Thursday, April 19, 2018

Firefighter, nurse on Southwest flight 'felt moved to act'


Two strangers with backgrounds in emergency response who found themselves in the middle of rescue efforts Tuesday when a Southwest jet engine blew apart said it was just another part of their training.

Andrew Needum, a firefighter and paramedic from the Celina Fire Department, and registered nurse Peggy Philips were rows apart when shrapnel shattered the Southwest Airline flight’s window and sent Jennifer Riordan, seated nearby, flying out of the aircraft.

Needum helped fellow Texan and passenger Tim McGinty pull Riordan back in the plane, but then his emergency training kicked in and he started to perform CPR.

“I’m trained for emergency situations and that’s just exactly what it was,” he said at a news conference Wednesday. “I felt moved to act, as well as other people on the plane.”

Andrew Needum

Andrew Needum said he “felt moved to act” after the Southwest Airlines flight went into an emergency.  (FOX4)

One of those who also acted was Peggy Philips, who told “FOX & friends” on Thursday she had a “sense of calm” as she went to help Needum give CPR to Riordan. Riordan later died from her injuries.

The nurse said the mother of two had “substantial” injuries to her head, neck, and upper torso, but the pair worked to try to save her life as pilot Tammie Jo Shults guided the crippled aircraft to a safe landing in Philadelphia.

“I was almost relieved to have something to do that I knew I was in control of,” she said. “I know how to do CPR, I can help. That was a good feeling for me to know that I could at least attempt to help,” she said.

Philips said stepping up to help “comes from being a registered nurse for over 20 years” and is “just what we do.”

“That’s just part of who we are,” she said. “You know that anytime you step on a plane, anytime you step out in public anything can happen at any given time.”


Needum said on Thursday he truly believes God put him and every other person on that plane for a reason.

“God created a servant heart in me and I felt a calling to get up and do something, stand up and act,” he said. “I’m no different than any other firefighter in this country. For some reason, whatever reason that is, it was me that day.”

He was on the plane with his wife, parents and two young children who were all heading home after a family vacation in New York.

The engine on a Southwest Airlines plane is inspected as it sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (Amanda Bourman via AP)

The jet engine casing of a Southwest Airlines airplane that blew apart mid-flight, killing a passenger.  (Marty Martinez)

When the oxygen masks came down, he remembers seeing his parents jump to help each of his children. He then saw his wife reach over to help a young mother with a baby sitting nearby. After getting a subtle nod from her, he then went to help Riordan and others.

“There was a family that lost a loved one. I feel for her family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. But I’m thankful that my family is here and we’re standing strong,” he said. “We’ve had some emotional ups and downs but God is good and he’s carrying us through.”


Needum’s wife, Stephanie praised the pilot “as an amazing person” who took the time to speak to their young daughter after the plane landed in Philadelphia.”

“She reassured her that in her 32 years in flying that her oxygen masks never came down, so she told our daughter that she was special,” she said.

The Celina Fire Department praised Needum for his actions on Thursday in a Facebook post, saying they were “so honored.”

“We couldn’t be more proud of Andrew Needum! His actions under extreme pressure were exceptional! We are so honored that he is a part of our Celina Fire Department family,” the department posted.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Puerto Rico can’t afford infrastructure fix: economist


Puerto Rico is a laggard in terms of infrastructure and can’t afford to make needed fixes, according to Harry Dent, an economist who has a home on the island and is known for his bold calls.

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“The infrastructure here is not ideal,” he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney during an interview on “Varney & Co.” on Thursday. “They have more potholes than Baltimore.”

The author of books including “The Great Depression Ahead” said the island can’t afford to fix its utilities and roads.

“They have an aging power system that’s underfunded, and the municipal bonds have defaulted on the electric power system – so they are in trouble,” Dent said.

On Wednesday, an islandwide blackout knocked out power to all of its residents about seven months after Hurricane Maria. That storm ripped through the U.S. territory, destroying its electrical grid and leaving its residents powerless for months.

Dent added that energy was a challenge even before Maria.

“About seven months after I moved here, they had a power outage that took six to seven weeks to repair,” he said.

The Odds of a Positive Resolution to Trade Disputes Have Increased


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By Michael Jones & Kevin Nicholson, RiverFront Investment Group In RiverFront’s 2018 Outlook, we contended that President Trump’s approach to trade disputes was a key variable that could catalyze our optimistic upside scenario for financial markets or derail the accelerating global recovery by inadvertently igniting a trade war. We believe that recent developments in the Trump […]

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Rob Gronkowski buys stake in Kentucky Derby horse named after him


Rob Gronkowski has a horse in the Kentucky Derby – and it shares his name.

The New England Patriots tight end announced Wednesday he purchased a “substantial stake” in his namestake racehorse.

“This horse is a winner and I love a winner,” Gronkowski said, according to his GronkNation blog. “When I heard about the racehorse being named after me, I started watching and got really stoked when he started winning. He’s won his last three races and is now headed to the Derby. I’m all in: Welcome to the Gronk Family, Gronkowski the Horse!”

Gronkowski partnered with Phoenix Thoroughbreds Ltd to make the deal. The company initially bought the horse in England in 2017.


Bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe, who made the purchase for Phoenix Thoroughbreds and gave the colt its famous name, told USA Today she selected the horse because it was “built like a tank” and akin to “the equine form of Gronk.”

The NFL star will be at Churchill Downs in Louisville to watch his colt’s performance in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby.

“I really can’t think of anything cooler than having a top-class thoroughbred named after me,” Gronkowski added. “Except maybe having him win the Derby.”

The so-called “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” will be held May 5. The winning purse is $2 million.

The two Gronkowskis will meet for the first time in the days leading up to the Derby.

