The FBI said associates of Kelvin Melton (above), a reputed high-ranking member of the “Bloods” gang currently serving a sentence of life without parole in North Carolina, kidnapped the father of the assistant district attorney who prosecuted him.
ATLANTA, Georgia | DMN – A $25,000 reward is being offered for a pair of fugitives linked to the violent abduction of a North Carolina man who was brought to Atlanta. The FBI is leading a manhunt in the metro Atlanta area for Jakym Camel Tibbs, 21, and Quantavious Thompson, either 18 or 19, who is also known as “Kirkwood Quan.” Both have been charged with kidnapping in connection with the abduction of Frank Arthur Janssen, according to federal prosecutors with U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of North Carolina office. Six other people, including a North Carolina inmate serving a life sentence, have been accused of planning Janssen’s kidnapping. Kelvin Melton, who was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating a 2011 murder plot, is said to be the mastermind of the Janssen kidnapping. Prosecutors said he gave instructions from his jail cell using a contraband mobile phone.
Janssen’s daughter, Collen Janssen prosecuted Melton’s 2011 murder plot case. Tiana Maynard, Jenna Paulin Martin, Michael Montreal Gooden, Jevante Price and Clfton James Roberts were all arrested and charged with kidnapping after Janssen was rescued by a special FBI kidnapping task force on April 9 from a southeast Atlanta apartment. Janssen was taken from his Wake Forest, N.C. home on the morning of April 5, after authorities said he encountered a pair of women and some men who attacked him with an electronic stun gun. The suspects contacted Janssen’s wife and threatened to chop him up and send his body parts back to her, among other things, and made demands regarding Melton, prosecutors said. A judge on Tuesday denied bond to the five Georgia suspects, and they remain in federal custody.
Thompson and Tibbs remain at large, U.S. Attorney’s officials said, and are considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324. Five suspects charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina man gave reasons Tuesday why they should be freed on bond. But only two things were certain after they went before a judge: more suspects in the abduction of Frank Arthur Janssen were being sought, and no one in custody was going free Tuesday. “Several other subjects … are at large, and the investigation continues to learn the identifications and whereabouts of those individuals,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said Tuesday in court.
Frank Arthur Janssen
Jenna Paulin Martin, Tiana Maynard, Jevante Price, Michael Montreal Gooden and Clifton James Roberts were arrested last week and charged in the kidnapping of Janssen from his Wake Forest, N.C., home April 5. An elite FBI hostage rescue team freed Janssen from an apartment on New Town Circle in southeast Atlanta late Wednesday night. Authorities in North Carolina say Janssen’s kidnapping was orchestrated by Kelvin Melton, a reputed high-ranking member of the “Bloods” gang who is serving life without parole after being prosecuted by Janssen’s daughter, an assistant district attorney in Wake County, N.C. Melton was found guilty in 2012 of planning from New York the murder of a man in North Carolina.
Melton, who authorities say helped plan the abduction from his prison cell using a contraband mobile phone, has been charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. “This case represents an attack on our justice system,” Buchanan said. Tuesday in court Martin, 21, waived her right to a detention and other subsequent hearings in Georgia Northern District Court in Atlanta. Maynard said that she participated in the kidnapping plot against her will. “She was being coerced and threatened,” attorney Elizabeth Rogan said of her 20-year-old Warner Robbins client. “One of the defendants has in his possession her birth certificate and the birth certificates of her four children. They were being threatened.” Rogan says Clifton James Roberts, along with other unknown suspects, intimidated Maynard into joining the plot. Buchanan said Maynard was one of the women who convinced Janssen to open his door on April 5 before initiating the attack, and she was a primary point of communications with Melton. “The investigation reveals a witness who said Ms. Maynard admitted to the ruse they used to get inside,” Buchanan said. “Ms. Maynard’s phone made 99 calls with Melton. Information showed there had been discussion on Ms. Maynard’s phone about disposing the body.”
Authorities said Roberts drove the truck that Melton allegedly directed co-conspirators to use to carry Janssen away after killing him. When Roberts was arrested with Maynard and Martin in his truck, federal officials also found a shovel, a pick-axe and a .45-caliber handgun, prosecutors said. While Buchanan said that Roberts wasn’t part of the group that “bum-rushed Mr. Janssen’s door and assaulted him” in Wake Forest, Roberts allegedly sublet the Austell apartment where Janssen was held. “Mr. Roberts at some point went to that apartment while Mr. Janssen was bound and moaning inside,” Buchanan said. Roberts’ attorney, Vionnette Johnson, explained the articles found inside her client’s truck when he was arrested. “The reason he had a shovel and pick in the car was because the water pipes had burst in his mother’s front yard and he was carrying them to make repairs,” she said. “Of course, he had a pistol. This is a man that works and gets off work at midnight.”
U.S. District Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill felt there was enough evidence to keep the 29-year-old Roberts off the streets. “The circumstantial evidence is very strong that he was involved,” Brill said. Maynard’s attorney told the judge that her client said Gooden and Price were only at the Austell apartment the night of the arrest because they were watching her four children. Price told authorities that he was to watch Janssen later that evening with Gooden, and then showed law enforcement officials where to find the victim, prosecutors said. His attorney, Bill Morrison, said Price, 20, suffered from mental issues and suggested that investigators might have taken advantage of his mental deficiency. “It’s important that the court consider Mr. Price’s diminished mental capacity,” Morrison said. “And that Ms. Maynard said that my client was only watching her children.”
