Lake Charles pastor shot to death during church service

By Monica Grimaldo

A pastor was shot and killed during a church service on Friday night in Calcasieu Parish.

According to Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Myers, it happened around 8:20 p.m. at the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center at 307 Deshotel Lane in Lake Charles.

Myers said Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. was shot "as he was preaching."

Woodrow Karey Jr., 53, of Lake Charles, is accused of walking into the church and shooting Harris.

Myers said Harris, of Lake Charles, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Myers said Karey shot Harris with a shotgun twice, once when he walked into the church and a second time when Harris fell to the floor. Myers said Karey walked up to him and shot him at close range.

Karey fled on foot, Myers said, but called the Sheriff's Office and surrendered without incident.
A Calcasieu Correctional Center booking report indicates his location of arrest was Opelousas Street/Deshotel Lane.

Myers said at the time of Karey's arrest, he directed deputies to two guns he had discarded in a wooded area close to the intersection where he was apprehended. Myers said one was a shotgun and the other was a .22 pistol, both of which were recovered.

Karey was booked on a second-degree murder charge. Judge David Ritchie set bond in the case at $1 million.

Myers said Karey has no known criminal history.

Authorities say the motive for the shooting is unknown and the investigation continues.

According to Calcasieu Parish Chief Deputy Stitch Guillory, there were 65 witnesses inside the church at the time of the shooting, including the victim's wife.

"At this point, we're just trying to piece together as much information as we can," said Guillory. "And find out what the cause of this was."

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Quinn: I’d Consider Using National Guard, State Police To Help Chicago

(CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn says he would consider using state resources to help combat Chicago street violence.

Speaking about this week’s mass shooting in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Quinn says he’s open to talking with Mayor Emanuel or Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy about supplementing Chicago law enforcement with state police or the Illinois National Guard.

He said he’s had no specific conversations but noted state police are helping patrol in East St. Louis, another city that has its challenges with violent crime.

“I think anyone who saw what happened in Cornell Park the other night was horrified by the violence. I live on the West Side of Chicago. It is an area that has been inflicted with violence, and we’ve got to protect the people,” Quinn told reporters Saturday.

Talk about using state firepower in Chicago isn’t unprecedented. In 2008, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested using the state police and National Guard to help Chicago police with “out of control” violence.

The comment was widely interpreted as an insult to then-Mayor Richard Daley, with whom Blagojevich was feuding.

Quinn said potential solutions to crime include community efforts to minimize the impact of gangs and early education.

He says he also remains committed to doing something about assault rifles – one is suspected of being used in Thursday’s shooting – and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The governor spoke in the Little Village neighborhood Saturday morning at the reopening of a credit union.

Two Shooters May Still be at Large at D.C. Navy Yard; Multiple Victims Dead

 D.C. police officer, base security officer among those shot; massive search continues

Police say as many as two gunmen may still be at large near the D.C. Navy Yard Monday after a shooting that began in a heavily secured building and left a number of people dead.

One other gunman has been killed, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a midday press conference.

Initial reports had said that 11 people were shot on base and four had died, but Lanier said that information was preliminary. "There are multiple victims inside deceased," Lanier said.

They are seeking two other people as "possible" gunmen, Lanier said. One was a white male, wearing a khaki military-type uniform and a beret hat. He was armed with a handgun, and was last seen about 8:30 a.m., Lanier said.

Lanier also said police were seeking a black man, aged about 50, who was wearing olive drab and was armed with a "long gun," though she did not give any other details about the weapon.

President Obama mentioned the shooting in remarks from the White House Monday. "We do know that several people have been shot and some have been killed," he said. "We are facing another mass shooting."

Though Lanier stressed that the scene was contined, people near the base are being asked to stay in their homes, and eight D.C. public schools and one private school nearby have been locked down.

A large search, including from helicopters, continues. "It's a large piece of land with many buildings," Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told News4. "It's going to take a while to determine that it is safe."

WATCH: Raw Video: Police Respond to Shooting at Navy Yard
Tactical teams have entered at least two buildings on the Navy Base to search for the shooter, and News4's Mark Segraves reported that three helicopters were seen tightly circling part of the base earlier.

