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What not to do in a bear attack? Push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself, says the National Park Service
By Alaa Elassar, CNN

If you're being confronted by a bear, there's a few things you should know before running away.

As people across the country visiting parks and taking trips to the mountains find themselves in terrifying encounters with bears, the National Park Service (NPS) has offered a few tips on what to do if you're face-to-face with the furry beasts.

The first tip? "Please don't run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself," the NPS joked in a Facebook post Wednesday.cc

The best thing to do to safely remove yourself from a bear confrontation is move away slowly and sideways so you can keep an eye on the bear without tripping. Bears are not threatened when you move sideways, but like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.

"Do not climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.cc Do not push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course)," the NPS added. "Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Don't we all?"

Another tip is to identify yourself by making noise, specifically your voice, so the bear doesn't confuse you for an animal and knows you're human. While a curious bear might come closer or stand on its hind legs to examine and smell you, it is not threatening.

While bear attacks are rare, their behaviors can be unpredictable and an attack can lead to serious injuries or death, according to the NPS.

To avoid an encounter with a bear, hike and travel in groups, do not allow bears access to your food and leave the area if you see a bear.

If you are attacked by a brown or grizzly bear, leave your backpack on and play dead by laying flat on your stomach with your hands behind your neck and legs spread. If the bear continues to attack you, fight back by hitting the bear in the face.

If you are being attacked by a black bear, do not play dead but instead try to escape to a secure place or if you can't, fight back using any available object, according to NPS.cc

Illegal fentanyl sales skyrocketing in the River Valley

Illegal fentanyl sales skyrocketing in the River Valley
By Nick Camper

Click here for updates on this story

    FORT SMITH, AR (KFSM ) -- Law enforcement agents in the River Valley are making a concerted effort to eliminate the selling and usage of illegal fentanyl.

They say much of what is sold on the black market is misidentified as common Xanax or hydrocodone.

"These pills mimic or look exactly like the brand named oxycodone or Xanax bars," said Paul Smith, Drug Task Force Commander for Sebastian and Crawford Counties.











Illegal fentanyl sales skyrocketing in the River Valley
Officials say much of what is sold on the black market is misidentified as common Xanax or hydrocodone.

Author: Nick Camper
Published: 10:04 PM CDT August 7, 2020
Updated: 10:13 PM CDT August 7, 2020
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FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Law enforcement agents in the River Valley are making a concerted effort to eliminate the selling and usage of illegal fentanyl.

They say much of what is sold on the black market is misidentified as common Xanax or hydrocodone.

"These pills mimic or look exactly like the brand named oxycodone or Xanax bars," said Paul Smith, Drug Task Force Commander for Sebastian and Crawford Counties.

Fentanyl sales are not just in the more populated Fort Smith area but are moving to the more rural areas of Sebastian and Crawford Counties.

"It's infiltrating out into the smaller communities as well," Smith said.

For the past six months, local agencies have been going undercover to buy pills and get them tested at a lab. Smith says in years past, tests have come back as a mix of fentanyl and the original drug.

Now, almost all of the pill is fentanyl-based.

"So it looks like a oxycodone 30 mg pill but in fact, it's pure fentanyl," Smith said.

The effects of taking these pills could be devastating.

David Stoppel, Battalion Chief with Central EMS says overdosing is relatively easy because of the potency of the drug.

"It is so much more potent then let's say morphine or any of the other narcotics," Stoppel said.

Stoppel says it can be much worse when mixing fentanyl with other substances.

"You could have some respiratory depression, you could stop breathing from there once you stop breathing for a while maybe you could go into cardiac arrest," Stoppel said.

Smith says the pills are coming from dark web purchases but also large cities like Dallas and Oklahoma City. He encourages people to use proper avenues when seeking medical treatment.

"Only ingest the pills that are prescribed by your doctor, gone through a pharmacist and given to you to be taken correctly for whatever ailment or treatment that you need that the pill for," Smith said.

Stoppel says it's important for people to know to call 911 if you see someone overdosing, even if others around you are on an illegal drug. He says people cannot be charged for being on a substance when calling for emergency assistance.

For help with addiction, reach out to help.org.

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Tyler Perry puts his creativity and financial might to get the cameras rolling again
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

One of the industries that was brought to a grinding halt by the coronavirus pandemic has been the entertainment industry. Broadway stays dark, concert halls big and small sit empty, and television and film production have been on perma-pause. This, at a time when many people are looking for something new to distract them.

But this sense of being frozen in time has been thawing out in one small corner of Atlanta. Tyler Perry Studios recently completed its first successful session of what Perry calls "Camp Quarantine" to film season 2 of "Sistas," the comedy-drama series on BET.

It is one of the first TV series produced entirely during the pandemic. Eleven days of filming, more than 300 people on site and no one got sick while there. According to the studio, everyone was tested and sequestered immediately upon arrival until their results came back. Four people were found to be positive at that time, yet no one tested positive since.

And Tyler Perry Studios is turning around and doing it all over again to film the second season of the primetime soap opera, "The Oval." Less than two weeks ago, 377 people were tested upon arrival. Since then, they say two more rounds of testing were done -- all negative. Shooting on "The Oval" began Thursday.

The virus that changed the world

Perry was getting ready to go into production for the new fall season on "Sistas" when the global pandemic came to a head.

"What I usually do at the top of the year is I write all of my scripts and I'll go into production around March," Perry told me. "So I was all ready to go. It was March 16. I'm watching, I'm reading, I'm paying attention to all that is happening with the numbers, and I go, 'Okay, we have to shut down.' So before the city, before the state, I shut down because I didn't know how to keep 500 people safe while shooting."

