2 more bodies found in Texas after torrential rain, floods
HOUSTON (AP) — The bodies of two missing motorists were found Saturday in Texas, raising the death toll to four from flooding in the state after torrential rain inundated rivers and waterways, authorities said.
The threat of severe weather had lessened in Texas over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend and the focus now is on homes that could be flooded by slowly rising waters. Evacuation orders were issued on Saturday for parts of two Texas cities along the Brazos River near Houston.
“The skies are clear and things look good. But we want to make sure people understand that we are not out of the woods yet. We have to keep an eye on water that’s coming through our bayou system,” said Francisco Sanchez, a spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management in Harris County, where Houston is located.
Other parts of the U.S. got drenched Friday, including Kansas. And on Saturday afternoon, Tropical Storm Bonnie formed in the Atlantic Ocean and brought rain and wind to the coast of South Carolina.
In Kansas, the Wichita Fire Department said Saturday that it’s searching for an 11-year-old boy who went missing after he was swept away by a swollen creek Friday night. Wichita Fire Department battalion chief Scott Brown said his department has 12 divers, three search-and-rescue dogs and an airplane searching for any sign of the boy.
AP-NORC Poll: Interest, not excitement in White House race
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Mary Heintzelman shakes her head in disgust over the presidential election.
“I don’t think we have a candidate that’s really suitable to be president in either party,” says Heintzelman, an administrative assistant from Whitehall, Pennsylvania. Her son suggests she write in a candidate when she votes in November, but the 68-year-old says despondently, “I don’t even know who to write in.”
Heintzelman is hardly alone in her angst over the prospect of a November matchup between presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and likely Democratic pick Hillary Clinton. While 65 percent of Americans say they’re interested in the White House race, just 23 percent say they’re excited as the presidential contest shifts from the primaries to the general election, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The malaise crosses party lines. Majorities of Republicans and Democrats say the election has left them angry, helpless and frustrated. Only 13 percent of Americans say they’re proud of what has transpired in a campaign where surprising candidates have thrived and Trump in particular has defied political norms.
Election experts say the gap between Americans’ high interest and low excitement makes the race to succeed President Barack Obama highly unpredictable.
Veterans sites in California, Kentucky, Virginia damaged
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Memorials to veterans in a Los Angeles neighborhood and a town in Kentucky, as well as a Civil War veterans cemetery in Virginia, were damaged as the nation prepares to mark Memorial Day, officials said.
A Vietnam War memorial in the Venice area of Los Angeles has been extensively defaced by graffiti. The vandalism occurred sometime during the past week, KCAL/KCBS-TV (http://cbsloc.al/1RAa3mg) reported. The homespun memorial painted on a block-long wall on Pacific Avenue lists the names of American service members missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.
News of the vandalism came as another veterans-related memorial was reported damaged in Henderson, Kentucky. Police say a Memorial Day cross display there that honors the names of 5,000 veterans of conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War has been damaged by a driver who plowed through the crosses early Saturday.
In Virginia, the Petersburg National Battlefield has apparently has been looted, the National Park Service said. Numerous excavations were found at the Civil War battlefield last week, Jeffrey Olson, and agency spokesman, said in a news release Friday. Petersburg National Battlefield is a 2,700-acre park marks where more than 1,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died fighting during the Siege of Petersburg 151 years ago.
In Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood, the wall for missing veterans has been tagged previously, but the latest vandalism covers the bottom half of the memorial for much of its length.
Child still critical after lightning hits 11 in Paris park
PARIS (AP) — Eight children and three adults were struck by lightning Saturday in a Paris park after a sudden spring storm sent a bolt crashing down upon a children’s birthday party, a spokesman for Paris’ fire service said. He credited an off-duty firefighter with playing a critical role in getting immediate medical help to the victims, but one child remains in critical condition.
Another group of people at a children’s soccer match in western Germany were also hit by lightning Saturday afternoon, leaving three adults seriously injured.
The birthday group had sought shelter under a tree at Park Monceau, a northwest Paris park popular with well-to-do families, when a lightning bolt touched down, according to Paris fire service spokesman Eric Moulin. He put the children’s ages at around 9.
Moulin said Cmdr. Pascal Gremillet, an off-duty firefighter, was visiting a museum nearby when he noticed the commotion and discovered nine of the 11 victims lying unconscious. He immediately went to work.
“He saw who was the most seriously injured. He did a quick triage of the victims. He did first aid. He alerted the rescue services,” Moulin told The Associated Press. “Without his actions, it would have been much worse.”
Militants blow up Shell, Agip pipelines in Nigeria
WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Militants blew up strategic gas and crude pipelines belonging to Shell and Agip on Saturday in an increasingly fierce campaign that has chopped Nigeria’s oil production in half, militants and residents said.
A new militant group, calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers, reported in social media that they had dynamited the trunkline linking the Dutch-British Shell company’s Bonny terminal and the Brass export terminal of the Italian company Agip. A local community leader Eke-Spiff Erempagamo confirmed the attack.
