Current lava flows are hottest, fastest of latest eruption


The Associated Press

HONOLULU — The hottest and fastest-moving lava of Kilauea volcano’s latest eruption spread across new parts of the Big Island Wednesday, forcing officials to order evacuations in two coastal neighborhoods over fears that the rapidly advancing flows could cut off dwindling escape routes.

Since Tuesday night, the lava was moving fast enough to cover about six football fields an hour, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

“Hawaii County Civil Defense decided to evacuate all of lower Puna to ensure that people would be able to get out,” Stovall said.

Lava gushed across and then along a roadway that leads from the commercial center of Pahoa toward smaller towns and rural farmlands to the east.

About two dozen recent fissures in that area have created towering lava fountains and bone-rattling explosions throughout the eruption. The lava that is currently coming to the surface is the hottest and most fluid to date.

“This is the hottest lava that we’ve seen in this eruption, even just a matter of 50 degrees centigrade makes a big difference in how quickly lava flows can move and how they behave once the magma exits the vent,” Stovall said.

In fact, the current lava eruptions in Puna are as hot as Hawaii’s lava will ever get. “It can’t get hotter than where we are,” Stovall added. “We are pretty much tapping mantle temperatures right now.”

One fissure was observed early Wednesday morning spouting lava over 200 feet into the air.

Hawaii County officials said lava destroyed the electric utility’s equipment on the highway, which knocked out power to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.

“You are at risk of being isolated due to possible lava inundation,” the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency advised the public.

There were several small earthquakes at Kilauea’s summit Wednesday, where the vent inside the volcano’s Halemaumau Crater has grown along with a series of explosive eruptions that have sent rock and ash thousands of feet into the sky.

The U.S. Geological Survey released drone footage Wednesday of another fast-moving lava flow that trapped a man in Leilani Estates over the weekend. As lava rushed past the property, a USGS crew that was flying the drone used the aircraft to lead rescue teams to the stranded person. The person was safely evacuated.

A man was arrested in Leilani Estates after police say he fired a gun and assaulted another man after demanding that the man and his friends leave the area Tuesday.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed because of the volcanic activity at the summit and the ongoing eruptions on Kilauea’s eastern flanks. Park officials said that crews are working on clearing another roadway on the south side of the park that was covered by lava from previous eruptions. They hope the roadway will provide an alternative escape route if lava cuts off more roads to the north.

Strands of volcanic glass called as Pele’s hair was accumulating on the ground in Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods, and winds may blow lighter particles farther away, scientists said. The strands can cause irritation and respiratory problems when it comes in contact with people.

Pele, known as the goddess of volcanoes and fire, is an important figure in Hawaiian culture.

Volcanic gas emissions remain high from the eruption. Wind conditions for Wednesday were forecast to result in widespread vog — or volcanic smog— over the Big Island.

