Victoria, Jul 21 (AP/UNB) — Authorities say five people have been killed and seven injured in a three-vehicle accident in South Texas.
The Department of Public Safety says the crash happened around 11 a.m. Saturday on U.S. 59, 5 miles (8 kilometers) northeast of Victoria.
Sgt. Ruben San Miguel says investigators are trying to determine why a northbound van hit the left rear of a northbound semi pulling a flatbed trailer. The van then struck a southbound pickup truck.
Five people in the van died at the scene — the female driver, two men and two children. Five others in the van were injured.
The pickup driver and a passenger were hospitalized in serious but stable condition. The driver of the semi wasn't hurt.
DPS says visibility was clear and the road was dry.
Miami, Jul 21 (AP/UNB) — American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant.
Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon.
Turkey Point's 168-mile (270 kilometers) of man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change.
From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests and ponds on berms for crocodiles to nest. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates.
"We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created," Lloret said. "We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue."
The canals are one of three major US habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to "threatened" from "endangered" in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978.
Temperature determines the crocodiles' sex: the hotter it is the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year's hatchlings are male-heavy due to last month being the hottest June on record globally.
Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction survives to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. - a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived.
"American crocodiles have a bad reputation when they are just trying to survive," Lloret said. "They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu."
Tehran, July 20 (AP/UNB) — Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker was a response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first, senior officials said Saturday, as newly released video of the incident showed Iranian commandos in black ski masks and fatigues rappelling from a helicopter onto the vessel in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The seizure prompted condemnation from the U.K. and its European allies as they continue to call for a de-escalation of tensions in the critical waterway.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain's response "will be considered but robust."
In comments on Twitter on Saturday, he said he spoke with Iran's foreign minister and expressed extreme disappointment that the Iranian diplomat had assured him Iran wanted to de-escalate the situation but "they have behaved in the opposite way."
He wrote: "This has (to) be about actions not words if we are to find a way through. British shipping must & will be protected."
The free flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is of international importance because one-fifth of all global crude exports passes through the waterway from Mideast exporters to countries around the world. The narrow waterway sits between Iran and Oman.
The British-flagged Stena Impero was intercepted late Friday by Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard forces. The ship's owner, Stena Bulk, said the vessel was stopped by "unidentified small crafts and a helicopter" during its transit through the Strait of Hormuz. The vessel was seized with a crew of 23 crew aboard, although none are British nationals.
In a dramatic video released by the Revolutionary Guard, several small Guard boats can be seen surrounding the larger tanker as it moves through the strait. Above, a military helicopter hovers and then several men wearing black masks begin to rappel onto the ship.
The high-quality video was shot with at least two cameras, one from a speed boat-like vessel and one from the chopper, which captured the fatigue-clad men as they prepared to slide down a rope and also took aerial footage of the tanker.
Hunt said the ship's seizure shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous and destabilizing path. He also defended the British-assisted seizure of Iran's supertanker two weeks ago as a "legal" move because the vessel was suspected of breaching European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
The view from Iran was different.
In comments on Twitter on Saturday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif characterized the seizure of Iran's tanker July 4 as "piracy." Politician and former Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai, wrote that Iran was not seeking conflict, "but we are not going to come up short in reciprocating."
The spokesman for Iran's Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was also quoted in the semi-official Fars news agency describing Friday's seizure as a legal "reciprocal action." The council rarely comments on state matters, but when it does it is seen as a reflection of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's views. The council works closely with Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.
The tit-for-tat move by Iran drew condemnation from European signatories to Iran's nuclear accord with world powers. Germany and France both called on Iran to immediately release the ship and its crew, with Berlin saying the seizure undermines all efforts to find a way out of the current crisis.
Europe has struggled to contain the tensions that stem from President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal, which had lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance on its nuclear program.
Trump has since re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports, and Iran recently increased uranium enrichment levels beyond limits of the deal in a bid to pressure Europe into finding a workaround the crippling economic sanctions.
