Grim search for victims as fires grow to size of NYC
WASHINGTON — Five years after they were seized by a terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, an American woman, her Canadian husband and their children — all three born in captivity — are free after a dramatic rescue orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said Thursday.
The U.S. said Pakistan accomplished the release of Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Penn., and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, who were abducted and held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban. The operation, which came after years of U.S. pressure on Pakistan for assistance, unfolded quickly and ended with what some described a dangerous raid, a shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to “kill the hostage.” Boyle suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.
U.S. officials did not confirm the details.
The family was together in a safe, undisclosed location in Pakistan, according to a U.S. national security official.
NYC, London police taking fresh look at Weinstein claims
NEW YORK — Police detectives in New York City and London are taking a fresh look into sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein now that some 30 women have accused the Hollywood film producer of inappropriate conduct.
New York Police Department spokesman Peter Donald said Thursday that investigators are reviewing police files to see if anyone else reported being assaulted or harassed by him.
So far, no filed complaints have been found, he said, other than one well-known case that prompted an investigation in 2015, but authorities are encouraging anyone with information on Weinstein to contact the department.
London police were also looking into a claim it had received from the Merseyside force in northwest England, British media reported Thursday. Merseyside police said the allegation was made a day earlier and concerned “an alleged sexual assault in the London area in the 1980s.”
Some 30 women — including actresses Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow — have spoken out recently to say Weinstein had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. Rose McGowan, who has long suggested that Weinstein sexually assaulted her, tweeted Thursday that “HW raped me.”
Dangerous sound? What Americans heard in Cuba attacks
WASHINGTON — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.
The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. Embassy workers heard in Havana in a series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of mysterious sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.
The recordings themselves are not believed to be dangerous to those who listen. Sound experts and physicians say they know of no sound that can cause physical damage when played for short durations at normal levels through standard equipment like a cellphone or computer.
What device produced the original sound remains unknown. Americans affected in Havana reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.
SONOMA, Calif. — Teams with cadaver dogs began a grim search Thursday for more dead in parts of California wine country devastated by wildfires, resorting in some cases to serial numbers stamped on medical implants to identify remains that turned up in the charred ruins.
New deaths confirmed Thursday took the toll to 31, making this the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.
Many of the flames still burned out of control, and the fires grew to more than 300 square miles (777 square kilometers), an area as large as New York City.
Sonoma and Napa counties endured a fourth day of choking smoke while many residents fled to shelters or camped out on beaches to await word on their homes and loved ones.
A forecast for gusty winds and dry air threatened to fan the fires further.
Some of the state’s most historic tourist sites, including Sonoma city and Calistoga in Napa Valley, were ghost towns populated only by fire crews trying to stop the advancing infernos.
Calistoga, known for wine tastings and hot springs, had dozens of firefighters staged at street corners. Ash rained down from the sky and a thick haze covered the ground. Mayor Chris Canning warned that the fires were drawing closer and all of the city’s 5,000 residents needed to heed an evacuation order.
“This is a mandatory evacuation. Your presence in Calistoga is not welcome if you are not a first responder,” Canning said during a news briefing, explaining that firefighters needed to focus on the blazes and had no time to save people.
A few residents left behind cookies for fire crews with signs reading, “Please save our home!”
Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said officials were still investigating hundreds of reports of missing people and that recovery teams would begin conducting “targeted searches” for specific residents at their last known addresses.
“We have found bodies almost completely intact, and we have found bodies that were nothing more than ash and bones,” the sheriff said.
Some remains have been identified using medical devices uncovered in the scorched heaps that were once homes. Metal implants, such as artificial hips, have ID numbers that helped put names to victims, he said.
The eight new deaths confirmed Thursday brought the total to 31. Most of the fires, and the deaths, were in the coastal region north of San Francisco that encompasses wine country. Four deaths came further inland in Yuba County.
While the Oakland Hills fire of 1991 killed 25 people by itself and the Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles in 1933 killed 29, never in recorded state history have so many people been killed by a simultaneous series of fires, said Daniel Berlant, a deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Firefighters had reported modest gains against the blazes, but containment seemed nowhere in sight.
“We are not out of this emergency. We are not even close to being out of this emergency,” Emergency Operations Director Mark Ghilarducci told a news conference.
More than 8,000 firefighters were battling the blazes, and more manpower and equipment was pouring in from around the country and from as far away as Australia, officials said.
Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the fires have transformed many neighborhoods into wastelands. At least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed and an estimated 25,000 people forced to flee.
The wildfires continued to grow in size. A total count of 22 fires on Wednesday fell to 21 on Thursday because two large fires merged, said state Fire Chief Ken Pimlott.
The challenge of fighting the fires was compounded by the need for more help and the growing fatigue of firefighters who have been working for days.
A HELICOPTER FLIES THROUGH THE SMOKE-FILLED SKY to drop a load of water on a wildfire Thursday in Sonoma, Calif. Officials say progress is being made in some of the largest wildfires burning in Northern California but that the death toll is almost sure to surge.
Kidnapped, held 5 years, U.S.-Canadian family free in Pakistan BY THE NUMBERS Dow Jones Industrials: – 31.88 to 22,841.01 Standard & Poor’s: – 4.31 to 2,550.93 Nasdaq Composite Index: – 12.04 to 6,591.51