Ex-USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert found dead after being charged with human trafficking and sex crimes, officials say
John Geddert, who coached the 2012 US Olympic women's gymnastics team, was found dead Thursday after being charged with 24 felonies in connection with the abuse of young gymnasts, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday.
The 63-year-old was facing charges that included human trafficking, criminal sexual conduct and lying to a peace officer, a release from Nessel's office read. Geddert had been expected to turn himself in and be arraigned on Thursday afternoon.
"My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.
CNN has reached out to her office for further comment.
Geddert was the former owner of Michigan's famed Twistars Gymnastics Club. It was one of the places Larry Nassar, the disgraced former gymnastics physician, had admitted to sexually abusing young female athletes. Twistars has since been sold and renamed.
An attorney for Geddert, 63, did not immediately reply to a request for comment
"It is alleged that John Geddert used force, fraud, and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training, for financial benefit to him," Nessel said. "The victims suffer from disordered eating including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse including sexual assault."
CNN obtained a copy of the complaint, which says the alleged offenses stretch from 2008 to 2016.
A press release from Nessel's office said Geddert engaged in verbal, physical and sexual abuse against multiple young women.
Geddert was facing 14 counts of human trafficking-forced labor resulting in injury, six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor, and one count each of continuing criminal enterprise, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation.
The count of lying to a police officer stemmed from her office's investigation into Nassar, Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said. However, Hagaman-Clark said Geddert was being prosecuted for his alleged behavior, not that of Nassar.
"What needs to be reported is that these charges against Mr. Geddert are for his actions and his actions alone. They have very little to do with Mr. Nassar," she said. "Counts 1-20 that relate to human trafficking are for his behavior in the gym related to his coaching."
Geddert sold ownership of the club in 2018.
Sarah Klein, who has identified herself as the first to be abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, called John Geddart's death by suicide an "escape from justice," in a statement Thursday night.
"The bravery of Geddert's many victims will stand for all time in stark contrast to his cowardice," Klein's statement read. "As a survivor and a mother of two young girls, my only comfort is in the knowledge that I can rest my head on the pillow every night knowing that John Geddert will never terrorize and abuse another child."
USA Gymnastics also released a statement on Geddert's death.
"This morning, we had hoped that news of the criminal charges being brought against John Geddert would lead to justice through the legal process. With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of today's events," the statement read.
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years for his decades of abuse.
Even after USA Gymnastics fired Nassar in the summer of 2015, Geddert continued to support him. In September 2016, Geddert was quoted as saying Nassar is "an extremely professional physician" who "goes above and beyond" for his gymnasts.
In 2018, when it was announced Geddert was the subject of a police investigation, attorney Chris Bergstrom said "at this time, Mr. Geddert only wishes to convey his heart-felt sympathy to all victims of Larry Nassar's abuse. Any further comments will distract from the victims' statements at Nassar's sentencing.
In January 2018, USA Gymnastics suspended Geddert. The organization did not detail why but cited a provision in the organization's bylaws that allows interim measures to be taken to "to ensure the safety and well-being of the gymnastics community."
The next month, Eaton County Undersheriff Jeffrey Cook said Geddert was the subject of an investigation after people came to authorities with complaints about the former coach.
At the time, Cook's office wouldn't comment on the type of complaints, type of investigation or how many people had come forward.
A year later, Michigan's attorney general said her office had taken over the investigation of Geddert.
CNN's Majlie de Puy Kamp, Laura Ly and Linh Tran contributed to this report.
YoutubeVideo: WDIV Detroit Local 4 News
Australia has passed a new law that will force tech companies to pay publishers for news content, setting the stage for potential, similar action in other countries.
The new code, which the Australian parliament approved Thursday, "will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.
The country's unprecedented new law had been hotly debated in recent months. Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) had opposed the initial version of the legislation, which would have allowed media outlets to bargain either individually or collectively with them — and to enter binding arbitration if the parties couldn't reach an agreement.