Britain, which remains a signatory to the nuclear accord, has figured prominently in rising U.S. tensions with Iran ever since Royal Marines took part in the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker by Gibraltar, a British overseas territory off the southern coast of Spain. Officials there initially said the July 4 seizure happened on orders from the U.S.
Britain has said it would release the vessel, which was carrying more than 2 million barrels of Iranian crude, if Iran could prove it was not breaching EU sanctions. However, a court in Gibraltar just Friday extended the detention of the Panama-flagged Grace 1.
Stena Bulk, the owner of the seized British tanker, said the vessel's crew members are of Indian, Filipino, Russian and Latvian nationalities. Iranian officials say the crew remain on the tanker.
Britain's defense secretary Penny Mordaunt told Sky News the takeover was a "hostile act" by Iran. She said a British Royal Navy frigate deployed to help protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz was roughly 60 minutes from the scene when the Iranians took control of the tanker.
That same frigate had previously warned off Iranian Guard vessels from impeding the passage of a British commercial vessel the navy was escorting through the Strait of Hormuz.
There are concerns that with each new maneuver a misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war. In June, Iran shot down an American drone in the same waterway, and Trump came close to retaliating with airstrikes.
The U.S. has increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region in recent weeks. The U.S. will also send more than 500 U.S. troops as well as aircraft and air defense missiles to Iran's rival, Saudi Arabia.
It marks the first such deployment of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia since America's withdrawal from the country in 2003. King Salman approved hosting the American forces "to increase joint cooperation in defense and regional security and stability," a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.
Berlin, July 20 (AP/UNB) — U.S. President Donald Trump said he spoke with Sweden's prime minister Saturday about jailed rapper A$AP Rocky and "offered to personally vouch for his bail."
Trump tweeted that during a "a very good call" with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, he also "assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk." The platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated artist has been in custody since early this month over an alleged fight.
Urged on by the first lady and celebrities including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, the president had said in a Friday tweet that he would intervene to try to free Rocky, whose real name is Rakim May.
"Our teams will be talking further, and we agreed to speak again in the next 48 hours!" Trump wrote Saturday after speaking with Lofven.
The Swedish prime minister issued a statement earlier Saturday saying he would be glad to speak with Trump about A$AP Rocky's detention but that his government "cannot and will not attempt to influence prosecutors or courts."
"I understand that President Trump has a personal interest in the case....He has expressed the desire for a conversation with me, which is certainly positive," Lofven said. "I will explain that the Swedish judicial system is independent. In Sweden, everyone is equal before the law, and this includes visitors from other countries."
Rocky has been behind bars while Swedish police investigate the fight in Stockholm he allegedly was in before appearing at a music festival. Videos published on social media appear to show a person being violently thrown onto the ground by Rocky. A defense lawyer has said it was self-defense.
Other recording artists have spoken on his behalf, including Sean "Diddy" Combs, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj and Post Malone.
Honolulu, July 20 (AP/UNB) — Walter Ritte has been fighting for decades to protect Native Hawaiian rights, inspiring a new generation of activists trying to stop construction of a giant telescope they see as representative of a bigger struggle.
In his early 30s, Ritte occupied a small Hawaiian island used as a military bombing range. Now at 74, he's still a prolific protester, getting arrested this week for blocking a road to stop construction of the one of the world's most powerful telescopes on Hawaii's tallest peak, which some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
For activists who say they're protecting Mauna Kea, the long-running telescope fight encapsulates critical issues to Native Hawaiians: the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, clashes over land and water rights, frustration over tourism, attempts to curb development and questions about how the islands should be governed.
It's an example of battles by Native Americans to preserve ancestral lands, with high-profile protests like Dakota Access pipeline leading to arrests in southern North Dakota in 2016 and 2017.
For Native Hawaiians, opposition to the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope isn't universal — some support the educational opportunities from the project and are facing backlash from those questioning their identity.
