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1 firefighter killed, 2 injured in massive shopping center blaze

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 4:20 AM

SAN-ANTONIO FIRE DIGITAL

One firefighter was killed and two others were injured in a massive fire at a shopping center in San Antonio Thursday night. 

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More than 60 fire units responded to the blaze after it broke out in the Ingram Park shopping center just after 9 p.m. Thursday, CBS affiliate KENS-TV reported. 

San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood said crews initially entered the shopping center to battle the blaze but were forced to evacuate after parts of the building started to collapse from the intense flames. 

“[It’s a] Very rough decision to leave a firefighter behind, and that’s not what we do,” Hood said during a media briefing. “But we had the risk of losing an additional 15 or 20 firefighters if we did not go defensive on the fire.”

Hood identified the fallen firefighter as Scott Deem, a six-year veteran of the department. 

The two injured firefighters were transported to area hospitals in unknown conditions, KENS-TV reports. Hood said both firefighters are expected to survive. 

Firefighters were seen forming two columns and saluted an ambulance that departed the scene just after midnight Friday morning. 

Fighting back tears during the media briefing, the chief asked for prayers for the fire department. 

“We’re hurting,” he said. 

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Trump’s Afghanistan plan won’t lead to early exit

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 5:00 AM


            In this April 17, 2017 file photo, U.S. forces and Afghan security police are seen in Asad Khil near the site of a U.S. bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. Behind the detail-scarce rhetoric of the new Afghanistan strategy, elements of President Donald Trump’s broader approach to foreign conflicts emerge: secret military plans, no “nation-building” and a reliance on regional players to squeeze wayward nations and extremist groups. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)
            Rahmat Gul
In this April 17, 2017 file photo, U.S. forces and Afghan security police are seen in Asad Khil near the site of a U.S. bombing in the Achin district of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. Behind the detail-scarce rhetoric of the new Afghanistan strategy, elements of President Donald Trump’s broader approach to foreign conflicts emerge: secret military plans, no “nation-building” and a reliance on regional players to squeeze wayward nations and extremist groups. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)(Rahmat Gul)

As the United States prepares to send more troops to Afghanistan within days or weeks, a former top U.S. commander says Americans should not expect an early exit

“The option of pulling out of Afghanistan was the worst of all options,” retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen, a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a conference call Tuesday with reporters.

President Donald Trump outlined Monday in a speech a regional approach to the long running war, suggesting more troops were on the way but refusing to say how many as he called on neighboring Pakistan to end acting as a haven for terrorists and India to help in Afghanistan’s economic redevelopment.

Trump declared the U.S. would not pursue nation building or exporting democracy as part of the strategy but keyed in on “killing terrorists.” Once calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Trump declared any U.S. departure would rely on conditions in that country and not a set timeline.

Allen said stability, governance and military action were “inextricably linked” to finding a solution to the war in Afghanistan.

‘No good solutions’

“There are no good solutions in Afghanistan, but we know what would happen if we pulled out,” said Frank Jenista, a retired U.S. diplomat who teaches international studies at Cedarville University.

RELATED: What is Trump’s plan for Afghanistan?

Other experts said Trump’s speech lacked specifics on the war plan.

“The strategy that the president announced … is not a strategy for victory, it is a strategy for buying us hope,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, an Afghanistan expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. where Allen is a senior analyst.

While Trump chose the “least bad option” to avoid the collapse of Afghanistan and the expansion of Taliban influence, she said, Felbab-Brown chided his decision to downgrade the importance of governance, calling it a “critical flaw, a fundamental flaw that almost guarantees to eviscerate whatever improvements on the battlefield take place.”

The nation has “systematic abuses of power” and “pervasive corruption” topped with poor delivery of services that boost the Taliban in its fight with the Afghan government, she said.

“The way the message will be read in Afghanistan is that the United States no longer cares about governance,” she said in a conference call Tuesday with reporters. “That it gives carte blanche for the atrocious politics that give the Taliban staying power and in fact are at the core of its capacities.”

‘Puzzled, disappointed’

Donna Schlagheck, a terrorism expert and a political science professor emeritus at Wright State University, said Trump’s speech was “eerily reminiscent of Vietnamization” in Afghanistan.

