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Health News

  • The World Health Organization on Monday announced Congo will start using a second experimental Ebola vaccine, as efforts to stop the deadly outbreak are stalled and Doctors Without Borders criticizes vaccination efforts to date. Since this outbreak was declared in August 2018, more than 200,000 people have received doses of a vaccine made by Merck which will continue to be used in Congo. The U.N. health agency in a statement said the second vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, will be used from October in areas where Ebola is not actively spreading. Using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine 'will ensure that we have potentially an additional tool to prevent the expansion of the outbreak,' said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's Africa director. So far, more than 3,030 people have been sickened by the Ebola virus in this outbreak, the second-worst in history, and more than 1,990 have died. The question of whether the Johnson & Johnson experimental vaccine should be used was at the center of a dispute between Congo's former health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga and global health officials. Ilunga had insisted Congo would not use the vaccine because he said it wasn't sufficiently tested and would create confusion. He resigned as the health minister in July after the president replaced him as the head of Congo's Ebola response team. In his resignation letter, Ilunga criticized the 'strong pressure exercised in recent months' to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Separately, Doctors Without Borders is seeking an independent committee to oversee Ebola vaccination efforts, similar to those that have been formed internationally to respond to outbreaks of meningitis, yellow fever and cholera. The medical charity said greater transparency is needed and alleged that WHO is 'restricting the availability' of the Merck vaccine in the field. Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym, MSF, said the approximately 225,000 people vaccinated so far is 'largely insufficient' and that between 450,000 and 600,000 people should have been immunized by now. 'Not enough people are getting the vaccine because of some arbitrary rules that haven't been made clear,' Dr. Natalie Roberts, emergency coordinator for MSF, told The Associated Press. She said restricting the vaccine to people who are known contacts of Ebola cases is problematic. 'It comes down to very local control, when every morning it's someone from WHO who decides who is going to be vaccinated and how many vials to open,' she said. 'Trying to restrict eligibility for a vaccine for a disease that everybody is afraid of is just not going to work.' MSF has described WHO's strategy as 'like giving firefighters a bucket of water to put out a fire, but only allowing them to use one cup of water a day.' WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in an email that the limited number of Ebola vaccines needs to be used sparingly. 'If all doses were sent to (Congo), there would be no reserves available to respond should cases emerge in any of the high-risk neighboring countries,' he said. 'That would jeopardize an effective, speedy response in those high-risk countries.' Beyond Congo, cases have been confirmed in Uganda and some health workers in Rwanda and South Sudan have been vaccinated preventively. Jasarevic said an international committee like the one called for by MSF is only used for licensed vaccines; both Ebola vaccines remain experimental and have not been approved by any regulatory agencies. 'When the vaccine is licensed, this would be an appropriate mechanism for managing supply of the vaccine,' he said. Roberts said the number of people vaccinated so far is ultimately a damning assessment of response efforts. 'If you had said at the beginning of the outbreak that we were going to vaccinate this many people, you would assume the outbreak would be over by now,' she said. 'But clearly the right people were not vaccinated.