Gooden’s attorney Stanley M. Baum argued that, but for Price’s words, the federal criminal complaint made no other mention of his client. “The complaint doesn’t indicate that Mr. Gooden knew that he was going to be a ‘night watchman … or even knew that there was a kidnapping’,” Baum said. “The evidence against Mr. Gooden is thin,” Brill said. “But I’m going to order detention based upon Mr. Price saying that he was going to be night watchman. He lived in the apartment where the planning happened.” Maynard and Martin will be shipped back to North Carolina next week. Roberts, Price and Gooden will appear again before Brill at 10:30 a.m., April 23 when prosecutors argue probable cause to continue with charges against the three suspects. It is unclear when Melton will face a federal judge in North Carolina, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Louisville, Kentucky’s municipal government has agreed to pay $450,000 to a former police detective who says he was demoted to patrol officer on the graveyard shift for trying to help an imprisoned woman prove her innocence on a homicide charge. The settlement was struck Tuesday with Barron Morgan, who sued the city in 2012, claiming he was punished in violation of the state whistleblower protection act according to The Courier-Journal. “I know I did the right thing — and I think settlement reflects I did the right thing,” said Morgan, who now works the day shift as a uniformed officer. He said in his suit that he had his supervisor’s permission when he notified the Kentucky Innocence Project that Richard Jarrell Jr. had confessed to a murder for which Susan Jean King was serving 10 years in prison. The suit also said he got approval to pass on a copy of Jarrrell’s confession. But Morgan alleged that after Kentucky State Police, who had investigated the 1998 murder, complained that Morgan was assisting the Innocence Project, a Louisville police commander “cursed” him and he was ordered to stop cooperating.
The Courier-Journal reported in 2012 that KSP had complained to Louisville Chief Steve Conrad that Morgan was trying to undermine their case and that another commander later called state police and “apologized on behalf of LMPD for Morgan sticking his nose in this.” Morgan’s lawyer, Thomas Clay, who released a copy of the settlement agreement Wednesday, said the settlement amount is a “pretty clear indication” that Morgan “did the right thing in disclosing the confession” and that he was “treated abominably” by the department. Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, confirmed the settlement amount. As in most settlements, the city denied wrongdoing. Louisville police spokesman Sgt. Phil Russell said the department couldn’t comment on the settlement or what policy changes it may have taken to avoid a recurrence because a portion of the suit is still pending. In that matter, Morgan’s former supervisor, Lt. Richard Pearson, alleges he also was retaliated against for approving Morgan’s actions and questioning the conduct of a KSP detective in the case. Pearson’s complaint is set for trial Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Conrad has denied that the transfers for Morgan and Pearson were retaliatory, saying both were given new jobs as part of a massive reorganization to fight violent crime. In the suit, however, Morgan claimed that he applied for detective positions in the major case unit and other units and was passed over despite his “impressive resume,” which includes “bringing in the majority of narcotics seized by his unit in 2011-12, and receiving numerous accommodations and awards.” Conrad initially tried to fire Pearson for alleged misconduct during an unrelated drug bust, for allowing a television news photographer to enter the private property being searched and for allegedly later lying about it. But Pearson was instead suspended for five days after an investigation failed to sustain the allegation that he was untruthful. That sanction is on appeal before the police merit board, Clay said. In October 2012, in a ruling based on technical grounds, Spencer Circuit Judge Charles Hickman overruled King’s motion for a new trial in the shooting death of Kyle “Deanie“ Breeden.
(Photo: Photo by Mallory Bilger of The Spencer Magnet.)
In his ruling, Hickman commended Morgan, noting that he shared information only after consulting his supervisor and the commonwealth’s attorney’s office in Jefferson County. Jarrell ultimately recanted his confession and Hickman said in his ruling that he couldn’t determine if Jarrell was telling the truth when he admitted to the murder — or when he denied it. The judge said Jarrell was able to provide a “startling level of details”” about the crime, but there also were inconsistencies in his story. Hickman said he couldn’t grant King a new trial because she had pleaded guilty in 2008 while maintaining her innocence. Breeden’s 1998 death went unsolved for eight years, until then-KSP Detective Todd Harwood was assigned to investigate the cold case and 18 days later concluded King was the perpetrator, according to court records. Facing life in prison if convicted of murder, King in 2008 entered an Alford plea to manslaughter and accepted a 10-year sentence that left her eligible for parole in only two years.
The Innocence Project began investigating her case after concluding it would have been physically impossible for her to have thrown Breeden’s body off a bridge into the Kentucky River, where his body was found. King had only one leg and weighed 97 pounds at the time of the offense. Then in May 2012, Jarrell, after being arrested in Louisville for allegedly firing a shotgun into a home, told detectives he had killed Breeden. King was released on parole but appealed Hickman’s ruling in an effort to clear her name. A decision is pending at the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Morgan said in an interview that the main focus should be on “Susan King and the horror she had to endure for years and how the criminal justice system failed her. “I pray that everything works out for her,” he said. “I believe the evidence reflects she is innocent of the charges.” Linda Smith, director of the Kentucky Innocence Project, which is part of the state Department of Public Advocacy, said in a statement that King’s “innocence would never have come to light without detective Morgan’s and Lt. Pearson’s courage. “Both officers behaved more than honorably, recognizing that the first duty of law enforcement is not to win cases, it is to seek the truth,” she said.