Facebook even shut down news pages in Australia last week in opposition to the legislation. But it said earlier this week that it would restore them after the country made some changes to the code, including a provision that "must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses."
Arbitration, meanwhile, will now only be used as a "last resort" following a period of "good faith" mediation.
Facebook said after those revisions were made that the new agreement would allow it to "support the publishers we choose to." It later revealed a deal with major Australian news company Seven West Media, with plans to sign more with other publishers.
Google, meanwhile, had already been trying to get ahead of the new legislation by announcing partnerships with media organizations in Australia, including Seven and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWS).
The Australian government said that the code will be reviewed by the Treasury department after a year to "ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the Government's policy intent."
While Facebook has found a workaround to its problems in Australia, it's still forcefully defending its opposition to similar far-reaching measures.
"The events in Australia show the danger of camouflaging a bid for cash subsidies behind distortions about how the internet works," Nick Clegg, the company's vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Clegg, a former UK deputy prime minister, opened up about the company's decision to stop news sharing in the country in his statement, acknowledging that the move would "have felt abrupt and dramatic to many."
"It wasn't a decision taken lightly," he wrote, adding that the company had "been in discussions with the Australian government for three years trying to explain why this proposed law, unamended, was unworkable."
The company had no choice but to take swift action last week, he argued, "because it was legally necessary to do so before the new law came into force."
The showdown is set to continue. Similar case studies may soon emerge in other countries, with the United States and European Union facing growing pressure to adopt such measures. Canada's government has also said that it plans to introduce legislation in the coming months.
— Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.
Source: CNN Business
YouTube video: WION
The former chief of Antigua’s Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in connection with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme involving the Stanford International Bank (SIB).
Leroy King, 74, of Dickerson Bay, Antigua, pleaded guilty on Jan. 30, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of obstruction of justice for his role in obstructing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into SIB. He was extradited to the United States in November 2019. King is a dual citizen of the United States and Antigua. Beginning in approximately 2002, he served as the administrator and CEO of the FSRC, an agency of the Antiguan government. As part of his duties, he was responsible for Antigua’s regulatory oversight of Stanford International Bank Limited’s (SIBL) investment portfolio, including the review of SIBL financial reports and responses to requests by foreign regulators, including the SEC, for information and documents about SIBL’s operations.
In or about 2005, the SEC began investigating R. Allen Stanford and Stanford Financial Group (SFG) and made official inquiries with the FSRC regarding the value and content of SIBL’s purported investments.
King admitted that Stanford’s cash payments to King totaled approximately $520,963.87 over the course of the conspiracy. Stanford also provided King tickets to both Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston (2004) and Super Bowl XL in Detroit (2006). In addition, Stanford provided King with repeated flights on private jets Stanford or SFG entities owned. King later denied the SEC’s request for help, and he wrote that the FSRC “had no authority to act in the manner requested and would itself be in breach of law if it were to accede to your request.” In reality, the FSRC did have this authority and failed to exercise it because of the payments and other benefits Stanford gave to King.
A federal jury found Stanford guilty in June 2012 for his role in orchestrating a 20-year investment fraud scheme in which he misappropriated $7 billion from SIB to finance his personal businesses. He is serving a 110-year prison sentence. Five others were also convicted for their roles in the scheme and received sentences ranging from 3 to 20 years in federal prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.
The Houston Field Offices of the FBI, IRS-CI, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Brittain Shaw of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.
The Justice Department extends its gratitude to the government of Antigua for its cooperation and assistance.
Source: United States Department of ustice
Russian authorities say they have detected what is believed to be "human infection with avian influenza H5N8," the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed to CNN.
Russia notified WHO of the possible strain. "If confirmed, this would be the first time H5N8 has infected people," a WHO Europe spokesperson said in a statement Saturday.
The reported cases were workers exposed to bird flocks, according to preliminary information, the statement added.