  • Victims of a diabetes drug suspected in hundreds of deaths pleaded for justice as a massive trial involving more than 4,000 plaintiffs opened Monday for French pharmaceutical giant Servier Laboratoires and France's medicines watchdog. The company and the oversight body stand accused of involuntary manslaughter, fraud and other charges in their handling of the drug Mediator. 'My life is just not the same,' said Paquita Guardiola, who suffered severe health complications requiring a heart transplant after taking the drug. 'Now it's hard for me to even get dressed. My children dress me, my husband dresses me. He helps me in the shower, he does everything.' Although marketed as a diabetes drug, Mediator was also prescribed as a hunger suppressant and was taken by millions of people before sales were suspended in France in 2009. A 2010 study said Mediator was suspected in 1,000-2,000 deaths, with doctors linking it to heart and lung problems. The closely watched trial that opened in Paris is expected to last six months and is one of France's biggest in years. The trial dossier runs to nearly 700 pages — with around 300 pages taken up by plaintiffs' names. The trial was spread across five rooms, connected by video-link, at the Paris courthouse. Nearly 400 lawyers were working on the case. Guardiola, who has already received compensation from Servier, will testify as a witness. She said the drugmaker 'ruined my life.' Irène Frachon, a lung specialist who was among the first in France to sound the alarm about Mediator, said the scandal could not be simply brushed aside. 'You can't 'Put it behind you' when 2,000 people died,' she said. 'I'm really counting on this criminal case to put an end to this collective blindness to white collar crimes, especially with regards to what I call pharma-criminality.' She added: 'Whatever the financial stakes, there are red lines that need to be redrawn and that's why this trial is crucial.' Investigating magistrates concluded that Servier for decades covered up Mediator's harmful effects on patients. The national medicines agency is suspected of colluding in masking its dangers. François de Castro, a lawyer for Servier, said the pharmaceutical firm wasn't aware of risks associated with Mediator before 2009 — 33 years after it first went on sale. Speaking at the courthouse, the president of Servier, Olivier Laureau, expressed 'our deepest and sincerest regrets' to 'the patients who have suffered from Mediator' and 'to their families who have gone through a tragedy.' Servier is being tried on charges of manslaughter, unintentional harm, fraud and deceit about the chemical makeup of Mediator and the risks of taking it. France's medicines agency, meanwhile reformed and renamed, is also accused of manslaughter by negligence and causing unintentional harm. Also on trial are 12 representatives of the pharma giant and the medicines agency. 'This trial is a victory for the victims,' said Dominique-Michel Courtois, head of a Mediator victims group. He said they want answers on how Servier obtained a license to market the drug and how it 'hoodwinked the authorities.' Headquartered in a suburb of Paris, Servier employs 22,000 people worldwide and generated 4.1 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in turnover last year.
  • Britain's prime minister has promised to tell U.S. President Donald Trump that any notion of American firms buying parts of the U.K.'s beloved, state-funded health service will be off the table in future trade negotiations, and that the United States will have to open its markets to British goods if it wants to make a deal. Boris Johnson said he would draw his red lines for the protectionist president when the two leaders meet this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Johnson arrived at the global gathering on Monday with a balancing act to effect. He's trying to persuade European Union leaders to strike an elusive divorce deal with Britain, while also laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United States — seen by the government as one of the main prizes of Brexit. The Conservative prime minister is keen to forge a strong relationship with the Republican president, who has called the British leader 'a really good man.' But Johnson told reporters flying with him to New York that he would tell Trump 'that when we do a free trade deal, we must take sure that the (National Health Service) is not on the table, that we do not in any way prejudice or jeopardize our standards on animal welfare and food hygiene in the course of that deal, and that we open up American markets.' Opponents of Brexit fear the NHS — an overstretched but much-loved institution founded in 1948 to provide free health care to all Britons — will be opened to private U.S. firms as part of trade negotiations. They also have suggested Britain may have to accept chlorine-washed chicken, a U.S. poultry industry practice that is banned in the European Union. Johnson is likely to be dogged by Britain's divisive — and stalled — departure from the EU throughout his three-day trip to the U.N.'s annual gathering of world leaders. More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the departure date has been postponed twice, and the U.K. Parliament has repeatedly rejected the only divorce deal offered. The country is facing a chaotic exit on Oct. 31 unless Johnson's government can, against the odds, secure a new agreement — or arrange another delay, something Johnson vows he will not do. The British leader is seeking to persuade a skeptical European Union to give Britain a new divorce deal before the U.K. is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31. At the U.N. he was holding a series of meetings with EU leaders, including European Council President Donald Tusk, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Johnson said he didn't think there would be a 'New York breakthrough,' but he was encouraged by the progress talks had made since he took office less than two months ago. He replaced Theresa May, who resigned in failure after her EU withdrawal agreement was rejected three times by Parliament. 