LAKE MARY, Florida | DMN – The frantic cries of the Florida mother mauled by a 200-pound black bear over the weekend can be heard in the background of a 911 call as her distressed son phones for help. Teri Frana’s harrowing screams ring out as her teenage son tells a Seminole County Sheriff’s dispatcher that, ‘I need help in my house, a bear attacked my mom’. The dramatic recording was released on Tuesday afternoon following Frana’s terrifying encounter with five bears in her garage which left her needing 30 staples in her scalp and 10 stitches to her forehead. During the course of the call, the victim’s husband, Frank Frana, calmly takes over the phone from his son. ‘She’s awake. She’s breathing. She’s just traumatized. She’s breathing and she’s bleeding hard,’ he said according to the Orlando Sentinel.‘Do you have an ambulance dispatched?’
Frana thought the bear was trying to drag her into the woods and since the incident Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission have shot dead seven bears around her home. In an interview on Monday, the terrified mother said that the bears reacted too fast for her when she stepped outside and as she was mauled she pleaded for help, screaming, ‘Please, my kids need me.’ Frana, told NBC’s Today show that the frightening encounter has left her very shaken. ‘I can’t close my eyes and not think about it, see it, feel it, but that will go away in time and I’m here,’ said Frana. ‘I’m here for my kids.’ Frana said she stepped outside to get her children, who had been playing on their bikes when she was charged by the bears. ‘I saw this large bear charging at me,’ she said to the Today show. ‘She opened her jaw and clamped down onto my head, and I could just hear her teeth marks going through my scalp.’
Frana revealed she could only think about her family during the bloody attack. ‘I said, ‘Please, my kids need me,’ she recalled. Amazingly, Frana managed to escape the attack and drag herself inside her home where she was found by her eldest son, Drew, 15, who called 911. Despite living in the neighborhood for 10 years, Frana feels that she and her family obviously became complacent about the threat posed by black bears. ‘Unfortunately, we just got too comfortable with them being around,’ she said. Indeed, the number of reports of people coming into contact with black bears in central Florida have more than doubled from just under a thousand in 2009 to more than 2,200 last year. Frana’s husband, Frank, said that he was just lucky to still have his wife with him after the attack. ‘One of the bears stood up, knocked her down and started to maul her,’ Frank Frana, the woman’s husband, said according to MyFoxOrlando.com. ‘The bear actually had my wife’s head in its mouth and started to drag her towards the woods.’
Mrs. Frana was mauled and clawed but managed to escape, running back into her house to get her husband. They called 911 and she was taken to hospital with wounds to her head, face, legs and torso. The attack in Lake Mary, Florida, just north of Orlando, happened just 10 miles from another bear mauling where a woman was jumped upon whilst walking her dogs home. Officials say the mother of four received bite marks to her shoulders, arms and upper thigh. Doctors also placed some 30 staples in her head and 10 stitches to cover up other lacerations. The attack happened inside the Carisbrooke subdivision at a home on Brackenhurst Place on Saturday night. Seminole County Sheriff Lt. Pete Brenenstuhl said that the woman was set upon by five bears ‘of various sizes’, suggesting it was a family of the animals. He said the bears pounced on her the moment they saw her and ‘dragged her from inside the garage out into her driveway’.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials are looking for the 200-pound black bear who attacked Mrs. Frana. Several traps have been placed in the neighborhood in hopes of catching the bear. Wildlife officials are also out with tranquilizers, but say most bears are trapped at night. On Sunday, officials shot a bear that was aggressive toward them in the area where the attack happened, Bay News9 reported. They shot the bear at close range because it came up to them. Three other bears were captured and euthanized, while two more ran away. Wildlife officials said that at this time of year bears were more likely to be scavenging for food and that residents should be on the lookout. In December, Susan Chalfant suffered serious head injuries after a bear ‘came out of nowhere’ and jumped on her as she walked with her dogs in Longwood.
It was the worst bear attack ever recorded in Florida and left the 54-year-old covered in blood and with facial injuries that were so bad a neighbor hardly recognized her. She later told wildlife investigators: ‘That bear was trying to kill me. It just kept coming’. In January two Scottish tourists were attacked by a bear while on holiday in California after they walked straight past the animal oblivious to its presence. Bob and Irene McKeown did not see the black bear as they exited their daughter’s house even though it was just 10 ft away from them. It followed them to their car where it clawed Mr McKeown who had just put his wife in the vehicle. Wildlife officials said that the animal could have been looking for food. Urban sprawl has meant that towns are taking up ever more of the land where bears live – and their numbers are increasing too. In the 1970s an estimated 300 wild black bears were in Florida but that number stood at 3,000 in 2002, the most recent survey. Researchers believe there could be as many as 5,000 now.