Though the colt has a star patron, he is a dark horse with lackluster odds – just a 80-to-1 shot at a first place finish, according to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.


The equine Gronkowski, a 3-year-old-colt, earned his Kentucky Derby berth after winning the Burradon Stakes in Newcastle, England, in March with trainer Jeremy Noseda. The victory lifted the thoroughbred to the coveted qualifying spot on cumulative points.

This year’s Kentucky Derby is the first time the iconic race will allot one of its 20 spots to a European-based horse. Another spot will be fielded by a Japan-based colt.

The race is the first of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, followed by the Preakness Stakes on May 19 and Belmont Stakes on June 9.

The Latest: Southwest sought more time to inspect engines


The Latest on the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia (all times local):

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12:45 p.m.

Southwest Airlines sought more time to inspect fan blades like the one that snapped off during one of its flights and caused an engine breakup that left a passenger dead.

The airline opposed a recommendation by the engine manufacturer to require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades within 12 months, saying it needed more time to conduct the inspections.

Southwest made the comments last year after U.S. regulators proposed making the inspections mandatory. The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet required airlines to conduct the extra inspections but said late Wednesday that it would do so in the next two weeks.

The recommendation for more inspections followed an engine blowup on a 2016 Southwest flight.

On Tuesday, the engine on another Southwest jet exploded over Pennsylvania and debris hit the plane. A woman was killed.


9:45 a.m.

A Texas firefighter on the Southwest Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia says his wife gave him the OK to leave his family and move toward the rear of the plane to aid a woman who had been partially blown through a damaged window.

An emotional Andrew Needum told reporters Thursday that he was traveling with his wife, two young children and parents when they heard a loud pop Tuesday.

Needum says he heard a commotion behind him and his wife, Stephanie, nodded at him to go help 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan.

Federal investigators say an engine blew apart Tuesday on the flight from New York to Dallas, sending debris into the fuselage and shattering a window.

Riordan was sitting near the window and was pulled partially through. She later died.


11:40 p.m.

U.S. airline regulators have ordered inspections on engine fan blades like the one that snapped off a Southwest Airlines plane, leading to the death of a woman who was partially blown out a window.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement late Wednesday comes nearly a year after the engine’s manufacturer recommended the additional inspections, and a month after European regulators ordered their airlines to do the work.

Pressure for the FAA to act grew after an engine on a Southwest plane blew apart on Tuesday, showering the aircraft with debris and shattering a window. A woman sitting next to the window was partially blown out and died of her injuries. The plane, which was headed from New York to Dallas, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

CORRECTS: Southwest opposed recommendation to inspect fan blades like one that snapped in engine failure within year


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Man born with rare spine condition uses hands, skateboard to get around


An Alabama man hasn’t let the fact that he has no legs get in the way of much, including his love for skateboarding and the sport of tennis. Rowdy Burton, who had his legs amputated as a 3-year-old said there’s even times when his friends forget that he doesn’t have legs.

“There hasn’t been anything that I just really, really wanted to do that I felt like I couldn’t do,” Burton, 30, told Barcroft TV. “Except one other thing – I did kind of want to be an astronaut, still do, still want to go into space before I die but they’re pretty strict about that peak physical condition.”


Burton was born with sacral agenesis syndrome, a congenital spine condition which affected the way his legs were growing. He said he had his legs amputated because allowing them to grow would mean he had “dead weight to carry around.”

“Since they didn’t bend right either it would’ve been difficult to use a wheelchair or crutches,” he told Barcroft TV.

*** EXCLUSIVE - VIDEO AVAILABLE *** UNSPECIFIED, UNDATED: A young Rowdy Burton sits in a chair outside, before he had his legs amputated due to suffering with Sacral Agenesis. DESPITE living with just half a body ? inspirational Rowdy Burton is determined to not let his condition define him. 30-year-old, Rowdy, was born with a rare lower spinal disorder called Sacral Agenesis. Affecting only one in 25,000 births, the condition resulted in Rowdy having both of his legs amputated when he was just three years old ? with doctors using pins to stop his bones growing any further. Rowdy, who resides in Alabama, USA, was left to live his life with two stumps positioned directly beneath his waist and now that he is older, he prefers to use his hands and elbows to get around rather than a wheelchair. After all the hardship Rowdy has faced over the years, he is still determined to live his life to the full ? playing tennis with his friends and riding his skateboard. PHOTOGRAPH BY Barcroft Images

Burton used a wheelchair as a student when he had to carry around books, but has since grown to rely on his hands to get around.  (Barcroft Media)

Burton said he was bullied earlier in life, but when he reached high school his classmates matured and it stopped. He also grew out of using his wheelchair for everything, and often walks around using his hands.

“Sometimes I use a skateboard,” he said. “You get a lot more momentum. I like it because you can go fast. I can’t really run very fast so it’s pretty cool to pick up speed.”

*** EXCLUSIVE - VIDEO AVAILABLE *** MONTGOMERY, AL - JANUARY 17: Rowdy Burton, 30, who has just half a body, gets ready to rally with his friend during a game of tennis on January 17, 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama. DESPITE living with just half a body – inspirational Rowdy Burton is determined to not let his condition define him. 30-year-old, Rowdy, was born with a rare lower spinal disorder called Sacral Agenesis. Affecting only one in 25,000 births, the condition resulted in Rowdy having both of his legs amputated when he was just three years old – with doctors using pins to stop his bones growing any further. Rowdy, who resides in Alabama, USA, was left to live his life with two stumps positioned directly beneath his waist and now that he is older, he prefers to use his hands and elbows to get around rather than a wheelchair. After all the hardship Rowdy has faced over the years, he is still determined to live his life to the full – playing tennis with his friends and riding his skateboard. PHOTOGRAPH BY Bob Miller / Barcroft Images

Burton said he’s always tried to see the bright side of every situation.  (Barcroft Media)

Burton also drives and plays wheelchair tennis with a group.

