Home' Greymouth Star : August 27th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, August 27, 2015
Pair slain on air
A television reporter
and a cameraman were
shot and killed during a
live broadcast in Virginia
overnight in an attack
authorities said was carried
out by a former employee
of the television station.
The suspect, 41-year-
old Vester Flanagan, shot
and wounded himself
several hours later as police
pursued him on a Virginia
highway. He died later at
the hospital, police said.
Social media postings by a person
who appeared to be Flanagan indicated
the suspect had grievances against
the station, CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in
Roanoke, Virginia, which let him go two
The WDBJ7 journalists who were
killed were reporter Alison Parker,
24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27.
The woman being inter viewed on the
morning news programme was wounded.
The on-air shooting occurred about
6.45am local time during an inter view
at Bridgewater Plaza, a Smith Mountain
Lake recreation site about 320km south-
west of Washington, DC.
The broadcast was abruptly interrupted
by the sound of gunshots as Parker and
the woman being inter viewed, Vicki
Gardner, executive director of the Smith
Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of
Commerce, screamed and ducked for
Hours after the shooting, someone
claiming to have filmed it posted video
on-line that appeared to be from the
shooter’s vantage point. The videos were
posted to a Twitter account and on
Facebook by a man identifying himself
as Bryce Williams, which was Flanagan’s
The videos were removed shortly
after ward. One video clearly showed a
pistol as the person filming approached
the woman reporter.
The person purporting to be Williams
also posted, “I filmed the shooting see
Facebook” as well as saying one of the
victims had “made racist comments.”
Flanagan had sued another station
where he worked in Florida, alleging he
had been discriminated against because
he was black.
Flanagan said he was called a “monkey ”
by a producer in a lawsuit filed in
federal court against a Tallahassee
station, WTWC, in 2000. He also said
a super visor at the station called black
people lazy. The Florida case was settled
and dismissed the next
year, court records show.
The victims in the
overnight shooting were
ABC News reported on
its website it received a
23-page fax from someone
claiming to be Bryce
Williams some time
between Tuesday night
and yesterday morning.
The network turned the fax
over to authorities, it said,
without giving details on
Flanagan shot himself as Virginia
State police were closing in on a rental
car on Interstate 66 in Fauquier County,
WDBJ7 said. Police said the suspect
refused to stop when spotted by troopers
and sped away.
“Minutes later, the suspect ’s vehicle
ran off the road and crashed. The
troopers approached the vehicle and
found the male driver suffering from
a gunshot wound,” police said in a
He was taken to a nearby hospital,
police said, adding he was believed to be
the suspect in the television shootings.
Police said later he had died.
Asked on CNN if the station had
been targeted or had been threatened,
WDBJ7 president and general manager
Jeff Marks said, “Every now and then
you get a crazy e-mail or something and
we’ll look into it. Nothing of this nature
that any of us could recall.”
He said the inter view was to mark
the 50th anniversary of the founding of
Smith Mountain Lake.
The station’s broadcast showed Parker
inter viewing Gardner about the lake
and tourism development in the area.
Gunshots erupted, and as Ward fell
his camera hit the ground but kept
running. An image caught on camera
showed what appeared to be a man in
dark clothing facing the camera with a
weapon in his right hand.
The station described the two dead
journalists as an ambitious reporter-and-
cameraman team who often produced
light and breezy feature stories for the
“I cannot tell you how much they were
loved,” Marks said.
They were both engaged to be married
to other people.
According to his social media sites,
Flanagan attended San Francisco State
University. A university spokesman said
he graduated in 1995 with a degree in
radio and television. — Reuters
Reporter, cameraman shot
by disgruntled ex-colleague
Shooting victims Alison Parker, 24, left, and Adam Ward, 27.
