U.S. Service Member Still Missing After Helicopter Crashes Off Yemen

A U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies in a training exercise in 2015.

Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

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Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

A service member remains missing after a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the coast of Yemen during what officials described as a training exercise.

U.S. forces rescued five other troops who also went down in the crash and are still searching for the sixth service member, according to U.S. Central Command. The incident took place about 20 miles from the southeastern coast of Yemen around 7 p.m. local time Friday.

Officials said they would begin an investigation.

A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter crashed while the crew was training off the southern coast of Yemenhttps://t.co/VOI1Tmgfg4pic.twitter.com/xySHrF3wyf

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) August 26, 2017

CENTCOM didn’t provide the identities of any of the service members involved, nor any details concerning why the accident happened. Spokesman Col. John Thomas, however, told Reuters, “when the incident took place the helicopter was not very high above the water.”

The U.S. is waging a campaign against an arm of the al-Qaida terrorist group that has secured, in the words of U.S. officials, a “heavy” presence in Yemen. U.S. forces have launched more than 80 airstrikes in the region since late February.

The Trump administration’s efforts to combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula began with controversy. A raid at the end of January that killed 14 al-Qaida militants, 23 civilians and one American Navy SEAL, was deemed a “failure” by Sen. John McCain and defended as a “winning mission” by President Trump.

As NPR has reported, Yemen is in the midst of a brutal civil war that, by the United Nations’ count, has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people. The country is also facing a cholera outbreak, which Save the Children estimates has produced more than 425,000 suspected cases.

Friday’s crash comes days after the U.S. Coast Guard called off its search for five missing Army soldiers after two Black Hawk helicopters collided off the coast of Hawaii.

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Denver High School Cheerleading Coach Fired After Videos Show 'Forced Splits'

A Denver high school cheerleading coach was fired Friday and a police investigation is underway after cell phone videos revealed cheerleaders being pushed into splits, according to the school superintendent.

The videos show East High School coach Ozell Williams holding onto several cheerleaders and urging them to power through as they protest and cry out in pain, their arms pinioned by teammates.

Williams toldThe Denver Post on Thursday that it has been taken out of context. “You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” he said. Williams added that he could say no more at this time.

“I want to be very clear that this technique is a dangerous and unacceptable,” Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg said. “We do not permit forced split or any practice or technique that puts the physical safety or emotional well-being of any of our kids at risk.”

The videos were recorded (apparently, by fellow cheerleaders) at a cheer camp in June, Boasberg said.

On June 15, a mother complained about the videos to the school’s athletic director. A meeting was arranged between school officials, the coach and the girl’s family, Boasberg said, but no further action was taken until KUSA-TV aired the footage earlier this week.

Boasberg said that not doing more earlier was a mistake. “At that time, the decision should have been made to terminate the employment of the coach and, I believe, to report what was observed on the video to police.”

The assistant cheer coach, high school principal, assistant principal and Denver Public Schools deputy council have all been placed on leave.

While training for a sport can often involve pushing oneself, discomfort and even pain, Boasberg said that is not what the videos were about. “This was way beyond that line.”

Police have opened a child abuse investigation, reports The Associated Press.

“On a personal note, as hard as it was, I have watched all of the videos,” Boasberg said. “As a superintendent, and as a father, and as an athlete, they are deeply disturbing. What happened was wrong.”

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'Restraint' Appears To Be Over As North Korea Launches Missile Test Again

A South Korean soldier at the Seoul Train Station watches footage of North Korea’s missile launch on Saturday.

Lee Jin-man/AP

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Lee Jin-man/AP

North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles from its east coast into the sea, beginning at 5:40 p.m. EST Friday over a period lasting an hour, according to the U.S. Pacific Command.

Two of the missiles flew about 150 miles while the other one appears to have blown up almost instantly.

The missiles did not pose a threat to North America nor to the U.S. territory of Guam, said the Pacific Command. But the distance of 150 miles was far enough to reach major South Korean and American military bases, reportsThe New York Times.

The test “shows an advance in capability,” says The Times because the “missiles were 300-millimeter rockets fired from a multiple-tube launcher.”