“People are drawn to him,” Christy Rue, who met Rowdy through wheelchair tennis, told the news outlet. “I remember before I met him our mutual friend told me he’s one of those people that just everybody loves immediately and, he is.”

Oil, gas drilling in pristine Alaska refuge takes step ahead


The Trump administration is moving toward oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fulfilling a longtime Republican priority that most Democrats fiercely oppose.

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A notice being published Friday in the Federal Register starts a 60-day review to sell oil and gas leases in the remote refuge, one of the most pristine areas in the United States and home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other species.

President Donald Trump has said he “really didn’t care” about opening a portion of the refuge to oil drilling but insisted it be included in recent tax legislation at the urging of others.

Addressing fellow Republicans at a GOP conference in West Virginia in February, Trump said a friend told him that every Republican president since Ronald Reagan wanted to get oil drilling approved in the refuge.

“I really didn’t care about it, and then when I heard that everybody wanted it — for 40 years, they’ve been trying to get it approved, and I said, ‘Make sure you don’t lose ANWR,'” Trump said.

President Bill Clinton vetoed a GOP plan to allow drilling in the refuge in 1995, and Democrats defeated a similar GOP proposal a decade later.

The plan being published Friday starts a 60-day environmental review that includes public meetings in Anchorage, Fairbanks and other sites, including three in northern Alaska.

Environmental groups denounced the plan and said it was “shameful” that it would be published on Earth Day — and the eighth anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation’s worst environmental disaster.

“The Trump administration’s reckless dash to expedite drilling and destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will only hasten a trip to the courthouse,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife. “We will not stand by and watch them desecrate this fragile landscape.”

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans said the drilling plan would help pay for tax cuts approved by Congress and signed by Trump in December. GOP lawmakers project at least $1 billion in revenue from drilling leases over 10 years.

Environmental groups and other critics call those projections wildly optimistic, saying low global oil prices and high exploration costs are likely to limit drilling revenue.

The administration plan calls for at least two major lease sales over the next decade in at least 400,000 acres each in the refuge’s coastal plain. Surface development would be limited to 2,000 acres.

Volatility: High Yield Bonds Versus Equities


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By Peritus Asset Management Volatility has once again returned to financial markets over the last few months, most visibly with wild equity price movements that we saw in February and again in late March. While the high yield bond market certainly has not seen the extent of the volatility the equity markets saw, the rise […]

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Suspect in Vegas casino picnic shooting arrested in Texas


Authorities say a casino dealer identified as the suspect in a deadly company picnic shooting on Sunday has been arrested in a small town in the Texas Panhandle.

Las Vegas police said on Twitter Thursday that Anthony J. Wrobel was taken into custody “by Texas law enforcement” near Vega (VAY’-guh), Texas.

That’s a town off Interstate 40 in the Texas Panhandle between New Mexico and Amarillo.

In Texas, Oldham County sheriff’s dispatcher Billie Jo Miesner confirmed that Wrobel is being held by sheriff’s officials.

Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman, said additional information would be provided later.

Wrobel is accused of killing Venetian executive Mia Banks and badly wounding co-worker Hector Rodriguez at close range while they sat at a table at a Las Vegas park.

Pentagon: No civilian casualties in Syria strikes


The Pentagon says there have been no reports of civilian casualties from last week’s missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain.

Spokeswoman Dana W. White said this is a testament to the accuracy of U.S. and allied weapons. She also disputed Russia’s claim that a significant number of missiles were shot down.

Speaking alongside White at a Pentagon news conference, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the U.S. is confident — but not 100 percent certain — that chemical agents were present at all three sites attacked. He said this likely included chlorine gas and sarin.

White described the strikes as successful. She said there are currently no indications that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons again.

'Yup, shot him': Prosecutors say ex-lawman hid double life


In the rural western New York town where he lived on a gentleman’s farm, Joseph Mlyniec was a respected public servant with two decades as a sheriff’s sergeant and four years on the town board.

But a different story emerged after he called 911 and reported he had shot a man dead in his muddy driveway. Prosecutors say the 60-year-old Mlyniec was desperately trying to hide a sordid double life that was unraveling amid allegations he had for years lured troubled young men to his farm to sexually abuse them.

An indictment accuses Mlyniec of murdering 32-year-old Robert Irvine III to keep him from cooperating with a rape investigation. When Mlyniec called 911 on the night of March 7 to report the body in his driveway, the dispatcher asked if the man was dead. Mlyniec, according to court papers, replied: “Yup, shot him in the head.”

Deputies arrived to find Mlyniec kneeling in the mud with his hands behind his head and Irving’s body nearby with four gunshot wounds. The documents say Mlyniec “spontaneously” told them: “Do you know what this is about? Someone accused me of sex abuse and turned me in, and he is a part of — whatever. I don’t care anymore my life is done.”

Mlyiniec, who was indicted on charges of second-degree murder and intimidation of a witness, has pleaded not guilty and has been in jail without bail since his arrest last month.

Defense attorney Norman Effman said it’s clear from the evidence that his client was involved in the shooting, and a review of police video confirms the statements quoted in the court papers.

“It’s not a whodunit,” Effman said. Rather, he said the case will look at Mlyniec’s intent, state of mind and other elements that will determine the level of homicide of which he could be convicted.

Court papers filed by District Attorney Donald O’Geen say Mlyniec was publicly a heterosexual married man while living a secret life “by being with many different men, all of which were young, troubled youth.” The secret began to unravel late last year when state police informed him someone had accused him of sexual assault.