The workers were "asymptomatic and no onward human to human transmission was reported," the spokesperson said.
Speaking during a televised briefing on Saturday, Anna Popova, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, said that the strain had been detected in seven poultry farm workers in the south of the country, state-run news agency TASS reported.
While still not confirmed by the WHO, the Russian health authority has said it is in discussion with national authorities to gather more information and "assess the public health impact" of the incident.
Avian flu usually affects only birds and there are many different strains of it.
Most cases of human infection are due to contact with infected poultry or surfaces that are contaminated with infected bird excretions: saliva, nasal secretions or feces.
In 2014 an H5N8 outbreak infected poultry on farms in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The British government has announced that every adult in the U.K. will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, one month earlier than initially planned. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the accelerated target will allow vulnerable people to be protected "sooner," which should help relax the lifting of lockdown restrictions across the country.
Senior ministers met to discuss the plan Sunday. Johnson will unveil the plan to ease restrictions to the House of Commons on Monday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that about one-third of U.K. adults — about 17 million people — have already been vaccinated. The new target also calls for everyone over 50 or with an underlying health condition to get a vaccine shot by April 15, rather than the previous target of May 1.
The U.K. uses both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first in an effort to give as many people as possible partial protection quickly, according to the Associated Press. While the move is backed by scientific advisors in the U.K., Pfizer says it does not have data to support the delay.
The U.K. was the first country in the world to grant emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine. Still, the government has faced widespread criticism for its handling of the pandemic, which has left more than 120,000 people dead, the highest toll in Europe.
The country is more than a month into its third national lockdown, leaving businesses and schools closed. The prime minister is under increasing pressure to ease the lockdown to help get the nation's struggling economy moving.
The latest lockdown was spurred by fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus — including one from South Africa — which overwhelmed British hospitals. Hancock said the number of cases of variants from South Africa was falling from a month ago.
"The latest data shows that there's around a dozen new ones, so a much, much smaller number, and each time we find a new one we absolutely clamp down on it," he said.
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as head of the Vatican's liturgy department, removing a conservative who was seen as an opponent of the pontiff's vision for the church.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Sarah stepped down from his leadership position. The Vatican did not provide any reason for his resignation or name a successor.
Sarah submitted his resignation as required by church law last June when he turned 75. But cardinals are often allowed to remain in their posts for a few years longer, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Shortly after the announcement, Sarah posted a statement on Twitter in which he alluded to his retirement age. "I am in God's hands. The only rock is Christ. We will meet again very soon in Rome and elsewhere," he wrote in French.
By accepting the cardinal's resignation, Pope Francis ousted a proponent of more traditional Catholic liturgy. Sarah is considered a staunch conservative, and has been seen as a possible future pontiff.
In 2014, Pope Francis appointed Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. However, as the Journal notes, it became clear that the African cardinal and the pope shared very different visions on theological matters, including on topics such as homosexuality and the church's relationship with the Muslim world.
Last year, the cardinal caused controversy after co-writing a book in which he defended the "necessity" of celibacy in the priesthood. His co-author, retired Pope Benedict XVI, later put distance between himself and the book and asked for his name to be taken off as co-author.
The parents of murdered journalist Kim Wall have said helping with a TV series about the police investigation into her death stopped them from falling down a "big black pit".
Joachim and Ingrid Wall, both journalists themselves, were integral to the police investigation when 30-year-old Swede Kim went missing after interviewing Danish inventor Peter Madsen on his homemade submarine in Copenhagen in 2017.
The submarine was found sinking the next morning and Madsen was arrested then charged with her murder after her dismembered body parts were eventually found in different areas of Koge bay.
Madsen changed his story several times but Kim's parents never gave up looking for her body.
The search, which involved divers painstakingly examining the seabed and then the use of dogs thanks to Mr and Mrs Wall, has now been turned into a series called The Investigation.
