National News Aug 19

By: AP
By: AP

MIAMI (AP) -- Hurricane Gordon sped across the Atlantic early Sunday toward the eastern Azores islands, where a hurricane warning is in effect, U.S. forecasters in Miami said.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Gordon was centered about 395 miles (635 kms) west-southwest of the Azores at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) Sunday. It added that Gordon was a Category 2 hurricane with top sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and higher gusts.
The hurricane, which formed on Saturday, was moving toward the east at 22 mph (35 kph).
The hurricane was on a forecast track expected to take it near the eastern Azores early Monday. Forecasters said that while the Gordon was expected to weaken somewhat during the day Sunday, it still was expected to be a hurricane when it passes near the eastern Azores.
Portugal's government, meanwhile, has discontinued a hurricane warning for the central Azores.
Forecasters said Gordon, on an eastward track in the pre-dawn hours, was expected to turn toward the east-northeast later Sunday. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (55 kms) from the center and tropical storm force winds reached outward up to 125 miles (205 kphs).
Gordon's dangerous surf and ocean swells could reach the central and eastern Azores on Sunday afternoon and heavy rains were expected, the Miami forecasting center said.
Gordon became a hurricane on Saturday even as onetime Tropical Storm Helene swiftly weakened into a tropical depression as it lumbered ashore on Mexico's Gulf Coast and degenerated into a rain storm without reports of significant damage.
Authorities in Mexico had worried Helene's rains could pose a threat to areas where thousands of people are recovering from flooding spawned last week by Hurricane Ernesto. But Mexico's Veracruz state civil defense office said none of the region's numerous rivers had overflowed Saturday.

FAMILY HOUSE FIRE
CLAYTON, N.J. (AP) -- Authorities say a 15-year-old New Jersey girl has been charged with arson and attempted murder, accused of setting her family's house on fire and trying to kill them.
The girl faces two counts of aggravated arson and six counts of attempted murder in the early Saturday morning fire in Clayton. She is to appear in Family Court Monday in Woodbury.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said six members of the family, including the girl, were injured in the fire. The office said the teen suffered a hip injury when she jumped from the second floor to escape the blaze. Her mother and a brother were taken to a hospital. The woman's husband and a 9-year-old child were treated for burns. Investigators believe the fire was set with gasoline.

DALLAS-WEST NILE
DALLAS (AP) -- Officials in the Dallas area say they expect to resume airborne spraying for West Nile virus on Sunday.
A Dallas County spokeswoman says they have been able to spray about 88,000 acres with mosquito-killing pesticide and have about 220,000 acres left. She says planes wouldn't go up Saturday night due to the possibility of high winds and storms.
The virus spread by mosquitoes has left 10 dead and more than 200 sick in Dallas County, which is home to 2.5 million people and the city of Dallas. Officials say it will be a record year for West Nile virus, and about half of the United States' cases are in Texas.

WESTERN WILDFIRES
SEATTLE (AP) -- Thunderstorms and lightning are threatening fire officials' plans to contain a large blaze in central Washington state as hundreds of Washington and California residents return home to find out whether their homes were spared.
In Idaho, authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for some 350 homes in the area around Featherville due to thick smoke. That town and the community of Pine, both recreation getaways in the mountains 105 miles northeast of Boise, remain in the path of the 130-square-mile Trinity Ridge Fire.
To the west, many residents in Washington state are returning to the south and east sides of a 35-square mile blaze in the Cascade Range, about 75 miles east of Seattle. That fire destroyed 70 residential properties and 210 other structures. But fire danger remains high in the area, with hot, dry weather and a chance for storms and lightning expected this evening.
Firefighters in California are making progress on some of the nearly dozen wildfires burning across that state, including one in rural San Diego County.
Crews also are gaining ground against a series of Northern California wildfires.
A light sprinkling of rain has helped crews battling a large fire in the Plumas National Forest, about 120 miles north of Sacramento. The Chips fire is 34 percent contained, but continues to threaten about 900 homes.

Slain Texas constable remembered as humble, caring
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Compassionate. Humble. A good friend. A dedicated public servant.
Those were some of the words that family and friends used during a funeral service Saturday to fondly remember a law enforcement officer who was among three people killed in a shootout near Texas A&M University.
More than 3,000 people attended the service for Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann at an arena on the A&M campus in College Station. Among those in attendance were law enforcement officers from across the state. A choir of more than 80 people from Bachmann's Methodist church in College Station sang during the service.
His mother, Carmen Bachmann, told those gathered that "Brian would sacrifice himself for the benefit of others, always."
Authorities say Bachmann was fatally shot Monday by Thomas Caffall III. The 41-year-old constable was trying to serve Caffall with a court summons for being two months behind on rent. Other officers fatally shot the 35-year-old Caffall.
A bystander also was killed in the shootout, and three police officers and a female bystander were wounded.