“Numerous witnesses” told investigators that Mlyniec would lure young men to his farm and groom them for sexual favors in return for food or money, according to the court papers.

“Everybody was taken aback by it, after seeing all the information that came out,” Perry Supervisor James Brick told the Batavia Daily News. He said the town sent a letter seeking Mlyniec’s resignation from the town board. Effman said Mlyniec has complied.

Effman, who has known Mlyniec for decades, said his client has lived an exemplary life and been a well-respected person in the community.

“The community is shocked by the allegations. … That’s what they are at this point, allegations,” Effman said. “The truth is something we’re a long way from finding. That’s what trials are about.”

2 black men arrested at Starbucks get an apology from police


Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer.

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He thought nothing of it when he and his business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting.

A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police walked into the coffee shop — until officers started walking in their direction.

“That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their trespassing arrests April 12 touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling, or what has been dubbed “retail racism” or “shopping while black.”

Nelson and Robinson, best friends since the fourth grade, were led away in handcuffs from the coffee shop in the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, in an incident recorded on a white customer’s cellphone.

In the week since their arrests, the men have met with Starbucks’ apologetic CEO and have started pushing for lasting change.

“We do want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody again,” Robinson said. “What if it wasn’t us sitting there? What if it was the kid that didn’t know somebody that knew somebody? Do they make it to jail? Do they die? What happens?”

On Thursday, they also got an apology from Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, a black man who at first staunchly defended his officers’ handling of the incident.

Ross said he “failed miserably” in addressing the arrests. He said that the issue of race is not lost on him and that he shouldn’t be the person making things worse.

He said the police department did not have a policy for dealing for similar situations, but does now, and it will be released soon.

Nelson and Robinson said they went to the Starbucks to meet Andrew Yaffe, a white local businessman, over a potential real estate opportunity. Three police officers showed up not long after. Nelson said they weren’t questioned but were told to leave immediately.

Yaffe showed up as the men were being handcuffed and could be seen in the video demanding an explanation for the officers’ actions. Nelson and Robinson did not resist arrest.

“When you know that you did nothing wrong, how do you really react to it?” Nelson said. “You can either be ignorant or you can show some type of sophistication and act like you have class. That was the choice we had.”

It was hardly their first encounter with police. But neither had been arrested before, setting them apart from many of those they grew up with in their gritty southwest Philadelphia neighborhood.

Robinson said he briefly wondered what he might have done to bring the moment on himself. “I feel like I fell short,” he explained. “I’m trying to think of something I did wrong, to put not just me but my brother, my lifelong friend … in this situation.”

Nelson and Robinson spent hours in a jail cell and were released after midnight, when the district attorney declined to prosecute them for trespassing.

Nelson said he wondered if he’d make it home alive.

“Any time I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

The men’s attorney, Stewart Cohen, said they were illegally profiled.

Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney, who is white, has said what happened at the Starbucks “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”

But Ross, the police commissioner, initially said the arresting officers were just doing their job, acted professionally and “did absolutely nothing wrong,” and added that Nelson and Robinson were disrespectful to them.

The arrests prompted protests at the Starbucks and a national boycott. Kevin Johnson, CEO at Seattle-based Starbucks, came to Philadelphia to meet with the men. He called the arrests “reprehensible” and has ordered more than 8,000 of the company’s stores closed May 29 for training for nearly 175,000 employees on unconscious bias.

Robinson said that he appreciates the public support the men have received but that anger and boycotting Starbucks are not the solution.

The men said they are looking for more lasting results and are in mediation with Starbucks to make changes, including the posting in stores of a customer bill of rights; the adoption of new policies regarding customer ejections, racial profiling and racial discrimination; and independent investigations of complaints of discrimination.

“You go from being someone who’s just trying to be an entrepreneur, having your own dreams and aspirations, and then this happens,” Nelson said. “How do you handle it? Do you stand up? Do you fight? Do you sit down and just watch everyone else fight for you? Do you let it slide, like we let everything else slide with injustice?”


Whack is The Associated Press’ national writer for race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at

Authorities say the suspect in the shooting of two people at a Las Vegas casino company picnic was arrested in Texas


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An Oil Services ETF for Commodities Equities Exposure


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With commodities rising, some investors are revisiting the asset class. Another way to gain commodities exposure is via commodities-linked equities. In the oil patch, that can include oil services stocks and the related exchange traded funds, such as the iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (NYSEArca: IEZ). IEZ has recently been surging, gaining more […]

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Here's Why Paratek Pharmaceuticals Dropped as Much as 16.6% Today


What happened

Shares of Paratek Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PRTK) fell more than 16% today after the company announced the pricing of a $140 million senior debt offering, which was initially proposed yesterday. An additional $25 million in notes could be sold depending on interest from institutional buyers.

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The notes will mature on May 1, 2024 — sufficiently far in the future — and are redeemable for approximately 63 shares of common stock for each $1,000 in notes, which works out to a conversion price of $15.90 per share. The financing will nearly double Paratek Pharmaceuticals’ cash balance from the end of 2017, which stood at approximately $151 million.

As of 12:02 p.m. EDT, the stock had settled to a 16.2% loss.

So what

Paratek Pharmaceuticals is loading up on funding in anticipation of an upcoming decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on marketing approval for its next-generation antibiotic, omadacycline. The company has submitted New Drug Applications (NDAs) for the drug candidate in both oral and intravenous formulations, which have been accepted for priority review by the regulatory body.

The drug is proposed as a treatment for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) and community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP). Given the rise of antibiotic resistant bacterial and fungal infections across the globe, investors are hopeful that the drug will be approved. Having earned fast-track designation and priority review means that, if approved, there’s potential to hit the ground running. The recent fundraising activity is the company’s way of ensuring that will be the case if the binary event falls favorably for the clinical stage pharma.