Earlier Monday morning, the one known gunman walked into Building #197 at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, 1336 Isaac Hull Ave. in the Southeast section of the District. He shot a security guard in the head, killing him, sources confirmed to News4's Jackie Bensen.

The gunman then walked through the building, and seemed to target victims, Bensen reported. Some reports indicate he was armed with an AR-15, a military-style assault weapon.

D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department and several other law enforcement agencies responded, Bensen said. During that response, a MPD officer was shot in the leg.

That gunman was then shot by a FBI hostage response team, Bensen said.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center said the MPD officer was among three victims that had been transported to that hospital. The officer was shot in the legs; one other victim was shot in the shoulder and one was shot in the head and hand.

All are alert and speaking at this time, and there is a "very good chance they will survive," said Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer at the hospital.

However, the hospital has been prepared to expect more victims.

George Washington University Hospital said they had also received a victim, a man in his 60s who had been shot in the temple. Despite efforts at CPR, he was prounounced dead at the hospital.

One victim was evacuated from the roof of a building, reported News4's Tony Tull. A U.S. Park Police helicopter hovering above the scene around 9:50 a.m. lowered a basket to a building and lifted what appeared to be a shooting victim from the roof. The helicopter came back to the scene just after 10 a.m. to retrieve another victim.

But other details were sketchy from the scene, which continued to evolve through the morning. Shots rang out several times, including a volley that Tull reported at about 9:20 a.m. and another volley that News4's Mark Segraves heard at about 11 a.m.

Federal and local emergency personnel converged on the scene, and a shelter in place order has been issued for Navy Yard personnel, the Navy said.

Obama continues to get frequent briefings about the deadly shooting from senior aides. The White House says Obama directed his team to stay in touch with the Navy, FBI and local officials as the events unfold.

The Navy Yard is located in southeast Washington on the Anacostia River. The Navy says 3,000 people work inside the building, including command staff, headquarters directorates and field activities. They coordinate the Naval Sea Systems Command, or NAVSEA, the largest of the Navy's five system commands.

Stay with NBCWashington on-air and online for more on this developing story.  

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Suspected death toll rises from Colorado floods as nearly 500 unaccounted for

By David Simpson, Nick Valencia, Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Boulder, Colorado (CNN) -- Rain was still coming down Sunday in Colorado, preventing aerial efforts to search for those missing from a devastating flood, authorities said.

"It's unlikely at this point that we'll be able to reach those who are stranded in the hard-to-reach areas," said Kim Kobel, a spokesperson for Boulder's Office of Emergency Management.

But rescuers continued their ground efforts, searching for what could be hundreds of people unaccounted for.

A tearful Larimer County Sheriff told reporters that what he's seen, even in the most devastated areas, has restored his hope.

Sheriff Justin Smith visited areas "somewhat cut off from the rest of the world," he said.
The roads and homes might be gone, but Smith said "inch by inch, mile by mile, community by community they are taking this stuff back."

Smith spoke of firefighters who pulled signs out of the mud and residents using their ATVs to rescue neighbors.

Still he couldn't begin to estimate the scope of the damage. "I've known these areas for 25 years," he said "I don't recognize some of them."

He and another official cautioned that the death toll would almost certainly rise.
It may already be as high as six.

Previously, four deaths were blamed on the flooding and a fifth person was presumed dead.
On Sunday, authorities announced another resident presumed dead -- an 80-year-old woman who suffered from injuries and was unable to leave her home.

Another 482 people remain unaccounted for, but authorities said that number could go down throughout the day.

More rain
Residents are still keeping a wary eye on the sky, as more rain is expected -- and could be enough to halt rescue efforts.

"We're going to be in for some steady rain over the next 12 hours," said Kobel. It shouldn't total more than 1 to 2 inches though. "So that's the good news."

Still, authorities worry that any additional water on ground that's already soaked by up to 15 inches of rain will cause more flooding and dislodge mud and debris.