Trump failed to give specifics on the latest war plan, which she said did not appear to deviate much compared to prior strategies under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“I came away from that speech puzzled, disappointed, very curious,” she said, adding it was “a bit troubling” Trump would cede authority to the military on troop increases and strikes.

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The U.S. military was reportedly weighing sending about 4,000 more troops to the 8,400 in Afghanistan today. More than 2,300 U.S. troops have died in the war.

The long war has drawn National Guardsmen and reservists across Ohio and the nation and pulled both military and civilian personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. For years, the 445th Airlift Wing flew aeromedical evacuation and cargo-hauling missions from Wright-Patterson to Afghanistan and Springfield Air National Guardsmen have flown drone missions overseas.

“When you fight a conflict for 16 years and still can’t see light at the end of the tunnel — to use a phrase from the Vietnam War — that signals victory isn’t an option,” said Loren. B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Lexington Institute.

“The president says America will no longer be a ‘nation-builder,’ but the fundamental defect in our strategy has been the rampant corruption of the Afghan political culture,” he added. “If we can’t fix that, and we probably can’t, then the Taliban will continue to attract popular support despite its extremism.

“It is hard to connect the rhetoric in President Trump’s speech Monday night with the realities on the ground. Sending a few thousand more U.S. soldiers isn’t going to change the strategic situation,” Thompson added in an email.

“The U.S. has spent $700 billion trying to make Afghanistan something it will never be — a peaceful, democratic nation. Imagine how that money might have been put to work in places like Ohio. Apparently we will continue spending money over there rather than over here,” Thompson said.

While a small addition of troops would not achieve victory, it could change momentum in the fight against the Taliban, said Michael O’Hanlon, an expert with the Brookings Institution. “That by itself has a lot of benefits,” he said.

Schlagheck, who authored a college textbook on terrorism, doubted Trump’s approach in Afghanistan would reduce the threat of terrorism.

Increased security in the United States and shared intelligence internationally has protected the nation the most since the terrorist attacks nearly 16 years ago, she added.

‘Political micromanaging’

Jenista, however, praised Trump for pushing aside “political micromanaging and letting the military fight the war.”

“I think the only people who can criticize it are people who want to pull out and let the Taliban take over,” he said. “The Afghans lived under the Taliban, they know what’s coming and that’s why they (would) only go back under the Taliban at the point of an AK-47.”

He contrasted the size of the U.S. troop commitment in Afghanistan to other nations in Asia.

RELATED: Afghan who translated for U.S. troops finds new life at Wright State

“We’re not really putting a lot of attention to Afghanistan,” he said. “We’ve got 8,400 troops there. We’ve got triple that in South Korea and quadruple that in Japan. I would classify it more as a training and police action with some Special Forces,” he added. “This is not a full-on war.”

Thomas W. Spoehr, director of the Center for National Security at the Washington, D.C-based Heritage Foundation, said Trump’s refusal to set a timeline on withdrawal or to telegraph the number of troops that may be sent over was the right course.

He praised Trump for calling on India to aid in Afghanistan’s redevelopment and calling out Pakistan to clamp down on terrorists within its borders.

“Presidents have tiptoed around Pakistan and the difficulties we’ve had with them and he took the gloves off,” the retired Army three-star general said.

Stray bullet kills 8-year-old sitting on couch in South Carolina apartment

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 6:57 PM

8-Year-Old Killed by Stray Bullet

Students will return to class at Boiling Springs Elementary School in Shelby, South Carolina next week without one of their classmates, 8-year-old Lamya Bradley

The little girl, who was about to start third grade, was killed early Sunday morning when she was struck by a bullet in a Gaffney apartment, the Cherokee County coroner Dennis Fowler said. 

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"I will miss her laugh," friend Zorey Hambrick said.

The little girl was visiting family members in Gaffney when the incident happened.

According to officials, Lamya was sitting on a sofa when a bullet came through the window and struck her in the head.

She was rushed to Mary Black Health Systems in Gaffney, where she died at 2:35 a.m.

The girl was not the target of the barrage of bullets that were shot into the apartment from the parking lot, according to the coroner.