'If you think about when I first became prime minister, everybody was saying there's absolutely no chance whatever of changing the existing agreement,' he said. 'And I think nobody's saying that (now).' 'I think a large number of the important partners really do want a deal,' he said. But many leaders of the 28-nation bloc mistrust Johnson, a brash Brexit champion who played a big role in persuading British voters in 2016 to opt to leave the EU. And they say Britain has not come up with proposals for maintaining an open border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland — the key sticking point in the dispute. An open border underpins both the local economy and the peace process that ended years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday that 'based on current UK thinking, it is difficult to see how we can arrive at a legally operative solution.' The U.K. says the border can be kept free of customs posts and other obstacles through a mix of as-yet unproven technology and an all-Ireland zone for animals and agricultural products. 'What we are working for is a solution that enables the U.K. and the EU to respect the principles of the (EU) single market ... to allow an open border in Northern Ireland; to respect the achievements of the Northern Irish peace process; but also to allow the whole of the U.K. to come out of the EU,' Johnson said. 'And there is a way to do that. I think colleagues around the table in Brussels can see how we might do that. All it will take is a political will to get there.' Johnson is also facing claims that during his tenure as mayor of London between 2008 and 2016, he gave public money and places on overseas U.K. trade trips to a close friend running a startup business. He refused to comment to reporters when asked repeatedly about the allegations, first reported in the Sunday Times newspaper. The British government is also bracing for a Supreme Court ruling on whether Johnson broke the law when he suspended Parliament for five weeks ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. Johnson says the suspension was a routine measure to prepare for a new session of Parliament. Opponents claim he acted illegally to stop lawmakers from interfering with his plan to leave the EU, with or without a Brexit deal. The 11 justices say they will rule Tuesday morning. A ruling that the suspension was illegal would be a huge blow to Johnson's authority and could see lawmakers recalled to Parliament immediately. ___ AP journalist Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed. ___ Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and British politics at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
  • Several thousand people took to the streets across northwest Russia on Sunday to protest a controversial plan to build a major waste plant there. Police in the regional capital of Arkhangelsk said that about 1,000 people attended a rally there while local media reported that more than 2,000 protesters showed up. Locals held Russian flags and placards saying, 'Let's stand for the Russian north.' Protesters also rallied against the dump in more than a dozen towns. Russian media reported that three activists were detained at the Arkhangelsk rally on charges related to their participation in unsanctioned rallies earlier this year. The outcry against plans for the waste plant in a pristine Russian forest gained national prominence earlier this year after the regional government agreed to process and bury some of Moscow's waste at a new site at a remote railroad station. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked local officials to heed public concerns but the construction project has not been shelved.
  • The World Health Organization has issued an unusual statement raising questions about whether Tanzania is covering up possible cases of the deadly Ebola virus, a significant cause for concern during a regional outbreak that has been declared a rare global health emergency. The statement Saturday says Tanzania's government 'despite several requests' is refusing to share the results of its investigations into a number of patients with Ebola-like symptoms and is refusing to ship patient samples to an outside WHO partner lab. Tanzania's government, which has said it has no Ebola cases, could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday. The cases would be the first-ever Ebola infections confirmed in the East African country. The United Nations health agency says it was made aware on Sept. 10 of the death in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, of a patient suspected to have Ebola. A day later, it received unofficial reports that an Ebola test had come back positive. On Thursday, it received unofficial reports that a contact of the patient, who had traveled widely in the country, was sick and hospitalized. A rapid response is crucial in containing Ebola, which can be fatal in up to 90% of cases and is most often spread by close contact with bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or with contaminated objects. The WHO statement said the lack of information from Tanzania made it difficult to assess potential risks. The Ebola outbreak based in neighboring Congo has infected over 