Officials were working to plan the recovery.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he spoke by phone with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who "was adamant that the $5 million that was released Friday was just the beginning" of federal assistance.

"We're going to come back and rebuild better than it was before," the governor said.
Hickenlooper said experts from Vermont will arrive this week to share lessons about improved road-building learned in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

How to help
Damage worth millions
Boulder County alone will need an estimated $150 million to repair 100 to 150 miles of roadway and 20 to 30 bridges, county transportation director George Gerstle said. The repair bill will be "10 to 15 times our annual budget," he said.

A helicopter surveillance mission Saturday carrying Hickenlooper and members of Colorado's congressional delegation was diverted twice to pick up people waving to be rescued.

After the officials' delayed arrival at a Boulder airport, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall promised a bipartisan push in Congress for federal aid for flood recovery.
President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration for Colorado on Sunday and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Boulder County.

Two teens killed
The four confirmed deaths included a man and a woman, both 19, who were swept away after leaving their car Thursday in Boulder County. Authorities said the woman left the car first, and the man jumped out to try to save her. Authorities recovered both bodies.

Another body was found in a collapsed home in Jamestown in the same county. Rescuers recovered another body on a roadway in Colorado Springs in El Paso County.

The other person presumed dead is a 60-year-old woman. Larimer County officials said witnesses saw her swept away by floodwaters that demolished her home.
Neighbors tried unsuccessfully to rescue the woman, said Nick Christensen, executive officer of the sheriff's office.

Her body has not been recovered.

CNN's David Simpson and Emma Lacey-Bordeaux reported from Atlanta; Nick Valencia reported from Longmont, Colorado. CNN's George Howell, Ana Cabrera, Jack Hannah, Janet DiGiacomo, and John Branch contributed to this report.

Matt Drudge Eviscerates Dianne Feinstein “Declaring who qualifies for freedom of press is ridiculous!”

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure late Thursday that would establish a federal shield law for reporters or journalists in the United States.

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” said Feinstein during the committee meeting.

The original amendment, as proposed by Feinstein, had limited the definition of a “journalist” to someone employed by or in contract with “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.”
Under that definition, a student working for a tiny college newspaper would get protection, but Drudge and his new-media brethren might not.

“The fundamental issue behind this amendment is, should this privilege apply to anyone, to a 17-year-old who drops out of high school, buys a website for five dollars and starts a blog? Or should it apply to journalists, to reporters, who have bona fide credentials?” Feinstein asked.

The legislation was amended, before passing out of committee, to define who would be a “covered journalist.” That definition had been an obstacle to broader legislation designed to “protect” reporters and the news media from having to reveal their sources.

New-media pioneer Matt Drudge called Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a “fascist” after she suggested only “real reporters” deserved protection under a new media-shield law.

“Comments from Sen. Feinstein yesterday on who’s a reporter were disgusting,” Drudge tweeted, adding that a “17-year old ‘blogger’ is as important as Wolf Blitzer.”

“Fascist!” he declared.

Drudge, the owner and operator of the most successful news site on the Internet, took to Twitter to defend bloggers and to hammer the senator.

Feinstein worked with Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a chief proponent of the media-shield legislation, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., as well as representatives from news organizations, on the compromise.

The bill would protect reporters and news media organizations from being required to reveal the identities of confidential sources, but it does not grant an absolute privilege for journalists.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., complained that the definition of a journalist was too broad.

Pushing back, Feinstein said the intent was to set up a test to determine a bona fide journalist.

“I think journalism has a certain tradecraft. It’s a profession. I recognize that everyone can think they’re a journalist,” Feinstein said.

The bill now on the Senate floor would define a journalist as someone employed by or in contract with a media outlet for at least one year within the last 20 years or three months within the last five years; someone with a substantial track record of freelancing in the last five years; or a student journalist. A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a “covered journalist,” who would be granted the privileges of the law.

Drudge pointed out that a federal judge once ruled that he was “not a reporter, a journalist, or a newsgatherer.”

“Millions of readers a day come for cooking recipes??!” he asked incredulously.