Nigeria’s oil production had already fallen from a projected 2.2 million barrels a day to 1.4 million barrels before the latest attacks on the oil industry in southern Nigeria, including three within the past week on facilities of the U.S. oil major Chevron. Several companies have evacuated some of their workers.
The Niger Delta Avengers has given the oil companies a May 31 deadline to leave Nigeria’s southern, oil-producing Niger Delta.
“Watch out something big is about to happen and it will shock the whole world,” the Avengers warned Saturday, addressing international and indigenous oil companies and Nigeria’s military.
Pilots pay tribute to comrade whose WWII plane crashed
NEW YORK (AP) — Air show pilots performed an aerial salute Saturday to their comrade who died after his World War II-era plane crashed in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey a day earlier.
The P-47 Thunderbolt crashed Friday night during a promotional flight for the American Airpower Museum on Long Island, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend.
The plane’s pilot, William Gordon, 56, of Key West, Florida, was a veteran air show pilot with more than 25 years of experience. New York City police scuba divers recovered his body from the wreckage of the downed aircraft Friday night, about three hours after the collision.
As bagpipes played in the background on Saturday, pilots flew over the museum in an aerial salute known as a “missing man formation” in a tribute honoring Gordon.
Scott Clyman, flight operations pilot for the American Airpower Museum, called Gordon “an extraordinary pilot who understood the powerful message our aircraft represent in telling the story of American courage and valor.” Promotional material for a Key West air show last month said Gordon was an “aerobatic competency evaluator” who certified performers to perform low-level aerobatics.”
Putin visits Russian Orthodox monastic community in Greece
KARYES, Greece (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a Russian Orthodox monastery Saturday as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Greece, which is looking for more Russian investment and tourism as it copes with a prolonged financial crisis and a massive wave of migrants.
Putin, who has sought to capitalize on the strained relations between Greece and many other European Union members, said Russia seeks to cooperate with Greece in the energy sector. Several Russian ministers also expressed interest in the privatization of Greek railways and in the northern port of Thessaloniki, but no major deals were announced. Only lower lever “cooperation agreements” were reached during the visit.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had said the Russian president’s visit was a chance to “upgrade” relations.
On Saturday, Putin visited a Russian Orthodox monastery Saturday on the northern Greek peninsula of Mount Athos. The Russian leader praised the spiritual uplift and moral guidance provided by the austere monastic community in a sacred place. Putin said the Orthodox tradition shared by Russia is particularly important at this moment in history.
“Today, as we resurrect the values of patriotism, historical memory and traditional culture, we hope for … a strengthening of relations” with Mount Athos, he said.
Ohio zoo kills gorilla to protect small child in enclosure
CINCINNATI (AP) — A special zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla Saturday that grabbed and dragged a 4-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit moat, the Cincinnati Zoo’s director said.
Authorities said the boy, who fell 10 to 12 feet, is expected to recover after being picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes. He was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Zoo officials said he was alert when he was transported there.
Director Thane Maynard said the zoo’s dangerous animal response team that practices for such incidents decided the boy was in “a life-threatening situation” and that they needed to put down the 400-pound-plus male gorilla named Harambe.
“They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life,” Maynard said. “It could have been very bad.”
Maynard said he hadn’t talked with the boy’s parents yet. Authorities initially said the child was 3 years old, but the zoo said in a press release Saturday night that he was 4 years old.
Patience pays off for Polish-born kayaker competing for US
Rather than chasing gold, silver or bronze at the last Olympics, Michal Smolen decided he’d rather wait for the red, white and blue.
Born in Poland but living in the United States, the kayaker could’ve gone back to his native country for a chance to compete under its flag in London.
Not worth it, he decided.
In a rent-a-jock world that barely blinks when athletes change citizenship to compete for countries where they’ve barely stepped foot, Smolen is an exception — someone who intentionally took the longer road to his Olympic starting line. There’s no irony lost in that Smolen, whose first name is pronounced MEE-how, will be competing mere months before a presidential election in which a debate has raged over what, exactly, it means to be an American and who should be able to live inside the country’s borders.
“I get a little frustrated watching the whole thing,” Smolen said.
Real Madrid wins Champions League in penalty shootout
MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo did it again for Real Madrid, stepping forward to score a penalty and inflict another devastating loss in a Champions League final on rival Atletico Madrid.
For the second time in three finals, the biggest game in club soccer ended with Ronaldo sealing victory, then ripping off his shirt to show off his muscled torso to adoring fans.
Ronaldo’s decisive spot kick in the shootout gave Real Madrid a 5-3 victory on penalties, following a 1-1 draw after extra time in Saturday’s final.
Two years ago, the Portuguese superstar’s penalty had sealed a 4-1 extra-time win over Atletico and prompted the first of his provocative celebrations.
“I knew I was going to score the winning penalty. I was confident,” said Ronaldo, who won his third Champions League title. “I asked (coach Zinedine) Zidane to let me take the last penalty.”