3,000 people and killed nearly 2,000 of them. A few cases have been confirmed in neighboring Uganda as well, and other neighboring countries have been preparing for the outbreak's possible spread. This is not the first time health officials have raised serious questions about the suspected Tanzania cases. On Monday, the U.S. health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, told reporters in Uganda that he and others were 'very concerned about the lack of transparency' in Tanzania. Critics have shown increasing alarm as Tanzanian President John Magufuli's government has restricted access to key information and cracked down on perceived dissent. Lawmakers recently approved an amendment to a statistics law to make it a crime to distribute information not sanctioned by the government or which contradicts the government. The World Bank was among those expressing concern at that amendment. ___ Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda contributed. ___ Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
  • Registered nurses staged a one-day strike against Tenet Health hospitals in Florida, California and Arizona on Friday, demanding better working conditions and higher wages as the nation's labor movement has begun flexing muscles weakened by decades of declining membership amid business and government attacks. About 6,500 National Nurses United members walked out at 12 Tenet facilities after working toward a first contract for a year in Arizona and under expired contracts in California and Florida, the union said. They plan to resume working Saturday. Members passed out leaflets in Texas, where contracts at two Tenet hospitals in El Paso expire later this year. The Tenet walkout is one of several strikes and organizing efforts nationwide as unions work to rebuild from a steep membership decline that began 50 years ago. Many are focusing on white-collar, female-dominated and service-sector industries such as health care, teaching and the media, not just blue-collar, male-dominated industries like manufacturing, where the United Auto Workers is striking against General Motors. A recent Gallup poll showed Americans support unions by 2-to-1, up from a near split 10 years ago and nearly the highest level since the 1960s. About 30 nurses picketed outside Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah, Florida, during intermittent rain Friday. They waved red flags with a white N and carried signs with such slogans as 'Happy RNs = Healthy Patients.' Yajaira Roman, a union leader and neurological intensive care nurse at Palmetto, said while Tenet nurses want higher wages — the company is offering raises of about $12 a week at Palmetto — they particularly want a lower patient-to-nurse ratio to avoid burnout and improve care. 'We are really proud of what we do and we're happy that we're serving the community, but we want to do it in a way where when patients leave the hospital they are extremely satisfied,' Roman said. In Tucson, Arizona, Fawn Slade said she and her colleagues want Tenet to work on nurse retention and lessen their workload so patients get optimal care. 'It's more important that our community recognizes that the nurses are here advocating for their safety,' Slade said. Tenet, which has 65 hospitals and 115,000 employees nationwide, said it has negotiated in 'good faith' and it is disappointed the union chose to strike. 'While we respect the nurses' right to strike, patients and their loved ones can be assured that our patients will continue to be cared for by qualified replacement registered nurses,' the Dallas-based company's statement said. According to the U.S. Labor Department, almost 3 million registered nurses are employed nationally, with an average annual salary of $75,510. Florida's average RN salary is $66,210, Arizona's is $77,000 and California's is $106,950, tops in the nation. Union membership has plummeted in the U.S. since the 1970s. About 10% of American workers are unionized today and only 7% in the private sector, down steeply from 40 years ago when a third of workers were represented, as jobs shifted from manufacturing to the service sector. When adjusted for inflation, the average American's wage has remained stagnant during those decades, according to the Pew Research Center. Government actions have also hurt unions. With support from business groups, Wisconsin and Michigan, both states with strong union histories, adopted 'right to work' laws this decade that prevent private-sector companies and unions from requiring employees to pay union dues or fees. Twenty-seven states , including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have such laws. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last year that government workers nationwide can't be forced to contribute to the unions that represent them in collective bargaining. Jeffrey Hirsch, a University of North Carolina law professor who specializes in labor issues, said such losses may spur unions to be more aggressive, but it also helps that unemployment is low. That makes workers more confident that a strike won't cost them their jobs. 