Explaining what gave them the strength to help with the TV series, Mrs Wall told Sky News: "We had to do it. Otherwise, we'd have fallen down this big black pit and never come back to life again.
"This was the only way to survive, to make something good out of it.
"And for the TV series to not focus on Kim, but she as a journalist."
Madsen is not the focus of the series, it is all about the investigation, something the Walls feel very strongly about.
"It gives us meaning to tell the world who Kim was, let her be remembered not as a crime victim but for the daughter, fiancee, sister, journalist, friend she was.
"She was a talented, brilliant young woman. We hope she is remembered like that."
The Walls have set up the Kim Wall Memorial Fund, which aims to help young, female journalists go into the world and find stories.
They told Sky News they set it up "so that something good comes out of this tragedy".
Mrs Wall said: "Now Kim can't go abroad and make those stories it gives us hope that others can.
"We know for many many years we'll be able to send out young female journalists all over the world in Kim's spirit.
"We think it's so important that we tell young people to do what Kim did, go out in the world, make a difference.
"Even if you come from a small town like Kim did in Sweden, you can go out and have the entire world as long as you're working."
Her parents added that Kim was "extremely stubborn" and "very determined".
"We're incredibly proud of her and we will be for the rest of our lives," they said.
Source: Sky News
Travellers having to stay in quarantine hotels in England will be charged £1,750 for their stay, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
The measures, which come into force on Monday, apply to UK and Irish residents returning from 33 red list countries.
Those who fail to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days face fines of up to £10,000.
Meanwhile, all travellers arriving into Scotland from abroad by air will have to go into quarantine hotels.
People travelling from red list countries to Wales and Northern Ireland will be required to book and pay for quarantine in England, as neither destination currently has any direct international flights.Travellers arriving into England who lie on their passenger locator forms about visiting a red list country face a fine of £10,000 or up to 10 years in jail.
It comes as the UK reported another 12,364 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a further 1,052 deaths within 28 days of a positive test - bringing that total to 113,850. More than 12.6 million people have received a first dose of the vaccine.
Delivering a statement in the Commons, Mr Hancock said 16 hotels have been contracted for the programme, with 4,600 rooms secured.
The health secretary also confirmed a new "enhanced testing" regime for all travellers arriving into the UK would begin on Monday, with two tests required during the quarantine process.
They will be required to get a test on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine period, whether they are isolating at home or in a hotel. The tests, conducted by NHS Test and Trace, will cost travellers £210.
"People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk," the health secretary told MPs.
Airlines and travel companies will be legally required to make sure travellers have signed up for the new measures before they depart, with fines for companies and passengers if they fail to comply, he said.
The penalties include a £1,000 fine for travellers who fail to take mandatory tests and a £2,000 fine for failing to take the second mandatory test - along with a 14-day extension to quarantine.
Failing to quarantine in a designated hotel carries a fine of between £5,000 and £10,000.
Asked when the travel rules would be relaxed, Mr Hancock said: "We want to exit from this into a system of safe international travel as soon as practicable and as soon as is safe."
Passengers required to stay in a quarantine hotel will need to reserve a room online in advance using a booking system that opens on Thursday.
The £1,750 fee for an individual includes the hotel, the cost of transport and testing. The additional rate for one extra adult or a child aged over 12 is £650, and for a child aged five to 12 it is £325.
These travellers will only be allowed to enter the UK through a "small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals", Mr Hancock added.
Responding to Mr Hancock's statement, Labour's shadow health secretary said the public wanted the government to "go further" on border quarantine measures.
Jonathan Ashworth told the Commons: "Our first line of defence is surely to do everything we can to stop (new variants) arising in the first place. That means securing our borders to isolate new variants as they come in.
"He's announced a detailed package today but he hasn't announced comprehensive quarantine controls at the borders."
Mr Hancock later said the red list was kept "under review".