DONETSK, Ukraine | DMN – Tensions escalated in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with pro-Russian gunmen storming City Hall in the sprawling city of Donetsk and commandeering half a dozen Ukrainian armored vehicles and their crews outside Slovyansk. The events signaled a challenge ahead for the pro-Western Ukrainian government on the second day of its campaign to quell the restive east and came as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Ukraine was on the verge “of a civil war.” Reflecting increasing alarm among Russia’s neighbors, NATO vowed Wednesday to bolster its military presence in Eastern Europe by deploying more forces. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting in Brussels of the alliance’s North Atlantic Council. Rasmussen said more sorties would be flown over the Baltic Sea and that allied ships would be deployed there, in the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere. The measures will be implemented immediately, and “more will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come,” he said. “Our decisions today are about defense, deterrence and de-escalation,” Rasmussen said. “They are entirely in line with our international commitments.”
Earlier Wednesday, a line of combat vehicles flying Russian flags rolled into Slovyansk, a city of 120,000 where separatists have set up roadblocks since Saturday. One soldier named Andrei, speaking to the Associated Press, identified the men as part of the 25th Brigade of Ukraine’s airborne forces that had switched to the side of pro-Russian forces. The troops, in green camouflage and packing automatic weapons and grenade launchers, received a warm welcome from local separatists, AP said. The report could not be immediately verified, and it was unclear whether the troops, if they did defect, were acting on their own free will. AP later reported that another Ukrainian soldier was overheard suggesting that the armored-vehicle crews were forced to turn over their vehicles to the separatists at gunpoint.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement that its troops had entered Kramatorsk, where local separatists and “members of Russian sabotage groups” seized six armored personnel carriers and drove them to Slovyansk, about 10 miles to the north. Around 10 a.m. local time, a squad of separatists backed by seven masked gunmen in camouflage stormed the seat of Donetsk’s mayor and local council. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 40 men, some masked and heavily armed, were occupying the building but still allowing workers and local officials to go about their business inside city hall. The scene was calmer than earlier in the morning, when suited bureaucrats were running back and forth to vehicles in an attempt to save files and computers. City workers were shuffling to and from meetings under the watchful gaze of camouflage-clad militants who loitered in the corridors, many clutching automatic weapons. Offering glaring evidence of the Kiev government’s tenuous grip on the region, a few local police officers casually strolled outside without attempting to intervene.
David Stern BBC News, Donetsk
Ukraine’s “anti-terrorist” operation is looking more and more a non-event – or worse, an outright fiasco. Kiev officials have admitted they have no time to lose to extinguish the growing insurrection in the country’s east. But the decision to send the army in has so far backfired terribly. The soldiers have been helpless and obviously unhappy with being deployed against crowds of civilians. Ukraine’s new leaders are under a great amount of pressure – not just from the Kremlin and the pro-Russian activists, but from their own supporters, outraged at their government’s inability to stem the separatist tide. Right now, everything has been thrown into doubt – even the future of this government and of Ukraine itself. The biggest question is what will follow.
The pro-Russian militants who took over city hall said they were separate from a similar group that occupied the regional headquarters in this city of nearly 1 million 10 days ago, but they issued at least one similar demand. They called for a referendum on May 11 with two questions: whether the populace agreed with the creation of a new “Donetsk People’s Republic” and, if so, whether it should be part of Ukraine or Russia. “Why should we consider Russia a hostile state?” asked Alexander Zakharchenko, a militant commander at city hall. “They are the closest people to us in the world.” He commands the Donetsk branch of a group called Oplot, a pro-Russian movement that started as a fight club of young men in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, to the north Russia said it was still planning to attend four-party talks aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva on Thursday and would use the meeting to press for the launch of constitutional reform in Ukraine. “The meeting is still on the agenda,” Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, told reporters on Wednesday in Hanoi. “Ukraine must be forced to start genuine rather than cosmetic constitutional reform.”
Lavrov is expected to represent Russia at the talks in Geneva that will likely be attended by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry; Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief; and Ukraine’s acting foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia. The United States and European Union are piling pressure on the Kremlin to help de-escalate the crisis by removing support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. However, Lavrov stressed that the only way out of the crisis was to push Kiev to adopt sweeping constitutional reforms that devolved more power to Ukrainian regions. “Sincere friends of the Ukrainian people must force the incumbent authorities finally to move from words to deeds and begin a genuine and comprehensive constitutional reform” to guarantee the rights of all regions of the country, he said. Meanwhile, Russia was bracing for a possible flood of refugees from Ukraine, according to Konstantin Romadanovsky, head of the Russian Federal Migration Service. “We have some reserves for reinforcing our personnel operating in [Ukrainian] border areas if that is necessary,” he told the Interfax news agency Wednesday.