Colorado cinema shooter jailed for life
James Holmes has been formally
sentenced to life in prison without
The sentencing overnight came
more than three years after he
carefully planned and executed a
merciless attack on hundreds of
defenceless moviegoers who were
watching a midnight Batman
Judge Carlos A Samour Junior
had no other sentencing option
after a jury earlier this month did
not unanimously agree that Holmes
should get the death penalty.
The judge issued his sentence
after two days of testimony from
sur vivors of the attack, including
emergency workers who responded
to the shooting.
Holmes killed 12 people and
injured 70 others in the ambush on
July 20, 2012. He was convicted of
first-degree murder and 140 counts
of attempted first-degree murder, as
well as an explosives charge.
Colorado prisons officials will
determine where Holmes will be
incarcerated after an evaluation
that includes his mental health.
who has been
diagnosed with varying forms of
schizophrenia, could wind up in the
corrections department ’s mental
hospital, the 250-bed San Carlos
Correctional Facility in Pueblo.
He also could be transferred to an
Holmes moved from California
to Colorado in 2011 and entered
neuroscience programme at the
University of Colorado.
He dropped out after a year,
by which time, he was well into
planning the attack and stockpiling
In July, the jury rejected Holmes’s
insanity plea, finding he knew
right from wrong, but could not
unanimously agree on the death
Prosecutors subsequently said one
juror refused to sentence Holmes
to death, apparently swayed by
defence arguments that he suffered
To the end, Holmes’s lawyers
blamed the massacre on his
delusions. — AP
‘Senior moments’ awareness
seen as good sign
Experiencing “senior moments” may
be a good sign rather than a cause for
concern, research suggests.
The time to worry is when you begin to
stop noticing memory lapses, scientists
A study found that people with
dementia tend to lose awareness of
memory problems two to three years
before the condition develops.
“O ur findings suggest that unawareness
of one’s memory problems is an inevitable
feature of late-life dementia, driven by a
build-up of dementia-related changes in
the brain,” US lead researcher Dr Robert
Wilson, from Rush University Medical
Centre in Chicago, said.
“ Lack of awareness of memory loss is
common in dementia, but we haven’t
known much about how common it is,
when it develops or why some people
seem more affected than others.
“ Most studies of memory unawareness
in dementia have focused on people
who have already been diagnosed. In
contrast, this new study began following
older adults before they showed signs of
The team tracked the progress of more
than 2000 individuals with an average
age of 76 who were free of dementia at
the start of the study.
Over a period of 10 years, they were
given annual tests of memory and
thinking ability, and were also asked how
often they had trouble remembering
For the 239 volunteers diagnosed with
dementia, memory awareness began
to drop sharply an average of 2.6 years
before they developed symptoms.
Several years of memory decline
“Although there were individual
differences in when the unawareness
started and how fast it progressed,
virtually everyone had a lack of awareness
of their memory problems at some point
in the disease,” Dr Wilson said.
The findings appear in the journal
Neurology. — PA
Investigators looking at how British
police treated complaints of child
sexual exploitation in the town of
Rotherham are working to identify
more than 100 officers.
The Independent Police Complaint
Commission (IPCC) said it was
continuing to examine police conduct
a year on from the publication of
the Jay Report, which shocked the
United Kingdom with the scale of
child rape, trafficking and grooming
it uncovered in the South Yorkshire
Professor Alexis Jay ’s report
described how more than 1400
children were sexually exploited
by gangs of mainly Asian males
in Rotherham between 1997 and
It was scathing about a culture
among police and council officials
which ignored the scale of abuse,
instead treating the victims as
The IPCC said it had received
47 referrals from South Yorkshire
police since the publication of the
Jay Report, involving more than 100
“Analysis of all the referrals has so
far identified more than 60 officers,”
a spokeswoman said.
“ Further assessments are being
carried out to establish the specific
allegations against these individuals
to determine what further actions are
“ Work is ongoing to identify more
than 100 officers who are referenced
in the referrals but are unnamed.”
