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Shooting at Historic Black Church in Charleston, S.C. Nine People Dead

June 17, 2015: Police and ambulances responded to the scene of a shooting in Charleston, S.C. (Photo courtesy WCSC)

UPDATE: Multiple people were shot, some fatally Wednesday at a historic black church in the heart of South Carolina's second-largest city and police said the gunman was still at large.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told the Post and Courier newspaper that there were fatalities in the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church downtown.

"We’re still gathering information so it’s not the time yet for details," Riley told the paper. "I will say that this is an unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy in this most historic church, an evil and hateful person took the lives of citizens who had come to worship and pray together."

Riley added that local police were being assisted by Charleston County sheriff's deputies, the State Law Enforcement Division, and the FBI.

Authorities said the shooting took place at approximately 9 p.m. local time. There was no immediate information on the exact number of fatalities, though the police said no victims had been identified.

The Post and Courier reported that a chaplain was at the scene of the shooting, while multiple police cars and ambulances responded.

Police described the suspect as a white man of approximately 21 years of age with a small or slender build. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt with blue jeans and Timberland boots, and was clean shaven.

Approximately two hours after the shooting, a man matching the suspect's description was briefly detained near the shooting scene, but was later let go by police. The man, identified as 21-year-old David Corrie, told the Post and Courier he was walking out of a Shell gas station's convenience store when police forced him to get down on the ground and handcuffed him.

The pastor of the church is Clementa Pinckney, a member of the South Carolina state Senate. It was not immediately clear if he was in the church at the time of the shooting.

Antjuan Seawright, a spokesman for state Senate Democrats, told the Associated Press he hadn't heard from Pinkney or his family.

  "We are praying," Seawright said.

An Associated Press reporter on the scene said police helicopters with searchlights are circling overhead in the area, and a group of pastors are  kneeling and praying across the street. Police moved members of the news media back away from the site due to what they called an "imminent" threat.

They did not release any details.

The campaign of GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush sent out an email saying that due to the shooting, the candidate had canceled an event planned in the city Thursday. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley issued a statement calling the shooting a "senseless tragedy."

"While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we'll never understand what motivated anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another," the statement said. "Please join us in lifting up the victims and their families with our love and prayers."

The church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston's Methodist Episcopal church. One of its founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught, and white landowners had his church burned in revenge. Parishioners worshipped underground until after the Civil War.

Anyone with information on the gunman's whereabouts is asked to contact Charleston Police dispatch at 843-743-7200.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(Photo: WPEC CBS12)

Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police are investigating a shooting downtown that may have resulted in multiple fatalities, and authorities say a bomb threat has been called in at the scene.

Police were asking media and bystanders to move in the wake of the threat, WCSC was reporting.

Charleston Mayor Joe RIley confirmed to the Charleston Post and Courier that there had been fatalities. 

He was expected to speak at a press conference in the early midnight hours of Thursday morning.

The news organization indicated that nine people had been shot, but police were only saying they had no information on victims. South Carolina Rep. Peter McCoy tweeted that he heard nine people were confirmed dead.

Police said the shooting took place at an address that corresponds with that of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The house of worship is the oldest AME church in the South and is led by South Carolina State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a Democrat. The church has one of the oldest and largest black congregations south of Baltimore, according to its website. Denmark Vesey, executed for attempting to organize a major slave rebellion, was one of the founders.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church sits at 110 Calhoun St. in Charleston, S.C. (Photo: Facebook)

Pinckney was believed to be inside during the shootin, his legislative colleague, state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, told the Post and Courier.

The shooting took place at about 9 p.m. ET, Charleston police said via Twitter. The gunman is still on the loose, police told the Post and Courier.

The suspect is a clean-shaven white male about 21-years-old and is wearing a gray sweatshirt or hoodie, blue jeans and Timberland boots, officials said.

The FBI and chaplains were on the scene, Post and Courier reporter Melissa Boughton tweeted.

An emergency medical worker told people on the street to "drive far away or to go indoors," 
Boughton tweeted at about 9:45 p.m. EDT.