Crimea, the autonomous Ukrainian region annexed by Russia last month, also said it was ready to provide refuge to Ukrainians fleeing political turmoil. “We are ready today to take in all people from southeast Ukraine being persecuted for political motives,” Sergei Aksyonov, the acting governor of Crimea, told Interfax. He blamed right-wing Ukrainian nationalists for the turmoil. But Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Moscow of supporting “terrorism” in his country and said “Russian subversives together with local terrorists” have provoked the trouble in the east. “Our Russian neighbors are constructing a new Berlin Wall, and they want to return to the period of the Cold War,” he said in an address to the nation. The White House stood by Ukraine’s response. “The Ukrainian government has a responsibility to provide law and order, and these provocations in eastern Ukraine are creating a situation in which the government has to respond,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Jonathan Marcus BBC diplomatic correspondent
NATO’s announcement is about reassuring worried allies in the Baltic republics and central Europe, as well as signalling to Moscow that when it comes to the alliance’s core business – the defense of its members’ territory – NATO is as vigilant as ever. Air patrols over the Baltic republics are to be stepped up; NATO warships will deploy to the eastern Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. And on land, staff officers will be dispatched to oversee an enhanced program of exercises and preparedness in the countries most concerned. NATO will also review and reinforce its defense plans. In the longer term additional deployments may well be made. Nato sources indicate that this is only the first step of several that could be taken if the relationship with Russia sours further.
Russia complained Wednesday that its side of the story in the Ukrainian crisis was being suppressed by what it described as an unprecedented propaganda campaign in the West. “Russia’s position on Ukraine is very logical and well argued, but it doesn’t get out because it meets a strong, concrete wall of censorship,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, said on state television. “We have never seen anything like this before.” Peskov accused European media of ignoring Russian explanations and denying Europeans “the right to the free choice of information.” He spoke after the European Union urged Russia to cease further efforts to destabilize Ukraine and said that European unity, freedom and democracy were “being challenged in an extremely serious and dangerous way.”
In Kiev, the government appeared to show a new, if tempered, willingness to back up its pledge in recent days to restore order. On Tuesday, witnesses reported heavy gunfire as a Ukrainian jet tried to land at an airfield in Kramatorsk. Shortly afterward, Ukrainian troops were ferried to the site by helicopter and encountered a hostile reception by protesters. What followed, officials and witnesses said, was a tense standoff in which the troops repeatedly opened fire to push protesters back beyond the perimeter fences. It remained unclear whether the area was fully or temporarily secured. But Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, described the move as part of a “counterterrorism operation” against pro-Russian separatists in the northern part of the Donetsk region. “Soon there will be no terrorists left in Donetsk or any other region,” Turchynov vowed in parliament on Tuesday. “They will sit in prison, their proper place.”
Stanislav Rechinsky, Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, told reporters in Kiev that there were no fatalities during the operation by Ukrainian special forces at the airfield. Witnesses said crowds of pro-Russian activists roughed up a commander in the area who approached them after the airfield was supposed to be secured and that they remained on the airfield’s edge, hurling abuse at military officials. “The aim of the operation was to avoid casualties among our people, and it is also desirable to save the lives of the separatists, because some of them are our citizens,” Rechinsky said. In contrast to Ukraine’s official statements, however, Russian state television reported that four to 11 people had been killed in the operation. Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a pro-Russian militiaman as saying that fighters from Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement and foreign mercenaries were involved in storming the airfield.
The divergent accounts illustrated the gap between Kiev and Moscow as the crisis appeared to be deepening. On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials and witnesses reported an ongoing buildup of their forces not far from Izyum, a city near the border of Kharkiv and Donetsk provinces in the east. Izyum is 32 miles northwest of Slovyansk, which Ukrainian forces failed to retake from well-armed pro-Russian activists Sunday in an operation that left two people dead. An Izyum official involved in the mobilization, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the city was being used as a fueling and feeding station for Ukrainian troops, who began arriving over the weekend and were taking up positions outside the city limits.
Journalists reported seeing columns of armored personnel carriers and buses moving toward Slovyansk. But Rechinsky denied that the Ukrainian military had moved into the city, suggesting that the government remained leery of a full-on confrontation with pro-Russian forces, some of whom are heavily armed with weapons similar or identical to those used by the Russian military. Instead, the government focused on further attempts to defuse the situation in Slovyansk and elsewhere through negotiations. “In Slovyansk, there is no equipment, no troops, although there are many panicked reports in the media about the movement of tanks, armored personnel carriers and so on,” Rechinsky said.
SEOUL, South Korea | DMN – Almost 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 459 people capsized and sank off the South Korean coast in the South China Sea. The ferry, carrying mainly school students, was travelling from the port of Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. Emergency teams are using floodlights and flares to search the stricken vessel through the night. Those rescued have been taken to a nearby island. Four people are now said to have died and dozens of others have been hurt. South Korean officials had earlier said that 368 people had been plucked to safety, but later said there had been a counting error. They have now revised down the number rescued to 174.
Images showed the ferry listing at a severe angle and then later almost completely submerged, with only a small part of its hull visible. It sank within two hours of sending a distress signal, reports said. There are fears this could turn out to be South Korea’s biggest maritime disaster for more than 20 years, says the BBC’s Martin Patience in Seoul. Several coast guard, military and commercial vessels were involved in the rescue effort, which unfolded rapidly on Wednesday morning. Pictures from the scene showed rescue teams balanced on the sinking hull pulling teenagers from cabin windows. Some of their classmates jumped into the sea as the ship went down.