Announcing Scotland's tougher measures, which apply to arrivals from all countries, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the "targeted, reactive approach" of the UK government was "no longer sufficient" to deal with the threat from coronavirus.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he also wanted to see "a stronger set of defences at our borders" and said the UK government's measures were "the bare minimum of what needs to be done".
Enforcement fines and prison sentences over quarantine breaches are still "under review" in Wales. A Welsh government spokesperson also said the country was working to determine when it will need its own quarantine hotels, if the red list expands or if international flights resume.
Although the 4,600 rooms secured so far in England would only allow for around one Boeing 747's worth of passengers per day, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said discussions were under way to add more capacity.
She told BBC Radio 4's World at One that separate security teams contracted by the government would be responsible for enforcing the quarantine, while hotel staff focused on giving people the "best possible experience in what are very difficult circumstances".
The £1,750 fee includes three meals, tea, coffee and water, Ms Nicholls said, but other items will be available at an extra cost through room service.
Travellers arriving in the UK - whether by boat, train or plane - are already required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry.
This test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling, and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks.
They must also provide contact details and their UK address. They can then travel - by public transport if necessary - to the place where they plan to self-isolate.
All travellers - including British nationals - must self-isolate for 10 days when they get to the UK.
The "test to release scheme" - where travellers from non-red list countries can leave home isolation after a negative test on day five - will remain under the new testing rules.
Passengers will be expected to use the gold-standard and more expensive PCR tests.
Lockdown rules mean people must only travel abroad for essential reasons. These are the same as the "reasonable excuses" for domestic travel, including:
The new measures come after England's deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, warned it was too soon to say to what extent people could begin to start planning summer holidays.
Speaking at Monday's Downing Street coronavirus briefing, he said: "The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think we just have to say the more you are stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point," he said.
"I can't give people a proper answer at this point because we don't yet have the data. It is just too early to say."
After the announcement of the travel rules, aimed at preventing the spread of new variants of coronavirus, government advisers designated another "variant of concern" - a version of the virus which was revealed last week to have been found in Bristol.
It's not surprising that officials are adding this new version of coronavirus to their "variants of concern" list.
Targeted testing is already under way to spot any new cases linked to the 21 that have already been found, mostly in the south west of England.
This new incarnation of the virus is the Kent variant "plus". It has the same N501Y mutation as the one that triggered lockdown - a genetic change that scientists say lets the virus spread more easily. But it also has an extra mutation called E484K.
E484K is what experts are worried about for vaccine efficacy. It is also seen in the South Africa and Brazil variants of concern.
A cluster of another variant in Liverpool is different again. It has got the E484K mutation but is an iteration of an earlier version of the pandemic virus rather than the Kent one.
Inevitably, more variants will continue to emerge. The challenge is to make sure vaccines are a good match to keep us ahead in this race against the virus.
Source: Sky News
Former president Donald Trump will face a second impeachment trial, after the US Senate rejected Republican arguments that it would be unconstitutional.
Senators were being asked to vote if Mr Trump can be tried even though he is no longer in office.
It was approved 56 to 44, with six Republican senators voting with Democrats and independents - Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey.
It means a trial with Senators sitting as a jury will get underway on Wednesday, and will likely last into the middle of next week.
Adam Parsons is in Washington DC for Sky News, and has been watching proceedings.
So now we know. The impeachment trial will definitely happen; Donald Trump will, once again, face the scrutiny of the Senate.
After weeks of questions and doubts, of angry rows and legal objections, the process will be played out.
They will press on with a trial that will probably continue through the weekend and into next week.
The likelihood is still - overwhelmingly - that there are not enough Republican senators willing to vote against Donald Trump when it comes to the final vote.
But as long as there is uncertainty, America will watch and hold its breath.
This first day of this impeachment trial was supposed to be focused on a legal argument, about whether the trial should even be going ahead. But things aren't that straightforward in Washington DC at the moment.
At stake, amid the historical reference and legal debate, was a question about America's sacred Constitution, and whether it was constitutional to impeach a President who has already left office.