NFL teams under no time pressure to form own anthem policies

By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
With no deadlines to meet and a monthlong summer break coming up, NFL teams are in no hurry to formulate a policy on demonstrations during the national anthem.
One day after league owners mandated that players must stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” — they now have the option of remaining in the locker room for the playing of the anthem — few of the 32 teams had done more than preliminary work on the issue.
The NFL gave teams the option of developing their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests.
For now, other than New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson’s decision to pay any fines doled out by the league without passing punishment to the players, each franchise’s approach is uncertain.
After all, once mandatory minicamps end in mid-June, teams don’t get together again until training camps open in late July. The opening preseason game — the first time the anthem would be played before an NFL match — is Aug. 2 when Baltimore and Chicago face off in the Hall of Fame game.
“I’m sure it’s something that will be addressed, by the players and by the coaches, collectively,” Lions receiver Golden Tate said Thursday. “But right now, we don’t play a game until August, and that’s when it’s going to be applicable in football stadiums. So we’ve got time to kind of brainstorm some ideas on how we could stand for justice and what we can do.”
What some teams have done in the past likely indicates how they will handle disciplining players for demonstrations during the anthem — regardless of the intent. Owners Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Robert McNair of the Texans have been among the staunchest advocates of no exceptions to standing during the anthem.
Others have taken a less stringent stance, emphasizing working together with the players in their communities rather than focusing on how the message about social injustice is being delivered.
“I have always believed it is the responsibility of sports teams to be very proactive in our communities,” says Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
“In this great country of ours, there are so many people who are hurting and marginalized, which is why I am proud of our players for continuously working to influence positive change. Their words and actions have demonstrated not only that they have a great deal of respect for our country, but also that they are committed to finding productive ways to fight social injustice, poverty and other societal issues that are important to all of us.
“We must continue to work together in creative and dynamic ways to make our communities stronger and better, with equal opportunities for all.”
One certain thing: The uncertainty about how each team will deal with players who defy the NFL’s mandate will last for weeks.
Not so for any league personnel such as game officials, sideline crews, et al. They will be disciplined for any violations of the anthem policy, though the exact punishments have not yet been determined by the NFL.
One organization, the National Action Network, will march on league headquarters Friday to “advocate for players’ right to kneel and call on NFL owners to reverse (the) dangerous decision violating players’ First Amendment rights by imposing fines for not standing during the national anthem.”
Such protests could become more prevalent if teams decide to strongly discipline players who demonstrate during the anthem. But some franchises aren’t sure they need their own policy. Or if that is even the proper description.
The Falcons’ position is any players on the field will stand, so no need to make plans for any other outcome.
Team spokesman Brian Cearns suggested it’s too strong to say they have a team policy: “The word policy sounds like it was mandated. It was discussed as a team and agreed upon as a team,” Cearns said in an email to The Associated Press.
Defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett knelt during an early season game at Detroit last year.
Coach Dan Quinn said that was a “one-off” and, sure enough, after that game all players stood together on the sideline, with arms interlocked, the remainder of the season.
“Was every player who stood last year against social justice?” Lions guard T.J. Lang tweeted “Or just the guys who do it this year because there is now a rule? Asking for a friend.”
Buffalo linebacker Lorenzo Alexander doesn’t expect his team “to do anything.”
“I understand where they’re at. And it’s hard,” Alexander said. “And I understand that from a business perspective trying to be socially responsible. And people can act like it’s in a vacuum and say you have to pick a side. But it’s not that simple. It’s a very complex situation.
“And so I respect them, because I was a business owner and I understand it. It makes a big impact. I’m in this to grow the business, grow their brand, and us doing this does have an impact, whether we say it or not. That’s what we want, because we’re trying to bring attention to it. But they have to have a foot over here, a foot over here. It’s hard.”
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writers Charles Odum, Paul Newberry, John Wawrow and Noah Trister contributed.
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Police: Incognito threw weights before hospitalization