Now what

Wall Street seems to be approaching the debt offering with caution. After all, with a market cap of just $350 million, taking on up to $165 million in debt will immediately result in relatively high leverage ratios. But Paratek Pharmaceuticals has noted multiple times that the total addressable market for omadacycline could be up to $9 billion per year. While those figures tend to be misused, the fact of the matter is that capturing even a fraction of the addressable market could result in big business for the small pharma — and a much higher valuation over time. For now, investors are still left waiting for the final decision from the FDA.

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Prince thought he was taking Vicodin, not fentanyl; no charges filed in his death


The prosecutor in the Minnesota county where Prince died says he’s filing no criminal charges in the musician’s death.

The announcement Thursday from Carver County Attorney Mark Metz means the state’s investigation into how Prince got the fentanyl that killed him is closed. It came hours after documents revealed a doctor accused of illegally prescribing an opioid for Prince had agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation.

Metz said the evidence shows Prince thought he was taking Vicodin, not fentanyl. He said there’s no evidence any person associated with Prince knew he possessed any counterfeit pill containing fentanyl.

Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016.

Marijuana supporters, critics across the US weigh in on 420


America’s marijuana supporters have a lot to celebrate on this 420 holiday: Thirty states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to a national advocacy group.

Nine of those states and Washington, D.C., also have broad legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year.

Yet cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and it still has many opponents.

Here’s a look at what some advocates and critics have to say about the state of marijuana in the U.S. today:


CEO and founder of kindColorado, which provides community engagement opportunities for the cannabis industry to be assets in communities.


“It’s a celebration, and we still have work to do. The war on drugs has not ended; the negative impact on communities of color has not ended. So we still have work to do even though we’re legal in Colorado. There are states surrounding us that aren’t. And as long as one black or brown youth is arrested for possession, we still have our work to do. So, what would you call it? A measured celebration.”


“It’s an incredibly exciting time. There’s so much opportunity, but we really do want to keep our roots in change and the people’s liberation and reforming criminal justice and moving the legalization conversation forward but not forgetting those social justice issues.”


“I want legalization to continue to be self-reflective and continue moving forward so that no one is arrested for cannabis possession. But also that we are having opportunities for people to enter this legal industry, especially folks who have been impacted by the war on drugs. … We haven’t done what we need to do for an industry built on the backs of black and brown and sick people. We have to continue to uplift those messages and be activists around that space.”


“There is a brand that has a tincture that is very high CBD, low THC. … It’s a dropper that I’ll put a little bit in my drink. And not drive — that’s super important. That’s not very strong actually, but you need to be very careful about the way you consume.”


CEO of Outco Inc., a marijuana cultivator and wholesaler near El Cajon, California.


“I often tell people it’s a lot of fun. Seriously, can you think of another industry that owns a day of the year and a minute of the day? I mean, really — nobody else has anything like that, so it’s pretty special. And I think it signifies everything we’ve all been fighting so hard for … just the freedom and the awareness more than anything else.”


“It’s three steps forward, two steps back. We had some reasonably good news recently from the feds, and Trump says he’s supporting medical, and as far as he’s concerned, recreational is up to the states. That being said, you know, he might change his mind in a tweet tomorrow. So we need more protection than that, but I think it’s going the right way. And I think that people should be pleased.”


“Where I’d like to see it go is for it to take its rightful place — certainly on the medical side, replacing some of these awful, horrible drugs that people are using. It can replace opioids in many, many situations, but we have a whole range of medical research to do on this that’s never been able to be completed because of the silliness around it. On the recreational side, I want to see it take its rightful place right in there compared with … alcohol and tobacco and so forth that people are using on a regular basis.”


“Before I got involved in the industry, I didn’t. In fact, I consider myself probably part of the problem. I didn’t understand it well. I didn’t know about all the hypocrisy, and I was a nerd in college. Now I use vapes. I’m not a good smoker. Even a cigarette — I take one puff, and I fall on the floor coughing. And I don’t like edibles because of the delayed effects and the uncertainty. But certainly tinctures and vapes, I enjoy very much.”


Public affairs director for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board


“It just means the potential of, if they’re not careful, communicating some things about marijuana, ignoring some of the negative things and trying to have an impact … of causing the industry to expand.”


“At Georgia Baptist, we represent about 1.4 million Georgians and about 3,600 churches. We’re concerned ultimately about the fact that all the incremental steps that you’re seeing throughout the United States — whether it’s dealing with medical marijuana or cultivation — those types of things seem to be ultimately leading to recreational use, which we believe is very dangerous for a society and that there has to be a balance between public health and safety versus personal responsibility. …

“We’re concerned that we’re moving in a direction that’s going to have a very negative societal impact on homes, on young people, on driving, crime — all those types of things that have a normal impact from alcohol or drug abuse is going to be accelerated with the legalization of marijuana.”


“The Georgia Baptist Mission Board, basically from a lobbying standpoint, takes a neutral position on medical marijuana. … We recognize the right of those families to seek what they feel is the necessary remedy to some of the illnesses that especially children are facing. So we draw the line at the cultivation point. And the reason we do is because we passed a resolution a couple of years ago as a state convention concerned that cultivation will eventually lead to recreation.”


“No, I never have. I grew up as a young person, came to know Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 14, just out of that conviction of serving the Lord. I have tasted alcohol, but I’ve never had anything to do with marijuana because (of) believing that Christians should not be involved in some type of mind-altering drug for recreational purposes.”


Hollingsworth’s family owns a marijuana farm south of Seattle, where they grow about 9,000 plants and employ 30 people at peak harvesting.