Ritte's first taste of activism came during a resurgence of cultural pride and identity that began in the late 1960s and 1970s. He and other Native Hawaiian men hid on the small island of Kahoolawe that the military used for bombing practice. They were arrested, but the U.S. eventually stopped the training.
"We didn't know anything about ourselves as Hawaiians," Ritte said of his youth. "When we got involved with Kahoolawe, we had no language, no history."
The young people leading the fight against the telescope grew up learning about his experiences and speaking Hawaiian amid an ongoing cultural renaissance. A 30-year-old leader of the telescope protest, Kaho'okahi Kanuha, credits Ritte and the Hawaiian movement for allowing him to grow up rooted to his culture.
"Uncle Walter can talk about not knowing the language and not knowing the history. But he knew how to stand up, and he knew how to fight," Kanuha said. "Because of the things they did, the results were Hawaiian language programs. The results were revitalization of the culture and of understanding and of awakening."
At Mauna Kea, Kanuha wears a traditional battle helmet as he speaks Hawaiian with protesters and negotiates with law enforcement. Thanks to the movement, he said he was able to learn Hawaiian at an immersion preschool and eventually earn a bachelor's degree in Hawaiian language from the University of Hawaii.
He's fighting a project that dates to 2009, when scientists selected Mauna Kea after a global campaign to find the ideal site for what telescope officials said "will likely revolutionize our understanding of the universe." The mountain on the Big Island is revered for its consistently clear weather and lack of light pollution.
The telescope won a series of approvals from Hawaii, including a permit to build on conservation land in 2011. Protests began during a groundbreaking in 2014 and culminated in arrests in 2015.
Last year, the state Supreme Court upheld the construction permit, though protesters are still fighting in court and at the mountain.
Thirty-four people, mostly elders, were arrested this week as officials try to start building again.
The swelling protest is a natural reaction to the pain Native Hawaiians have endured and the changes the islands have seen, said Glen Kila, program director of Marae Ha'a Koa, a Hawaiian cultural center.
"The pain began when they took people off the land," he said. "And then they took governance and stewardship of the land, like Mauna Kea."
The battle is bigger than the telescope, said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a teacher and cultural practitioner.
"The TMT and Mauna Kea is just the focal point. For me it's just a galvanizing element," she said. "It goes back to the role that foreigners played and continue to play in Hawaii."
From 18th century explorer James Cook's arrival in the islands, to laborers brought to plantations and today's tourism, the telescope is another example of outside interests overtaking Hawaiian culture, she said.
"They capitalize and commercialize our culture," Wong-Kalu said. "They prostitute the elements that make us Hawaiian. They make it look pretty and make it look alluring in an effort to bring more money into this state."
But not all Native Hawaiians see the telescope as representative of past wrongs.
"My family feels that they're trying to use the TMT to boost their sovereignty issue," said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian who supports the telescope project. "I want sovereignty for the Hawaiian people. I want them to have their country back. But TMT shouldn't be the lightning rod for it."
Reyes pointed to telescope officials' pledge to provide $1 million every year to boost science, technology, engineering and math education. She said opponents have called her a fake Hawaiian for supporting the project.
For some, it's not just a political issue. It's spiritual for Kealoha Pisciotta, who's long fought the telescope.
"The problem is being Hawaiian today is a political statement," she said. "We have to take political action to practice religion."
Mauna Kea is a "living entity" that "gives life," Kila said.
"So that's a different philosophy from the scientific world, that it's just a mountain that can be used for an observatory. It can be developed. For us, that's sacrilegious," he said.
For Ritte and others, the telescope is the latest battle over Hawaiian culture. He spent 11 hours Monday lying attached to a grate in the road leading up to Mauna Kea's summit with seven other protesters.
"We protected and saved Kahoolawe from the United States military," Ritte said. "Now we have to save and protect the rest of our islands."