck with her fiancee, told The Daily Advertiser. “He wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t hear anybody screaming either.”

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft told reporters that nine people in total were wounded in the shooting. He said at least one of them was in critical condition. “At this point we have three dead, nine wounded and of the three dead one is definitely the shooter,” he said.

Craft said in a separate news conference Friday morning that Houser, originally from Alabama, was “kind of a drifter” who had been staying at a local hotel since the beginning of the month, CNN reports. Disguises were found in his hotel room. Craft praised the “quick law enforcement response” for preventing him escaping.

The White House said President Obama had been briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One on Thursday by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, while on his way to Africa for a two-nation visit.

Authorities on Friday were attempting to piece together the sequence of events from eyewitness accounts. “There was a female lying on the ground with blood coming out of her everywhere — she was shot,” Jalen Fernell, who was in the adjacent theater, told CNN. “We’d heard nothing but gunshots — like a war was going on. We didn’t know if the guy was in a car somewhere, if he’s in the parking lot — we didn’t know what to do.”

Clay Henry, an official with a local ambulance service in Lafayette, said that emergency workers were dispatched to the scene at about 7:30 p.m. A schoolteacher pulled a fire alarm in the theater after another teacher jumped in front of her to save her from a bullet, the Associated Press reports.

Authorities arrived quickly, “literally running into the theater as shots were being fired,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a news conference shortly before midnight. Nine people were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from non-life threatening to critical. At least one victim required urgent surgery.

“The police have closed off all the exits to the parking lot, and they’re questioning the people who were in the theater,” Rebecca Vickers, the manager of Mellow Mushroom, a restaurant close to the theater, told TIME.

Vickers said that the restaurant closed early after two off-duty employees arrived at the theater to see a film, only to be warned not to go inside. She also said that the police were conducting a bomb sweep of the theater. Shortly after midnight, the Associated Press reported that a suspicious package inside the shooter’s car prompted the police to evacuate the area altogether, though Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft later said it was a false alarm.

Local television station KATC also reported a bomb threat at a condominium complex across the street from the Grand 16 Theater, though it remains unclear if it was linked to the theater shooting.

It was, Jindal said after arriving at the scene, an “awful night for Lafayette… for Louisiana… and for the United States.”

“As a governor, as a father, as a husband, whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence, it makes us sad and furious at the same time,” the governor said. “There’s no reason why this evil should intrude on families just out for a night of entertainment.”

Amy Schumer, who stars in Trainwreck, was quick to express her sympathies to the victims and their loved ones.

TIME Iowa

This Video of Shadflies Taking Over a Bridge Will Make Your Skin Crawl

You've been warned

The brave souls at the Iowa Department of Transportation battled thousands of shadflies and lived to tell the tale.

It’s hatching season for shadflies, also known as Mayflies, which are aquatic, dragonfly-like insects that hatch in huge swarms, typically in May. They dwell near fresh water, which likely explains why they were drawn to the Savanna/Sabula bridge in Eastern Iowa.

Last weekend, officials were called to the bridge over the Mississippi River to literally plow the massive swarm of flies off, the Iowa DOT explained in a Facebook post. According to one official, the flies were piled as high as their ankles. The swarms of flies also made the road slick, leading to dangerous conditions for drivers.

Watch the video of the ordeal at your own risk.

TIME Military

Russian Bombers Buzzing U.S. Unlikely to Carry Nukes

RUSSIA-HISTORY-VICTORY-DAY-WWII
VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP / Getty Images A trio of Tu-95 bombers flies over the Kremlin in May.

But Moscow’s growing assertiveness concerns U.S. military

The bad news for Americans old enough to remember Cold War shivers is that Soviet-era Tu-95 Bear bombers recently showed up off the U.S. coast. The good news, for Americans, is that the 1950s-era Russian air force turboprop airplanes keep crashing.

And that combination, a former Air Force general says, makes it unlikely that the Russian bombers are carrying any nuclear weapons close to U.S. shores (the bomber would carry such weapons inside its fuselage, making it impossible for outsiders to tell if there any are aboard, Air Force officials say).

“Risking the loss of a long-range bomber like a Tu-95 with a nuclear weapon on board is a pretty big risk,” says David Deptula, a retired three-star officer who spent 3,000 hours in fighter planes, including 400 in combat. “It would be very imprudent to be carrying a nuclear weapons on board a flight like that.” A pair of Russian pilots died July 14 when their Tu-95 crashed in Russia’s Far East; a second Tu-95 ran off a Russian runway June 8 following an engine fire, injuring several crew members.

Russia has been averaging about five such flights annually over the past five years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command reports (although it spiked to 10 last year). “This is nothing new,” NORAD’s Michael Kucharek says. Each time the Russian bombers approach, the joint U.S.-Canadian force dispatches interceptors to eyeball them. “We go up and visually identify the aircraft, and let them know that we are there,’ Kucharek says. “They see us and we see them.”

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Merrill “Tony” McPeak, retired general and Air Force chief of staff, says of the Russian fly-bys. “The training value—polishing skills in navigation, aerial refueling, et cetera—can be achieved flying over Russian territory.”

Deptula says the flights are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s way of asserting Russian might. “He’s showing they still have a way to project power when and where they want to,” Deptula says. “It reinforces the fact that they do have a capability to project power that not many nations do.”

Russia’s actions in the skies, along with those in Ukraine and Crimea, have the U.S. military brass increasingly concerned. On Thursday, Lieut. General Robert Neller, tapped to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, said he views Russia as the nation that poses the biggest threat to the U.S. “Their actions, and the fact that they have strategic forces, make them the greatest potential threat,” Neller said.