Perry said he was hopeful that there would be a federal response, a federal plan. "But a few weeks in, I realized ... you got to figure this out if you're going to do it."

Perry consulted with medical experts, including me, and put together a 30-page plan that in essence created a quarantine bubble big enough for cast and crew for the duration of the shoot. He called it Camp Quarantine.

It involved pre-arrival testing and quarantining; flights on Perry's private jet for out-of-towners; more testing and quarantining upon arrival; plenty of personal protective gear; no hugging; a lot of mask wearing -- except for the cast while filming -- and good hand hygiene; and then testing every four days. Cast and crew were kept isolated at the 330-acre studio lot in a combination of accommodations including army barracks and historic homes. There were food and alcohol trucks, movie nights, church services -- just about everything.

"Once I started to get the information and understand this virus a lot more, I thought maybe this is possible, to get everyone together, reduced the crew size, social distance -- do all the rules that the unions are asking, that the state is asking, that the city's asking. But also, get us all at the studio -- let us all live here during the production period," Perry said.

"We got [cast and crew] down to 360 people, and we all moved in and we just finished our first television show successfully with no positives throughout the quarantine bubble," he said.

The cost: $18 million. Getting access to quick testing: Priceless. I asked Perry about the thousands of tests that were performed at Camp Quarantine, at a time when testing is woefully inadequate for so much of the country. He said he's aware he is paying top dollar for the privilege of rapid testing while others in need can't afford to pay to get tested easily let alone quickly, but he said that he would halt production if he felt that his testing were interfering with their testing.

"When I see those lines in Arizona and other parts of the country where they're waiting 10, 12 hours to get testing, it's heartbreaking to me, because I know that that test -- this antigen test -- is only $23 a kit. Although I'm paying several hundred dollars, the average person cannot afford that," Perry said. "So let's be clear: If that happens, we would step back and shut down, because the important thing is that people are able to get the testing that they need."

A trusted leader with a plan

Cast and crew were excited to be back to work. "I think that we can all agree that entertainment has helped us get through this. Books [are] entertainment. Television is entertainment. Movies are entertainment," KJ Smith, one of the stars of "Sistas", told CNN.

"I'm excited for us to return and I know that the world is, too. I know that we're needed. I know this industry is needed. And especially in a time like this, we want to get away ... we don't want to think about these things," she said, referring to the coronavirus.

Smith said she and others trusted Perry from the start. Shortly after the coronavirus had forced the cancellation the production schedule and press tours, she said they got on a call with Perry who assured everyone: "We're going to figure this out."

And then, she said, the cast and crew received a 30-page document. "We got a whole quarantine package of what's going to happen. He got on the call with us again, made sure we were completely comfortable, which we were. I tell people all the time: I 100% trust Tyler Perry. He treats us like we're his relatives. So I knew that we would be fully protected and we were -- we were safe," Smith said.

"Throughout the whole process, we had this big package of protective materials: hand sanitizers, surface cleansers, mask, suits, goggles, gloves -- everything we needed. So we were really, really protected," Smith said, adding, "There were no loopholes. There was no way around it. Everyone was holding each other accountable. And it worked out."

Perry took his responsibility very seriously, especially after someone he often worked with -- the hair designer Charles Gregory Ross -- contracted Covid-19 and died in April.

"That was sobering for me," Perry said. "And then when I started [seeing] the numbers on African-American people and Latino people, I was like, 'Whoa, whoa!' This thing is affecting us in much, much larger numbers. So I thought, I've got all these people that are working for me ... the majority of the people that work with me are Black and Brown people. So I knew that I could not put them in harm's way. So I had to come up with something but it was very sobering. Charles's unfortunate death to this virus was very sobering."

Perry was also concerned about those who had preexisting conditions and other health concerns. "The biggest challenge for me was actually absolutely keeping everyone safe. ... I have several people who are older and who have pre-existing conditions from heart disease to ... cancer. Three others are cancer survivors. So I was very concerned about them," he said.

Perry made sure everyone knew to play it safe. Says Smith, "I consider myself a healthy individual with a healthy immune system. But I was aware -- and he made us aware -- of the people who needed the work, who needed to be there, who wanted to be a part of this, who had [pre-existing] conditions that could affect them. And so that had to stay at the forefront of my mind, so that we could all protect those people."

At first, Smith said it was a bit tough, remembering to work in this new way. "It was like, okay, throw your mask on. Okay, let's go over the next thing. What's next? All right, take the mask off and now we do the scene. All right, throw the mask on and what's next? So that was the biggest change and it felt really weird. It was really uncomfortable the first few times, but after the first couple days, we all were able to just get into the groove," she said. Also hard: not greeting fellow cast members with a hug after being apart for a year, and not being able to sit around casually and catch up.

But all in all, Smith said the whole experience was fun. "I had the best time ever and I honestly hope we keep this business model for the rest of our shoots," she said.

Lessons learned

Perry said the success of the quarantine bubble he created for "Sistas" shows that the show can go on after all. "Masks work," he said. "Testing works and contact tracing works. We have [hundreds of] people here and we were able to manage it just doing that: testing, isolation and contact tracing," he added.

"All those guidelines work. They work for 'Sistas,' they're going to work for 'The Oval.' And as long as we stick to the letter, which we do, I think we'll be fine," he said.

"I think that everybody who was here during the filming of 'Sistas' would say that it was a really, really good experience. And you know what they kept saying to me that I thought was really amazing? ...They're saying to me that they feel so safe. 'I feel safe.' And that is what the country has been missing for a long time," Perry said.