'If the job market is better, they have more leverage because they aren't as easy to replace,' he said. Almost 50,000 General Motors workers went on strike this week as the UAW demands higher wages. It's the first U.S. auto industry work stoppage in a decade. In health care, 80,000 Kaiser Permanente workers plan a one-week strike next month to protest the hospital chain's wages and labor practices. Organizers say it might be the biggest U.S. walkout since 185,000 Teamsters struck United Parcel Service in 1997. Teachers walked out in several states over the last few years demanding higher salaries and more school funding, including in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia. Unions have also organized at several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, and at websites such as BuzzFeed, Slate, HuffPost and Fusion. Mary Anne Trasciatti, chair of Hofstra University's labor studies program, believes unions will experience a growth period because of their improving public support, particularly among younger workers. She said people are realizing the manufacturing jobs of the 1950s and 1960s paid well because they were unionized. 'You've got people who are really struggling who are saying, 'Look our 'leaders' and our 'status quo' is not serving our needs' and they are pushing back,' she said. __ AP writer Astrid Galvan in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Health Reporter Sabrina Cupit

  • Three more people have died after using e-cigarette products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The deaths have been in Illinois, Oregon and Indiana.    Officials on Friday said they had identified 450 possible illnesses in 33 states, including Georgia. The CDC reports that a majority of the patients are young (18-35), are male and admit to using a device that contained THC , nicotine, or both, 90 days before seeing symptoms.   The CDC is urging Americans not to use vaping products.   The Food and Drug Administration said it has collected 120 e-cigarette samples with the hope of finding a common device or substance that is causing the pulmonary illnesses.   The FDA says no single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses. Many of the sickened - but not all - were people who had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high.    Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or fever. If you have symptoms seek medical attention immediately.    CDC and FDA encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected health or product issues related to tobacco or e-cigarette products to the FDA at this link: https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov/SRP2/en/Home.aspx?sid=1f34e68a-d115-4835-a574-d792a7ed7728
  • Tens of thousands of glass stovetops are being recalled because they can just turn on without you knowing it. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says there have been more than a hundred incidents of the glass top stoves automatically turning on. More than a dozen fires or heat damage has been reported.
  • One of the biggest health achievements in the nation's history could be in jeopardy. Measles was eliminated in 2000 by The World Health Organization and now the Centers for Disease and Control says there is a reasonable chance the United States will lose that status. A measles outbreak in New York started September of 2018 and there have been outbreaks in 29 other states in the past year. WHO removes the elimination status when measles has been spreading continuously for a year.

News

  • A Missouri mom warned others not to leave aerosol cans in their vehicles after she said a can of dry shampoo exploded in her daughter's car, shooting through the sunroof and landing 50 feet away, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  Christine Bader Debrecht took to Facebook last week after she said her daughter left an aerosol can of dry shampoo in the closed middle console of her car during hot weather in Missouri. She said the can exploded, shattering the vehicle's sunroof and flying into the air. 'It blew the console cover off of its hinges,' Debrecht wrote. 'I just want to remind you (and your kids) to heed those warnings on products you may be using. Please don't leave aerosol cans (and especially dry shampoo, as this seems to be an issue with some brands) in your car! I am so grateful that no one was hurt.' Debrecht told KSDK and  ABC News that her family first believed something fell from the sky after her husband noticed the damage done to the 2018 Honda Civic hatchback. 'We were shocked and bewildered. We had no idea what had happened,' she told ABC News. 'We couldn't believe it had done so much damage. We still can't believe it. She told KTVI she was grateful her 19-year-old daughter wasn't in the vehicle when the incident happened. 'Don't leave aerosol cans in your car,' she told told KSDK. 'It's not something we think about every day.
  • Four men are accused of abducting a Maine man at gunpoint, forcing him to strip naked, and then shooting at him as the man attempted to escape by running down a road, police said Monday, >> Read more trending news  Ajoung M. Malual, 22, of Westbrook, Maine, Mahdi B. Ali, 23, of Boston, Noh Y. Okubazghi, 20, of Boston, and Samson S. Samsom, 22, of Minneapolis, were charged with drug trafficking and may face other charges, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Each man is being held in lieu of $150,000 bond apiece, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said they received reports of gunshots fired at a naked man about 1:30 a.m. Monday, WMTW reported. When deputies located the 39-year-old Naples resident, he told them he was taken at gunpoint from his home and put into a trunk, the Sheriff's Office said in its news release. He told deputies he was taken to an area and told to strip naked, and at that point began running through the woods while he was being shot at, deputies said. The victim gave deputies a description of the vehicle, which was located in Windham and stopped by authorities, the Sheriff's Office said. The four men in the vehicle were detained and subsequently arrested, deputies said. The victim, who was wounded, was taken to an area hospital and is in stable condition, deputies said.