The Jay Report was commissioned
by the council after a high profile trial
and a series of damning stories in The
Times about what was happening in
Its impact was generated by the
sheer scale of offending that it
outlined and the horrific details it
included of what had happened to
girls as young as 11.
Jay said at the time she had found
“ utterly appalling” examples of
“children who had been doused in
petrol and threatened with being set
alight, threatened with guns, made
to witness brutally violent rapes and
threatened they would be next if they
“They were raped by multiple
perpetrators, trafficked to other towns
and cities in the north of England,
abducted, beaten and intimidated,”
Rotherham Council and South
Yorkshire police were roundly
criticised in its wake and a series of
high profile resignations culminated
in the departure of South Yorkshire
police and crime commissioner
Shaun Wright, the councillor in
charge of Rotherham’s children’s
ser vices between 2005 and 2010.
A further review of Rotherham
Council by the Government ’s
Troubled Families chief, Louise
Casey, heaped more criticism on an
authority she labelled as “not fit for
purpose” and “in denial”.
The then communities and local
government secretary, Eric Pickles,
handed over the council’s powers to
a panel of appointed commissioners.
South Yorkshire police said it now
had more than 60 officers working
on child sexual exploitation and the
National Crime Agency had been
brought in to investigate historical
crimes. — DPA
Over 100 British police under abuse cloud
French woman wins
‘gadget allergy’ grant
A French court has awarded a disability
grant to a woman claiming to suffer from
a debilitating allergy to electromagnetic
radiation from everyday gadgets such as
Marine Richard, hailed the ruling a
“ breakthrough” for people afflicted
by Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
The condition is not recognised as
a medical disorder in most countries,
including France, but sufferers insist
that exposure to cellphones, wifi routers,
televisions and other gadgets cause
them anything from mild discomfort to
Scientific studies have found no
exposure to the symptoms — tingling,
Richard, a former radio producer,
lives a reclusive life in the mountains of
south-west France, in a renovated barn
without electricity, and drinking water
from the well.
In a ruling last month, a court in the
southern city of Toulouse decided she
can claim a disability allowance — about
800 euros ($1406) per month — for a
period of three years.
The ruling accepted that Richard’s
symptoms prevent her from working,
but stopped short of recognising EHS
as an illness.
Her lawyer, Alice Terrasse, said the
decision could set a legal precedent for
“thousands of people” concerned.
“ It ’s a breakthrough,” Richard added.
The World Health Organisation lists
EHS as a condition, but says there is “no
scientific basis” for linking the symptoms
to electromagnetic exposure.
Sweden and Germany have classified it
as an occupational disease.
Scientific trials in which neither
the patient nor researcher were aware
whether they had been exposed to
electromagnetic waves, have refuted
any link to the symptoms, and many
experts ascribe the condition to a
Some believe it might be triggered
by the so-called “nocebo” effect —
the placebo effect in reverse — when
people feel unwell because they believe
they have been exposed to something
harmful. — AFP
panda twin dies
The smaller of twin panda cubs born
over the weekend to giant panda Mei
Xiang died overnight, Washington’s
National Zoo said.
The death of the cub, whose up-and-
down weight since the birth on Saturday
had raised concerns among the zoo
keepers, occurred shortly after 2pm
The twins’ birth captured international
attention as giant pandas are among the
world’s most endangered species.
“ We are sad to report that the smaller
of the two panda cubs has died,” the zoo
posted on Twitter.
“The larger cub appears to be strong,
robust, behaving normally and is with
mother Mei Xiang,” the zoo said in a
A day before the cub died, zookeepers
noted that Mei Xiang, a star tourist
draw in the United States capital, was
focusing her care on the larger twin.
Both cubs were still fur-less and about
the size of a stick of butter. The zoo staff
was caring for the smaller cub and was
trying to swap the cubs in Mei Xiang’s
possession every four hours, it said.
Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated
with sperm from Hui Hui, a panda in
China, and from the National Zoo’s
Zoo officials have said that they did
not yet know which insemination was
successful, and that it was possible the
twins had different fathers.
