Published: 10:04 pm, Mon. Apr. 15th, 2019Updated: 9:04 pm
Shock, sadness, but no panic: Minutes that saved Notre Dame
PARIS (AP) — Fueled by a lattice of centuries-old timbers, the fire moved hungrily across Notre Dame’s rooftop toward the cathedral’s iconic spire. It belched yellow smoke, spitting out gritty particles of wood, stone, lead and iron and wanted more. Far below, their vision obscured by fumes and tears, firefighters, priests and municipal workers passed treasures hand-to-hand, hoping the speed of desperation could outrun the flames.
They had 66 minutes.
The first alarm sounded at 6:20 p.m., silencing the priest and a few hundred worshippers and tourists inside.
“Everyone was immobilized by shock for maybe a minute,” said Johann Vexo, who was in the organ loft for Monday Mass. Shock, but no panic. The rear doors opened and within a few minutes, the cathedral was empty, he told Ouest-France newspaper.
For 23 minutes, it seemed like a false alarm. Then at 6:43 p.m. a second smoke detector went off and the fire showed its face, flickering in the wooden timbers and visible to anyone looking north from Paris’ Left Bank.
Macron: France to rebuild Notre Dame ‘even more beautifully’
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron pledged Tuesday to rebuild Paris’ beloved Notre Dame Cathedral “even more beautifully” after a raging fire destroyed its spire and its roof but spared most of the structure, including the church’s twin medieval bell towers.
Macron said he wanted to see the renovation of the beloved Roman Catholic architectural landmark completed within five years.
“We have so much to rebuild,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation. “We will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral even more beautifully. We can do it, and once again, we will mobilize (to do so).”
Authorities consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of restoration work at the global architectural treasure that survived almost 900 years of tumultuous French history but was devastated in the blaze on the second day of Holy Week.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the inquiry into the fire would be “long and complex.” Fifty investigators were working on it and would interview workers from five companies hired for the renovations to the cathedral’s roof, where the flames first broke out.
FBI looks for woman ‘infatuated’ with Columbine shooting
LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — Authorities said Tuesday that they are looking for a young woman who is “infatuated” with the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School and made threats just days before the 20th anniversary of the attack that killed 13 people.
The undisclosed threats led Columbine and several other high schools outside Denver to lock their doors for nearly three hours. All students were safe, school officials said.
Sol Pais, 18, traveled to Colorado on Monday night and has tried to buy firearms, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. Pais was last seen in the foothills west of Denver, was considered armed and extremely dangerous and should not be approached.
The FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force issued a notice Tuesday describing Pais as “infatuated with (the) Columbine school shooting.” The alert said police who come into contact with her should detain her and evaluate her mental health.
Sheriff’s spokesman Mike Taplin said the threats she made were general, not specific to any school.
Trump vetoes measure to end US involvement in Yemen war
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
The veto — the second in Trump’s presidency — was expected, and Congress lacks the votes to override it. But passing the never-before-used war powers resolution was viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump wrote in explaining his veto.
Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.
Many lawmakers also criticized the president for not condemning Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States and had written critically about the kingdom. Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October and never came out. Intelligence agencies said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the killing.
What you won’t see in the Mueller report
WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel’s Trump-Russia report will be out on Thursday for all to see. But not all of it.
The Democrats’ demands for a full, unredacted version of Robert Mueller’s report are likely to prompt a political and legal battle that could last for months, if not much longer.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has said he is prepared to issue subpoenas “very quickly” for the full report on Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign if it is released with blacked-out sections. And that would set the legal fight in motion.
Attorney General William Barr has said he is redacting four types of information from the report, which the Justice Department says will be released Thursday. Congressional Democrats cite precedent from previous investigations in saying they want to see it all. But some Republicans defending Barr are also citing precedent, saying it is appropriate to keep at least some of the information from Congress and the public.
A look at what types of material Barr is redacting, and why Democrats say it should be released:
First Red Cross aid distributed in crisis-torn Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Red Cross volunteers distributed the first shipment of badly needed emergency supplies in Venezuela on Tuesday after months of feuding between the government, which has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis, and opponents who have been seeking to use the delivery of aid to force President Nicolás Maduro from power.
In the working class neighborhood of Catia near downtown Caracas, government supporters fired a half dozen gunshots in the air as a van arrived to distribute water purification tablets and empty plastic jugs, creating a small commotion on a major avenue during rush hour.