“I will be in Los Angeles, California, hanging out with some friends and some people who are interested in cannabis, and kind of learn the market and what is going on in California. And to celebrate that opportunity — their first 420 being a legal market.”


“The celebration of cannabis, not just recreationally but medicinally — the actual plant that has helped so many people — and just a day where people can come celebrate and kind of learn about the plant. It’s a day where we all get together and vibe out on the celebration of this medicine.”


“I feel the industry is moving toward a good balance of small farmers and commercialization and a better, wide spread of the plant for people to be able to have access to it.”


“I would like to see the cannabis industry go into people having more access to the plant so we’d be able to see the medical benefits to cannabis — not just inhaling it or eating it, but also being used as a topical, as a salve, being able to have access to CBD because of all the wonderful things that this plant can offer medically.”


“I use marijuana and cannabis every day in a CBD salve form, so a topical form.”


Owner of CBD Please, which offers nutritional products made from hemp; co-founder and former president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.


“I will probably smoke some marijuana at some point during the day. … It would be nice if I could take the day off, but I can smoke marijuana any time I want. The thrill of being in a big crowd of people smoking marijuana has kind of faded for me a bit.”


“It’s improving rapidly, and this is … something that has been building for decades. If you look at national poll results for the question, ‘Should cannabis be legalized for adult use?’ you’ll realize it has been rising in popularity and is now well over 50 percent by most polls. This is a very long-term trend, and it has to do with people understanding cannabis, understanding how safe or unsafe it is relative to recreational drugs, and people understanding that it is relatively very, very safe compared with other recreational drugs.”


“I’d like to see the federal government become less obstinate in many ways. I’d like to see them step out of the path of progress for marijuana legalization and for the development of the hemp industry.”


“I use it for both medical and recreational purposes. I find it to be very, very effective. I have some medical issues I am dealing with and, boy, without cannabis I would probably be taking some very dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.

“For recreational purposes, I am smoking it. For my medical purposes, I am using creams and tinctures and oils and things that go under your tongue.”


Former San Francisco Bay Area lawyer who now lives in Nevada and serves as chairman of Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy; helped write the opposition argument to legalizing marijuana that appeared on the state ballot two years ago.


“I respect people’s ability and right to celebrate the fact of marijuana and marijuana’s legalization in various areas. But (I’m) not a particular fan myself.”


“I think Americans are pretty divided on the subject of marijuana in terms of what it all means. I think people would like to see it decriminalized. They would like to see it regulated. They would like to see it taxed. But all of the initiatives that have been on the ballot really don’t do those things.

“What we have in the United States is a commercialization of marijuana that I think is very, very dangerous. A profit motive is going to drive it, and the early experience in states like Colorado — you have a youth increase in marijuana use, DUIs, homelessness, crime, a long list of … problems that come with commercialization.


“We are on an upscale or upside, where there will be an increasing number of states that may legalize it. Over time, I think people will begin to get the picture that this isn’t a progressive, positive thing, but it has a lot of deleterious effects that will be seen in later years. … As a kid, I remember getting on airplanes where there was a smoking section. We have come over a 30- or 40-year period recognizing that, ‘Boy, that really wasn’t where we should be going.’ I think the same thing will happen with marijuana.”


“Not to any significant amount. I would say my early experience with marijuana in high school, I went to Berkeley High School at a time when marijuana was just kind of coming of age in the mid-’60s and actually saw the deleterious effects among classmates of mine — a very good friend who got very caught up in the whole thing. It became an obsession with him as to where to buy it, where to grow it, and it took over his life. I think that is unfortunate, where kids didn’t fully achieve, didn’t fully succeed where they could have had they not got caught up in the whole marijuana movement.”


Grew up around marijuana as the daughter of a Steve Miller Band roadie; now works for a small nonprofit and helps with Elementa, a women’s group promoting wellness and cannabis.


“I have to work obviously on the Friday so I’ll probably just be at home. Maybe I’ll stop at a newly opened dispensary and pick up something to enjoy. However, on Saturday we’ll be doing a cooking class with cannabis … so that’s really where we will really be celebrating, on 4/21.”


“420 has been like an unspoken taboo for many years, but it was always code that, ‘It’s after work. Is it 420? Time to have your medicine.’ So, that’s what 420 means to me.”


“I believe that it’s a long time coming that the states are being able to legalize a natural plant that was put here for our use. I think that it’s going to take a little while, but the groundswell’s here. And, I mean, there’s so much black market that they might as well be cashing in and helping society with it as well.”


“I feel like cannabis should be a mainstream topic, and we should all be aware of it. I wish the stigma would go away. I think that over time, again, as we educate folks and people become more interested in it, I think it will just keep growing, and I want to be a part of that.”


“Yes, I currently do. I have chronic illnesses, and I’ve also learned about the powers of CBD as well. And so I use it in different forms, whichever I need and whatever I can come up with.”


This report was compiled by Associated Press writers Kathleen Foody in Denver; Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles; R.J. Rico in Duluth, Georgia; Manuel Valdes in Shelton, Washington; Bob Salsberg in Boston; Scott Sonner in Carson City, Nevada; and Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska.

Iran's defense minister visits Iraq to promote security ties


Iran’s defense minister has visited a joint intelligence center in the Iraqi capital operated by Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency says Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami met with Iraq’s interior minister and other officials, and praised their victory over the Islamic State group.

Gen. Saad al-Alak, head of Iraq’s military intelligence, who met with Hatami, called the four-nation alliance “a distinguished example for international relations, especially in the field of military and security cooperation.”

Iran has maintained close ties to the Iraqi government since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It sponsors a number of state-sanctioned militias, which helped Iraqi forces in the fight against IS.