“Gov’t declaring who qualifies for freedom of press in digital age is ridiculous!” Drudge added. “It belongs to anyone for any reason. No amendment necessary.”

2 Million Bikers’ roar into D.C. to honor 9/11, protest Muslim rally

Labels: WRLTHD Breaking News

By Meredith Somers
Thousands of bikers from around the country roared into the D.C. area on Wednesday in a show of support for Sept. 11 victims and in solidarity against a controversial Muslim rally on the Mall.

The bikers  began departing from the store at about 10:30 in staggered groups of 50, stopped for traffic lights and taking an hour or so to get on the road.

The 2 Million Bikers to DC ride might have fallen short of 2 million strong, but the numbers were impressive. A line of shining chrome and steel bikes stretched about a third of a mile from the starting point at the Harley Davidson of Washington store just outside the District in Prince George’s County.

The ride was complicated by the fact that federal and local authorities denied a permit that would have offered the riders a police escort through traffic — a sore spot with organizers who thought the denial was for political purposes.

“We’re here for 9-11,” said national ride coordinator Belinda Bee.

 “We are going to have a peaceful ride. … But there are people who are sick and tired of their rights and liberties being taken away.”

The National Park Service has denied any political motivation for refusing the permit, which ride organizers sought last month. The Park Service earlier this year granted a permit to a Muslim group planning a rally Wednesday to call attention to social justice issues.

The American Muslim Political Action Committee has scheduled a rally to draw attention to what they call unfair fear of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ms. Bee said the ride was originally set up to counter the rally and show respect for the victims of that day.

Dan O’Brien, 54, of Mansfield, Ohio, said he had been “looking for a ride like this” to honor the Sept. 11 victims, but the rally also spurred him to join.

“This is very disgraceful,” he said. “They picked a day precious to the United States and its citizens.”

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/11/2-million-bikers-roar-dc-honor-911-protest-muslim-/#ixzz2ec2cECyr
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

DC denies permit for 9/11 bikers; Planners move ahead anyway

Sandra Schneider
In response to the planned “Million Muslim March” in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, bikers announced their own rival 2 Million Biker Ride. This weekend, news surfaced on blogs and Twitter that D.C. had denied the bikers an event permit.

Washington DC has DENIED our permit for a no-stop ride through Washington DC. We find this regretful for the residents and businesses of that great city, and humbly offer our apologies. What could have been a one or two hour ride through will now likely be an all day event. We will be obeying all laws. We will be stopping at all stoplights, stop signs, and yielding to all pedestrians.

RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES OF WASHINGTON DC: On behalf of the National “2 Million Bikers to DC” Team, please accept our sincere apologies. We did the right thing and went through the proper channels to secure a no-stop permit to ride through your great city. We wanted to ride an established route, which would have taken us past the Viet Nam Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, across the bridge into Virginia, and that’s it! We would have been completely out of Washington DC, and your city would have been back to normal.

The National Team fully expected our permit to be rejected, and have already drafted a Plan-B.

Participants are moving forward.

107-year-old Arkansas man dies in shootout with S.W.A.T.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - A 107-year old Pine Bluff man died Saturday after a shootout with officers and S.W.A.T. members. The Pine Bluff Police Dept. released the following information about the incident on Saturday evening.

"On September 7, 2013, at approximately 4:25 p.m., Officers of the Pine Bluff Police Department responded to a disturbance at 1411 W. 16th.

When they arrived, they were able to determine that an Aggravated Assault had occurred against two people at the residence. The suspect, Monroe Isadore (M, 107 years old), had pointed a weapon at them. The officers had the two victims leave the residence, for their safety, and approached the door to the bedroom where Isadore was supposed to be.

When officers announced themselves, Isadore shot through the door at them. No officer was hit or injured by the gunfire. The officers retreated to a safer area and supervisors and additional help were called. Supervisors began negotiating with Isadore as soon as they arrived. S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) was also called out.