  • What was an exciting celebration for one Texas couple became the subject of criticism on Twitter. The New York Post reported Jonathan Joseph and Bridgette Joseph were at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, where they enlisted the help of Tank the hippo for their gender reveal. >> Read more trending news  Video was posted to the zoo's Facebook page, but not before going viral on Twitter, where Ana Breton, a filmmaker, posted a screen recording of a TikTok post of the gender reveal. 'I did it. I found the worst gender reveal,' she tweeted Saturday. Time reported that the video showed Tank chomping on a watermelon, which revealed a blue color, meaning the couple is expecting a boy. Criticisms soon followed. 'The whole reveal concept is just completely stupid to begin with, but I guess you can make it even dumber,' one person tweeted. 'That person's baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,' another person replied. On Sunday, Breton said she got in contact with Bridgette Joseph, although it's not clear if Bridgette Joseph reached out to Breton to respond or not. 'While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day,' Breton tweeted, which included a response from Bridgette Joseph. 'This was one of the happiest days of our lives,' Bridgette Joseph said, according to Breton's tweet. 'With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!' Bridgette Joseph said she and her husband would have been happy to have another girl, but for them, it would have meant they 'would have had to keep tying for a boy.' Michael Hicks, the director of the zoo, told The Post the Jello-O was not harmful to Tank, despite what some said on social media. 'This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless,' zoo director Michael Hicks told the tabloid. Hicks said the hippo wasn't forced into the gender reveal. 'You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,' Hicks said. 'He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.
  • Officials in an Iowa city said the U.S. Department of Transportation has asked the city manager to remove multi-colored sidewalks, according to KCCI. >> Read more trending news  Ames officials said they received a letter from the USDOT's Federal Highway Administration, explaining the crosswalk at Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue did not meet codes and requested its removal 'as soon as it is feasible,' the television station reported. The crosswalks, installed earlier this month, feature a minority-inclusive rainbow on Douglas Avenue, KCCI reported. The crosswalks on Fifth Street feature gender non-binary colors on the east crosswalk and pride transgender colors on the west crosswalk, the television station reported. Ames officials said the FHWA's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prohibits the use of anything but white paint in crosswalks, adding that colored crosswalks and multi-colored crosswalks were not allowed. Ames officials are contesting the request. “I note that the FHWA’s letter included a “request” -- not a demand -- for the City to remove the colored crosswalk markings,' Ames City Attorney Mark O. Lambert told KCCI. 'This is not a lawful order or demand by a federal agency, it is merely a request.”
  • While this is only the first part of the Golden Ray and the St. Simons Sound incident, there remains a lot of work to do, threats to the environment, hazards to the people and to the Port of Brunswick continue to be addressed through a unified command,' said U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Reed, Charleston sector Coast Guard commander.   While an ongoing review and investigation unfolds of a fire and the subsequent capsizing of the South Korean automobile transport tanker, the Golden Ray, off the Georgia coast, you can bet millions that the ship's owner, automobile manufacturer/shipper and insurer were all hoping that there were some very experienced hands at the wheel the night that this massive cargo ship fell over on its side.