Reports suggest some of those rescued were picked up by nearby commercial vessels. The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search, officials say. Teams of navy divers were now searching the scene for those unaccounted for, officials said, but the work was challenging. “There is so much mud in the sea water and the visibility is very low,” said Lee Gyeong-og, vice-minister of security and public administration. One body, of a female crew member, had been recovered from the ship, the coastguard said. Another person, a male high school student, died after being rescued.
One student told local media her friends became trapped. “Currently, I am in the middle of being rescued. At the time, the ship was turning on its side, and none of us were moving as we were told not to move as it was dangerous,” the unnamed student said. “So, I am not well aware of the situation, but I am told that my friends and other friends could not escape as the passage was blocked. It seems that there are many students who could not get out as the passage was blocked by water.” It is not yet clear what caused the incident, but witnesses described hearing an impact, before the ship listed and quickly sank. One passenger told the YTN news channel: “We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped.” “The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated,” the passenger said.
South Korea ferry
Ferry – named Sewol – was travelling from Incheon to Jeju Island, a route it serves twice a week
The 146m-long vessel has a capacity of about 900 people but was carrying about 470 people
Passengers include about 330 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul
Survivors told YTN that announcements on board the ferry, which also carries cars and shipping containers, ordered passengers to remain where they were after the ship began to violently list. Others told passengers to jump into the water. Rescued student Lim Hyung Min was among those told to jump. He told YTN that he heard a loud bump just before the ship began to list and several off his classmates were flung off their feet. The crew ordered them to don life jackets and jump into the ocean, he said. “I had to swim a bit to get to the boat to be rescued,” he said. “The water was so cold and I wanted to live.” Passenger Kim Seung Mok said that despite his efforts and those of others, he couldn’t get to several passengers on one of the decks. “I stayed till the last to rescue people at the hall,” Kim told YTN. “But the water was coming in so fast (that) some didn’t make it out.”
Another passenger said the ship was “shaking and tilting”, with people tripping and bumping into each other. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has expressed sadness over the incident, saying it was “truly tragic” that students on a field trip were involved in “such an unfortunate accident”. Kim Young-boong, an official from the company which owns the ferry, has apologized. “I would like to say sorry to the passengers, which include a number of students and their parents, and promise that our company will do its best to minimise loss of life. We are sorry,” he said, according to the AP news agency.
Major maritime accidents in South Korea
1970: Sinking of passenger vessel Namyoung leaves 323 dead
1993: Sinking of passenger vessel Seohae Ferry leaves 292 dead
2007: Sinking of freighter Eastern Bright leaving 14 sailors missing
2009: Sinking of cargo ship Orchid Pia after a collision leaves 16 sailors missing
Weather conditions were described as fine. Yonhap news agency said that the ferry sank at a depth of 30m (90ft). News agencies said the ferry had sent out a distress signal about 20km (12 miles) off the island of Byungpoong at about 09:00 local time (00:00 GMT). “We will try to determine the cause of the accident after rescue operations are over,” said Lee Gyeong-og. Many of the passengers were students from a high school in a suburb of Seoul heading off on a four-day field trip to Jeju. Angry parents have gathered at the school in Ansan to demand answers, reports the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Seoul. Earlier reports put the number of passengers on the ferry at about 350. The vessel is reported to have a capacity of up to 900 people. Lee Gyeong-og, the vice-minister of security and public administration, was quoted by the AP news agency as saying that 30 crew members, 325 high school students, 15 school teachers and 89 non-student passengers were aboard the ship.
What could have caused the ship to sink so rapidly remained a mystery. The weather was clear at the time of the accident. Peter Boynton, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, said the speed with which the ship sank suggested it had sustained “major damage.” He also said that if the ferry’s car deck had been breached, it could have quickly swamped the ship. Battling against darkness, cold, swift currents and trying to find their way through a damaged, upturned ship, rescuers are “up against every sort of obstacle,” said David Gallo, director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “It’s just an absolutely, positively horrific situation,” he said. “It’s nightmarish.”
Mr. Peabody & Sherman star Lake Bell graces the May 2014 cover and pages of Esquire magazine topless, promoting her new film Million Dollar Arm, which is about a sports agent (Jon Hamm) who stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get tal…
The sky lit up like a scene from True Blood when a total lunar eclipse turned the moon red. The “Blood Moon”, which peaked between the hours of 3 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Eastern, was such a sight that even the stars on Earth were reacting.
A suspect was taken into custody Tuesday night after two unattended backpacks were found at the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings, police said. The area near the finish line was evacuated after the backpacks were spotted there according to police. Boston police later confirmed that a male suspect had been taken into custody. One of the backpacks was left on Boylston Street. WBZ-TV photographers at the scene said they saw a barefoot person with a backpack screaming “Boston Strong!” before police cleared everyone from the area. Witnesses said the person was wearing a long black veil and was acting strangely. It was not immediately clear whether this was the suspect who was taken into custody.