Negotiations continued for some time and when S.W.A.T arrived, negotiations still continued. S.W.A.T. was able to insert a camera into the room, where Isadore was, and confirmed he was armed with a handgun. S.W.A.T. inserted gas into the room, after it was evident negotiations were unsuccessful, in hopes Isadore would surrender peacefully. When the gas was inserted into the room, Isadore fired rounds at the S.W.A.T. officers that had inserted the gas from outside a bedroom window.

Shortly afterwards, a S.W.A.T. entry team, inside the residence, breached the door to the bedroom and threw a distraction device into the bedroom. Isadore then began to fire on the entry team and the entry team engaged Isadore, killing him.

The investigation is still ongoing."

Global warming? No, actually we're cooling, claim scientists


A cold Arctic summer has led to a record increase in the ice cap, leading experts to predict a period of global cooling.

There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, they equivalent of almost a million square miles.
In a rebound from 2012's record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin.

The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes.

A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century.

If correct, it would contradict computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming. The news comes several years after the BBC predicted that the arctic would be ice-free by 2013.




While the United Nations worries about a local shooting in Florida, in Egypt, a group of Islamists who back their nation's ousted leader, fellow Islamist Mohammed Morsi, have taken over the town of Dalga where 20,000 Christians now live under oppression, fear, and violence. Already, a 1600 year old monastery has been burned and looted, 40 Christian homes and businesses have been attacked (looted and burned), including the home of an 80 year-old priest:

Armed men can be seen in the streets, and nearly every day Islamists hold rallies at a stage outside the police station, demanding Morsi's reinstatement.

Most Christians remain indoors as much as possible, particularly during the rallies. They say they are routinely insulted on the streets by Muslims, including children. Christian women stay home at all times, fearing harassment by the Islamists, according to multiple Christians who spoke to the AP. Most requested that their names not be published for fear of reprisals.

"The Copts in Dalga live in utter humiliation," said local rights activist Ezzat Ibrahim. "They live in horror and cannot lead normal lives."

None of the town's churches held Mass for a month, until Wednesday, when one was held in one of the monastery's two churches. About 25 attended, down from the usual 500 or more.

"They don't want to see any Christian with any power, no matter how modest," Yoannis said of the hard-liners now running Dalga. "They only want to see us poor without money, a trade or a business to be proud of."

President Obama's rush to "stabilize" Egypt by calling for the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak and immediate elections afterward, is widely seen as a crucial factor in bringing Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood to electoral power. Almost immediately Morsi attempted to seize dictatorial power by upending the Egyptian constitution. The military responded with a coup and now the nation's minority Christian communities are being victimized in this power vacuum.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC      

North Carolina Republicans will aim to ax income tax

By Reid Wilson
RALEIGH, N.C. — At the moment, seven states across the country don’t levy a tax on income, and North Carolina Republicans want to make it eight, according to a powerful member of the state legislature.

State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday that he hoped to use the 2015 legislative session to eliminate the state income tax, replacing it with a consumption-based sales tax to make up for the lost revenue.
“That’s a direction we’d like to go,” Rucho said in an interview as the state Senate adjourned for the year. Rucho said it was impractical to push for such a steep cut during a short session the legislature holds in even-numbered years, but that cutting the income tax was a top priority of his when the legislature reconvenes for its biennial full session.
North Carolina’s income tax accounts for about 61 percent of state revenue, Rucho said. But the revenue stream has been choppy in recent years, given the impact of the recession. The uneven results on a year-over-year basis can play havoc with annual budget planning in a state that requires a balanced budget, and it’s something Rucho said he wanted to avoid.

“We want to get away from that and go to a more flat consumption-based tax on sales taxes, both goods and services, and in return, we’ll say, ‘We’ll go to zero with the income tax.’ And that’s something we think we can achieve. It just takes time to get there,” he said.
This year, the Republican-dominated legislature instituted deep cuts in both the personal and corporate income taxes. Personal income tax rates will fall by two percentage points, from 7.75 percent to about 5.8 percent, while the corporate rate will fall from 6.7 percent to as low as 3 percent over the next several years, depending on how much revenue the state generates.
Expect to hear much more about the tax reform package in the months ahead, especially as House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) gears up to run against Sen. Kay Hagan (D) next year. Tillis, who helped broker a deal on taxes between the Senate and Gov. Pat McCrory (R), said he will use his record in this year’s legislative session to make his case to North Carolina voters. In an interview, Tillis pointed to Tax Foundation rankings that showed North Carolinians shouldering a much lower tax burden after the reform package passed the legislature than they had in previous years.
“I think moving to a consumption-based model is something we all agree on,” Tillis said. But, he cautioned: “You have to do this in a way that you can give [businesses] a high degree of confidence.”