The launches are believed to be North Korea’s first test since the Fourth of July when it fired its first intercontinental ballistic test into the sea near Japan.

The White House said President Trump was briefed on what happened and “we are monitoring the situation.”

Earlier this month Trump had warned that North Korea would be met with “fire and fury,” if it continued with its threats. Hours later North Korea had said it was “carefully examining” plans to strike Guam.

But earlier this week the rhetoric appeared to be cooling — at least on the American side — as Trump expressed optimism about North Korea on Tuesday, saying of leader Kim Jong Un, “I respect the fact that he is starting to respect us.”

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised Pyongyang for demonstrating “some level of restraint,” noting that there had been “no missile launches or provocative acts on the part of North Korea,” since the United Nations Security Council voted Aug. 5 to impose a $1 billion sanctions package against the country.

“We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we’ve been looking for — that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue,” Tillerson said.

North Korea’s latest test comes at the same time as U.S. and South Korean forces participate in joint military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

NPR’s Elise Hu reports from Seoul that the U.S. maintains the computer-based drills are purely defensive, but the North has long regarded them as preparations for invasion.

Seoul said the war games will continue “even more thoroughly” in response to the launch, reports The Associated Press.

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Subtle, Brilliant 'Stay With Me' Blends The Personal And The Political

Stay With Me

If you lie to save your marriage, does it truly count as a betrayal? This is the question at the heart of Stay With Me, a debut novel about a young couple’s infertility, set among the coups and counter-coups of early ’90s Nigeria. It’s a time when thieves and rapists send polite letters to the neighborhood warning they’ll be arriving soon; where the news can coolly announce one head of state in the morning and another by night. And it’s a time when smiling relatives can arrive with a second wife and expect the first to prepare lunch for her, presenting the unthinkable under the same polite guise.

As the novel begins, Yejide and Akin, who met in a mutual coup de foudre at university, are finding their marriage sorely tested by their inability to have a child. Pushing the question towards crisis, however, are their older relatives, who drag Yejide to herbalists and Akin towards polygamy to solve the problem.

For his part, Akin, a modern banker who is profoundly in love with his wife, is repulsed by the possible second wives his mother parades through his office. But Yejide — also a modern businesswoman — is herself the daughter of a woman who died giving birth, raised by four cruel stepmothers who rejected her at every turn. She is willing to carry a baby goat up a mountain, to fast herself into the hospital, to please her mother-in-law, the only Moomi she has ever had. Though her husband is indifferent, his Yoruba family is adamant that he has tribal lineage to preserve. To maintain their allegiance, Yejide must “accommodate every new level of indignity.”

But a second wife is a bridge too far. As relatives introduce her to Funmi, a furious Yejide fumes, “I expected to hear about a new pastor I could visit; a new mountain where I could go to pray; or an old herbalist in a remote village or town whom I could consult … What I was not expecting was another smiling woman in the room, a yellow woman with a blood-red mouth who grinned like a new bride.”

Akin and Yejide’s marriage is a battle within which tradition threatens the couple’s own intimacy. Yejide, terrified Funmi will unseat her, develops a false pregnancy, believing woo-woo charlatans over doctors who correctly diagnosis her condition. Terrified he will lose his wife to madness, Akin develops a bold plan to save their family — one which, he later grieves, discounted what would ruin it: “All the mess of love and life that only shows up as you go along.”

The most subtly brilliant aspect of Stay With Me is how this stunning literary work serves as both astute political commentary and unfolding mystery. Adebayo draws a clear parallel between the couple and the country: like Nigeria’s middle class, quiescent in the face of political upheaval, Akin and Yejide keep accepting the unthinkable to keep their family intact. As Yejide and Akin recount the story of their romance, they also reveal the lies and omissions that are destroying them from the inside. “Sometimes faith,” Yejide tells us, “is easier than doubt.”

This denial is corrosive. Because the reader is also faithful — to Akin and Yejide’s stories — we see where we too chose to be blind. “The cost didn’t matter,” Akin tells us. “At the end of it all was this stretch of happiness that was supposed to begin only after we had children and not before.” Only when Akin and Yejide drop that old story are they finally able to have it.

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