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ASIANA PASSENGERS CALLED 911 BEGGING FOR HELP

Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:25 Published in National News
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Passengers who called 911 minutes after a Boeing 777 crashed at San Francisco International Airport said not enough help had arrived and they were doing their best to keep the critically injured alive, according to 911 calls that portray a scene of desperation.

Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed Saturday when it came in too low and too slow, killing two passengers and injuring many others as it skittered and spun 100 feet.

"We've been on the ground, I don't know, 20 minutes, a half hour," one woman said in a 911 call released late Wednesday by the California Highway Patrol. "There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We're almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive."

Another caller told a dispatcher: "There's not enough medics out here. There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head and we don't know what to do."

The dispatcher told the caller: "OK. We do have help started that way. You said that they're there, but there's not enough people, correct?"

"Yes," the caller said. "She is severely burned. She will probably die soon if we don't get help."

The dispatcher responded: "We are working on getting additional ambulances to you."

San Francisco officials said ambulances could not come too close out of concern that the plane would explode.

Authorities have said that during the chaos, one of the emergency response trucks might have run over one of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the crash.

Meanwhile, federal investigators are examining the cockpit interaction of two Asiana Airlines pilots who had taken on new roles before the crash of Flight 214 — one of whom had seldom flown a Boeing 777 and an instructor who was on his first training flight.

There were four pilots on board, but the National Transportation Safety Board is focusing on the working relationship between Lee Gang-kuk, who was landing the big jet for his first time at San Francisco International Airport, and Lee Jeong-Min, who was training him.

While the two men had years of aviation experience, this mission involved unfamiliar duties, and it was the first time they had flown together.

The pilots were assigned to work together through a tightly regulated system developed after several deadly crashes in the 1980s were blamed in part on inexperience in the cockpit, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said Wednesday.

"We are certainly interested to see if there are issues where there are challenges to crew communication, if there's an authority break in where people won't challenge one another," she said.

Pilots are trained to communicate their concerns openly, she said, "to make sure that a junior pilot feels comfortable challenging a senior pilot and to make sure the senior pilot welcomes feedback in a cockpit environment from all members of the crew and considers it."

Hersman said the pilot trainee told investigators he was blinded by a light at about 500 feet, which would have been 34 seconds before impact and the point at which the airliner began to slow and drop precipitously. She said lasers have not been ruled out. It was unclear, however, whether the flash might have played a role in the crash.

Hersman also said a third pilot in the jump seat of the cockpit told investigators he was warning them their speed was too slow as they approached the runway.

And she said when the plane came to a stop, pilots told passengers to stay seated for 90 seconds while they communicated with the tower as part of a safety procedure. Hersman said this has happened after earlier accidents and was not necessarily a problem. People did not begin fleeing the aircraft until 90 seconds later when a fire was spotted outside the plane.

Hersman stressed that while the trainee pilot was flying the plane, the instructor was ultimately responsible and, thus, the way they worked together will be scrutinized.

"That's what the airline needs to do, be responsible so that in the cockpit you're matching the best people, especially when you're introducing someone to a new aircraft," former NTSB Chairman James Hall said.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor Mary Cummings said it's common for two commercial pilots who have never worked together before to be assigned to the same flight. But she said the military tries to have crews work together more permanently.

"Research would tell you that crew pairing with the same people over longer periods of time is safer," she said. "When two people fly together all the time, you get into a routine that's more efficient. You have experience communicating."

Details emerging from Asiana pilot interviews, cockpit recorders and control-tower communications indicate that Lee Gang-kuk, who was halfway through his certification training for the Boeing 777, and his co-pilot and instructor, Lee Jeong-Min, thought the airliner's speed was being controlled by an autothrottle set for 157 mph.

Inspectors found that the autothrottle had been "armed," or made ready for activation, Hersman said. But investigators are still determining whether it had been engaged. In the last two minutes, there was a lot of use of autopilot and autothrusters, and investigators are going to look into whether pilots made the appropriate commands and if they knew what they were doing, she said.

When the pilots realized the plane was approaching the waterfront runway too low and too slow, they both reached for the throttle. Passengers heard a loud roar as the plane revved up in a last-minute attempt to abort the landing.

The two pilots at the controls during the accident had also been in the cockpit for takeoff. Then they rested during the flight while a second pair of pilots took over. The two pairs swapped places again about 90 minutes before landing, giving the trainee a chance to fly during the more challenging approach phase.

Hersman cautioned against speculating about the cause of the crash. But she stressed that even if the autothrottle malfunctioned, the pilots were ultimately responsible for control of the airliner.

"There are two pilots in the cockpit for a reason," she said Wednesday. "They're there to fly, to navigate, to communicate and if they're using automation, a big key is to monitor."

Crash survivor Brian Thomson, who was returning from a martial arts competition in South Korea and walked away unscathed, said he's not concerned about the pilot's lack of experience with the airliner.

"At some point you have to start at hour one, hour two. It's just natural. Everyone starts a career someway, somehow. Starts a new plane someway, somehow. They have to have training," he said.

The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped over in Seoul before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco.

A dozen survivors remained hospitalized Wednesday, half flight attendants, including three thrown from the jet. Other survivors and their family members, meanwhile, visited the wreckage site, where some shed tears and others stood in disbelief, passenger Ben Levy said. They were kept about 50 yards away from the wreckage, which was surrounded by metal railing.

"What I think I really came for was to meet other fellow passengers and share a bit of our stories," Levy said. "How we felt and how we got out of that plane."