Northern California County Board Votes For Secession From State

YREKA (CBS/AP) — A far Northern California county where residents have complained they lack representation at the state capitol wants to separate from California.
The Record Searchlight of Redding reports that the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday in favor of a declaration for secession.
According to the newspaper, residents of the majority Republican county lobbied the board in August to consider secession. In addition to a lack of representation in Sacramento, they cited concerns about water rights and a rural fire prevention fee approved by the legislature.

Supporters want other rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon to join them in the creation of a new state.
But splitting from California would not beeasy. Siskiyou County would have to gain the approval of the state legislature and U.S. Congress.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Unannounced Israel-U.S. missile test fuels jitters over Syria

By Dan Williams and Steve Gutterman | Reuters

JERUSALEM/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Israel tested a U.S.-backed missile system in the Mediterranean on Tuesday but did not announce the launch in advance, prompting a disclosure by Russia that kept the world on edge as the United States weighed an attack on Syria.
The morning launch was first reported by Moscow media that quoted Russian defense officials as saying two ballistic "objects" had been fired eastward from the center of the sea - roughly in the direction of Syria.
The news ruffled financial markets until Israel's Defence Ministry said that it, along with a Pentagon team, had carried out a test-launch of a Sparrow missile. The Sparrow, which simulates the long-range missiles of Syria and Iran, is used for target practice by Israel's U.S.-backed ballistic shield Arrow.
"Israel routinely fires missiles or drones off its shores to test its own ballistic defense capabilities," a U.S. official said in Washington.
Western naval forces have been gathering in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea since President Bashar al-Assad was accused of carrying out an August 21 gas attack in his more than two-year-old conflict with rebels trying to topple him.
Damascus denies responsibility for the incident. U.S. President Barack Obama had been widely expected to order reprisal strikes on Syria last week but put them off to seek support from Washington lawmakers first.
With U.S. action on Syria delayed as Obama confers with Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to play up the Jewish state's ability to deal with its foes alone. On Tuesday, the rightist premier spoke of anti-missile systems as a national "wall of iron".
"These things give us the power to protect ourselves, and anyone who considers harming us would do best not to," he said in a speech.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon shrugged off a question from reporters on whether the launch might have been ill-timed. He said Israel had to work to maintain its military edge and "this necessitates field trials and, accordingly, a successful trial was conducted to test our systems. And we will continue to develop and to research and to equip the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) with the best systems in the world."
Arrow designer Uzi Rabin said tests of the anti-missile system are planned "long, long in advance" and generally go unnoticed. "What apparently made the difference today is the high state of tension over Syria and Russia's unusual vigilance," he told Reuters.
A Russian Defence Ministry spokesman quoted by the Interfax news agency said the launch was picked up by an early warning radar station at Armavir, near the Black Sea, which is designed to detect missiles from Europe and Iran.
RIA, another Russian news agency, later quoted a source in Syria's "state structures" as saying the objects had fallen harmlessly into the sea.
The Russian Defence Ministry declined comment to Reuters.
Moscow is Assad's big-power ally and has mobilized its own navy in the face of U.S. military preparations to punish the Syrian government for its alleged killing of more than 1,400 people in the chemical strike in an embattled Damascus suburb.
Russia opposes any outside military intervention in Syria's civil war and says it suspects the gassings were staged by rebels seeking foreign involvement in the conflict.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin of the launch but it was not immediately clear how he reacted.
Brent crude oil extended gains to rise by more than $1 per barrel and Dubai's share index fell after Russia said it detected the launches.
Five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship are in the Mediterranean, poised for possible strikes against Syria with cruise missiles - which are not ballistic. U.S. officials said the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea on Monday.
"The pressure being applied by the United States causes particular concern," Itar-Tass quoted Russian Defence Ministry official Oleg Dogayev as saying. He said "the dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria's shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region".
The United States sees its underwriting of the Arrow as a means of reassuring Israel and, by extension, of reducing the chance that its ally might launch unilateral attacks on Syria or Iran that could destabilize the wider region.
Netanyahu has reluctantly supported U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program. He has been circumspect about the Western showdown with Syria, worrying that should Assad fall to Islamist-led rebels, they could prove more hostile to the Jewish state.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman and Dan Williams, Editing by Timothy Heritage/Mark Heinrich)