Furniture fundraiser helping church in Olyphant, PA

Furniture fundraiser helping church in Olyphant, PA
By Elizabeth Worthington

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    OLYPHANT, PA (WNEP) -- Couches, dining room tables, paintings, jewelry--all of this has been donated to St. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Olyphant. Now, these items could help the church stay afloat. Hundreds of people came out for the church's third annual furniture sale.

"With the church there's fewer people, fewer parishioners, and fewer people going to church because of the pandemic, so we continued for the third year and we're just really happy that we could pay some bills in the church," said volunteer Lauren Telep.

Lindsey O'Brien was more than happy to help. She heard about the sale on Facebook and drove to Olyphant from her home in Forest City.

"With everything going on, I try and support all small business and any kind of charity event that I can. Churches need help right now just as much as an

"Most churches we find nowadays, their congregations are dwindling because they're getting older, they're passing on, and the younger generation isn't really hanging around the area as much," said Bob Kletsko, a parishioner and volunteer.

Church members tell us collections are down about one-third because of the pandemic so this year's furniture sale is more important than ever.

"It'll probably help pay the electricity bills, especially with the air conditioning on in the summer, and just upkeep of the buildings. Our church is over 100 years old," Telep said.

"If I was going to support anybody, it'd be small communities and small churches," O'Brien added.

Newswatch 16 was here earlier this week as volunteers got set up. The room full of furniture and home decor was already much emptier, just a few hours after the sale began.

Whatever doesn't sell will be marked down even more and offered at the 10th annual rummage sale. The date for that is still up in the air.

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NASA drops racially charged nicknames of celestial bodies

NASA drops racially charged nicknames of celestial bodies
By Jay Croft, CNN

Grocery store items, pro sports teams, and country music bands have all removed racially insensitive names.

Now, NASA is adding celestial bodies to the list that includes Aunt Jemima, the Washington Football Team and hitmakers The Chicks and Lady A.

"Eskimo Nebula" and "Siamese Twins Galaxy" are out, for example.

"Nicknames are often more approachable and public-friendly than official names for cosmic objects, such as Barnard 33, whose nickname 'the Horsehead Nebula' invokes its appearance," NASA said in a release this week. "But often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science."

NASA is examining its use of phrases for planets, galaxies and other cosmic objects "as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion."

The space agency says it "will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate."

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC, said, "Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value."

In June, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream said it was dropping the brand "Eskimo Pie" after a century. The word is commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska. "This name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean 'eater of raw meat.'" People of Canada and Greenland prefer other names.

"Siamese twins" is an antiquated expression for conjoined twins, based on brothers from Siam (now Thailand) who were used as sideshow freaks in the 19th century.

The renaming trend followed worldwide protests against racism and police brutality after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

After clashing with Trump over pandemic response, Maryland's Hogan now under fire for his own state leadership
By Michael Warren, CNN

For the past several months, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has clashed with Donald Trump over the President's lax response to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the two-term Republican governor is sparring with state and local officials who say Hogan is not being responsive enough.

This week, Hogan found himself in the middle of two controversies involving areas affected dramatically by the coronavirus pandemic: schools and elections. Hogan is pushing for private schools to have the option of opening on time this fall, overruling the wishes of county health officials in one suburban county of DC. He's also insisting Maryland go forward with its standard election process despite objections and concerns from state and local elections officials that polling places will be understaffed.

Being at the center of controversy is a stark role reversal for Hogan, who since taking office in 2015 has cultivated an image as a "different" kind of Republican that is more pragmatic, less ideological and unaligned with Trump. After the pandemic began, Hogan demonstrated a calm but aggressive approach to combating the spread of the virus -- instituting tough stay-at-home orders and claiming to have secured critical testing equipment for his state while the federal government struggled to help.

That has earned him praise from his Democratic colleagues, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who just this week succeeded Hogan as chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association. Even Ben Jealous, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Hogan in 2018, told CNN in March that his erstwhile opponent "has shown great leadership in pulling our state together during this crisis" -- especially when compared to Trump.

With the NGA perch and his proximity to the media nexus of the nation's capital, Hogan has been a constant presence on television demanding better and more efficient action from the Trump administration. On a promotional tour for his new book, Hogan blasted the administration's actions while holding up his own record as a model for competent governance. The first Republican governor reelected in deep-blue Maryland since the Eisenhower administration, Hogan was briefly discussed as a viable primary challenger to Trump in 2020. And as Republicans map out their post-Trump future, he has earned some interest as a possible presidential contender in 2024.

But the reality of politics has brought the popular Hogan back down to earth this week. As coronavirus cases have risen in Maryland since late June, he has found this image as the consummate crisis manager and able governor challenged by liberal politicians from Democratic jurisdictions and government bureaucrats. The episodes have revealed the limits of Hogan's power to overcome his political affiliation with the GOP and punctured his media profile of the "reasonable Republican."

"I like Larry Hogan, I get along with him pretty well," said Tom Hucker, a Democratic councilmember in Montgomery County. "But having said that, I think a lot of the praise, he benefits from stepping over the 1-inch bar that is Donald Trump. When you have the same party as Trump and you don't lie in every statement and engage in racism, you look good by comparison."

A fight over private schools

Hogan began the week with a major reversal of a decision by Maryland's most populous and wealthiest county, Montgomery County, to keep private school campuses closed at the start of the school year. With the backing of Montgomery County's Democratic executive Marc Elrich, the county health officer issued an order on July 31 that private schools in the county could not resume in-person learning until Oct. 1. Hogan's reversal on Monday was countered two days later by a new order from Montgomery, citing different emergency authorities granted to health officers under state law.

