- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

1 dead in attack, explosion at French gas factory; Arabic banners found near decapitated body

PARIS (AP) - One person was beheaded Friday in an attack and explosion at a gas factory in southeastern France that left multiple people wounded, two officials said. Banners with Arabic writing were found near the body, one of the officials said.

Details of the attack were sketchy but two French officials said it began mid-morning in the Isere region when the men crashed a car into the entrance of the factory and into gas canisters, touching off the explosion. One attacker was arrested, they said.

The decapitated body and the banners were found near the factory entrance, one of the officials said.

Both officials spoke condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.

France went on high alert after an attack in January that left 20 people dead in the Paris region, including the Islamic extremist attackers.

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Thousands expected for President Obama’s tribute to victims of Charleston church massacre

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The first black president of the United States is coming to Charleston to eulogize the victims of a mass shooting at a historic African-American church - a tragedy that one civil rights activist said was a sign of “how far yet” the nation has to go to put racial tensions behind it.

Thousands of mourners were expected to gather Friday to hear President Barack Obama pay tribute to the pastor and eight parishioners of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The nine were slain at the church during a Bible study session last week in what authorities are investigating as a racially motivated attack.

Friday’s service for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator, promised to be another wrenching but cathartic occasion for the community to say goodbye to the victims.

Police planned to close several streets around the college arena in downtown Charleston, and said they expect anyone who wants one of the more than 5,000 seats to be there by 9 a.m. The funeral was scheduled to start two hours after.

The first two funerals, for Ethel Lance and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, were held Thursday, with tight security and emotional responses to the eulogies and hymns.

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Consumers voice relief after court’s health care ruling but still worry about costs, coverage

CHICAGO (AP) - Throughout the country, relief was the dominant emotion among consumers who get help from the government to lower their health insurance costs following Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Many consumers expressed somewhat conflicting views: They were happy their monthly premiums would continue to be affordable but exasperated by the coverage the policies purchased on the new health care exchanges provide.

“I don’t particularly care for Obama. I didn’t vote for him,” said Salt Lake City resident Paige Preece, whose subsidy allows her to buy insurance for $137 a month. “But, honestly, if it weren’t for this, I would be absolutely lost.”

The court’s 6-3 ruling upheld the federal financial assistance to millions of low- and middle-income Americans to help pay for insurance premiums regardless of where they live. An estimated 6.4 million people in the 34 states that used the federal health care exchange were at risk of losing the subsidies because their home states did not set up their own insurance exchanges.

The case turned on just a few words in the mammoth Affordable Care Act that suggested the federal subsidies could go only to consumers in states that operated their own health insurance marketplaces. Consumers in those states or in ones that fell back on the federal exchange when their own exchanges faltered were not affected by the case.

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Recovery efforts resume Friday to recover bodies of 9 people killed in Alaska plane crash

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska emergency crews will attempt Friday to recover the remains of eight cruise ship passengers and a pilot who were killed when their sightseeing plane crashed in a remote and rugged area of southeastern Alaska.

Wind and rain prevented any recovery after the wreckage of the aircraft was found Thursday against a granite rock face, 800 feet above a lake.

There was no immediate indication of why the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter turboprop went down, killing the nine people during the sightseeing excursion. No names have been released.

Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office, said it was too soon to know circumstances of the crash, including whether the plane flew into the cliff.

The NTSB was assembling a high-level team to investigate the crash, including three members from Alaska and at least two people from Washington, D.C.

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Arrested prison guard says he supplied tools, food but didn’t know of inmates’ escape plans

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - A prison guard who admitted giving two inmates tools, paint, frozen hamburger and access to a catwalk electrical box says he didn’t know the killers planned to break out, and investigators say they have no reason to believe he was knowingly involved in the plot.

Gene Palmer was released on $25,000 bail Thursday after his arrest on charges of promoting prison contraband, tampering with evidence and official misconduct.

Palmer, who has been suspended, will plead not guilty, his lawyer said.

The 57-year-old correction officer became the second Clinton Correctional Facility employee to be charged since inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat used power tools to cut their way out of the maximum-security prison in far northern New York on June 6.

Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell stands charged with helping them escape.