Smoke covers Yosemite Valley, 4th-largest wildfire in California history

By Robert Salonga
The Rim Fire became the fourth-largest wildfire in the history of California as it continued its steady burn Saturday, as smoke from the blaze for the first time darkened the sky over the Yosemite Valley, forcing many holiday vacationers indoors.
According to the statewide firefighting agency Cal Fire, 348 square miles have been scorched. At least 111 structures have been destroyed, but no one has been killed or seriously injured in the blaze, which is the largest wildfire burning in the country.
By last measure, the fire that has burned an area the size of Dallas was 40 percent contained with the help of more than 5,000 firefighters from state, federal and local agencies. Authorities said fresh firefighters.
were being brought in to replace tired crews, but that officials did not plan to reduce the number of personnel assigned to the fire.

The Labor Day weekend is historically a boon for Yosemite National Park as patrons flood the park before the school year begins and colder weather settles in. But the smoke has hampered the getaway vibe.

"I'm in Yosemite Valley right now, and I cannot see the cliffs around me," said Kari Cobb, a park spokeswoman. "The wind has shifted, and smoke is impacting the entire park. We have been lucky until now."

All the campgrounds in the valley still were full as of Saturday morning despite the thick blanket of smoke and the burning smell that permeated the area, Cobb said.

One vacationer staying in the historic Wawona Hotel, four miles from the park's south entrance, called himself "a prisoner in the hotel" because of the invading smoke and partial road closures put in place earlier in the week.

The occupant, who asked not to be named because of privacy concerns, said it was clear as of Friday evening and that it "turned overnight," with haze turning the sun orange and light ash visibly falling in the air.

Smoke from the blaze has drifted at least 2,500 miles, reaching Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and the Great Lakes. Overnight into Saturday, the Rim Fire surpassed the area burned by the 1932 Matilija Fire in Ventura County, which burned 220,000 acres.

At least 94 square miles of wilderness have burned in the northern section of Yosemite. Firefighting aircraft remained grounded because of low visibility caused by the smoke, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Mark Healey said.

Officials were concerned about a 150-acre spot fire that crossed a road and prompted an evacuation order for homes near the west entrance of Yosemite, Healey said.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect south of Highway 120 and north Old Yosemite Road, while evacuations of areas surrounding Bull Creek Road to Grizzly Mountain have been lifted.
About 4,500 structures are still threatened east and west of the fire, which is expected to continue spreading east into the west side of Yosemite National Park east of Aspen Valley, according to a bulletin from Cal Fire and the Forest Service.

"Steep terrain and extreme fire behavior" are slowing firefighters' progress, along with hot, dry weather forecasted for the coming week. Authorities said as a result they have become reliant on air tankers and drone planes to both fight and give them eyes on the flames. They have moved back the tentative fire containment date to Oct. 20.

The blaze's cause is under investigation, though the Twain Harte fire chief suggested at an Aug. 23 community meeting that it likely stemmed from an illegal marijuana growing operation, which are common in secluded forest areas. The area where the fire started is roughly 10 miles west of the Yosemite National Park entrance on Highway 120 and 8 miles east of the town of Groveland -- a rugged, steep expanse of dense wilderness.

Officials have not made any formal statement about the cause of the fire.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.