By TERRY SPENCER and JOHN WAWROW, Associated Press
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Police took veteran NFL guard Richie Incognito to a mental hospital after he allegedly threw weights and tennis balls at gym employees and another patron and told officers the government is spying on him, according to a report released Thursday.
Boca Raton police say a patron at Life Time Athletic, Mark O’Brien, told officers James Brown and Dave Rosenthal he was jogging on the outdoor track when he saw Incognito acting angry. O’Brien said he tried to calm Incognito, but as he walked away, the former Buffalo Bill threw a tennis ball at his foot, tried to run him over with a weighted pushing sled and then threw two weights — one into the pool and another at him, which missed. He said Incognito, 34, then cursed at him, telling him to get out of his “playground.”
O’Brien called 911 and in a recording released Thursday a voice identified as Incognito’s can be heard in the background yelling and cursing at him. He told the dispatcher Incognito, who was dressed in shorts and no shirt, was trying to hit him as they talked. He told the dispatcher the 6-foot-4, 322-pound Incognito is “huge” but a “little overweight.”
O’Brien told The Associated Press on Thursday that Incognito also ripped apart a boxing mannequin and slammed his knee into its head, and feared Incognito might do the same to him. He said he didn’t know Incognito, who also played for the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins, where he was suspended in 2013 for the racial bullying of a teammate, Jonathan Martin.
“I can fully appreciate and understand people going through tough times and mental illness but his behavior was irrational. I hope he gets help,” O’Brien said.
Officer Brown wrote that when he and Rosenthal arrived at the gym, a staff member handed them Incognito’s concealed weapons permit and told them he had thrown objects at the staff. No gun was found on Incognito and it is unexplained why the employee would have his permit.
Brown said that when he approached Incognito, he said he was under contract for the National Security Agency, a top U.S. spy agency, and that another patron was wearing headphones nearby.
“I’m running NSA class level 3 documents through my phone,” Incognito told Brown, saying he couldn’t have anyone with Bluetooth capability near him.
Brown said that when he asked Incognito why the government would be watching him, he replied that Brown didn’t have a high enough security clearance to discuss it with him.
He said Incognito’s hands were shaking and he would suddenly jump and move without warning. Incognito told the officers he was taking a dietary supplement and denied thrown objects at people.
Brown said that when he told Incognito he was worried he was going to hurt himself or others, Incognito yelled at a woman in the pool to call the FBI.
Brown and Rosenthal took Incognito into custody under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows for people to be hospitalized for 72 hours if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Incognito’s lawyer, Mark Schamel, did not immediately return an email Thursday seeking comment. Incognito has not been charged with a crime as police say in his mental condition he could not form intent.
Incognito announced earlier this year that he was retiring from football after 11 seasons, the last three with Buffalo. The Bills released him from their reserved/retired list Monday, leaving open the possibility he could sign with another team.
He has been on a downward spiral for much of this offseason.
His closest friend on the Bills, center Eric Wood, is being forced into retirement after being diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
The Bills also asked Incognito to take a pay cut in restructuring the final year of his contract. Incognito initially backed the agreement by posting a note on Twitter saying he was “thrilled to be returning this season and fired up to get back to work with my Buffalo Bills brothers.” However, he had a change of heart weeks later and abruptly fired agent David Dunn in a post on Twitter.
Wawrow reported from Buffalo, New York. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Top state official fired after investigation into harassment

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A senior official at a state agency serving developmentally disabled New Yorkers has been fired after an investigation turned up numerous sexual harassment complaints.
Jay Kiyonaga (kee-yahn-AH’-guh) was the No. 2 official at the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities before he was terminated Wednesday. In a statement Thursday the agency says it doesn’t tolerate harassment of any kind.
The firing came after state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said an investigation revealed “reprehensible” acts of harassment and “sexually inappropriate acts” by Kiyonaga going back several years.
Kiyonaga is also the subject of a federal harassment complaint filed by a former employee who said he retaliated against her when she complained about inappropriate behavior with another female subordinate.
A message left with Kiyonaga wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

Officials: Head of upstate NY conservation group stole $170K

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (AP) — The former head of an Adirondack environmental conservation group has been accused of stealing nearly $170,000 from the organization.
The Post-Star reports a Warren County grand jury indicted David Decker of Burnt Hills Tuesday on 22 charges, including grand larceny and falsifying business records.
Decker was arrested in March 2017 following a complaint from a taxpayer advocate. Prosecutors say Decker moved $168,156 in state and federal funds to personal bank accounts and a contracting company while working as the director of the Lake George Watershed Coalition.
Decker had claimed payments he received were legitimate. He was fired after his arrest.
Decker’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 6.
Information from: The Post-Star,