Iran, along with Russia, is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Philadelphia police commissioner apologizes to 2 men arrested at Starbucks


Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday after he defended the police officers’ actions for arresting two black men at a Starbucks.

“I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Ross said in a news conference.

Ross had initially said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong” in the incident.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

An Epic Rally for This Energy ETF


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Up about 7.50% over the past week, the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEArca: XOP) is in the midst of a substantial rally and some technical analysts believe the widely followed energy exchange traded fund can continue climbing higher. Market observers and analysts argue that U.S. energy stocks are in a position […]

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YouTube star faces prison time after feeding homeless man Oreo with toothpaste as cruel prank


A Chinese YouTube star faces up to two years in prison after a cruel prank involving an Oreo cookie, toothpaste and a homeless man went wrong.

Kanguhua Ren, 20, who goes by ReSet on his YouTube channel, decided to pull off the prank in Barcelona, where he currently lives, SF Gate reported.  

Two Extra Fat Chocolate Sandwich Cookies With Frosting Isolated on White Background.

The YouTuber filled Oreo cookies with toothpaste as a cruel prank.  (iStock)

Kanguhua filmed himself squeezing toothpaste onto the cookies and putting them into their original packaging to make them appear like the original snack. He then set off to the streets where he handed out the joke cookies to bystanders as a way to entertain his more than one million followers on YouTube.

Kanguhua then went over to a homeless man, whom was identified as Gheorge L., 52, and gave him a cookie as well as $25.

As the homeless man was eating the cookie, Kanguhua was heard asking himself if he went too far, the Independent reported after obtaining the video.


“But look at the positive side; this will help him clean his teeth,” he said. “I think he hasn’t cleaned them since he became poor.”

Gheorge L. started vomiting after eating the cookie and has “never been treated so poorly while living on the street,” he told El Pais. He said he fled his homeland Romania to escape the dictatorship and was hospitalized in a mental health clinic.

The YouTuber makes about $2,475 from advertisers on his channel, El Pais reported.

Kanguhua faces up to two years in prison and a $37,133 fine if he is convicted of “a crime against moral integrity,” El Pais reported.


The video has since been deleted and Kanguhua attempted to make amends with Gheorge L. while offering the man $371 to not say anything to authorities. Kanguhua, with a camera, tried to spend a night with the homeless man but a witness called authorities to report the incident.

Kanguhua is currently on bail awaiting his sentence. The YouTuber once filled Oreo cookies with cat feces and gave them out to children and elderly people, the Telegraph reported.

4 dead, 3 children hurt in North Carolina shooting


A man shot his girlfriend and her five children in their North Carolina home— killing the woman and two teens — before shooting himself, police said Thursday.

Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper said the shooting happened Wednesday night after Maurice Laron Garner, 35, got into an argument with his girlfriend at the Asheville hospital where she worked.

Officers found 32-year-old Erica Nichelle Smith slain and her 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter mortally wounded. The others others survived: A 10-year-old boy who was grazed by a bullet called 911 around 10:30 p.m. to say that Garner had killed his mother. A 12-year-old child was in stable condition with a leg wound, while an 8-year-old was treated for a graze wound. Their genders weren’t immediately released.

The chief said Garner’s body was found in a car nearby with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He does not appear to have been the father to any of the children.

The surviving siblings are being cared for by local advocacy agencies, she said.

“Any death in our community, especially one involving violence on this scale, has far reaching traumatic impacts, particularly when they involve children,” the chief said.

Asheville police hadn’t received any prior domestic violence calls to the house, Hooper said, but Smith did approach police about Garner this month. On April 5, Smith reported that Garner had taken a car, but police determined there was no crime because the vehicle was registered to him.

After Syria missile strikes, US stuck in holding pattern


The drama of U.S. and allied missiles strikes on Syria has obscured a sobering fact: The U.S.-led campaign to eliminate the Islamic State from Syria has stalled.

The U.S. has 2,000 troops in Syria assisting local Arab and Kurdish fighters against IS, even as President Donald Trump resists deeper U.S. involvement and is eager to withdraw completely in coming months. Trump wants “other people” to deal with Syria, whose civil war has spawned the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II in terms of refugees.

It’s unclear whether Trump will go ahead with a total U.S. withdrawal while IS retains even a small presence in Syria.

Since January, when Trump asserted in his State of the Union address that “very close to 100 percent” of IS territory in Syria and Iraq had been liberated, progress toward extinguishing the extremists’ caliphate, or self-proclaimed state, has ground to a halt and shows no sign of restarting. U.S. warplanes continue to periodically bomb remaining pockets of IS in eastern Syria, but ground operations by U.S. partner forces have slowed.

“We’ve halted forward progress and are essentially attempting to avoid losing territory we’ve gained to date,” said Jennifer Cafarella, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. She sees two potential solutions: send additional U.S. combat power to eastern Syria to take on IS more directly, or resolve a diplomatic dispute with Turkey that has largely sidelined the main U.S. military partner in Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Now that Trump has upped the ante by attacking Syria directly for the second time in just over a year, Cafarella said in an interview this week, it is possible that Syria and its two main international supporters — Russia and Iran — will retaliate militarily against American forces and their Kurdish and Arab partners in eastern Syria “in an attempt to compel an American withdrawal by raising the cost of continued American involvement.”

The U.S. began bombing IS in Syria in September 2014 and deployed an initial contingent of 50 special operations troops in the country the following year. The anti-IS campaign gained momentum in 2016 and made its biggest gains during Trump’s first year in office.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition against IS refused this week to say how many IS fighters remain. Col. Ryan Dillon said they are holed up mainly in two places in eastern Syria. He said they are in and around the town of Hajin on the Euphrates River north of Bukamal and in Dashisha near the city of Deir el-Zour. They are “contained” in these areas, he asserted, suggesting they are not in immediate danger of being ousted.