In reality, it's impossible to work out where the theoretical element ends, and where the "what do you think of Trump?" element starts.
So the opening minutes of this legal debate were followed by a lengthy film, produced by Mr Trump's Democrat opponents, that showed the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, from inside and out, interspersed with the shocked reaction of those within the debating chamber, the aftermath of chaotic destruction and also Mr Trump's tweets.
"If that's not an impeachable offence, then nothing is," said Chuck Schumer, who leads the Democrat majority group in the Senate. He claimed that the allegations against Mr Trump were graver than any ever laid against a president.
Then came Jamie Raskin, a Democrat congressman who is leading the team of "impeachment managers" ranged against Mr Trump.
It was he who lambasted the idea that the former president was immune from prosecution, because his term has already finished - the basis for Mr Trump's claim that the trail is unconstitutional.
"If the president's arguments for a January exception are upheld, even if everyone agrees that he's culpable for these events, even if the evidence proves, as we think it definitely does, that the president incited a violent insurrection.
"On the day Congress met to finalise the presidential election he would have you believe that there is absolutely nothing that the Senate can do about it, no trial, no facts.
"He wants you to decide that the Senate is powerless at that point, that can't be right."
Mr Trump's lawyers, though, were adamant that the trial was worthless. One, Bruce Castor, insisted, during a meandering address peppered with long pauses, that there was no merit in having a trial that could remove a president from office, when voters had already done so.
His colleague, David Schoen, was more vociferous.
"This trial will open up more wounds across the nation" he said. "It is an attempt to disenfranchise 74 million American voters."
But their objections were rejected. Instead, the trial will start on Wednesday afternoon and continue, through the weekend and into next week.
Convicting the former President would need a two-thirds majority, which would require at least 17 Republican senators to vote against him.
That feels desperately unlikely. But if it did happen, the ramifications for American politics and society would, surely, be enormous.
More than 74 million people voted for Mr Trump at the last election, many backing him because of his contempt for the Washington establishment.
For him to now be convicted by that very same political establishment, and potentially banned from running for office again, would be both extraordinary and also incendiary.
Source: Sky News
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot pushed the limits of bad weather flying rules, and ultimately abandoned his training as he became disoriented in the clouds and crashed into a Southern California hillside last year, investigators said Tuesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators described the crash as preventable, the pilot as experienced, and his employer as a generally safe charter operation. The board officially attributed the January 26, 2020, crash that killed Bryant, his daughter, the pilot, and six others to the pilot's decision to continue the flight despite the weather.
"Even good pilots can end up in bad situations," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.
The board recommended federal policy changes that, if adopted, could have a long-lasting impact on charter flight safety. In addition to recommending more helicopters carry so-called black boxes -- the flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders -- the board recommended increased safety training for helicopter pilots on how to avoid inadvertently flying into clouds.
The responsibility then falls to regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as helicopter charter companies and pilots, to act on the recommendations.
The crashed helicopter, investigators said, did not carry data or voice recorders and was not required to. The helicopter was manufactured with a recorder but its owner, Island Express, removed the device.
"We use the term crash rather than accident," NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said. "An accident (is) just something that's unforeseen, unpredictable, if you will. Unfortunately this wasn't."
In the meeting, investigators said Island Express pilot Ara Zobayan may have felt pressure to perform for a high-profile client and continued flying into deteriorating weather conditions. Zobayan developed a "very close" friendship with Bryant, investigator Dujuan Sevillian said, a type of relationship that "can lead to self induced pressure" to fly in risky conditions.
NTSB board member Thomas Chapman pushed back on officially concluding that pressure played a role in the crash, although he acknowledged pilots may contend with a "tendency to want to please" the influential person who charters their services.
They said he climbed into what witnesses described as a "wall of cloud," possibly became disoriented, and unconsciously turned into a cloud-obscured hillside he knew was there. Pilots call that type of confusion spacial disorientation.
