AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

7/14/2014 3:15 AM
By Associated Press

Deluged by mentally ill, US jails become asylums — but churn of inmates complicates the job

CHICAGO (AP) — Peering through the chain link of a holding pen at the Cook County Jail, a man wrapped in a navy varsity jacket leans toward clinical social worker Elli Petacque Montgomery, his bulging eyes a clue that something's not right.

"They say I got bipolar, that's all," he says.

"OK, are you taking your meds?" she asks.

"When I can get them," he answers.

"I'm down here every day," Montgomery says. "Every morning I hear this."

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Israel says it's downed drone along southern coast as Gaza conflict enters 7th day

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said it downed a drone on Monday along the country's southern coastline, the first time it encountered an unmanned aircraft since the campaign against Gaza Strip militants began last week.

The drone was launched from Gaza and was shot down near the southern city of Ashdod, the military said. Hamas claimed it launched several drones Monday at Israel, without immediately providing details on their missions.

Since the latest bout of fighting began last Tuesday, militants have fired nearly 1,000 rockets at Israel, causing some injuries and damage to property, but no fatalities among Israelis. By contrast, 172 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel's air attacks.

But the use of drones with an offensive capacity could potentially inflict significant casualties — something the rockets from Gaza have failed to do, largely because of the success of the military's 'Iron Dome' air defense system in shooting them down.

"Hamas is trying everything it can to produce some kind of achievement and it is crucial that we maintain our high state of readiness," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. "The shooting down of a drone this morning by our air defense system is an example of their efforts to strike at us in any way possible."

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Where others in the Air Force saw nuke business as usual, James saw deep ills — and said so

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Deborah Lee James became top boss of the Air Force seven months ago she had no inkling a nuclear crisis was brewing. But once it erupted in the form of exam-cheating by dozens of missile launch officers, she quickly announced conclusions that no Air Force leader before her had dared state publicly.

The nuclear missile corps' problems run deep, she said, morale is "spotty" and forceful fixes are needed.

James reached those conclusions in January after a short visit to the three Air Force bases that operate intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. She met not only with commanders but with the rank-and-file, including enlisted airmen who keep the missiles running properly and junior officers trained to launch them.

"I walked away believing there was something systemic, cultural if you will, that went beyond cheating and (that's) why I felt like we needed to not just address cheating — yes, we have to fix that — but we need to go farther than that," she said in an Associated Press interview in her Pentagon office overlooking the Potomac River.

To her it seemed natural to acknowledge this publicly, although others in the Air Force had chosen not to.

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Kerry, top Iranian diplomat to hold in-depth talks in bid to advance faltering negotiations

VIENNA (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry will hold in-depth discussions Monday with Iran's top diplomat in a bid to advance faltering nuclear negotiations, with a deadline just days away for a comprehensive agreement.

The scheduled talks come a day after Kerry and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany failed to reach a breakthrough on uranium enrichment and other issues standing in the way of a deal that would curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the end of nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran.

The top officials took turns meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, and each gave an assessment describing significant gaps between the two sides. Russia and China sent lower-level officials to Austria's capital for this week's gathering.

Six months ago, the six world powers and Tehran gave themselves until July 20 to conclude what is supposed to be a multi-decade agreement that sets clear limits on Iranian activity and locks in place an international monitoring regime designed to ensure that the Islamic republic cannot develop nuclear weapons.

But the interim agreement also provides the option of an additional six-month window for hammering out a full accord, though officials have suggested a shorter extension may be agreed upon.

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In underground lab under reindeer farm, Japan wrestles with dilemma of nuclear waste

HORONOBE, Japan (AP) — Reindeer farms and grazing Holstein cows dot a vast stretch of rolling green pasture here on Japan's northern tip. Underground it's a different story.

Workers and scientists have carved a sprawling laboratory deep below this sleep dairy town that, despite government reassurances, some of Horonobe's 2,500 residents fear could turn their neighborhood into a nuclear waste storage site.

"I'm worried," said 54-year-old reindeer handler Atsushi Arase. "If the government already has its eye on us as a potential site, it may eventually come here even if we refuse."

Japanese utilities have more than 17,000 tons of "spent" fuel rods that have finished their useful life but will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. What to do with them is a vexing problem that nuclear-powered nations around the world face, and that has come to the fore as Japan debates whether to keep using nuclear energy after the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant.

The answer to that problem may lie in the Horonobe Underground Research Center, which has been collecting geological data to determine if and how radioactive waste can be stored safely for as long as 100,000 years in a country that is susceptible to volcanic activity, earthquakes and shifting underground water flows.