___ Associated Press writers Joan Lowy in Washington, Haven Daley in Scotts Valley and Peter Banda in South San Francisco contributed to this report. ___ Follow Martha Mendoza at https://twitter.com/mendozamartha .

EGYPT'S BROTHERHOOD VOWS TO KEEP DEFYING COUP

Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:23 Published in National News
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood vowed Thursday not to back down in its push to restore ousted Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi to power but insisted its resistance is peaceful in an effort to distance itself from more than a week of clashes with security forces.

The group has refused to work with the interim leaders, who are trying to restore calm and pave the way for new elections early next year after the toppling of Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on other leaders of the fundamentalist Islamic group.

The military coup, which followed mass protests by millions of Egyptians demanding the president's removal, has opened deep fissures in the country and prevented it from achieving stability more than two years after the revolution against autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.

The Brotherhood statement came a day after arrest warrants were issued for the group's spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, and nine other Islamists accused of inciting violence after deadly clashes — the latest moves by the new military-backed government as it tries to choke off the group's campaign to reinstate Morsi.

"We will continue our peaceful resistance to the bloody military coup against constitutional legitimacy," the Brotherhood said. "We trust that the peaceful and popular will of the people shall triumph over force and oppression."

A senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, echoed the sentiment in comments published on the website of the Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice party.

"The people will restore their freedom and dignity through peaceful sit-ins in square, demonstrations and protests," he was quoted as saying. "All Egyptians must stop dragging the country to violence and avoid falling into the vicious circle of violent and counter-violence."

It was not clear if the comments constitute a genuine shift of tactics by the Brotherhood to abandon violence by its members amid military allegations it has been behind the street violence that has claimed dozens of lives in the past week and the dramatic surge in attacks against security forces, especially in the Sinai Peninsula, since Morsi's ouster.

The Brotherhood also denounced Wednesday's assassination attempt against a senior army commander in the Sinai, which has seen a wave of increased violence by Islamic militants angry over Morsi's ouster.

Gen. Ahmed Wasfi escaped unharmed but a 5-year-old girl was killed after gunmen in a pickup truck opened fire on his convoy in the Sinai town of Rafah, near the border with the Gaza Strip, prompting a gunbattle with the accompanying troops, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Brotherhood statement insisted Thursday that the group adheres to peaceful measures in line with the teachings of Islam.

The arrest warrants against Badie and the others for inciting violence that left dozens dead in Cairo on Monday drew an angry response from the Brotherhood, which said "dictatorship is back" and insisted it will never work with the interim rulers.

Badie's whereabouts are not known, but many of the others are believed to be taking refuge somewhere near a continuing sit-in by the group's supporters outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in an eastern Cairo district that is traditionally a Brotherhood stronghold.

Security agencies have already jailed five leaders of the Brotherhood, including Badie's powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shaiter, and shut down its media outlets.

The prosecutor general's office said Badie, another deputy, Mahmoud Ezzat, el-Beltagy and popular preacher Safwat Hegazy are suspected of instigating Monday's clashes with security forces outside a Republican Guard building that killed 54 people — most Morsi supporters — in the worst bloodshed since he was ousted.

The Islamists have accused the troops of gunning down the protesters, while the military blamed armed backers of Morsi for attempting to storm a military building.

The arrest warrants highlight the armed forces' zero-tolerance policy toward the Brotherhood, which was banned under authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

"This just signals that dictatorship is back," said Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref. "We are returning to what is worse than Mubarak's regime, which wouldn't dare to issue an arrest warrant of the general leader of the Muslim Brotherhood."
NEW YORK (AP) -- If you're lucky enough to live into your 90s, how well will your brain hold up? You may have an edge over people who got there ahead of you, a new study hints.

Researchers found that on tests of mental abilities, a group of 95-year-old Danes scored better than a group of Danes born 10 years earlier, who had been tested when they were about the same age.

In a standard simple test, for example, 23 percent of them scored in the highest category, compared to 13 percent of the earlier-born group. Out of the 30 questions and tasks, members of the later-born group averaged two more correct responses than the earlier-born group did. The results were released Wednesday by the journal Lancet.

Why the better mental performance? It wasn't just better education, but beyond that the researchers could only guess at things like more intellectual stimulation and better diets earlier in life.

More people are living to such old ages. The U.S. census counted 425,000 Americans age 95 and older in 2010, a 26 percent increase over the total in 2000.

The mental testing compared 1,814 elderly Danes examined in 1998 to the later-born group of 1,247 Danes tested in 2010. The researchers also found that later-born Danes were better able to carry out basic living tasks like getting out of bed or a chair. So they were functioning better overall, the study concluded.

Lead author Dr. Kaare Christensen, head of the Danish Aging Research Center at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, said he imagines that in the future, Danes who live into their 90s will continue to be better off than their predecessors. He was cautious about applying the results to the United States, although he said the availability of education in the U.S. after World War II would be a plus.

Dr. James Pacala, associate head of the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who didn't participate in the study, said he suspects the same trends are present in the United States.

He also said the findings fit with previous work that shows people are functioning better at given ages than they used to.

But Pacala, who heads the board of the American Geriatrics Society, noted that even in the better-functioning group of Danes, at least 40 percent and probably more had dementia.

Denise Park, an expert in mental function and aging at the University of Texas in Dallas, called the mental test results provocative but said it's not clear why the differences appeared. She said she would want to know if the effect holds up for 80-year-olds as well.

"If it's real, it should," she said.

--- Online: Lancet journal: HTTP://WWW.THELANCET.COM/JOURNALS/LANCET --- Malcolm Ritter can be followed at HTTP://TWITTER.COM/MALCOLMRITTER © 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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