Bad parking job leaves car dangling from Austin garage

By Jon Herskovitz
| AUSTIN, Texas

A man who failed to stop when pulling into a rooftop spot of a nine-story parking garage in Austin, rammed through protection wires and avoided a deadly fall when one wire wrapped around an axle, leaving the car dangling on the building’s side on Friday.

The 24-year-old man, who was not identified by police, was pulled to safety back into the garage. He said he was unable to stop the vehicle that went off the top of the building and flipped over until it was caught by a wire, police said.

“The driver was (miraculously) able to climb out of the sunroof and make his way safely back into the garage,” the Austin Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page.

The man was not injured.

“I have a strong feeling the driver is going to have a great appreciation of what it means to be alive from this point forward,” said James Davis, 29, a cellphone software developer who was one of about 100 people watching the car dangling.

The car was eventually lowered to street level by firefighters who used a wiring system to slowly move it.

“From what we understand, the driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake,” the department said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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Syria Cease-Fire Plan Reached, U.S. And Russia Announce

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) enter a news conference room Friday in Geneva to announce a cease-fire agreement for Syria. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

At a news conference in Geneva late Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the beginnings of a peace plan for Syria, reports NPR’s Alice Fordham.

Kerry was joined in the cease-fire announcement by Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

“The United States is going the extra mile here because we believe that Russia, and my colleague, have the capability to press the [Bashar] Assad regime to stop this conflict and come to the table and make peace,” Kerry said.

The deal will be implemented at sundown on Monday, Lavrov said.

“We and the United States take obligation to do our best to engage and make the stakeholders comply with the arrangements in our document, and the Syrians have been informed and agree,” he said.

But Kerry noted the history of failed plans in the Syrian civil war and warned that the implementation of this new one is far from guaranteed.

The civil war in Syria, which has its roots in 2011’s Arab Spring, has pitted the long-standing Assad regime and its supporters in Russia and Iran against an assortment of secular and Islamist groups — prone to frequent infighting — backed by Sunni and Western countries. The often brutal fighting has displaced millions, many of whom have fled to Europe in an unprecedented refugee crisis.

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In Effort To Curb Violence In Chicago, A Professor Mines Social Media

Police crime tape marks the scene where a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed and an 18-year-old man was wounded in April in Chicago. The grim milestone of 500 homicides already passed this year in Chicago. Joshua Lott/Getty Images hide caption

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With the grim milestone of 500 homicides already passed this year in Chicago, police are grappling with a toxic mix of illegal firearms and gang culture.

And social media is added to that mix with gang-affiliated Facebook pages, Twitter handles and YouTube channels. Images of a kid getting beat down or worse are easy to find online.

Or you can look at social media as data to be mined, says Desmond Patton, a professor at Columbia University and a former social worker in Chicago. Patton is trying to create an algorithm that will monitor and identify who might be the next victim or shooter.

“I got involved in this work because young people were dying based on what they say online,” he tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. “That’s horrible.”

Patton also hopes this project will help identify young people who are vulnerable and provide them with support before they become involved in violence.

“I think if we can create tools that are in the right hands and to be able to get young people services and supports that they need in real time, then that can help to prevent deeper connections with the criminal justice system,” he says. “We really want to figure out ways to get young people support that they need.”


Interview Highlights

On how online arguments that escalate into violence begin

There are a number of things that happen. First, there may be a conversation that unfolds. On Facebook, what you’re able to see is someone making direct kind of jokes or making fun of the individual that was killed. You’re also able to see video. So for example, you may have a video with someone at the funeral, or they are expressing their love for someone that was killed, and then someone could make comments based on that video as well.

Desmond Patton, a professor at Columbia University, is working to create an algorithm using social media to help prevent violence in Chicago. Courtesy of Desmond Patton hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Desmond Patton

Emojis and hashtags are vastly important. And so, you may have someone use prayer hands and things like that in order to express grief, and then people can come behind that and then use more threatening emojis. Perhaps, the pistol or a devil face to kind of directly intervene in that grieving post as well. …

How things have changed are now when you’re making comments, you’re making threatening comments, online you can say these things very quickly, very fast. And then those things are broadcast on these platforms, and you have individuals that you may not be connected with reading and interpreting your thoughts, right? So often times you may have comments that were perhaps, not intended to be threatening but are interpreted as threatening.

On how researchers interpreted social media to build a data set

For example, young people would spell the name of a street backwards. And the spelling of that street was emblematic of a known gang territory, but if you weren’t from that neighborhood or had an understanding of that, then you would’ve missed what was actually being communicated.

Chicago Experiences Most Violent Month In Nearly 20 Years

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We really try to take in the full picture. So we look at the conversation. We look at the events. We look at the tone of tweets. We look at the actual letters. We look at capitalization. We look at the ways in which punctuation is used. So we take a really in-depth, kind of anthropological, approach to understanding what’s happening.

Once we were able to get that deep understanding, then I pass that information on to our data scientists, and they are able to then develop tools that can detect instances of aggression and grief. And we’re able to identify those two things because they were the most prominent themes in our in-depth look at the language and the context in the tweets.

On how this project could have helped Gakirah Barnes, a gang member killed in Chicago

She was a very well-known gang member on the South Side of Chicago. One of the things that has been said about her is that she was this tough individual that was willing to kill at the drop of a hat, and she allegedly had up to 20 bodies associated with her by the time she was 17 years old. But when we dig deeper into Gakirah’s tweets, she was like any other kid. She was experiencing trauma and grief on a day-to-day basis, and she expressed a lot of pain associated with that grief.

So this is not to negate the fact that she may have engaged in some very harsh activities, but she was a child. And she had childhood experiences that rocked her to her core. (Including having close friends who were shot or killed.) So when these situations happen she would go to Twitter and say, you know, “The pain is unbearable. People don’t understand my pain.” What if we understood her pain? What if someone would’ve saw it and said, “Wow Gakirah, you’re going through a lot right now, let’s talk about it.”