Skyping the doctor? Poll shows it’s not just for the young

WASHINGTON (AP) — Every morning, 92-year-old Sidney Kramer wraps a blood pressure cuff around his arm and steps on a scale, and readings of his heart health beam to a team of nurses — and to his daughter’s smartphone — miles from his Maryland home.
Red flags? A nurse immediately calls, a form of telemedicine that is helping Kramer live independently by keeping his congestive heart failure under tight control.
“It’s reassuring both psychologically and physically. The way he’s put it to me, it’s like having a doctor appointment every morning,” said Miriam Dubin, Kramer’s daughter.
The vast majority of older Americans and their caregivers are ready to give virtual health care a try: Nearly 9 in 10 adults ages 40 and over would be comfortable using at least one type of telemedicine for themselves or an aging loved one, says a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
But they want to make sure that an e-visit or other remote care is just as good as they’d get in person, and that their health information stays private, according to the survey released Thursday.
Long considered an option mainly for improving access to health care in rural areas with few doctors, telemedicine is gaining ground with tech-savvy younger consumers — they text their physician with questions or Skype with a mild complaint. For seniors with chronic illnesses or mobility problems that make simply reaching a doctor’s office an ordeal, telehealth could be more than a convenience. The graying population is raising serious questions about how the nation will provide enough quality long-term care.
But while private insurance increasingly covers certain services such as a video visit, seniors have had a harder time because Medicare tightly restricts what it will pay for.
That’s starting to change, with a law Congress passed last winter that expands Medicare coverage for such options as video visits to diagnose stroke symptoms or check on home dialysis patients. Also, Medicare Advantage programs used by a third of beneficiaries can start offering additional telehealth options.
“While the interest is huge, one of the big barriers remains reimbursement,” said Johns Hopkins University telemedicine chief Dr. Ingrid Zimmer-Galler, who has turned to grants to help fund such services as telepsychiatry for dementia patients. The new law “is really a huge step in the right direction. It certainly doesn’t cover everything.”
Costs are a major issue for people who need ongoing living assistance. Less than a third of adults age 40 and over have set aside any money for their future long term care needs, the AP-NORC survey shows, and more than half mistakenly think they’ll be able to rely on Medicare to help cover nursing care or home health aides.
Telemedicine will have to replace in-person care, not add to it, to help with those costs, cautioned Zimmer-Galler.
As access for seniors promises to grow, the AP-NORC Center poll shows widespread interest in telehealth. More than half of adults of all ages would be comfortable with a video visit via Skype or FaceTime to discuss medications, for ongoing care of a chronic illness or even for an urgent health concern.
In fact, adults 40 and older are just as open to at least some forms of telemedicine as those under 40, with one exception: The older crowd is slightly less comfortable discussing health care by text.
Among caregivers, 87 percent say they’d be interested in using at least one form of telemedicine for that person’s medical needs.
“I think the parents would be happier at home instead of being in the doctor’s office waiting an hour to see a doctor for 15 minutes,” said Don Withey of Cortland, New York, who helps his 92-year-old father and 89-year-old mother get to their appointments. But, “we don’t know much more about it other than the fact you can talk to a doctor over the computer or smartphone.”
Just 12 percent of adults say they wouldn’t use any form of telemedicine.
There are concerns. More than 30 percent of people worry about privacy or the security or health information. About half fear that telemedicine could lead to lower-quality care, the poll found.
“It’s not about having a video screen or Skype in the home or even a blood pressure cuff in the home. It’s about the team that’s behind it and the clinicians who are supporting the care of that patient,” said Rachel DeSantis, chief of staff at Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, which provides the 92-year-old Kramer’s remote monitoring.
The Hopkins program provides no-cost monitoring for a month or two to select high-risk patients after a hospitalization because research found it reduces their chances of readmission.
When the monitor recorded Kramer’s weight creeping up one week, nurses immediately knew it was fluid build-up, a heart failure symptom that needed quick treatment. The machine is programmed for some educational feedback, too.
Dubin says her dad learned quickly when to cut back. “If he enjoys a pastrami sandwich one day, he can see his numbers may be higher the next day.”
Dubin says the reassurance was worth privately paying, about $250 a month, to keep the monitoring once Kramer’s initial time in the program ended.
The survey was conducted March 13 to April 5 by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with funding from the SCAN Foundation.
It involved interviews in English and Spanish with 1,945 adults, including 1,522 adults age 40 and over, who are members of NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
AP-NORC long term care polls:
This story has been corrected to show that Don Withy is from Cortland, not Courtland, New York.

State starts building 1st artificial reef using bridge parts

HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. (AP) — New York state has started building the first of 12 artificial reefs planned for the waters off Long Island using recycled sections of the demolished Tappan Zee Bridge.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during an event Thursday in Suffolk County that the first reef is being built about 2 miles from Shinnecock Inlet with 885 tons of bridge sections. The Democrat says the reef will cover about 35 acres in waters 85 feet deep off Long Island’s South Shore.
Cuomo announced the reef project in mid-April, saying it would boost the region’s recreational and sport fishing industries.
Six reefs are planned for this year, including five off the South Shore and one off the North Shore. Barges are transporting the bridge sections down the Hudson River to the reef sites.