Boston Police Department spokesman Dave Estrada told The Associated Press that the backpacks were discovered at about 6:50 p.m. The police department asked people to stay away from the area and said a bomb squad was at the scene. “Bomb Squad still on scene in the area of Marathon Finish Line investigating call for 2 unattended backpacks,” the police department tweeted. The bomb squad detonated the backpack on Boylston Street just before 9:00 p.m. There was no word on what was in it. The second bag was detonated about 40 minutes later. The two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon a year ago, killing three people and injuring more than 260, were left in backpacks. One bag was found just minutes after JP and Paul Norden, brothers who each lost a leg in last year’s attack, completed a relay walk along the 26.2 mile course.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden joined survivors and victims’ families for a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time the bombs exploded. A moment of silence at the finish line, the tolling of church bells and a solemn flag-raising ceremony capped the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing Tuesday. Under a steady rain on Boylston Street, where two homemade bombs last April 15 marked the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11, scores gathered in the personification of a slogan that captured the country: “Boston Strong.” After a stirring rendition of “God Bless America,” ordinary people, bombing survivors, first responders and dignitaries — including Vice President Joe Biden — bowed their heads in a moment of silence, saw the American flag raised, and sang the national anthem shortly before 3 p.m. on the spot where explosions, carnage, screams and smoke interrupted one of the city’s most joyous and popular events one year ago.
Earlier, thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of a horror that shook the nation. “We would never wish the devastation and pain we have experienced on any of you,” said Patrick Downes, who was among the many injured in the twin bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon. “However, we do wish that all of you, at some point in your lives, feel as loved as we have felt this last year. It has been the most humbling experience of our lives. We hope you feel all the emotion we feel when we say ‘thank you.’” Downes was a newlywed at the time of the attack. He and his wife, Jessica Kensky, each lost a leg. Before the crowd gathered Tuesday at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, he spoke of the three people killed in the blasts and a university police officer killed days later amid efforts to catch the suspects. He called them “guardian angels.” “Let’s show them they live on in our bonds of family, friendship and community and in the infectious spirit we will feel on the third Monday in April for years to come.” That’s the date of the marathon.
After a string of speakers, Biden began his remarks by saying, “I’ve never witnessed a tribute like I heard today.” To the survivors, he said, “My God, you have survived and you have soared. You are truly inspiring. I’ve never heard anything so beautiful as what all of you just said.” “So much has been taken from you, but you never, never have given up,” he said. “You have become the face of America’s resolve for the whole world to see,” Biden said, adding that people all around the world know the pride, courage, and resolve of Bostonians. “That’s why the twisted, cowardly terrorists who acted here and in other places do what they do. They try to instill fear so that we will jettison what we value the most and what the world most values about us: an open society, our system of justice, our freedom of religion; our access to opportunity, the free flow of information and ideas.”
The terrorists, Biden said, “wanted to make America afraid so that maybe, maybe, we’d begin to change our ways. That’s the objective — the very soul of who we are. They figured if they instill enough fear, we will change. And it infuriates them that we refuse to bend, refuse to change, refuse to yield to fear. “You are Boston strong. But America is strong … That’s what makes us so proud of this city and this state. What makes me so proud to be an American is that we have never, ever yielded to fear. Never.” At the marathon, “the whole world witnessed ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things” to help each other, the vice president said. “America will never, ever, ever stand down,” he said. “We are Boston. We are America. We respond, we endure, we overcome and we own the finish line.” “Next week, we will run again,” said Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. “But on this day, in this place, in remembrance and resolve, we gather as citizens of Boston, Boston strong.”
One year ago, “the very fabric of this community was tested to its core,” he said, but the city “inspired.” “You are strong at this broken place,” former Mayor Tom Menino told the crowd, adding, “the heartbeat of Boston is a mighty force.” To those who lost loved ones and to the many who were wounded, Menino said, “whatever you have to do to recover and carry on, know that the people of Boston and I will be right there by your side.” Menino was mayor at the time of the attack. On April 15, 2013, the Patriots’ Day bombings killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and wounded at least 264 others. The city then underwent days of fear as the two identified suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, were on the run. Police say they killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer in the process, and then Tamerlan Tsarnaev was run over by his younger brother, Dzhokhar, as they battled police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts and is scheduled to go on trial in November.
“A year ago, tragedy struck at the 117th Boston Marathon,” President Obama said in a written statement Tuesday. “Four innocent people were killed that week, and hundreds more were wounded. Today, we remember Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover… “One year later, we also stand in awe of the men and women who continue to inspire us — learning to stand, walk, dance and run again. With each new step our country is moved by the resilience of a community and a city. And when the sun rises over Boylston Street next Monday — Patriot’s Day — hundreds of thousands will come together to show the world the meaning of Boston Strong as a city chooses to run again.” David Yepez, a teen who was wounded in the attack, followed Downes at Tuesday’s ceremony. He hailed the first responders, doctors and others who helped in the wake of the bombings. “Thank you for your love, compassion and generosity,” Yepez said. “You have touched our hearts in a way that, many times, our gratitude could only be expressed through our tears of joy.”
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dancer who lost her left foot in the attack, told the crowd, “If anyone is wondering what they can do, what you can do, I would answer: Look around. People in your community need your support. They need your patience and they need your time … Let April 15 be a day when we all work together to make this world a better place.” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said, “We share the same fears, the same hopes, the same community,” he said. “We are, in the end, one community.” He added that he hopes “as we remember the dead and encourage the injured, that we remember community…. The power of love itself — that’s what community is.” A series of musical performances helped set a solemn but hopeful tone for the ceremony. The world-renowned Boston Pops orchestra performed, with singer Renese King singing both “America the Beautiful” and “For Good,” a song from the musical “Wicked.” The Boston Children’s Chorus performed “Up to the Mountain.”
