05 24 2016
  2:33 pm  
     •     
read latest

breaking news

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
    Read More
  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
    Read More
  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all



Teams of first responders descended on the devastated town of West, Texas, early Thursday where a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant left scores of casualties and turned homes to rubble.


The number of dead remained unclear, with police saying it could be between five and 15. More than 160 people were injured and "three to four" firefighters were missing or unaccounted for, officials said.



Firefighters were battling the blaze that precipitated the explosion Wednesday night. And a storm system heading into the area brought helpful rain -- but also heavy winds that might make it much tougher to contain the fire.



It's unknown how many people may be trapped under rubble, authorities said early Thursday. Nails and other debris from destroyed buildings will pose safety risks for investigators as they comb through flattened areas, Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said. Also, the Department of Homeland Security said federal and state authorities were taking steps to secure the area by shutting down local rail freight service and nearby utilities and restricting flights over the area.



 



Cause unknown



"Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out," said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of the nearby Waco Police Department. A U.S. intelligence official told CNN there is no indication so far that the blast is related to terrorism.



Most of the injured were hurt by the blast -- not by inhaling fumes, officials said. Many people had lacerations and puncture wounds.



Anhydrous ammonia, a gas used in making fertilizer, can cause severe burns if it combines with water in the body. Exposure to high concentrations can lead to death.



The West Fertilizer Co. said it had 54,000 pounds of the chemical, The Dallas Morning News reported.



There is no "chemical escape" that is "out of control," Swanton said.



There have been reports of "a small amount of looting," he said.



While Swanton said the death toll could be between five and 15, Dr. George Smith, the city's emergency management system director, said it could spike to 60 or 70.



"We have two EMS personnel that are dead for sure, and there may be three firefighters that are dead," Smith said.



"There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow," Mayor Tommy Muska warned late Wednesday.



About half the community was evacuated, Muska said, including a nursing home with 133 residents. A middle school is also located near the plant.



Depending how the winds shift, the other half of the town may have to be evacuated.



The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has a team of 20 agents and forensic specialists assisting, a law enforcement source told CNN.



 



The Texas National Guard has sent 21 troops from a civil support team to monitor air quality near the blast, the Pentagon announced Thursday.



The White House said it is monitoring the situation through FEMA, which is in touch with state and local authorities. Federal authorities stand ready to help, a FEMA official said.



"A tight-knit community has been shaken, and good, hard-working people have lost their lives," President Obama said in a statement.



Those affected "will have the support of the American people," he said.



The explosion shook homes as far as 50 miles away. It measured as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey.



"It's overwhelming to us," Smith told CNN affiliate KCEN, with blood spattered all over his face from injuries he suffered. The town has only three ambulances, he said.



Between 50 and 60 homes in a five-block area suffered damage, officials said.



 



Blast struck first responders



The incident began with a fire. Some firefighters came to the scene to quell the blaze, and were there minutes later when the explosion happened at the West Fertilizer Co. at about 7:50 p.m. (8:50 p.m. ET).



"It was like a nuclear bomb went off," he said of the blast. "Big old mushroom cloud."



"(It's) massive -- just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah (Federal) Building in Oklahoma City," said D.L. Wilson of the Texas public safety department.



The blast stripped a nearby apartment complex, with 50 units, of its walls and windows. "It was just a skeleton standing up," Wilson said.



The blast sent a massive fireball into the sky. Flames leaped over the roof of a structure and a large plume of smoke rose high into the air.



"The windows came in on me, the roof came in on me, the ceiling came," said George Smith, the city EMS director.



"It, like, picked you up," a woman told CNN affiliate WFAA. "It just took your breath away. And then it dropped you and it exploded everything around you... It was like a suction and then it just blew it all out. You could feel everything. You could feel it on your skin, your hair was being blown. It was crazy."



She managed to cover one of her children, she said, and "grabbed my little one and dove through a door. It was chaos. All my windows blew out, my doors off the hinges. All I had were my keys in my hand and I just threw the dog, everybody in the car and we took off."



Brad Smith lives 50 miles away and felt his house shake.



"We didn't know exactly what it was," he said. "The forecast said a line of thunderstorms was going to come though. My wife and I looked up and wondered, 'Did it get here six hours early?'"



 



Five hours after the blast, carloads of the wounded continued to stream into hospitals.



While some of the injuries are minor, others were "quite serious," said Glenn Robinson, chief of Hillcrest Hospital in Waco.



Hillcrest reported five patients in intensive care -- two in critical condition, three in serious condition. At least 28 patients will be admitted, said hospital chief Glenn Robinson.



 



Shelter needed



The storm system working its way through the area -- which includings ilghtning and hail -- could cause problems not only for firefighters, but also for those left homeless.



Overnight lows will be just above freezing, said CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado.



And the danger may not be over.



Even though officials have turned off all the gas at the plant, they worry another tank at the facility might explode.



"What we are hearing is that there is one fertilizer tank that is still intact at the plant, and there are evacuations in place to make sure everyone gets away from the area safely in case of another explosion," said Ben Stratmann, a spokesman for Texas State Sen. Brian Birdwell.



West is about 75 miles south of Dallas and 120 miles north of Austin. The town's chamber of commerce touts it as "the Czech point of central Texas."



Czech immigrants arrived in the town in the 1880s, and the community still maintains strong ties to their central European roots, with businesses named "Little Czech Bakery" and "The Czech Inn."



 



The scene



Early Thursday morning, state troopers in gas masks manned roadblocks, waving away cars coming off the highway.



The Federal Aviation Administration instituted a flight restriction over the town.



Authorities closed schools for the rest of the week, and urged everyone to stay away from school property.



So many firefighters and medics descended on the town to help its all-volunteer force that the public safety department pleaded that no more assistance was needed.



"The firefighters and EMS people are coming from hundreds of miles away to help us," Wilson said. "Right now, we are overflowing with help. "



 



Worst-case scenario



In 2006, West Fertilizer had a complaint filed against it for a lingering smell of ammonia, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website shows.



Separately, the plant had informed the Environmental Protection Agency that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, according to The Dallas Morning News. It did so in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.



The plant's report to the EPA said even a worst-case scenario wouldn't be that dire: there would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that wouldn't kill or injure anyone, the newspaper reported.



But what happened Wednesday night was much worse.



Tommy Alford, who works in a convenience store about three miles from the plant, said several volunteer firefighters were at the store when they spotted smoke.



Alford said the firefighters headed toward the scene and then between five and 10 minutes later, he heard a huge explosion.



"It was massive; it was intense," Alford said.



 



CNN's Pam Benson, Chandler Friedman, Carma Hassan, Ed Payne, Greg Botelho, Amanda Watts, Jake Carpenter, Tina Burnside, Dave Alsup, Tanika Gray, Darrell Calhoun, Ryan Rios, Alta Spells, Travis Sattiewhite and Christabelle Fombu contributed to this report.

Oregon Lottery
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Artists Rep Grand Concourse