And there have been some instances in various media outlets where people tried to communicate with her. But I wonder if they were able to bring in this insight about her deepest, most emotional experiences, if they knew that. Instead of looking at her as a gang member, looked at her as a young woman that was experiencing trauma and pain, how would that communication be different? So I just think that social media gives us an opportunity to really dig deeper into these experiences.

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Where 7 Political Careers Stood On Sept. 11, 2001

Rep. Paul Ryan speaks at a news conference in which House Republican leaders called for permanent tax relief on Dec. 12, 2001. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images hide caption

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Not long after Sept. 11, 2001, House Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as deputy to then-House Minority Leader Richard J. Gephardt. At that point, it was the highest post ever held by a woman in Congress. The following year, House Democrats voted for Pelosi to replace Gephardt as their leader. Pelosi opposed several key post-Sept. 11 bills, including the resolution to send troops to Iraq and the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security. “What we need is a streamlined, agile government department capable of making maximum of new information technologies,”

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made Sept. 11 a recurring theme in their campaigns, but both say they will stay off the campaign trail that day and will not visit the Ground Zero site in New York City.

Sen. Hillary Clinton stands with members of New York’s congressional delegation and other lawmakers after a meeting with President Bush at the White House on Sept. 13, 2001. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

toggle caption Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Here, a look at current players in the political landscape and where they were in their political careers on Sept. 11, 2001.


Donald Trump officially opens the Presentation Centre for the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton Toronto on Nov. 29, 2001. J.P. Moczulski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption J.P. Moczulski/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had just started as the junior senator from New York when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. She quickly began working to get aid from Washington, and also, along with other New York leaders, headed to New York City to tour the rubble at Ground Zero. Her work following Sept. 11 has been a campaign theme — though she does not generally tout her support for the Patriot Act and vote to authorize the Iraq War. At the Democratic National Convention in August, a Sept. 11 first responder called Clinton “our toughest champion, making sure we still got our health benefits.”


Rep. Nancy Pelosi (center), a member of House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s working group on terrorism and homeland security, waits to talk to the media on Sept. 11, 2001. Scott J. Ferrell/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Scott J. Ferrell/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump says he watched the World Trade Center burn on Sept. 11 from his Manhattan apartment. At that time, his focus was not on politics but on real estate — though the year prior, he had briefly run as a Reform Party candidate for president. In an interview after the attacks, Trump talked about the cost to rebuild the Twin Towers, and also waded into policy, saying the U.S. needed to “respond quickly and effectively … and they have to go after these people, because there’s no other choice.” To support his campaign call for surveillance of some U.S. mosques, Trump said he had seen “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering in New Jersey as the towers fell, a claim The Washington Post said isn’t true.


Rep. Paul Ryan speaks at a news conference in which House Republican leaders called for permanent tax relief on Dec. 12, 2001. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc./Getty Images

Not long after Sept. 11, 2001, House Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as deputy to then-House Minority Leader Richard J. Gephardt. At that point, it was the highest post ever held by a woman in Congress. The following year, House Democrats voted for Pelosi to replace Gephardt as their leader. Pelosi opposed several key post-Sept. 11 bills, including the resolution to send troops to Iraq and the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security. “What we need is a streamlined, agile government department capable of making maximum of new information technologies,” she said. “The proposal before us would create a bloated, costly, and inefficient 1950s-style government bureaucracy.”

As a candidate for Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Tim Kaine attends a homecoming oarade in Herndon, Va., on Oct. 6, 2001. Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Rep. Mike Pence talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on May 12, 2004, after viewing new photographs and videos of Iraqi prisoner abuse. Dennis Cook/AP hide caption

toggle caption Dennis Cook/AP


Paul Ryan was starting of his second congressional session when terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11. Ryan says he watched from Capitol Hill as smoke rose from the fires burning at the Pentagon. In 2001, he voted for the resolution to use military force against the terrorists and for the USA Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement agencies new search and surveillance powers. As House Speaker, he raised concerns about a bill to allow victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sue Saudi Arabia as well as a bill to provide medical care to first responders who got sick after working at ground zero.

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tours the site of the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 12, 2001. Robert F. Bukaty/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Robert F. Bukaty/AFP/Getty Images


In 2001, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine did not hold national office. His tenure as mayor of Richmond ended on Sept. 10, a post he left to run — a successful campaign — for lieutenant governor of Virginia. He claims that the 2001 authorization of use of force against groups that aided the Sept. 11 attacks does not apply to ISIS, and therefore, the president is not currently authorized to fight the Islamic State. (Clinton disagrees with this view.)


On Sept. 11, 2001, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was serving his first congressional session as a member from Indiana. Days after Sept. 11, as the House took up the bill to authorize the use of force against those involved with the terrorist attacks, Pence’s rage was clear: “The butchers who carried out these attacks see themselves as warriors, and it would be wrong of us to deal with them otherwise,” he said. “Tonight I will solemnly and with deep humility vote to give our president the power to use all necessary and appropriate force to vanquish the enemies of our peace. May God have mercy on their souls, because the United States of America will not.”


In 2001, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was leading a city that hadn’t seen a Republican mayor in nearly two decades. Giuliani became known as “America’s Mayor” thanks to his reassuring presence at Ground Zero and his ability to unite the city after the attacks. Detailing how his morning unfolded at a 9/11 Commission hearing, Giuliani says he knew he and city law enforcement were in uncharted territory when he saw people jumping out of the World Trade Center after the planes hit. “We’ve never gone through anything like this before, we’re just going to have to do the best we can to keep everybody together, keep them focused,” he said.

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