A year after the bombings, families of the victims are struggling to come to terms with the loss. “She had that special, I don’t know what it is, that special thing about her,” said Lillian Campbell, grandmother of bombing victim Krystle Campbell, 29. “And you felt happy around her because she was always laughing and bubbly. I loved her.” Some victims injured in the attack are showing their perseverance by planning to take part in this year’s marathon, scheduled for Monday — even victims who suffered severe injuries. “Last year, I was on the ground at the finish line. This year, I’ll be running across it,” said Kevin White. “It kind of proves to people that evil isn’t going to win.” White, then 34, had shrapnel through his legs a year ago. His 71-year-old father, Bill, lost a leg. Authorities have announced extensive security plans for this year’s marathon, which is expected to bring in $176 million for the Boston area’s economy. Brothers Paul and J.P. Norden each lost a leg in the attack last year. On Tuesday, they began a trek: walking the entire 26.2-mile marathon route, along with family and good friends. “I feel so blessed,” their mother, Liz, said in a Facebook post, adding that she couldn’t be prouder.
Hours after Tuesday’s anniversary event, police bomb squad investigators were checking out two backpacks near the marathon finish line and using a robot to make sure one of the bags was safe. The other bag had been cleared, Boston Police spokesman Mike McCarthy said, although it was not clear which of the two bags was still under scrutiny. At about 6:50 p.m., two bags were found, he said. One bag was unattended, he said, while the other one was worn by an individual. “They came across an individual. He’s the one we’re the most concerned about right now. He was walking down the street. He got very vocal. He was yelling something,” McCarthy said.
Police officers confronted him, escorted him from the area and cordoned off the area. The man was taken into custody for questioning, McCarthy said. “It appears as though he has some problems,” McCarthy said. “He’s an emotionally disturbed person. They’re interviewing him now.” An FBI spokeswoman said the agency was at the scene assisting police. Earlier Tuesday, police responded to a report of a possible pipe bomb near Boston’s South Station. Investigators determined it wasn’t an explosive, but rather a high-voltage fuse that didn’t pose a threat, state officials said. Authorities seemed to be bracing for the possibility of more bomb scares. “To ease fears & concerns relating to backpacks,” Boston Police said in a Twitter post Tuesday night that they were “discouraging their use” at this years marathon.
For most of us in the civilized world, there is no doubt regarding the holocaust or it’s effects on the Jewish people and scores of other minorities. This story defies logic unless, of course, you at least consider the source. A professor who took a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz has been disowned by his university and branded a ‘traitor’ by those in his community. Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian students from Al-Quds University to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in March. The trip was part of a joint venture focusing on conflict resolution between the university and two others. However, when the professor and the group returned, the university distanced itself from the trip – saying professor Dajani and the students ‘acted in their personal capacity and were not representatives of the university.’
According to the Washington Post, Professor Dajani was also reportedly called a ‘traitor’ by some members of his community, while some of his friends advised him to go on holiday until the controversy died down. The professor, who believes the group may have first Palestinians students to visit Auschwitz, has since said he doesn’t regret the trip – and he would return if given the opportunity. Writing on Facebook, he said: ‘My response to all this tirade is that my duty as a teacher is to teach, to have my students explore the unexplored, to open new horizons for my students, to guide my students out of the cave of perceptions and misperceptions to see the facts and the reality on the ground. ‘I will go to the university, I will put my photos of the visit on Facebook, and I do not regret for one second what I did. ‘As a matter of fact, I will do it again if given the opportunity. I will not hide, I will not deny. I will not be silent. I will not remain a bystander even if the victims of the suffering I show empathy for are my perpetrators and my occupiers. ‘The aim is not to get any one’s approval but to do the right thing.’
A student who went on the trip told haaretz.com: ‘Most people said we shouldn’t go. It is a strange thing for a Palestinian to go to a Nazi death camp. But I would recommend the trip.’ The controversy came as the Obama administration attempted to move towards a peace deal with the Middle East. The trip was part of a research project called ‘Heart of Flesh — Not Stone’. It was reportedly paid for by the German Research Foundation and run by the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. According to the project’s Facebook page: ‘The project analyses individuals and groups experiencing the “suffering of the other” as a means for understanding how and why groups may become more or less open to reconciliation.’
A Palestinian newspaper al-Quds wrote a piece about the trip – which was reportedly pulled down following a heated discussion in the comments section of the piece. According to reports, one reader said the trip was not freedom of expression – but treason. TV analysts and newspaper columnists also spoke against the trip, while others claimed the professor was attempting to brainwash his students. Auschwitz was a network of concentration and extermination camps built during World War II. It was operated by the Third Reich. The network consisted of original camp Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II–Birkenau, Auschwitz III–Monowitz and a further 45 satellite camps.
Refusing to acknowledge to holocaust does not mean it did not happen. Understanding how and why it happened might just keep it from happening again…but sadly…probably not. When man’s depravity reaches a low to the point of denying history, in effect trying to rewrite it, we are all bound by centuries old hate and nonsense.