Giant pandas, native to China, have
a very low reproductive rate, especially
in captivity. There are about 300 giant
pandas in captivity and roughly 1600 in
the wild. — Reuters
China sacks work
safety chief over graft
China has sacked the head of its
work safety regulator for suspected
corruption, State news agency Xinhua
said overnight, following blasts that
killed more than 100 people in the port
city of Tianjin this month.
The ruling Communist Party’s graft
watchdog began an investigation into
Yang Dongliang last week following
the massive explosions in a warehouse
storing dangerous chemicals.
A total of 139 people are now
confirmed to have died, while 34 remain
A brief statement carried by Xinhua,
citing the party’s
department which is responsible for
personnel decisions, said Yang had been
stripped of his position as chief of the
State Administration of Work Safety.
He is suspected of “serious breaches
of discipline and the law ”, the report
said, using the usual euphemism for
It gave no other details and it was not
possible to reach Yang for comment.
Officials are almost always fired soon
after announcements of party graft
The government has not explicitly
linked Yang’s case to the Tianjin
incident, but the company that operated
the chemical warehouse that blew up
did not have a licence to work with such
dangerous materials for more than a
Yang was deputy mayor of Tianjin, a
city of 15 million people, until 2012.
China has struggled in recent years
with incidents ranging from mining
disasters to factory fires which have
caused deep public anger, and President
Xi Jinping has vowed that authorities
should learn the lessons paid for with
The Tianjin disaster has again raised
questions about safety standards
following three decades of fast economic
growth. A blast at an auto parts factory
killed 75 people a year ago.
The government has confirmed there
were about 700 tons of deadly sodium
cyanide in the warehouse that blew up.
The blasts devastated a large industrial
site and nearby residential areas.
Xinhua said that 11 of the 12
apartment blocks worst affected by the
explosions had been officially classified
as structurally safe.
On Tuesday, Xinhua said that
five Chinese State-owned property
developers will buy apartments hit by
blasts. — Reuters
Eight people have died in two days of
pneumonic plague on the Indian Ocean
island of Madagascar, which is hit by
deadly outbreaks almost every year.
Pneumonic plague is rare and more
vicious than the commonly-known
bubonic strain as it gives antibiotics little
time to act and can kill within 24 hours.
“ Twelve cases of pneumonic plague
have been identified,” out of which eight
people have died in two days, Maherisoa
Ratsitorahina, the health ministry’s chief
He said the disease was under control
and was confined to Antsahatsihanarina
village, which is less than 20km from
the city of Moramanga in the east of the
Plague is endemic in Madagascar,
where outbreaks have resurfaced often
since 1980 and are blamed mainly on
rats and flea infestation due to unbridled
Pneumonic plague can be spread from
person to person through coughing.
The World Health Organization
warned early this year that the number of
plague cases has steadily increased over
the last three years, making Madagascar
the world’s most affected country.
In 2013, the country registered 86
cases and 39 deaths, while between last
September and February a total of 263
people were infected cases and at least
71 killed. — AFP
Pneumonic plague kills eight
Rescuers pluck 3000
Rescuers saved about 3000
migrants but found more than
50 dead on boats near the coast
of Libya overnight, the Italian
Tens of thousands of people,
mainly from Africa and the
Middle East, have put to sea
this year in the hope of reaching
packed into small vessels that
were never designed to cross the
Rescuers on the Swedish ship
Poseidon, mobilised under the
European Union’s rescue mission
Triton, found 51 corpses in the
hold of one boat which was also
carrying 439 sur vivors.
Three women were found dead
on a rubber boat carrying a further
120 people. One person rescued
along with more than 100 others
on another boat died shortly
The coastguard did not say what
caused the deaths, which add to
a toll already thought to have
exceeded 2300 so far this year,
according to the International
Organisation for Migration.