"There are reasonable positions on both sides. But it's gotten political. It's gotten political for the governor and it's gotten political for county officials who are taking shots at the governor," Andrew Friedson, a Democratic member of the Montgomery County Council, told CNN Thursday. "The county executive and the governor just don't like each other. There have been shots that have been taken on both sides, and it's been unfortunate."

The decision to prohibit private schools from opening their campuses to in-person learning came not from the Montgomery County executive himself but from Dr. Travis Gayles, the county health officer who was appointed by Elrich. By a quirk of Maryland law, Gayles holds a dual appointment in the state health department, meaning he is also a member of Hogan's administration and answers to the state's secretary of health.

In his July 31 announcement on private schools, Gayles cited the state's rising case numbers and said the decision was based on "science and data." Montgomery County's public schools had already decided to remain closed for in-person learning through the first half of the school year.

Following an outcry from private-school parents, Hogan issued an emergency order on Monday to overturn Montgomery's mandate and allow for private schools that follow the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for proper operation to choose whether or not to reopen.

"The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer," Hogan said in a statement.

But Montgomery officials pushed back. Elrich told reporters on Wednesday that Hogan's decision had "no logic."

"I was surprised. I don't think it was appropriate. I don't think it is supported by data," Elrich told reporters.

And that same day Gayles issued a new order for private school campuses to remain closed through September by citing a different state law giving county health officers the ability to shut down facilities to stop the spread of communicable diseases. In response to that, an August 6 memo from the state's secretary of health Robert Neall (a Hogan appointee) backed up the governor's order by directing health officials across Maryland that "nonpublic schools not be closed in a blanket manner."

Neall's memo all but guaranteed victory for Hogan in the dispute, and on Friday, Gayles rescinded his second order.

The offices of Hogan and Elrich did not respond to requests for comment, but the battle lines of the private-schools' fight seem to have fallen on ideological and personal grounds.

Hogan, who himself attended Catholic parochial schools in Maryland, has been an advocate for private schools as governor. For years, he has successfully pushed for increases in funding for state-funded scholarships to private schools for students who receive free or reduced lunches. Elrich, meanwhile, is a former public elementary school teacher and has found himself on the opposite side of Hogan on issues ranging from transportation to taxes.

An election disaster?

Meanwhile, fears over the virus's spread have left Maryland's counties with a shortage of election judges willing to work poll places in November.

David Garreis, the president of the Maryland Association of Election Officials and the deputy director at the Anne Arundel County elections board, told CNN Thursday the state currently has just two-thirds of the necessary poll workers to conduct elections.

"We could have a failed election," said Garreis. "You can't open polling places if you don't have election judges. It's a process that needs people in order to function."

Under Hogan's direction, the state is conducting its election under its existing laws, despite these poll-worker shortages and expectations that more voters than usual will choose to vote by mail. Voters will be expected to either vote at their regular precinct location or request a mail-in ballot, which requires no excuse in Maryland, by October 20.

That's a change from Maryland's primary elections in June, which Hogan had rescheduled from the original April date at the beginning of the virus's spread. The state sent every registered voter a ballot in the mail and also set up 42 voting centers as an in-person voting option. While the results of Maryland's primaries have not been disputed, Hogan has since characterized it as an "unmitigated disaster" because several ballots were sent out to voters late.

Democrats have sharply criticized Hogan's approach.

"It will certainly result in lower turnout," Hucker said. He noted the higher costs of sending out mail-in ballot applications.

Prince George's County executive Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat from a Washington suburban county, blasted Hogan for putting "politics above the health and safety" of her residents.

"There is no other way to justify his refusal to mail ballots to Marylanders, or his request that we, in the middle of a pandemic, ask hundreds of thousands of voters to go to crowded polling places," Alsobrooks said in a statement Wednesday.

Hogan has pushed back by claiming that efforts to close or reduce the number of polling places because these shortages would disenfranchise minority voters -- a remarkable response to Alsobrooks, the Black executive of one of the wealthiest majority-Black counties in the country.

"Proposals to close roughly 90% of polling places -- particularly in minority communities -- would result in voter suppression and risk violating the Voting Rights Act," Hogan wrote in a letter to the state board of elections before its Friday meeting. "You would also be increasing the potential for crowds of voters at the few open polling places, resulting in hours-long lines."

Hogan has placed the blame on the elections board -- a bipartisan, five-person panel appointed by the governor -- for an impasse over an alternative plan for conducting the general election. In his capacity at MAEO, Garreis has been lobbying the board to approve a new plan that would consolidate precinct voting places and open centralized voting centers at more than 280 high schools that could be properly staffed and in which social distancing could be achieved.

During its Friday meeting, the elections board voted to approve this consolidation plan -- what Garreis told CNN Friday was a "step in the right direction."

The decision for whether to accept it remains Hogan's. The governor has not yet responded to the board's plan.

Remains of Marines, sailor recovered from amphibious vehicle sunk off California coast
By Topher Gauk-Roger and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

The remains of seven Marines and a sailor were recovered Friday from an amphibious assault vehicle that had sunk on July 30 off the coast of California's San Clemente Island.

Their remains will soon be transferred to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be prepared for burial, according to the US Marine Corps.

They will then be released to their families in accordance with their wishes.

"Our hearts and thoughts of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are with the families of our recovered Marines and Sailor," Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in a statement. "We hope the successful recovery of our fallen warriors brings some measure of comfort."

As previously reported by CNN, the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) suffered a mishap off San Clemente Island during a routine training exercise.