Trump backs GOP congressman, but misstates his tax vote

By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump endorsed a congressman facing a tough primary battle, but in doing so he misstated the New York Republican’s record on taxes.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump said U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan is “strong on Borders,” ”loves our Military” and “voted for Tax Cuts.”
But Donovan was one of just a few Republicans who voted against the Trump-backed tax law that passed last year.
Donovan defended the vote on Thursday, saying the legislation slashed deductions for state and local taxes, which would lead to higher tax bills for many New Yorkers.
He said the president was aware of his vote.
Donovan is facing a challenge from former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2015.
Trump and Donovan first spoke about the race last week while flying back to Washington aboard Air Force One after a joint appearance in New York, Donovan said in an interview Thursday. The president also called Donovan on Wednesday night after posting the tweet.
“He was very encouraging. I told him we are here to help move his agenda forward,” Donovan said.
Wednesday’s endorsement was the result of roughly two months of discussions between the White House and Donovan’s campaign, according to Donovan spokeswoman Jessica Proud. She said the specific content of the tweet was not discussed ahead of time.
Trump incorrectly wrote that Donovan voted for the GOP tax plan. He did not.
“The president was well aware. We’ve had discussions about my tax vote, the president and I,” Donovan told The Associated Press.
Donovan has consistently argued that the Republican tax plan would have a negative effect on some of his constituents.
“The president has to look at things of what’s good for 330 million people,” Donovan said. “My No. 1 responsibility is for the 740,000 people that I represent.”

Pot license deadline extended

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have extended the deadline for medical marijuana businesses to become licensed.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said Wednesday the original deadline has been pushed from June 15 to September 15. Officials say the extension allows the Medical Marihuana Licensing Board adequate time to investigate and approve operator licenses to ensure access to medical marijuana is maintained.
Some have expressed concerns the process hasn’t been moving quickly enough.
A 2016 law aimed to address confusion surrounding the legality of dispensary shops that opened after voters in 2008 authorized marijuana for medical use. The new law includes a 3 percent tax on provisioning centers.

Senate approves $100 million for Snyder’s workforce plan

Associated Press
LANSING — The Michigan Senate agreed to grant Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to revitalize Michigan’s workforce $100 million on Wednesday, upping the House’s $75 million offer last month.
Lawmakers voted 30-2 to establish a fund within the state’s Higher Education Student Loan Authority for Snyder’s plan this upcoming fiscal year. Most of the money would be funneled into scholarships, career counseling, teacher grants and career-oriented programs within high schools in order to maintain a pipeline from high school graduation to a job in professional trade, information technology or another high-demand field.
The decline of the automotive and manufacturing industry has long put pressure on the state to figure out how it will train future workers to meet the needs of new jobs trickling into Michigan. Supporters of the Marshall Plan say that means training some students in technical and trade skills in lieu of only promoting a traditional K-12 education followed by a two- or four-year degree.
“Our state’s talent gap is a critical issue and our partners in the state Senate today took a big step forward in helping to address that gap head on,” Snyder said on Wednesday. “I look forward to working with the House to build on today’s momentum.”
The legislation drew praise from both sides of the aisle during the Senate vote and now heads to the House, which last month reduced Snyder’s $100-million goal by 25 percent in its budget.
Snyder, a term-limited Republican, has made the Marshall Plan his top priority during his final year leading a state that has seen a steadily deflating talent pool since the Great Recession. More than 800,000 openings are estimated to emerge by 2024.
But much of Michigan’s workforce remains ill-equipped to veer from the traditional industrial job path — a factor many believe resulted in Amazon’s decision in January to pass over Detroit and Grand Rapids as a potential location for its second headquarters.
“As technology rapidly changes the workplace, Michigan must continue to adapt and enhance the way it builds a talent pool,” Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, said. “The Marshall Plan for Talent is the catalyst for that.”