“This is another tragic, senseless loss of life at the hands of gang-related activity, this time an 8-year-old child. It has to stop,” Fowler said.

>> Related: 4-year-old accidentally shoots, kills self, father charged

"She was sweet and well-mannered. She would say, 'Yes ma'am, no ma'am,'" friend Zonnie Hamrick said.

Zorey and Zonnie Hamrick said Lamya was there for them last week when their grandfather died. 

School counselors will be on campus at Boiling Springs Elementary on Wednesday during school orientation and on the first day of school.

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"Our hearts are broke because it is very tragic occurrence that took the lives of one of our beloved children," said Gregory Shull with Cleveland County Schools.

An autopsy will be performed to assist with the investigation led by Gaffney police.

Queen, Freddie Mercury biopic cast set

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

September 1976:  British rock group Queen at Les Ambassadeurs, where they were presented with silver, gold and platinum discs for sales in excess of one million of their hit single 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which was No 1 for 9 weeks. The band are, from left to right; Brian May, John Deacon (standing), Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury (Frederick Bulsara, 1946 - 1991).  (Photo by Ian Tyas/Keystone/Getty Images)
Ian Tyas/Getty Images
September 1976: British rock group Queen at Les Ambassadeurs, where they were presented with silver, gold and platinum discs for sales in excess of one million of their hit single 'Bohemian Rhapsody', which was No 1 for 9 weeks. The band are, from left to right; Brian May, John Deacon (standing), Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury (Frederick Bulsara, 1946 - 1991). (Photo by Ian Tyas/Keystone/Getty Images)(Ian Tyas/Getty Images)

Rami Malek, the star of USA’s “Mr. Robot” was already tapped to play Queen’s flamboyant lead singer Freddie Mercury. The movie now has the rest of the iconic band cast.

Ben Hardy, who was in “X-Men Apocalypse”, will be portraying the band’s drummer, Roger Taylor. Gwilym Lee, of “The Tourist,” will be Brian May. Joe Mazzello from “Jurassic Park” will round out the band as John Deacon, according to Queen’s website announcement.

From L to R: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee(Getty Images)

L to R: Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, Brian May(Getty Images)

The movie, which is being directed by X-Men director Bryan Singer, will be called “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Singer has said he plans on recreating Queen’s iconic moments, like the 1985 Live Aid performance.

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There had been a shake-up in casting. Originally Sacha Baron-Cohen was set to play Mercury, but after arguments between himself and May and Taylor, he dropped out and Malek took his place, NME reported.

Thousands of Atlantic salmon escape fish farm in San Juan Islands

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

An Atlantic salmon is pictured here. Washington State officials are encouraging fishermen to catch as many Atlantic salmon as possible after thousands escaped from a fish farm in the San Juan Islands.
The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
An Atlantic salmon is pictured here. Washington State officials are encouraging fishermen to catch as many Atlantic salmon as possible after thousands escaped from a fish farm in the San Juan Islands.(The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

A fish pen containing 305,000 farmed Atlantic salmon collapsed over the weekend in the San Juan Islands, raising fears about the potential that native Pacific salmon will be negatively impacted.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 fish escaped the damaged pen off Cypress Island when it first became compromised Saturday.

The farm's owner, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, said the farm then collapsed entirely on Sunday, trapping most of the fish inside.

Both the company and state officials did not expect disease to be transferred to native salmon because the farmed fish are considered healthy. Ron Warren, fish program assistant director for WDFW, said the farmed salmon had not received meal with antibiotics in more than a year.

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"That's a good indicator of a good healthy lot of fish," Warren said.

Warren expects the fish will make their way to fresh water areas, particularly in north Puget Sound, but predicted the biggest native impact on local wild salmon would be new competition for food.

He said there was no evidence that Atlantic salmon have successfully interbred with native wild salmon in Western Washington, but that "we don't like to test that theory.”

State officials encourage recreational anglers to catch the salmon, which are about 8-10 pounds each.

>> Related: Strange sea creatures in northwest waters ‘concerning’ scientists

The state says there is no size or catch limit for Atlantic salmon.

Read more here.