  • Chicago police have captured a man suspected of nearly killing an officer over the weekend, three days after he is accused of shooting a 28-year-old woman in the back as he rode a bicycle near downtown. Michael Blackman, 45, was in critical condition Sunday after he was shot during an armed confrontation with police, authorities said Sunday. As of Monday morning, he had been charged with four counts of attempted murder, according to Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department. A news conference was slated for later Monday to provide more details, but a time had not been set.  Blackman was captured Saturday afternoon, several hours after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old police officer on Chicago’s South Side. Chicago Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan said Blackman was caught after investigators who were canvassing the Englewood community, where the officer’s shooting took place, obtained surveillance footage that showed Blackman fleeing through a vacant lot several blocks away. The footage did not show him leave the lot. Detectives and patrol officers descended upon the area, Deenihan said. “When they went to go search that lot, this defendant popped up,” Deenihan said. “This is when the gun battle ensued between the defendant and the officers.” Blackman ran over some railroad tracks, where he encountered more officers. Additional shots were fired, and Blackman was struck multiple times. “He has eight holes in him at this time and a broken femur,” Deenihan said. Watch Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan talk about the shooting and capture of Michael Blackman below.  Blackman was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the same hospital where the officer he is accused of shooting was rushed earlier that morning. No officers were injured in the second encounter with Blackman, Deenihan said. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Saturday that the 16-year veteran officer who was shot serves on the department’s fugitive apprehension team. The team, which was looking for Blackman in connection with Wednesday’s bicycle shooting, went shortly after 8:30 a.m. that morning to a home in the 1900 block of West 65th Street, where Blackman was believed to be hiding, Johnson said. >> Read more trending news  When members of the team knocked on the door, Blackman ran out the back of the house, where the injured officer and his partner were stationed, Johnson said. “At that time, a physical struggle ensued, followed by an armed confrontation,” Johnson said. The unnamed officer was shot in the groin and in the lower leg, doctors said. Fellow officers loaded him into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. “It is reported that the injured officer had the self-awareness to apply his own tourniquet, as his partner maintained pressure on the gunshot wound on the way to the hospital,” the superintendent said. Guglielmi tweeted that the officer lost nearly a third of his blood volume. “He came basically bleeding to death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Kayle Lee said during Saturday’s news conference. “He had already lost a significant amount of blood and was taken emergently to the operating room for surgery.” Lee said the officer had a hole in one of the largest veins in his leg. She was able to repair the injury. The surgeon said the bullet to the officer’s groin remains in his body. The gunshot to his leg was a “through-and-through” wound, with both an entrance and exit wound. The officer suffered significant fractures to his leg when that bullet tore through his body, Lee said. His leg was splinted for the time being, but he will need additional surgery. “I do expect that he will have a good recovery,” Lee said. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who met with the man’s family at the hospital, said the shooting is a reminder of the sacrifice police officers make every day to protect the city’s residents. She also praised the work of the officer’s colleagues in the fugitive apprehension unit. “Their quick work saved this officer’s life,” Lightfoot said. She asked the public to pray for the officer’s full recovery. “I ask that all Chicagoans continue praying for the officer and his family throughout his recovery,” Lightfoot said at the news conference. “Also, keep all of our first responders in our thoughts and prayers because, as the superintendent said, and we see on a daily basis, they run to danger to protect us.” Like the officer, the woman Blackman is accused of shooting on Wednesday is expected to survive. According to The Chicago Tribune, the woman was headed to lunch with co-workers around noon in the city’s Fulton Market District when she was shot by a man on a bicycle. Watch police and city officials, along with medical personnel, speak below about the Saturday shooting of a Chicago police officer.  “Based on the information we have right now, the shooter passed by a group of individuals and went directly to her to extend his arm and fire one single gunshot,” Johnson said at the time, according to the Tribune. “Appears right now the victim may have been targeted by the offender.” As the gunman fled the scene, the woman was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, the newspaper said. Her condition was unknown Monday. Police officials released still images and video the day of the shooting that showed the alleged gunman riding his bicycle near the scene of the shooting. Guglielmi tweeted Friday that detectives had been given a tip to go to a bicycle shop, where they discovered security footage that showed a man fitting the description of the shooter getting his bike fixed about an hour before the woman was shot. The clearer images, which show a man later identified by police as Blackman, offer a full view of the man’s face as he stands at the counter. At one point, he takes off his black Nike baseball cap and wipes his head with paper towels. He is seen standing and chatting with the employee working on his bike and leaning on the counter, his wallet out, as he pays his bill. The man smiles several times as he talks to the worker. Blackman was identified as a suspect in Wednesday’s shooting based in part on the images from the bike shop, Johnson said. His motive in the woman's shooting was unknown as of Saturday. The superintendent declined to speculate on Blackman’s state of mind but pointed out that he was accused of shooting two people, including a police officer. “Obviously, this is not a person that should be walking the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said Saturday while Blackman was still at large. “He’s a dangerous individual. There’s no hiding that.” Blackman has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991, Johnson said Saturday. His previous charges range from burglary and domestic battery to drug charges. He remained hospitalized in police custody Monday morning.