The influx of migrants, many
of whom are fleeing conflict and
poverty, has confronted Europe
with its worse refugee crisis since
World War Two, stirring social and
A spokeswoman for the Italian
coastguard said earlier the boat
carrying the migrant who died
shortly after the rescue had already
partially deflated by the time the
emergency ser vices arrived.
The coast guard in Rome co-
ordinated a total of 10 rescue
operations overnight, responding
to emergency calls which the
spokeswoman said all came from
boats in difficulty in an area about
50km from the Libyan coast.
Vessels from the Italian coastguard
and navy, the Malta-based Migrant
Offshore Aid Station, humanitarian
agency Doctors Without Borders,
and the Irish navy all carried out
The coast guard said a merchant
ship which had gone to the rescue
of 225 people was heading for the
Greek island of Crete, where the
sur vivors would disembark.
Merkel jeered in refugee town visit
Dozens of protesters heckled
Chancellor Angela Merkel and
waved placards that read “traitor”
overnight when she visited an
eastern German town where anti-
refugee protests erupted into
violence at the weekend.
Merkel vowed that Germany
would not tolerate xenophobia and
repeated that the weekend scuffles,
in which 31 police officers were
hurt, were “shameful and repulsive”.
“There is no tolerance for those
people who question the dignity
of others, no tolerance for those
who are not willing to help where
legal and human help is required,”
Merkel told reporters and local
people in the town of Heidenau.
“The more people who make that
c lear the stronger we will be,” she
Europe is struggling to cope with
a flood of migrants and refugees
fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and
Germany, with the biggest
economy on the continent and
relatively liberal asylum laws, is
set to receive the largest share,
estimated at some 800,000 people
this year, equivalent to almost 1% of
the total population.
Attacks on asylum shelters
now occur almost every day and
politicians have warned of rising
hostility towards foreigners.
Merkel said her conser vative-led
government would change laws
next month to help ease the burden
on German towns struggling to
provide accommodation and other
help for the new arrivals.
Earlier her cabinet approved
plans to double funding for
municipalities this year to one
billion euros and the amount
available in the longer run is likely
As Merkel met asylum seekers,
local police and politicians, about
50 protesters booed, whistled
and waved signs that read
“ Volksverraeter” (traitor), a slogan
adopted by the anti-Islam Pegida
movement earlier this year.
“ We are the mob,” the protesters
yelled — a reference to a comment
from Merkel’s deputy Sigmar
Gabriel, who during a visit to
Heidenau on Monday said those
responsible for the weekend
violence, mostly drunken far-right
militants, were a “mob” who did not
On Tuesday, Gabriel’s Social
Democrats (SPD) were forced to
evacuate their headquarters after
receiving a bomb threat and a flood
of racist emails and phone calls.
The SPD, junior partner of
Merkel’s conser vatives in the
government, linked the bomb hoax
to Gabriel’s visit. — Reuters
World War Two Soviet plane
crew remains recovered
The wreckage of a World War Two
Soviet plane and the remains of two
crew members, believed to have been
shot down by German forces in 1945,
have been retrieved from a riverbed in
central Poland, local media reported.
The plane was pulled out from the mud
of the Bzura river, some 70km west of
Warsaw, after draught caused the water
level to fall to a record low.
Polish media said the remains of two
crew members were also found. The
plane has been taken to a museum in the
nearby town of Wyszogrod, where it will
“ It was a Soviet plane. All inscriptions
on it were written in Cyrillic script,”
museum director Zdzislaw Leszczynski
told Polish television. “ The pilots were
dressed in furry shoes and sheepskin coat
suggesting (the plane was shot down in)
Footage of the excavation on Sunday
showed explorers using a metal detector
and examining the wreckage’s depth
with metal pins in the muddy riverbed
as local residents looked on.
“ People knew (about the plane),” one
resident said. “ The wreckage has even
been examined by touch several times.
However, it hasn’t been excavated due
to the water level, which is usually two
metres higher at least.” — Reuters
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