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NBC mum on Miss USA airing as Univision drops pageant over Trump’s Latino immigrant remarks

NEW YORK (AP) - Donald Trump’s fledgling GOP presidential bid quickly led to business fallout for him, with Univision saying it will drop the Miss USA pageant from its UniMas network and cut all ties with Trump over comments on Mexican immigrants.

The company said Thursday it was canceling its Spanish-language coverage of the pageant July 12. It also has severed its business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which produces the Miss USA pageant, because of what it called “insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants” by Trump, a part owner of Miss Universe.

NBC remained silent about its scheduled coverage of the pageant, which has aired on the network since 2003. But it sought to distance itself from Trump’s remarks.

“Donald Trump’s opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration,” NBC said in a statement.

Trump is featured on another NBC program, “Celebrity Apprentice.”

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California baseball team makes history with first openly gay professional player

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) - Baseball history was made in Northern California when the sport’s first active professional player to come out as gay pitched a shutout before an enthusiastic crowd that seemed more impressed with his performance than his role as a pioneer.

Sean Conroy, 23, led the Sonoma Stompers to a 7-0 victory Thursday night during his first start with the 22-man team that is part of the independent Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs. The right hander struck-out 11 players and allowed three hits over nine innings.

“He wanted to be that guy, and coming out here and doing this shows you what kind of man he is,” Tim Livingston, the team’s radio broadcaster, said after a ground ball ended the game and Conroy’s teammates jogged over to hug him. “To see this little field here in the middle of nowhere, when we look back it will have been the perfect setting for this.”

The atmosphere at Arnold Field, the Stompers’ 370 seat home field, was low-key, with no obvious signs it was a historic game or even gay pride night at the ballpark - except for the rainbow-striped socks and arm warmers some players - but not Conroy - wore.

The Stompers did not make a special announcement or call attention to the milestone so Conroy could focus on his pitching, General Manager Theo Fightmaster said.

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With Lakers and Knicks scoring in NBA draft, league’s biggest markets have big nights

NEW YORK (AP) - From coast to coast, the NBA draft was a big night for the biggest markets.

The Los Angeles Lakers tabbed their next potential superstar in D’Angelo Russell. The New York Knicks landed a pair of players in the first round, selecting Kristaps Porzingis and later acquiring the rights to Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant.

Both teams are coming off their worst seasons in their histories and hoping the turnarounds started Thursday.

Russell is ready to do his part.

“I’m here, and I’m ready to make an impact right away,” the Ohio State point guard said.

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AP PHOTOS: Years of turmoil after Egypt’s 2011 revolt a hidden trauma for nation’s children

CAIRO (AP) - In Egypt, the years of turmoil following its 2011 uprising have seen revolutionary graffiti fade away as the country slowly tries to move on, but hidden scars remain for children who grew up during the chaos and lost loved ones.

The grief touches children of all kinds in this country, cutting across Christian and Muslim families, the sons of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group to the daughters of police officers and soldiers. And how they process the sorrow varies widely.

“Kids have different understandings for what they experience, and they are psychologically affected by different things than adults,” says psychiatrist Eman Gaber, who leads a rehabilitation program for traumatized children. “When a child loses a parent, a relative, a friend or a person he likes or knows, maybe he wants the killer or killers to feel the loss he feels.

“The pain doesn’t come to the person who is dead, but to the ones that are still alive.”

Gaber says there are not any statistics about how many children suffered trauma in Egypt’s recent unrest, though it’s “still hard not to be exposed to any violence,” whether that was rioting in their neighborhood or images seen on television or the Internet.

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Vandals target Confederate monuments, paint post-Ferguson slogan in graffiti in 6 states

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Vandals have targeted monuments dedicated to the leaders and soldiers of the Confederacy, painting the slogan “Black lives matter” on memorials in a half-dozen states where the landmarks stand tall in parks and outside government buildings.

The graffiti reflects the racial tension that permeates post-Ferguson America, more than a week after a white gunman shot and killed nine black congregants at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

Michael Allen, a lecturer in American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, compared the vandalism to the toppling of statues in Russia at the end of the Soviet empire.

“If the monuments are strong statements of past values, defacing them is the easiest and loudest way to rebuke those statements,” Allen said.

Confederate symbols including the rebel battle flag have been the subject of resentment for years. The anger boiled over after last week’s massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The suspect, Dylann Roof, posed in photos with the Confederate flag.

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