“We’re very happy,” Sergio Guerra, a motorcycle taxi driver, said nonchalantly as the sound of the shots cracked overhead. “With these tablets we can defend ourselves a little better by drinking cleaner water.”
A small contingent of police showed up to restore order, and volunteers in blue vests agreed to close the van doors from which they were running the slow-moving distribution operation. Elsewhere, trucks carrying the aid snaked through a Caracas highway, the drivers of several vehicles jubilantly honking in support.
The delivery of international humanitarian aid has become a focal point in Venezuela’s power struggle, now in its third month, after opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president. Both the opposition and the government have been accused of politicizing the aid issue as hospitals struggle to provide even basic care.
Fox draws nearly 2.6 million viewers for Sanders town hall
NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders took heat from some Democrats for holding a town hall on Fox News Channel but there’s one result hard to argue with: it was the most-watched candidate event in the election campaign so far.
An estimated 2.55 million people saw Sanders’ town hall Monday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Nielsen company said. Not only did that beat the 1.35 million people who saw Sanders on CNN on Feb. 25, the Fox telecast aired before prime time when traditionally the largest audience gathers.
Sen. Kamala Harris’ CNN town hall in January was seen by 1.95 million viewers, the previous high for a 2020 presidential contender.
The Vermont senator also apparently had one prominent viewer in Washington. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that it was “so weird to watch Crazy Bernie” on Fox News. He said Bret Baier, who co-anchored the event with Martha MacCallum, and the audience was “so smiley and nice.”
Baier later tweeted his thanks to Trump for watching, and said he’d like to have the president on a town hall or for an interview on his nightly news show.
Man who tossed daughter off bridge found guilty of murder
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A Florida jury on Tuesday found a man guilty of first-degree murder for dropping his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge four years ago, despite arguments from his attorneys that he was insane and thought his actions would actually save her. He was automatically sentenced to life in prison.
Jurors in Clearwater, Florida, deliberated for about seven hours over two days before convicting John Jonchuck, whom prosecutors portrayed as a vengeful man who planned to kill his daughter to keep her away from her mother and grandmother.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that no one from Jonchuck’s family was in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. And no friends or relatives spoke on behalf of Phoebe or her father before the sentencing. Jonchuck, who was stoic when the verdict was read, hugged his attorneys and said, “Yes, your honor,” when asked if he understood that the verdict carries an automatic life sentence. He was then fingerprinted and taken out of the courtroom by bailiffs.
Jonchuck’s lawyers had asked the judge to delay sentencing for a week because they have some issues to check. But when they failed to provide a reason, Judge Chris Helinger proceeded with the sentencing.
“I am satisfied that justice was done,” the newspaper quoted Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe as saying. “My immediate reaction is killing children doesn’t make one a very sympathetic character.”
YouTube’s Notre Dame-9/11 flub highlights AI’s blind spots
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — YouTube might need a few more humans. The machines whose job is to tamp down conspiracy theories are not cutting it just yet.
As people around the world Monday turned to YouTube to watch Notre Dame Cathedral burn in Paris, an automated system attached background information about the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York to livestream videos of the fire.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined, but authorities said it appeared to be accidental, not arson or terrorism.
The background note was posted by a system YouTube recently put in place to combat well-known conspiracies about such events as the moon landing or 9/11. In this case, the algorithm might have had the opposite effect, fueling speculation about the cause of the fire and who might be behind it.
It’s the latest example of artificial intelligence misfiring — and a sign that we have a long way to go before AI becomes smart enough to understand nuance and context.
Sweep! NHL-best Lightning ousted in record speed by Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up on the wrong side of NHL history, getting swept in the first round of the playoffs after one of the best regular seasons ever.
The Columbus Blue Jackets capped a stunning sweep of the Presidents Trophy winners with a 7-3 victory Tuesday night. Tampa Bay became the first team in the expansion era, which began in 1967-68, to go winless in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season.
And what a season it was. Tampa Bay tied the NHL record for wins with 62 and amassed 128 points, fourth in NHL history.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, didn’t clinch the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot until the 81st game. But they outplayed the Lightning with a smothering forecheck and stellar goaltending by Sergei Bobrovsky.
Columbus won its first-ever playoff series in its fifth try and advances to play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series, which the Maple Leafs lead 2-1.