Sixteen personnel were on board the AAV when the crew reported taking on water during a shore-to-ship waterborne operations training. Five crew members were rescued from the sinking AAV and returned to their ship, the USS Somerset. Two Marines were hospitalized.

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene. His remains were transferred on Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base.

After an extensive two-day search, the 15th MEU concluded its search and rescue effort for the eight missing service members. The sunken AAV was located Monday.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation and similar training has been suspended while officials learn more about the incident.

The eight other deceased service members were identified on Monday as:

" Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, California, a rifleman

" Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, a rifleman

" Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a rifleman

" US Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California

" Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 20, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman

" Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 22, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman

" Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 18, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman

" Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California, a rifleman

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to update the ages of the deceased service members.

While Washington points fingers, out-of-work Americans feel the pain
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Talks for a new stimulus are on ice, out-of-work Americans are looking at smaller unemployment benefits and the threat of eviction, but Washington feels more broken than ever.

President Donald Trump offered up the conspiracy theories that Democrats are trying to use the bill against him and Democrats all but begged the White House to meet them in the middle.

And nothing got done.

Bipartisanship that led Congress and the White House to act decisively in the spring to help Americans stay afloat as the pandemic got started feels like a distant dream. Rancor has only increased over what's needed to help Americans as the virus continues to spread and, as of this week, has claimed more than 160,000 American lives.

The White House is still a trillion dollars short of Democrats' demands for this fourth stimulus, but Trump wants credit for helping people.

Rather than budge on the top-line figure and pass the big bill, Trump held a last-minute news conference in New Jersey Friday night and, with members of his private golf club looking on in a weird sort of news conference/campaign rally, he promised executive actions to extend expanded unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium and enact a new payroll tax cut.

If he didn't need Congress to do these things, one wonders why he didn't do them before now since the expanded unemployment benefits and eviction moratorium expired last month. The President is scheduled to hold another news conference at his Bedminster golf club on Saturday afternoon, where he can be expected to discuss the failed stimulus negotiations and possible executive actions.

Related: 40 million Americans are at risk of eviction without a new stimulus bill

The idea of cutting revenue and spending money without the legislature would seem to violate the Constitution.

But Trump's not concerned about the legality of the actions he promised, which he said lawyers are "drawing up."

"No, not at all. No. You always get sued," he said.

The idea of a legal battle over executive actions will be cold comfort to people struggling and out of work and afraid of contracting a virus that continues to rip through the country, despite Trump's false promise that it will just go away.

Finding creative ways around Congress has been a hallmark of Trump's time in office, from enacting a travel ban on certain countries to finding money for his proposed border wall even though lawmakers in both parties refused to give it to him.

Democrats are sure to challenge these executive actions as being insufficient and, in the case of the payroll tax cut, which Trump has fixated on, unnecessary, since it will give money to people currently earning a paycheck and not help those put out of work by the pandemic.

And that is setting aside the fact that payroll taxes fund social security, which is already under stress. A holiday from funding the program could make the entitlement, which helps American seniors make ends meet, run out of money in less than 10 years, according to a new report.

Related: Trump keeps pushing for a payroll tax cut. Here's what that means.

While he didn't share any specific details on the executive actions (Will he expand the unemployment benefits at the $600 level Democrats want or does he agree with his top economic adviser those payments would be a "disincentive to go back to work?"), he was alleging vast conspiracies are what's stalled the bill.

For instance, Democrats want to give $1 trillion to states and cities gasping to maintain services despite losing much of their tax revenue due to the pandemic.

In that, Trump sees an effort to bilk taxpayers and bail out mismanaged cities.

"They're really just interested in one thing and that is protecting people that have not done a good job in managing cities and states and nothing to do with Covid or little to do," he said.

Influencing the election

Trump also made the wild accusation that "The Democrats are cheating on the election" by trying to pass this new stimulus bill.

"Because that's exactly what they're doing. If you look at what they're doing even with these negotiations. That's an influence, and an unfair influence, on an election," he said.

It was an awkward charge since it came the same day a US intelligence official issued a statement confirming that Russia is, yet again, attempting to "denigrate" the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden in this case. But it also said China "prefers" that Trump doesn't win.

The warning was lacking and the public doesn't know the scale of efforts to influence the election, according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who wrote in the Washington Post that he's seen frightening classified information about Russia's efforts and that the administration is trying to keep them hidden from public view.

"I was shocked by what I learned -- and appalled that, by swearing Congress to secrecy, the Trump administration is keeping the truth about a grave, looming threat to democracy hidden from the American people," the Connecticut Democrat wrote.

Democrats say the White House needs to budge

Where Trump sees conspiracies holding back the stimulus bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer see intransigence on the part of the White House.

"Meet us in the middle -- for God's sake, please -- for the sake of America, meet us in the middle," Schumer said Friday as talks stalled again.

He and Pelosi pointed the finger at White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for refusing to budge.

Related: The latest on stimulus talks

"We believe we have a responsibility to find common ground," Pelosi said. "We'll come down a trillion and you go up a trillion and we can figure out how we do that without hurting America's working families," she said.

On Capitol Hill, Schumer said the math of getting a bill that can pass requires the White House to add more money.

"The House doesn't have the votes to go south of $2 trillion, the Senate Democrats can't go south of 2 trillion, so that's what compromise is all about," Schumer said. "Because there are 20 Republicans who don't want to vote anything that doesn't mean the whole thing should shift in their direction. You have to meet in the middle."

Nobody is meeting anywhere at the moment, since there are no more talks currently scheduled, according to Meadows.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway earnings jumped 87% as it recovers from the pandemic
By Shannon Liao, CNN Business

Berkshire Hathaway is recovering from a rough start to the year where it was hard hit by the coronavirus. On Saturday morning, it posted $26.3 billion in net income for the most recent quarter, up almost 87% from last year.

