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Elyria Chronicle Telegram Newspaper Archives Mar 30 2015, Page 4

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Elyria Chronicle Telegram (Newspaper) - March 30, 2015, Elyria, Ohio Monday, March 30, 2015 A4 Page WWW. C H R O N I C L E T . C O M ROUNDUP Arab leaders unveil joint force in Yemen SHARM EL- SHEIKH, Egypt— A two- day Arab summit ended Sunday with a vow to defeat Iranian- backed Shiite rebels in Yemen and the formal unveiling of plans to form a joint Arab intervention force, setting the stage for a potentially dangerous clash between U. S.- allied Arab states and Tehran over influence in the region. Arab leaders taking turns to address the gathering spoke repeatedly of the threat posed to the region’s Arab identity by what they called moves by “ foreign” or “ outside parties” to stoke sectarian, ethnic or religious rivalries in Arab states— all thinly- veiled references to Iran, which has in recent years consolidated its hold in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and nowYemen. The summit’s final communique made similarly vague references, but the Arab League chief, Nabil Elaraby, was unequivocal during a news conference later, singling out Iran for what he said was its intervention “ in many nations.” NSA: Getting records exceeded benefits WASHINGTON— The National Security Agency considered abandoning its secret program to collect and store American calling records in the months before leaker Edward Snowden revealed the practice, current and former intelligence officials say, because some officials believed the costs outweighed the meager counterterrorism benefits. After the leak and the collective surprise around the world, NSA leaders strongly defended the phone records program to Congress and the public, but without disclosing the internal debate. The proposal to kill the program was circulating among top managers but had not yet reached the desk of Gen. Keith Alexander, then the NSA director, according to current and former intelligence officials who would not be quoted because the details are sensitive. Two former senior NSA officials say they doubt Alexander would have approved it. Nigeria votes despite violence, protests ABUJA, Nigeria— Boko Haramfighters attacked poll stations in northeast Nigeria and a governor demanded elections be canceled in an oil- rich southern state Sunday as the count started for a presidential election too close to call. Two electoral workers were killed Saturday in Boko Haram’s campaign to disrupt the elections, chairman Attahiru Jega of the Independent National Electoral Commission told reporters. The high- stakes contest to govern Africa’s richest and most populous nation has come down to a critically close contest between President Goodluck Jonathan, a 57- year- old Christian from the south, and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, 72, from the predominantly Muslim north. Swedish criticism brings Saudi rebuke DUBAI, United Arab Emirates— Sweden’s foreign minister is hardly the first diplomat to raise concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, but when she used the word “ dictatorship” in a speech last month she crossed a red line for the kingdom at a time of intense regional turmoil, igniting a diplomatic crisis. The harsh response from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies jolted Stockholm’s standing in the Arab world, threatened its Gulf business interests and may have imperiled its bid for a rotating seat at the U. N. Security Council. The crisis also underscored the perils of promoting reform four years after the Arab Spring. The dispute began when Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the Al Saud family, for which the Gulf nation is named, held “ absolute power” and presided over a “ dictatorship.” — The Associated Press Two bodies found in rubble AP A pile of rubble is seen Sunday at the site of an apparent gas explosion that took place three days earlier in the East Village neighborhood of New York. Meghan Barr The Associated Press NEW YORK — Emergency workers found two bodies Sunday in the mass of rubble left behind when three apartment buildings collapsed during an apparent gas explosion and fire in Manhattan’s East Village, police said. Officials investigating Thursday’s explosion, in which 22 people were injured, including four critically, suspect someone may have improperly tapped a gas line serving one of the buildings. Authorities had been looking for signs of two missing men, both believed to have been inside a ground floor sushi restaurant at the time of the explosion: 26- year- old Moises Lucon, who worked at the restaurant, and 23- yearold Nicholas Figueroa, a bowling alley worker who had been there on a date. The names of the two dead were not immediately released; a medical examiner was to determine the identifications. But a spokesman for the Figueroa family confirmed