Flag Day in America




Come on back Old Glory
Welcome home where you belong

Flying high above the ground
Where She waves proud and strong

Dark clouds may swarm around you
But you wave harder in a storm

We'll have blues sky's again
As long as hope remains the norm

In the end what does it matter
If we choose Fox or CNN

Ours hearts are all that matter
Not the channel we tune in

When we bring our hearts together
We can destroy the enemy within

We can rise above the darkness
We can be proud and strong again

The free man that does nothing
Will not be free for long

Only free men that do something
Will see freedom live on

Old Glory's not just a flag
She's the symbol of who we are

For every one you burn
We will raise a thousand more

She's the symbol of our freedom
A symbol of our soul

The spirit of our lost soldiers
is the wind that makes her roll

So take heed of this warning
Make no mistake

What your seeking to destroy
Is much bigger than your hate
 
- Ray Tharaldson

Reporters confess: We use research from political campaigns all the time

By

A media controversy swelled over the weekend when the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, suggested there was something suspect about a New York Times report which appeared to contain research provided by a Democratic opposition research firm.

But several political reporters interviewed by the Washington Examiner media desk were left wondering: What's the scandal here?

"It's completely standard," said Rebecca Berg, a politics reporter for RealClearPolitics. "Every journalist I know is being pitched opposition research from both sides — some useful, some not. The best reporters take such information under consideration, like they would any tip, but then confirm and report out the story on their own."

At issue is a Times story published Friday on Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's past minor traffic violations. "Marco Rubio and His Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions," the story declared.

The story was mocked by conservatives online and Free Beacon reporter Brent Scher wrote a follow-up story after he found that the records for Rubio's traffic citations had initially been pulled by the Democratically-aligned American Bridge group, and not the Times itself.

"So scary, indeed, that Democrats appear to be feeding opposition research to the Times," Scher wrote.

In a statement to Politico, the Times' Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan defended her publication and said the Times had actually hired a "document retrieval service" to obtain the citations.
But even if the Times had utilized the research dug up by a Democratic firm, reporters say that's not uncommon.

"Every reporter gets [opposition research] if they are covering a campaign," said one veteran political reporter. "The difference between a real reporter and a parrot is what they do with the information. 

You have to deal with it like any tip: Trust but verify, and you have to retrace the steps and report out any piece of intel you get, period."

A politics reporter based in Texas said the same. "I'd say I personally don't see any ethical problem with reporters taking cues from opposition researchers as long as they can independently verify the information they're receiving," he said.

"It's not unusual for researchers on all sides to pitch us with stories, some of which do become ledes," said another politics reporter in D.C. "It would be rare, however, for a news outlet to admit that because it would be admitting the embarrassing fact that many of us have ceded research to the campaigns, we've become so accustomed to being served this stuff on a silver platter."

The Free Beacon itself has actually engaged in the practice.

In 2014, Free Beacon reporter Alana Goodman published a series of buzzy reports under her byline that relied on documents about Hillary Clinton archived in the University of Arkansas Library. It turned out, however, that the Free Beacon had hired veteran Republican opposition researcher Shawn Reinschmiedt to do much of the investigating for Goodman's stories.

Scher, who wrote the Free Beacon story challenging the Times on its reporting, said in an email that his contention is with the substance of the Times report, rather than that opposition research could have been used in it.
  
"I don't think there is anything wrong with getting tipped off on a story or receiving opposition research," he said. "I think it is embarrassing when The New York Times gets caught reporting on something that was fed to it by a partisan group like American Bridge, especially when the research was on something as irrelevant as Rubio's driving record."

Asked to elaborate on what it means that the Times got "caught," he said it was "embarrassing" that the Times might pursue a story about Rubio's traffic violations. "I don't think the Times had a responsibility to disclose its source but with American Bridge's fingerprints already on the story, you have to think that it might have been smart to do so — or to pass on the story altogether," he said.


 

Obama: 'We don't yet have a complete strategy' against ISIS


By Jordan Fabian
President Obama said Monday the United States does not have a complete plan to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying Baghdad needs to show a greater commitment to building a fighting force.

“We don’t yet have a complete strategy,” Obama told reporters during a news conference at the G-7 summit of leading industrial nations in Germany.

Obama’s comments are a surprising admission nine months into the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against the terror group.

Earlier on Monday, the president pledged ramped-up assistance to Iraqi forces during a meeting with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has pleaded with coalition partners for more military and intelligence backing.

The president said the Pentagon is working on a plan to increase the flow of weapons and provide more training to Iraqi forces so they can keep pace with ISIS fighters, who have made recent gains, including taking the key city of Ramadi.

But Obama also called on the Iraqi leader to do more to recruit fighters to government forces and Sunni militias fighting ISIS extremists.