Billionaire Warren Buffett's industrial and insurance conglomerate is typically considered a bellwether, given the diverse businesses it owns, including Kraft Heinz, Geico, Duracell and more. Like the economy itself, the company is trying to mitigate economic loss.

Berkshire had net earnings of $26.3 billion, or $16,314 per Class A share equivalent, from $14.1 billion, or $8,608 per Class A share in the year-earlier quarter.

That's a big turnaround from its first quarter, when Berkshire lost $50 billion, the company's biggest-ever loss, as it suffered from a massive shift in consumer behavior. But much of the rebound was the result of a turnaround in the overall stock market. Its operating earnings fell from the prior quarter,

Operating profit fell 10%, to $5.52 billion, compared to $6.14 billion last year, according to its second quarter report posted on Saturday morning.

Berkshire also reduced the value of its Precision Castparts Corp business by $9.8 billion, reflecting the challenges that industrial companies faced during Covid-19. The conglomerate purchased Precision in 2016 for around $37 billion.

"We believe the most significant of these disruptions relate to the air travel and commercial aerospace and supporting industries," it wrote in the report. "The COVID-19 pandemic events will continue to evolve and the effects on our businesses may differ from what we currently estimate."

Up until mid-March, when the pandemic forced closures across the United States, many of Berkshire's businesses were showing higher revenue and earnings compared to last year. But the pandemic "negatively affected" these units, "with the effects to date ranging from relatively minor to severe," Berkshire stated. In particular, manufacturing, service and retail businesses were hit hard, posting $1.449 billion in net earnings last quarter, down from $2.487 billion last year.

Some Berkshire holdings were deemed essential businesses under state government rules and continued to operate during shelter in place, including railroad, utilities, insurance and parts of the manufacturing and service industry.

In the Saturday report, Berkshire said it has had to furlough employees, reduce wages and salaries and cut capital spending. It didn't provide specific numbers.

Berkshire wrote that while it believes some of these actions are temporary, several businesses will likely continue to downsize and restructure to "better fit expected customer demand." It can't predict an end date for when business goes back to normal, the company said.

Berkshire Hathaway has had large losses in the past, but those were attributable more specifically to its own investments rather than a downturn in the broader economy.

In the year earlier quarter, for example, the firm posted what was until this year its largest loss because of difficulties at its Kraft Heinz unit, where sales were hit hard as shoppers increasingly shun processed foods. The company posted a more than $25 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2018 as it wrote down that position.

Despite Covid challenges, Berkshire still has plenty of cash on hand for investments into even more top US companies. It's now sitting on $146.6 billion in cash, it disclosed on its balance sheet.

Twin brothers start chair building business amid pandemic

Twin brothers start chair building business amid pandemic
By Daniel Pierce

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    DAVIDSON COUNTY, NC (WGHP) -- Teenagers spend most of their summers hanging out with friends, going on vacation or being at camp.

The pandemic has, unfortunately, changed that for most children, including the Nowak Twins.

Aaron and Ryan Nowak, however, choose to use their new found free time to start a business and make a little money.

The 13-year olds started Nowak Bros. where they specialize in building large wooden chairs for customers.

"It makes us work on teamwork," explained Aaron Nowak.

His brother Ryan agreed and said it also has taught them, "to not get angry at each other."

The brothers started to build chairs after they sat and watched their dad build a set for their mother for Mother's Day.

They took up the trade of chair building and began to make chairs for family friends.

In the past two months, they filed more than 20 orders with their customer base growing.

The boys said they will not keep all of the revenue they get.

A portion of it will go to help the Davidson County Animal Shelter.

"We will help people out with the money. Plus people will have chairs to sit in," Ryan said.

If you want to find out more about the brother's business or order a chair, visit their Facebook page here: facebook.com/Nowak-Bros-111536287197359.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Winston-Salem State University students move in to campus

Winston-Salem State University students move in to campus
By Natalie Wilson

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    WINSTON-SALEM, NC (WGHP) -- It was move-in day at Winston-Salem State University Friday.

Freshman Lauren Best couldn't hide her excitement.

"I'm just ready to get in there. Get moved in and start my new life here at Winston Salem State University," she said.

The nursing major picked WSSU out of 13 schools.

"I'm just ready to meet new people, ready to get into my classes and learn new things," she said.

Chancellor Eldwood Robinson was on campus to welcome students and families as they unpacked their belongings.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant this year's move-in had to be structured in a way that followed social distancing guidelines.

"We worked long and hard to prepare for this, making sure that we have proper distancing and spacing, making sure that we don't have too many people in a bottleneck that we get them in quickly and on their way," Robinson said.

There are signs throughout campus reminding people to wash their hands, follow social distancing guidelines and monitor their health.

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Juventus sacks Maurizio Sarri after Champions League exit

Juventus sacks Maurizio Sarri after Champions League exit
By Paul Gittings, CNN

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was sacked on Saturday following the Serie A club's Champions League last 16 exit to Lyon.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a double in the 2-1 home win on Friday, but it could not prevent the Italian powerhouse from going out on the away goals rule after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.

Despite leading Juve to a ninth straight Serie A title in his first season in charge, Sarri has paid the price for his side's failure on the European stage.

"Maurizio Sarri has been relieved of his post as coach of the first team," said a club statement.

"The club would like to thank the coach for writing a new page in Juventus history by winning a ninth consecutive Scudetto, the culmination of a personal journey that saw him move through every level of Italian football."