Of concern, Dillon said, are indications that IS is stepping up successful attacks against pro-government fighters elsewhere in Syria.

The Trump administration has been saying in recent months that 98 percent of IS territory has been liberated, suggesting the campaign was close to final victory, although on April 3 the Army general overseeing the campaign, Joseph Votel, put it differently, saying “well over 90 percent” of the caliphate had been retaken.

“The situation continues to become more and more complex,” Votel said, alluding in part to the effects of a Turkish incursion into the town of Afrin in northwestern Syria.

The Afrin operation was part of a Turkish plan to drive the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, away from the Turkish border area. Turkey considers the YPG a threat to its national security and an extension of Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. But the YPG also is America’s main partner in Syria; it forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. Turkey’s advance on Afrin prompted the SDF to shift from fighting IS to confronting Turkey in Afrin.

The result: “We are no longer in an offensive effort on the ground against them (Islamic State),” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters March 27.

Even so, eliminating IS in Syria remains the goal, he said after Trump announced the missile strikes to punish the Syrian government for its alleged chemical weapons use.

The barrage of 105 missiles launched by the United States, Britain and France last week to destroy elements of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal was designed to deter President Bashar Assad from repeating his alleged use of chlorine gas and perhaps nerve gas on civilians in a Damascus suburb. It was unrelated to the IS problem, except in the sense that it highlighted the jumble of actors involved and the absence of a broad U.S. strategy.

Sen. John McCain, one of the Congress’ most vocal advocates for a fuller U.S. role in Syria, praised Trump for the missile strikes. But he also said the president needs to look beyond defeating IS and stopping further chemical weapons use by Assad to tackle the bigger challenge of regional conflict.

“Airstrikes disconnected from a broader strategy may be necessary, but they alone will not achieve U.S. objectives in the Middle East,” he said.

Syracuse University suspends fourth fraternity this academic year after shocking racist video emerges


Syracuse University’s student association is calling on administrators to expedite plans to audit the institution’s troubled Greek life community after a shocking video emerged this week showing one fraternity’s members spewing racist slurs and engaging in crude, simulated sexual acts.

The suspension of the Theta Tau chapter, announced Wednesday by Syracuse University President and Chancellor Kent Syverud, is the fourth fraternity to be suspended by the well-known school this academic year, and has spawned protests on campus from students outraged over the behavior.

“I solemnly swear to always have hatred in my heart for n—–s, s—s and most importantly the f—-n’ k—s,” one student is heard saying in the video to the sounds of laughter and applause.

The comments were made during an apparent “oath” in front of the engineering fraternity’s members inside their house near campus. The video was obtained and released by The Daily Orange student newspaper on Wednesday night, and was originally posted on a secret Facebook group entitled “Tau of Theta Tau,” it said.

“You f—-n’ k—s, get in the f—-n’ showers,” another voice is heard saying during the video.

Multiple members of the fraternity who purportedly posted in the secret group where the video appeared did not respond to requests from Fox News for comment at the time of publication of this article. One of the members appeared to delete his Facebook profile minutes after being contacted Thursday morning.

Syracuse University students gather outside Hendricks Chapel on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 to protest a video made by members of a now-suspended fraternity showing racist and sexist behavior in Syracuse, N.Y. The school's chancellor, Ken Syverud, described the video involving members of Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, as racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and hostile to people with disabilities. He said the videos were turned over to the school's Department of Public Safety for possible disciplinary or legal action. (Lindsey Sabado/The Syracuse Newspapers via AP)

April 18, 2018: Syracuse University students gather outside Hendricks Chapel to protest a video made by members of a now-suspended fraternity.  (AP)

The fraternity’s central office in Austin, Texas, also did not respond to a request for comment.

“I am appalled and shaken by this and deeply concerned for all members of our community,” Syverud said in a message to the school Wednesday, revealing that additional videos of the fraternity being involved in “extremely troubling and disturbing conduct” have surfaced as well.

“They include words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities,” he added.

Syverud said the footage has been turned over to Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety and police have launched an investigation “to identify individuals involved and to take additional legal and disciplinary action.”

James Franco and Angie Pati, the university’s student association president and vice president, called on Syracuse officials Wednesday to immediately start an audit of all of its recognized fraternities and sororities, including social, multicultural and professional groups, The Daily Orange reported.

“It would be an external review from members outside of the university community,” Franco told the newspaper. “Experts who are nationwide on Greek life, they would work with individual chapters and national chapters and just review, again, operations of Greek life on campus to see what goes well and what could be improved.”

Pati said discussions of an audit have already occurred with administrators before this week’s incident, but it had been scheduled to start this summer.

Sigma Alpha Mu, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Delta Tau Delta has also been suspended from Syracuse University this academic year from violations including hazing and threatening the safety of those participating in the recruitment process.

In a video posted by The Daily Orange, the student taking the Theta Tau racist “oath” is also shown, on his knees, stroking a cylindrical object being held by another student as if it were his penis.

“He’s drooling out of his mouth because he’s retarded in a wheelchair,” the newspaper claimed another person said in a separate video.

Zach Hammond, a senior listed as a member of the fraternity on its website, and whose name is mentioned in the “oath” video, told the newspaper that he was not present at the fraternity house when it was recorded.

“There were certainly some things I disapproved of, but I certainly didn’t realize that bad of things were being said. It’s just disgusting,” he added.

Police officers stood guard outside the fraternity home Wednesday as protesters marched through the area.

“Hey hey, ho ho, Theta Tau has got to go!” a crowd was heard saying.

Hundreds of students also filled into a chapel Wednesday night for a public forum on the incident and Syracuse University’s response.