"It's not like ... the pilot was flying along, didn't know where the hills are and blundered into the side of a hill," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.
Island Express declined to comment to CNN on Tuesday.
Investigators said the helicopter was equipped to fly into clouds with the pilot operating solely in reference to the instruments -- known as Instrument Flight Rules or IFR-- but charter company Island Express' agreement with the FAA allowed only flights where the pilot could maintain visual contact with the ground, known as Visual Flight Rules or VFR.
"It would seem to be that these flights should have been operated under IFR," Sumwalt said.
All 9 people on board perished
The helicopter crashed into hilly terrain in foggy conditions in Calabasas. The passengers were heading from Orange County to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a youth basketball game in which Kobe Bryant was to coach and Gianna and two others aboard were to play.
In addition to Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, the crash claimed the lives of her teammates Payton Chester, 13, and Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Payton's mother, Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa's parents Keri Altobelli, 46, and John Altobelli, 56; assistant coach Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Zobayan, 50.
All nine aboard died of blunt force trauma, and the manner of death was accidental, according to a coroner's office.
Bryant, a 41-year-old 18-time All Star who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, had made the trip to Thousand Oaks several times as a coach for the academy.
Pilot appeared to become disoriented in fog, previous documents show
Weather and visibility were a concern ahead of the flight, and Zobayan discussed the plan to go ahead in a group text before the trip, NTSB documents released last year show. Visibility was so low that morning that the Los Angeles Police Department had decided to ground its helicopters.
During the trip, the the pilot appeared to become disoriented in fog, the documents released last year by the NTSB show.
During the flight, Zobayan told a controller in a final communication that he was going to climb to 4,000 feet to get over the clouds, the NTSB said last year.
Radar showed that around 9:45 a.m., the craft climbed to about 2,300 feet above sea level and turned left, before descending at a rapid rate. it dropped off radar at about 1,200 feet, near the crash site, the NTSB had said.
The first 911 call for the flight came in at 9:47 a.m., Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said.
The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, and parts were found scattered across an area that stretched up to 600 feet, the NTSB said days after the incident.
In a February 2020 update from the NTSB on the crash investigation, the board said there was no evidence of engine failure. Later that month, it issued a preliminary report underscoring the overcast weather in the area that day.
Bryant's widow, Vanessa, sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Villanueva following the crash over eight deputies taking photos of the scene and the deceased victims. A leak from the department led to TMZ breaking the news, and fans flocked to the site.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an invasion-of-privacy bill in September which would make it illegal for first responders to share photos of a deceased person at a crime scene "for any purpose other than an official law enforcement purpose."
Under the new "Kobe Bryant Act," which went into effect this year, a first responder who is found guilty of the misdemeanor crime may be fined up to $1,000 per violation.
Source: Edition CNN
Elon Musk has pledged $100 million towards a new global competition that will challenge teams to remove carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere.
The SpaceX and Tesla CEO said the XPrize Foundation would run the competition for four years, with an ultimate goal of "carbon negativity, not neutrality".
In a statement on Monday, Mr Musk said: "This is not a theoretical competition. We want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level. Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence."
Mr Musk, who overtook Jeff Bezos earlier this year to become the world's richest person, has a net worth in excess of $200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
As one of the founders of the pioneering online payments platform PayPal, his fortune since has largely been made by betting his proceeds from the sale on futuristic technologies.
As the leading electric car maker, Tesla hopes to create a more environmentally sustainable future on Earth, while SpaceX's ambition is to transform humanity into a multi-planetary species.
The foundation's website described the XPrize as the "largest incentive prize in history", aimed at tackling the "biggest threat" facing humanity.
"The world's leading scientists estimate that we may need to remove as much as 6 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2030, and 10 gigatons per year by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change," the site states.