Sarri, 61, replaced Massimiliano Allegri last season, after leading Chelsea to success in the Europa League.

All looked well as Juventus started the season with a 14-game unbeaten run in Serie A, but was facing a stronger challenge from both Inter Milan and Lazio, losing for the first time in the league to the latter in December.

Defeats in the Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup also undermined confidence in Sarri, while poor form since the season restart saw Juve cling on in the title race by just a single point to Antonio Conte's Inter.

The exit to Lyon proved the final straw, with Memphis Depay's first half penalty for the visitor sealing the French side's passage despite Ronaldo's goals taking his total to 37 for the 2019/20 season, a club record.

Juventus has not won the Champions League since 1996, finishing runners-up five times in the intervening period with the defeat to Lyon the first in the last 16 since 2016.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, videos and features

It led to a stream of unfavorable headlines in the Italian sports papers as the quest for a third title in Europe's premier club competition ended in bitter disappointment.

It was a far cry from Sarri's arrival in Turin last summer, his reputation forged in three seasons in charge of Napoli, where the side's fast-paced style of football -- nicknamed "Sarriball" -- earned plaudits as well as turning the team into challengers to Juventus.

Despite winning Europe's second-tier club competition with Chelsea, Sarri was relieved of his duties after just one season, paving the way for his dream move to Juventus.

Ponchatoula becomes Louisiana's first Purple Heart City

Ponchatoula becomes Louisiana's first Purple Heart City
By Victoria Cristina

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    PONCHATOULA, LA (WGNO ) -- On Friday, Ponchatoula made history by being officially dedicated as Louisiana's first Purple Heart City.

The designation recognizes Ponchatoula residents who have earned the Purple Heart medal in military service.

The Purple Heart medal is given to military servicemen and women who were wounded in battle or to family of those killed in action.

Purple Heart recipient Bert Cusimano, of Ponchatoula, spoke at the dedication ceremony on Friday morning.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser presented a document to Mayor Bob Zabbia on behalf of Gov. John Bel Edwards, formally proclaiming the state's first Purple Heart City.

Metal signs declaring the designation will be presented for placement at each of the city's entrances.

Among the invited dignitaries are Edwards, state Secretary of Veteran Affairs Joey Strickland, Ponchatoula City Council members, Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller, 7th Ward Marshal Pat Farris, Police Chief Bry Layrisson, state Rep. Bill Wheat, Congressman Steve Scalise and US Sen. Bill Cassidy.

Fellow local Purple Heart recipient Ron Cerisi of Ponchatoula also attended the event.

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Instacart went on a hiring spree. These workers got squeezed

Instacart went on a hiring spree. These workers got squeezed
By Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN Business

After Kenneth Bloom retired from a career in the grocery business, he didn't stray far. The 61-year-old focused on delivering groceries for Instacart, a role he'd been doing as a side-gig before retirement. The work gave him more flexibility, a source of income to supplement his pension, and the chance to continue indulging in his fondness for food shopping.

As the pandemic first hit the US, Bloom, who has now worked with Instacart for more than two years, was in the enviable position of seeing more opportunities to make money. But that didn't last long. Several weeks into the health crisis, he started noticing that bigger ticket collections of orders, also known as batches, would get swooped up in the blink of an eye by one of the many other workers in Instacart's rapidly growing fleet of shoppers.

"You have to constantly look at your phone because if you turn your head for a minute, that batch is gone," Bloom said. While the risk of doing the job during a health crisis remained the same and there was no hazard pay, he started to notice a change in the orders he was able to secure: $7 to $10 batches in lieu of batches that could be many multiples higher in the first weeks of the pandemic.

As demand for grocery deliveries began spiking in March, Instacart announced plans to more than double its workforce of full-service shoppers, who, like Bloom, are treated as independent contractors. Several weeks later, Instacart announced it had already added 300,000 new workers and would add an additional 250,000 shoppers in select regions. The company also said it would begin instituting a wait list to prevent over-saturation. (Instacart said it currently has over 500,000 active shoppers and expects that number to fluctuate over time as the country reopens.)

While that surge in new shoppers offered the promise of a financial lifeline for thousands of workers during a sudden and severe economic downturn, some longtime shoppers felt sidelined. In interviews with CNN Business, some workers who predated the hiring spree expressed anxieties about how quickly batches would get snapped up -- by real people or bots created to grab high-priced orders -- and their ability to earn an income.

"Some time around the end of April, May, the batches weren't as large monetarily," said Carol Chantiny, who is based in Michigan and has worked as an Instacart shopper since 2017. "Something seemed to be going on."

In response to questions from CNN Business, Instacart said there were more batches for shoppers to select from in the early weeks of the pandemic because of an imbalance between supply and demand. The platform had fewer than 200,000 shoppers at the time, and it was only able to deliver 50% of customer orders the same day or the next day. Demand from customers was up 500% compared to the year prior, the company said.

Instacart also said that from March to early June, it paused a system that prioritized which batches were surfaced to workers based on their shopper ratings. The company said the move was intended to insulate shoppers from being overly impacted by low customer ratings if they were unable to fulfill out-of-stock items like toilet paper. But as a result, it also meant there was no priority given to any shoppers, regardless of how long they've worked with the service, Instacart said.

"We're incredibly grateful for each member of the shopper community and their commitment in helping bring families the household essentials they need," an Instacart spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson also noted that the company has "introduced new recognition programs, product features, shopper perks, and resources to help make the shopper experience better tomorrow than it is today."

Addressing the bots, Instacart sent shoppers an email in mid-July describing new authentication measures to verify shoppers and a ban on unauthorized third-parties from accepting batches.