MALL PARKING LOT-SHOOTING
ODESSA, Texas (AP) -- Authorities say a 24-year-old man has been arrested after a shooting in a Texas mall parking lot left one person dead and two injured.
Police in Odessa say Braushlyon Richardson turned himself in Saturday at their West Texas department. They say Richardson is charged with murder in an arrest warrant. He was booked into an Ector County jail, and an official there said an attorney had not yet been listed for him.
Police say no other suspects are being sought.
Officers were heading to the Music City Mall early Saturday after receiving reports about people refusing to leave a bar and grill. Then, several 911 calls came in about shots being fired in the mall parking lot.
Police say 23-year-old shooting victim Pablo Jimenez died at a hospital.

LOUISIANA DEPUTIES KILLED
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A sheriff says at least some of the seven people arrested in a fatal shootout with Louisiana deputies have been linked to violent anarchists on the FBI's domestic terrorism watch lists.
DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle said his detectives had been monitoring the group before Thursday's shootout in Laplace, a suburb of New Orleans. Two deputies were killed and two more wounded.
Arbuckle said Saturday his detectives and the work of other law enforcement agencies discovered the suspects were heavily armed adherents to an ideology known as the "sovereign citizens" movement.
The FBI has classified "sovereign citizens" as people who believe they are free from all duties of a U.S. citizen, like paying taxes. The FBI considers them a danger for making threats to judges and law enforcement, using fake currency and impersonating police officers.

OFF-DUTY PHILLY OFFICER KILLED
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia police say they believe an off-duty officer who was shot and killed blocks from his precinct house was the victim of a robbery.
Police say 40-year-old Officer Moses Walker Jr. had just finished his shift early Saturday when he was shot several times about four blocks from his station in north Philadelphia. The 19-year veteran was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Lt. Raymond Evers says Walker's service weapon was found under his body, but police don't know whether it was fired.
Evers says police are treating the killing as a "street robbery." They are checking to see if anything was taken from Walker's backpack.
Police announced rewards totaling $30,000 to help them make an arrest..

Body of missing Southern Calif. diver found
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (AP) -- Los Angeles County authorities have recovered the body of a missing 50-year-old diver off the rocky coastline near where her belongings were found a week ago.
Coroner's investigator Elissa Fleak says an autopsy will be conducted Sunday on Rebecca Weiss, an experienced free-diver. She was reported missing Aug. 11 by her husband, Alan Weiss.
The body was found Saturday by recreational divers about 200 yards offshore near the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, a favorite dive spot for Rebecca Weiss and her husband.
Alan Weiss told sheriff's detectives he last saw his wife driving away from their Marina del Rey home wearing a wetsuit.
The Los Angeles Times says Rebecca Weiss' mother and brother were near the resort passing out fliers when the body was found.

UA flight has engine 'issue,' lands safely in NJ
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Authorities say a United Airlines flight has landed safely at Newark after taking off from the airport for Berlin then returning when something apparently went wrong with the engine.
Airline spokesman Joe Micucci said the Boeing 757 "experienced a mechanical issue with the engine" after takeoff from Newark Liberty International Airport at 5:50 p.m. Saturday. He said Flight 96 landed safely about 8:10 p.m.
The plane was carrying 173 passengers and crew members. A Port Authority spokesman said no one was injured.
Kathleen Bergen of the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane crew initially reported "an issue" with the plane's left engine but the aircraft then began operating normally. She said that as a precaution, fuel was burned off west of Newark before the plane landed.

SEPT 11-REMAINS
NEW YORK (AP) -- A dispute over the future resting place of thousands of unidentified remains of Sept. 11 victims is going back to court.
A group of family members of 9/11 victims who oppose plans to put the remains underground in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is appealing a judge's decision to block them from gaining access to the names and addresses of the victims' families. The group wants to poll the families themselves.
Jim Riches, a spokesman for 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters & WTC Victims, said Saturday the group would like to see the remains encased in a kind of "tomb of the unknown soldier" that's above ground.
The city said releasing the list would violate families' privacy.
The appeal was filed this week.

Intrusion embarrasses 'Fort Knox of uranium'
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) -- Officials like to refer to the Y-12 National Security Complex as the Fort Knox for the highly enriched uranium used in nuclear weapons.
That's why an unprecedented incursion last month by an 82-year-old nun and two fellow protesters has critics mocking the notion that the weapons plant is secure.
The Department of Energy has called on the contractor that runs the sensitive facility just west of Knoxville to explain why it shouldn't be replaced.
Y-12 makes uranium parts for every warhead in the U.S. nuclear arsenal and is the nation's primary storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.
Officials insist that despite the more than two hours that the protesters went unchallenged on the facility, there was never any danger of them accessing sensitive materials.

Puerto Rico debates constitutional amendment vote
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico is preparing for a two-part referendum that could see the island amend its constitution for the first time in nearly half a century.
One part of the referendum would reduce the size of the U.S. territory's government by almost 30 percent as a money-saving measure. It would take effect in 2017 if passed.
The other part would give judges the right to deny bail in certain murder cases. Puerto Rico currently is the only place in the Western hemisphere where all suspects are entitled to bail. Supporters say that would reduce crime and protect witnesses and the relatives of victims.
It will take effect soon if voters approve it on Sunday.


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