"For humanity to reach the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting the Earth's temperature rise to no more than 1.5C of pre-industrial levels, or even 2C, we need bold, radical tech innovation and scale up that goes beyond limiting CO2 emissions, but actually removes CO2 already in the air and oceans.
"This four-year global competition invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way."
Full details of the XPrize will be released on Earth Day on 22 April.
The head of a World Health Organization-led team probing the origins of COVID-19 said bats remain a likely source and that transmission of the virus via frozen food is a possibility that warrants further investigation, but he ruled out a lab leak.
Peter Ben Embarek, who led the team of independent experts in its nearly month-long visit to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged at a seafood market in late 2019, said the team’s work had uncovered new information but had not dramatically changed their picture of the outbreak.
“The possible path from whatever original animal species all the way through to the Huanan market could have taken a very long and convoluted path involving also movements across borders,” Embarek told a nearly three-hour media briefing.
Embarek said work to identify the coronavirus’s origins points to a natural reservoir in bats, but it is unlikely that they were in Wuhan.
Investigators were also looking for Chinese blood samples that could indicate that the virus was circulating earlier than first thought, he said.
“In trying to understand the picture of December 2019 we embarked on a very detailed and profound search for other cases that may have been missed, cases earlier on in 2019,” he said.
“And the conclusion was we did not find evidence of large outbreaks that could be related to cases of COVID-19 prior to December 2019 in Wuhan or elsewhere.”
Princess Eugenie, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, has given birth to her first child, a baby son, with husband Jack Brooksbank, Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday.
Eugenie, the 10th in line to the British throne and younger daughter of the queen’s third child Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and her son are both doing well, the palace said.
Born weighing 8lbs 1oz, the baby is the ninth great-grandchild for the 94-year-old queen.
“The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, Sarah, Duchess of York, and Mr and Mrs George Brooksbank have been informed and are delighted with the news,” the palace said.
Eugenie, who married Brooksbank at Windsor Castle in 2018, announced the news on her Instagram account with a picture of the new parents holding the newborn’s hand.
Rescuers raced to free around 35 Indian construction workers trapped in a tunnel, two days after the hydroelectric dam they were helping to build was swept away by a wall of water from a collapsed glacier that barrelled down a Himalayan river.
The workers were among 197 people who officials said were still unaccounted for as the death toll from the disaster - which also broke apart bridges, cut off villages and scarred tracts of mountain landscape - rose to 28.
Packing rocks, dirt and construction debris and thought to have been triggered when a glacier lake fed by India’s second highest peak, Nanda Devi, collapsed, the flood swept down the Dhauliganga river on Sunday.
Officials said most of those still missing were shift workers at either the Tapovan Vishnugad hydroelectric project, where the tunnel was situated, or at Rishiganga, a smaller dam which was swept away in the flood.
Soldiers using bulldozers had cleared away rocks at the mouth of the 2.5-km (1.5-mile) tunnel, and video posted by the Indo-Tibetan border police service showed rescuers checking the water level deeper inside.
Rescuers hoped to open the tunnel up by Tuesday afternoon, said Ashok Kumar, director general of police in Uttarakhand state, where the flash flood occurred.
Officials said thermal imaging equipment had also been deployed to help locate would-be survivors, and Uttarakhand’s chief minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat, said 28 bodies had been recovered so far.
Thirteen villages had been cut off by the floodwaters were being resupplied from the air, Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament.
A government official said many locals had apparently managed to escape the waters by fleeing to higher ground as soon as they heard the rumble of the water racing down the valley.
“The workers in the tunnel may not have heard anything and got stuck,” the official said.
The 520 MW Tapovan project, being built by state firm NTPC, is one of many run-of-river projects being developed to upgrade Uttarakhand’s power network.
Officials have yet to conclusively determine what caused the disaster, though scientists investigating it believe heavy snowfall followed by bright sunshine combined with a rise in temperatures may have triggered the glacier’s collapse.
A clearer picture of the circumstances is expected to emerge later this week, officials said.
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