“What is fair to say is that all the countries in the international coalition are prepared to do more to train Iraqi security forces if they feel that additional work is taken advantage of,” he said.

Obama said the Pentagon has yet to submit a "finalized" plan "because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place."

"The details of that are not yet worked out."

— This breaking news report was last updated at 11:06 a.m.

Creativity and psychosis share a genetic source: study

Artistic creativity may share genetic roots with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a study published on Monday.

The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, delves into a well-known genetic database -- the deCODE library of DNA codes derived from samples provided by the population of Iceland.

The authors first compared genetic and medical data from 86,000 Icelanders, establishing a DNA signature that pointed to a doubled risk for schizophrenia and an increase of a third for bipolar disorder.

The next step was to look at the genomes of people engaged in artistic work.

Those samples came from more than 1,000 volunteers who were members of Iceland's national societies of visual arts, theatre, dance, writing and music.

Members of these organisations were 17 percent likelier than non-members to have the same genetic signature, the study found.

The finding was supported by four studies in the Netherlands and Sweden covering around 35,000 people, comparing individuals in the general public and those in artistic occupations.

Those investigations used somewhat different parameters but found the probability was even higher, at 23 percent.

"We are here using the tools of modern genetics to take a systematic look at a fundamental aspect of how the brain works," said Kari Stefansson, head of deCODE Genetics, who led the study.

"The results of this study should not have come as a surprise because to be creative, you have to think differently from the crowd, and we had previously shown that carriers of genetic factors that predispose to schizophrenia do so," he said in a news release.

Photographer captures one amazing supercell, two tornadoes in Colorado


Photographed late last week near Simla, Colo. (Kelly DeLay)


On June 4, a lone supercell thunderstorm developed southeast of Denver and moved south near the city of Simla, Colo. Chasers say the storm produced as many as four tornadoes, and although the National Weather Service in Boulder surveyed tornado damage up to EF-1, they have not been able to confirm exactly how many tornadoes the monster supercell produced.

But this amazing shot from storm chaser and photographer Kelly DeLay explains a little bit about the storm that had weather geeks in awe last week: at one point, the supercell had two tornadoes under it, simultaneously.
 
Many different photos and videos of this storm have been shared, and it does seem that one of the tornadoes was rotating anticyclonically — or clockwise — which is a pretty rare occurrence. Just like mid-latitude cyclones and hurricanes, tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere tend to rotate counter-clockwise, along with their parent thunderstorms, because of the rotation of the Earth and the Coriolis effect.

But every once in a while, a tornado will buck that rule, according to leading tornado researcher and director of the Center for Severe Weather Research Josh Wurman. “Anticyclonic tornadoes can form if a supercell contains an anticyclonic mesocyclone,” said Wurman. “Or, a pair of tornadoes, one cyclonic, one anticyclonic, can form. Both of these are rare.”

DeLay says the storm was an amazing thing to witness and photograph. “The tornado on the left was anticyclonic, the cone tornado on the right was cyclonic, and it was persistent,” he said. “This was a beautiful storm, very large and powerful obviously.”

The photo’s perspective is what makes it so stunning. While it’s thrilling to see tornadoes up-close, you can learn a lot about a storm when you take a step back. “When I chase storms, I like to stay back for the most part so I can see structure,” said DeLay. “I am interested in the whole picture not just if it produces a tornado.”

“Because of the road network, I chose to come up from the back side of the storm, which put me into the hail, BUT what a view!” DeLay said. Indeed.
Wurman says that while true twin tornadoes are possible (like the twin tornado storm in Pilger, Neb., nearly one year ago) he doesn’t suspect this storm is an example of it.

“Many supercell thunderstorms contain ‘multiple vortex mesocyclones,'” Wurman said. “In some cases, these MVMC’s spawn two, or even several, tornado-intensity vortices that extend to the ground. If these are intense, and if visibility is good, each of these appears to be an individual tornado, and they often rotate around each other as they revolve around the parent MVMC.”

Instead, the Simla storm appears to have produced one tornado associated with the main rotating updraft, and then another that was more like a landspout. “Often, tornadic supercells contain intense wind shear boundaries far away from the main tornado,” said Wurman. “Sometimes intense vortices form along these boundaries, resulting in landspout-type tornadoes. The photograph of the Simla storm is a beautiful example of this.”

You can follow Kelly DeLay on Twitter and Instagram @kellydelay.

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