He was echoing the views of General Mark Milley, soon to be the Army chief of staff, and Marine General Joseph Dunford, soon to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs. “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford said at his confirmation hearing July 9. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

The latest Russian flight took place July 4 off the central Californian coast, and a pair of U.S. F-15s were dispatched to check out the intruders. “Good morning American pilots, we are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day,” a Russian crew member aboard one of the Tu-95s radioed the Americans. The Russians conducted similar flights in 2012 and 2014.

NORAD is pretty mellow about the flights, none of which has come inside the 12-mile territorial limits claimed by both the U.S. and Canada. The latest flight came within about 40 miles of the California coast. “We’ve seen these flight profiles before,”Kucharek says. “If a country has a military, they have to exercise their capabilities.”

That attitude is a far cry from the Pentagon’s view of the Tu-95 during the 1980s, when the lumbering bomber was featured regularly in its annual Soviet Military Power guide, a glossy publication designed to bolster support for President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup.

Engels-2 Aircraft Military Base
Wojtek Laski / Getty ImagesThe Tu-95 is the backbone of Russia’s bomber fleet

“The Tu-95/Bear is the primary intercontinental air threat to the United States,” the 1983 version said. “Capable of delivering free-fall bombs or air-to-surface missiles, under optimum conditions this aircraft can cover virtually all U.S. targets on a two-way mission.”

But Marine Lieut. General Neller apparently isn’t losing any sleep over the Tu-95 flights. “I don’t think they want to fight us,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. “Right now I don’t think they want to kill Americans.”

TIME California

Huge Forest Fire Ravages 6,000 Acres in Northern California

wragg fire california
Joel Rosenbaum—AP CalFire Air tanker drops fire retardant on a ridge above Pleasants Valley Rd. near Winters, Calif., as crews continue to battle the Wragg Fire on July 23, 2015.

"It's unbelievable fire could spread so fast"

The Wragg fire on the outskirts of California’s Napa Valley chewed through thousands of acres of steep, treacherous terrain Thursday, forcing mandatory evacuations of two small communities and threatening more than 200 structures, fire officials said.

The fire in the area of Wragg Canyon near Lake Berryessa in Napa and Solano counties spread from 1,000 acres Wednesday night to 6,700 by early Thursday afternoon, the state, local and federal interagency team battling the blaze said. More than 1,300 firefighters were in the scene, less than 24 hours after the fire started.

Lake Berryessa is about 30 miles east of Napa Valley. Winds were erratic, but they…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME

‘Massive Institutional Failure’ at Army Facility Caused Anthrax Leak

Defense Anthrax dugway utah proving ground
Kristin Murphy—AP In this Feb. 19, 2015 file photo, Referee Module No. 2 of the Whole System Live Agent Test at Dugway Proving Ground in Dugway, Utah.

The live anthrax was accidentally sent around the world

(NEW YORK) — Pentagon officials released a report Thursday detailing recurring problems at an Army bioterror facility that accidentally sent live anthrax to other labs for more than a decade.

At a press briefing in Washington, military officials said half the lots of anthrax produced at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah contained live anthrax after workers there failed to kill the bacteria before shipping it to other labs.

“By any measure, this was a massive institutional failure” involving a potentially dangerous biotoxin, said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.

He presented the results of an investigation that was launched after the problem first surfaced in May. Officials said several problems contributed to the Dugway failures.

The Pentagon has ordered the Secretary of the Army to do an additional investigation that will specifically try to determine which individuals are to blame, Work said. Dugway officials should have recognized and corrected the problem, he said.

“We are shocked by these failures,” he added. “It was absolutely inexcusable.”

Dugways’s new commander, Col. Sean Kirshner, declined comment, saying he needed time to review the report, said base spokeswoman Sheryl Grubb.

No illnesses have been reported, although 31 Americans — including eight who work for the military — have recently taken medication as a precaution.

Anthrax is most dangerous when it spreads through the air and gets into lungs. But the anthrax was shipped in liquid form in vials, officials said.

Dugway works with biological and chemical agents, and is the military facility that produces the largest amount of anthrax shipped to other labs for research.

Medical technicians are supposed to kill the anthrax bacteria with gamma rays, and then test samples from the lots to make sure the radiation succeeded in killing them. Investigators believe they were trying to kill too much at a time, and then doing inadequate testing afterward.

The problem came to light in May when a private commercial lab in Maryland tested a shipment from Dugway and found live bacteria.

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense found that 17 of 33 batches produced at Dugway since 2003 had live anthrax.

Anthrax from those batches was initially sent to 86 labs in the U.S. and seven countries. But some labs sent anthrax on top other facilities. So far, the CDC has traced samples to 183 labs, a CDC spokesman said Thursday.

Anthrax is a dangerous infectious disease caused by a bacteria found naturally in soil. It is rare, but people can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

___

Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

TIME Florida

Woman’s Body Found in Pond 25 Years After She Disappeared

"It's good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It's been a long time coming"

A vehicle pulled from a pond near North Fort Myers, Fla. solved a 25-year-old mystery, according to a local NBC affiliate.

Officials in Florida identified the body of Rita Sue Zul after pulling a barely recognizable red Datsun from the pond on Monday. Zul had reportedly gone missing on Jan. 15, 1990 after failing to return home from the restaurant where she worked.

A man looking for metal objects using a fishing pole with a magnet attached to the end found the car. When a tow truck pulled it to the surface, human remains were found inside. The medical examiner’s office identified the body using dental records.

“It’s good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It’s been a long time coming,”Sergeant John Desrosier of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office told the NBC affiliate.

 

 

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