Some shoppers told CNN Business they have seen a slight improvement in available batches this summer, but they attributed it to the fact that the job is not for everyone and speculated some new shoppers may have fallen off. They also said the rollercoaster is par for the course in working for the startup, which has been known to change how shoppers are compensated, including scrapping a "quality bonus" for 5-star ratings last fall. The last few months have forced some shoppers to rethink how much they lean on Instacart for their livelihoods.

Together, their experiences highlight some of the growing pains for Instacart and its sprawling fleet of shoppers. While the startup has emerged as one of the clear winners of the pandemic with a soaring valuation and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional venture capital, it has also been criticized over issues including its pay practices and inadequate worker protections.

One Florida shopper, who spoke to CNN Business on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said an internal "leaderboard" recently showed there were 900 active shoppers in their area, up from 400 less than a year ago. A Colorado shopper, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed a similar spike in their region based on the same information.

"When I would go to the bathroom I would take my phone with me," the Florida shopper said. "You're afraid you're going to miss an order."

The ability to pick up worthwhile batches became so difficult that the Florida shopper, who has worked for the company for nearly a year, has temporarily picked up a part-time job as an in-store shopper for a local grocer to make ends meet.

Others have come close to giving up on Instacart.

Daisy Cevallos, who is based in Southern California, and has worked for Instacart for nearly two years, said she's largely stopped delivering for the service in recent months due to the low orders. "I couldn't catch an order worth catching," she said, adding that "out of desperation," she searched for alternatives. She continues to deliver groceries for her own clients through an emerging startup called Dumpling, but hasn't written off Instacart.

Among longtime shoppers who remain active on the platform, they worry both about their own livelihoods -- with the hiring spree being just the latest reminder that Instacart can quickly fill jobs and edge out workers -- and the overall quality of service on the platform from newer shoppers.

"There are a lot of people who don't know the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini; between 2% milk and whole milk; between different kinds of apples -- they think an apple's an apple," said Bloom. "You've gotta take care of the customer."

Cevallos echoed the point. "They would shop the frozen first -- a huge no-no. You're going to deliver soupy ice cream," she said.

A city 'ruined in 30 seconds': Lebanese basketball great Fadi El Khatib weeps for Beirut
By Noura Abou Zeinab and Ben Morse

Destruction. Obliteration. Lives irrevocably altered. From huge chunks of concrete to tiny shards of glass, Lebanon is trying to fathom how it can rebuild its capital and repair the countless lives impacted by this week's blast which killed at least 158 people and injured more than 6,000, according to the latest figures released by its National News Agency.

Yet for Lebanese basketballer Fadi El Khatib, who is regarded as one of the biggest names in Asian basketball, "the footage and pictures that you see on the media are nothing compared to what the situation is, what the reality is."

Nicknamed the "Lebanese Tiger," El Khatib led Lebanon to multiple appearances in the FIBA World Championships. He won four FIBA Asia Champions Cups for Lebanese clubs Sagesse and Al-Riyadi. He was in Dubai on business on the day of the blast, but his wife and four children were in Beirut.

"It's doomed. It's ruined. It's damaged. It's broken. Every single house in Beirut," the 41-year-old El Khatib told CNN Sport in a tearful interview from Beirut.

"Everything we've built ... It's ruined within 30 seconds. You have no idea the damage that's happened to Beirut. Buildings will not stand in a week from now, because it's damaged, totally broken, the structure is down.

'The damage is really bigger than what people expect'

The powerful blast has been linked to a massive shipment of ammonium nitrate that authorities say was stored in the port of Beirut without safety precautions for years, -- despite warnings by local officials.

El Khatib is just one of the many Lebanese now trying to pick up the pieces of his life.

He owns a sports complex in Beirut -- which he said has been "ruined" by the explosion -- as well as his house and a restaurant.

He estimates that the damage to his property could cost him almost "$600,000-700,000" to rebuild. But right now given what he's witnessed over the last few days, money is the least of El Khatib's worries.

"The damage is really bigger than what people expect. It's bigger than Lebanon," the 13-time Lebanon basketball title winner said.

"We are affected with not only our businesses, with the lives that we lost, with our friends that we lost. I lost my friend in front of his kid's eyes. We've lost many Lebanese people that believe in Lebanon. They believe in a better tomorrow."

'We want to work for a better Lebanon'

Newly released documents suggest multiple government agencies in Lebanon were informed about the ammonium nitrate stored at the port, including the Ministry of Justice.

The information adds to a growing body of evidence, including emails and public court documents, that officials had been notified about a shipment of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate -- described by one Russian analyst as a "floating bomb" -- tied to Tuesday's catastrophic explosion in the seaside capital.

After the explosion, Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab said it was "unacceptable" that a shipment of an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored in a warehouse for six years.

However, documents obtained by CNN show that members of the Lebanese government and judiciary were apprised of vast quantities of the dangerous material being stored there -- and may have failed to safeguard it.

CNN has reached out to Lebanese Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Transportation and Beirut Port for comment but has received no response.

El Khatib says he was once nominated for the Minister of Sport role in Lebanon but refused the position because he didn't want to "work with people that are corrupted." CNN was unable to verify his nomination.

And he has called on the politicians of the country to do more to represent the people of the country better.

"I've posted stories on my social media now saying that: 'You destroyed us. You made us poor. You made us live without electricity.' We're in 2020. And we still have no electricity. We still have no water. We still have no business."

In a recent Instagram post, El Khatib said Lebanese "people need moral support, but mostly significant actions. May God help all those whose life will never be the same after this day."

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