to reporters at the city Medical Examiner’s office that Figueroa’s body was pulled from the wreckage. “ It’s very hard. The family is distraught. They are going home now to prepare the funeral arrangements,” Awilda Cordero told the Daily News. Earlier Sunday, several members of Figueroa’s family visited the blast site, holding flowers and crying. Figueroa’s brother, Neal, leaned over barricades and shouted pleas to emergency workers: “ He’s a strong man, I know he’s in there! Don’t give up, please find my brother.” Authorities, however, acknowledged the chances of finding anyone alive were slim. During the day, workers raked through piles of loose brick and wood; rescue workers sent search dogs over debris where three apartment buildings once stood. Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the explosion that someone may have improperly tapped a gas line. Consolidated Edison said utility workers had discovered in August that the gas line to the restaurant had been illegally tapped. Shooting revives spring break debate Melissa Nelson- Gabriel and Matt Sedensky The Associated Press PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — A house party that dissolved into a hail of gunfire and left seven young people hurt has officials on the Florida Panhandle pondering what to do with a spring break season they say has gotten out of control. The raucous parties in the spring break capital of Panama City Beach have had politicians, police and businesses tussling for years over howmuchto crack down on a key economic force. That debate was revived again when a packed gathering of dancing 20- somethings turned into a sprawling crime scene early Saturday. “ This is what we’ve been trying to warn people about,” said Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. “ It was only a matter of time and it’s only a matter of time until it happens again if we don’t address it.” The city council held an emergency meeting Saturday to address spring break, allocating up to $ 200,000 in additional spending for increased police patrols. But motions introduced by Councilman Keith Curry to ban alcohol on the beach and to roll back the last- call on alcohol sales two hours earlier to midnight were unsuccessful. “ We have blood on our hands,” Curry told his fellow council members. McKeithen had urged the beach alcohol ban and midnight last- call last year, but council members decided against them, instead rolling back last- call from 4 a. m. to 2 a. m. Curry said Sunday he realized they made a mistake as he went on patrols with police in recent weeks, saw the drug arrests for heroin and an increasingly popular club drug called Molly, as well as the number of guns that have been confiscated. “ It was woefully inadequate,” he said. David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Alabama, has been charged with seven counts of a t t e m p t e d murder in the shooting and remained at the Bay County Jail. Bond was set on Sunday at $ 575,000, said Ruth Corley, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. A .40- caliber handgun believed to have been used by Daniels was found in the yard of a nearby home. He does not yet have an attorney. Officials gave no update Sunday on the condition of the victims, three of whom were listed as critical a day earlier, and three who were stable. The condition of a seventh victim was not released. Three of the victims were students at Alabama A& M University. Kristen Gelineau The Associated Press SYDNEY — A powerful earthquake struck near the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea today, prompting officials to warn that hazardous tsunami waves could affect some coastlines in the Pacific. The magnitude- 7.7 earthquake struck at a depth of 40 miles, about 30 miles southeast of the town of Kokopo in northeastern Papua New Guinea, the U. S. Geological Survey said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts located within 620 miles of Kokopo. That includes Papua New Guinea and the nearby Solomon Islands. The tsunami warning center said tsunami waves reaching 3 to 10 feet were possible for Papua New Guinea’s coastlines. Officials in the capital, Port Moresby, were working to contact their counterparts in the outer provinces, but there had been no reports of damage or injuries within an hour of the quake rattling the country, said Martin Mose, acting director for Papua New Guinea’s National Disaster Center. No one had reported seeing any tsunami waves, he added. “ The situation seems to be under control at this stage,” he said. The quake caused strong shaking and knocked items off shelves in Kokopo, but had not prompted any immediate reports of damage, said Chris McKee, assistant director of the Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby. A few people in the capital reported feeling the quake as well, he said. By early afternoon, there were still no sightings of unusual wave activity and officials weren’t sure if a tsunami had been generated, McKee said. “ If there was a tsunami generated, it would have already impacted nearby coastlines,” he said. Tsunami waves of less than 0.3 meters ( 1 foot) could hit other Pacific island nations, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii later Monday, the tsunami warning center said. Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea. The country lies on the “ Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim. Tsunami warning issued after quake AP In this still image from video, fire and police members work near a derailed commuter train that struck a car Saturday in Los Angeles. 12 hurt in LA Metro crash Laura J. Nelson Los Angeles Times LOS ANGELES— Ona Saturday morning trip to downtown Los Angeles, a Metro Expo Line train pulled out of a station in Exposition Park, its three cars filled with passengers. Traffic signals along Exposition Boulevard turned red, and lights flashed to signal the approach of the train, which had “ watch for trains” printed in yard- high letters on the front car. But the warnings weren’t enough. Just before 11 a. m., a driver in a silver Hyundai sedan turned left across the tracks toward a University of Southern California campus gate and collided with the train. The crash pushed two of the Metro light- rail cars onto Exposition and left 12 people hurt, one critically. The crash is renewing a decades- long debate about whether more safety measures are needed in Los Angeles County’s growing rail network where drivers, pedestrians and light- rail trains share the roadway. Three of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s six rail lines sometimes run along surface streets, and collisions at crossings are not uncommon: Saturday’s crash is at least the 18th in the last 12 months between Metro trains and cars, according to a survey of agency service alerts and news reports. At least four of those occurred on the Expo Line. But it’s the Blue Line that has raised the most concerns. The route between downtown LA and Long Beach has seen more than 120 people die in accidents involving either pedestrians or drivers since it began service in 1990, making it one of the deadliest lightrail lines in the United States. How best to protect drivers and riders has taken on new importance as Metro faces a record building boom: Of the five rail lines currently under construction, three will have at- grade sections running through neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley, South Los Angeles and the Westside. “ Building more light- rail is not a bad thing, but we need to do a better job of ensuring that it’s safe,” said Najmedin Meshkati, a USC engineering professor who studies rail safety and has criticized the design of crossings along the Expo Line, which links downtownLos Angeles to Culver City and will begin service to Santa Monica sometime next year. The Expo Line cars involved in Saturday’s crash were wrapped in vivid yellow banners with large lettering reading, “ Hear bells?” and “ Heads up, watch for trains”— part of a recent public awareness campaign to reduce collisions along portions of the 87- mile Metro rail network. Brightly colored banners and flashing lights are better than nothing, Meshkati said, but the only way to protect pedestrians and cars from trains is by separating them, either with crossing arms and gates, or train tracks that run under or above traffic. Metro trains run through tunnels and on overpasses in some areas, a decision the agency makes based on the geography of the street and the surrounding area. But separating tracks from traffic is often cost- prohibitive, Metro spokesman Marc Littman said. Surface- street crossings are safewhen drivers and pedestrians follow traffic signals, Littman said, adding that, “ All over the world, there are trains operating safely in dense, urban areas. You can’t build a bubble around the rail system.” Meshkati said that while that may be the case, it’s easy for pedestrians and drivers to get confused in unfamiliar areas or after dark, so Metro should aim to make intersections as fool- proof as possible. During the Expo Line’s design process, Meshkati and five other academics recommended including gate arms that block off all lanes of traffic in both directions as trains approach. So- called fourquadrant arms prevent drivers from maneuvering into the opposite lane and trying to beat the train. Along Exposition Boulevard, trains run down a broad median, separated from traffic by a wrought- iron fence. Traffic signals remind drivers not to turn into the path of a train. But the wide intersection where Saturday’s crash occurred does not have gate arms. After the Expo Line began service in 2012, Meshkati sounded the alarmagain, saying three crossings along the 7.9- mile route were “ woefully inadequate.” Those intersections didn’t include the crossing near USC. Daniels

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