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Witty dealmaker Juncker set to be EU's new chief executive

BRUSSELS (AP) — The incoming leader of Europe's most powerful bureaucracy is a master of the backroom deal — and an outspoken and witty career politician who once advocated the right to lie in times of crisis.

Jean-Claude Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg for almost two decades, was a controversial pick as the 28-nation European Union's new chief executive, not least because the British government vociferously opposed him. The British tabloid The Sun portrayed him as "the most dangerous man in Europe."

Yet the 59-year-old conservative politician is set to be elected by overwhelming majority Tuesday as the next president of the European Commission. He will succeed the incumbent, Jose Manuel Barroso of Portugal, in November, and assume key responsibilities for steering the world's biggest economy during the next five years.

The commission is the bloc's executive arm in charge of drafting EU legislation, overseeing countries' budgets, policing the EU free trade area and enforcing antitrust action. Its responsibilities range from negotiating a free trade deal with the U.S. to shaping financial regulations and holding gas talks with Russia. The commission's annual budget totals about 140 billion euros ($190 billion), and pays for agriculture subsidies, infrastructure investments and development aid.

Juncker said the key challenges during his term will be boosting the bloc's meager growth and fostering job creation, reforming the EU's institutions, lessening energy dependence on Russia and keeping an increasingly Euroskeptical Britain from leaving the club.

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Got a rash? iPad, other electronic devices containing nickel might be the source, report says

CHICAGO (AP) — Unexplained rash? Check your iPad. It turns out the popular tablet computer may contain nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals.

Recent reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones. But it was an Apple iPad that caused an itchy body rash in an 11-year-old boy recently treated at a San Diego hospital, according to a report in Monday's Pediatrics.

Nickel rashes aren't life-threatening but they can be very uncomfortable, and they may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if the skin eruptions become infected, said Dr. Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children's Hospital, where the boy was treated. Jacob, who co-wrote the report, said the young patient had to miss school because of the rash.

The boy had a common skin condition that causes scaly patches, but he developed a different rash all over his body that didn't respond to usual treatment. Skin testing showed he had a nickel allergy, and doctors traced it to an iPad his family had bought in 2010.

Doctors tested the device and detected a chemical compound found in nickel in the iPad's outside coating.

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NYC artist creates 'empowering' wearable sculptures that take aim at sexism, racism

NEW YORK (AP) — Linda Stein wants people to armor themselves in her art.

She creates full-length wearable sculptures embedded with all manner of found objects, including driftwood, engraving plates, steel wire, zippers, pebbles and comic book imagery of superheroes.

Her idea grew out of her sense of vulnerability after the Sept. 11 attacks, with the aim of giving wearers a sense of empowerment and protection. Her targets are any form of institutionalized oppression, such as sexism, racism and homophobia.

She also designs "bullyproof vests," made from a patchwork of fabrics featuring such female symbols as the Japanese anime character Princess Mononoke and the comic book hero Wonder Woman, along with words "I will ... not let cultural impediments and sexual stereotypes hold me down."

At a recent "body swapping" at her Tribeca studio, she invited a group of professional women to try on what she calls sculptural avatars, which can each weigh from seven to 20 pounds. Stein asked the wearers to imagine they are trying on another skin "to get in touch with how their bodies feel."

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Investment in English lessons creates better communication on MLB teams

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — During a friendly dugout chat before a game, Hector Sanchez joked about the hazards of catching for hard-throwing San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum because of the number of balls that must be stopped in the dirt.

"Another day at the office," he said, grinning.

Sanchez uses the typical English phrase naturally these days after hours of hard work in English classes while playing in the minor leagues. He puts his improved English skills right up there with his biggest strides on the field, which include catching Lincecum's June 25 no-hitter.

Hundreds of other young Latin American players around the country are also speaking with ease, thanks to greater resources devoted to teaching English skills and other day-to-day tasks in American life as part of the transition to baseball in the U.S. All 30 major league teams now have academies in the Dominican Republic, and a handful of organizations run similar operations in Venezuela as well.

"There's no doubt it's different today than it was a generation ago for these players, with the media coverage, the impact of social media, the coverage, the television, everything," San Diego Padres manager Bud Black said. "These guys are exposed."

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AP PHOTOS: "All of Germany is the world champion"

The party was already underway in Berlin, though there were a couple of nervous moments before the revelers could really let themselves go.

Mario Goetze had just struck late in extra-time for Germany, scoring the lone goal against Argentina in the World Cup final.

With a 1-0 victory, Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said after the match: "All of Germany is the world champion."

The theme was picked up by a top official in Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, Peter Tauber, who tweeted, "Good morning, you world champions out there!"

"I can't remember very much but it doesn't matter now," Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer said, shrugging off his head injury from the first half.


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7/28/2014 | Last Updated: 4:15 AM