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Ohio: Man shot neighbor in face, ran her over with mower
CLEVELAND (AP) --  A man who became agitated about his next-door neighbor mowing her lawn at night shot her and then ran a push mower over her body, authorities said Friday. 
Linda Ciotto, 62, was shot in the face from close distance, Huron County Coroner Jeffrey Harwood said. Ciotto also had a severe wound to her left arm and hand that appeared to have been caused by a mower blade, Harwood said. The slaying occurred Tuesday in a township outside Willard, a city about 80 miles southwest of Cleveland. 
James Blair, 50, has been charged with murder and is being held in Huron County Jail on $1 million bond. His public defender declined to comment Friday. Blair was arrested early Wednesday after a six-hour standoff with sheriff's deputies and a SWAT unit that ended when tear gas canisters were fired into the house where he lived with his mother.
His 73-year-old mother was arrested Thursday and is also being held in Huron County Jail. Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said Friday that the mother repeatedly misled investigators about the whereabouts of the gun used in the slaying. It was found Thursday inside a bag in her possession. She hasn't yet been charged.
Ciotto was shot at around 9 p.m. after Blair became agitated she was mowing her small lawn so late, Howard said. A call came into the sheriff's department about two hours after the shooting, Howard said. The sheriff called it the most "bizarre" crime scene he's encountered during his 30-year career in law enforcement. "It was horrific," he said. 

Oil prices down amid rising rig count, soft US economic data

ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

The price of oil slid Monday as traders braced for softer demand amid an increase in the number of active rigs and weak U.S. economic reports on construction spending and manufacturing.

U.S. crude was down $1.80, or 3.8 percent, to $45.32 a barrel in afternoon trading in New York, the lowest price in more than four months. Benchmark U.S. crude has been declining since reaching a high this year of $61.43 a barrel on June 10. It's down 15 percent so far this year.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, was down $2.38, or 4.6 percent, to $49.83 a barrel in London. It's down 13 percent this year.

Several factors have put pressure on oil prices.

Oil production companies have been increasing the number of rigs they have drilling for crude in recent weeks.

The number of rigs exploring for oil in the U.S. rose by five last week to 664, according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. All told, the rig count has increased in four of the past five weeks.

That contributed to a 21 percent decline in the price of oil last month.

On Monday, a couple of economic reports weighed on oil prices, adding to growing speculation that global demand is set to weaken.

The Institute of Purchasing Managers' manufacturing index slipped to 52.7 last month from 53.5 in June. The latest reading, which economists had expected to remain unchanged from the previous month, signals that U.S. factories were a little less busy in July.

Meanwhile, the Department of Commerce said construction spending rose just 0.1 percent in June from a month earlier.

"Some of the economic numbers that came out today were not supportive of an increase in demand," said Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities USA. "It's a headline market and the headlines have all been negative."

National Park Service buries report on effigy mounds scandal

RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The National Park Service has shelved a blistering internal report that details a "decade of dysfunction" as the agency allowed dozens of illegal construction projects to cause significant damage to an ancient Iowa burial ground that Indian tribes consider sacred.

Titled "Serious Mismanagement Report," the document blasts the park service's failed stewardship of the Effigy Mounds National Monument from 1999 to 2010 and says the case should serve as a wakeup call for agency employees at all levels to avoid similar violations.

Last week, NPS deputy regional director Patricia Trap told a resident who requested a copy of the 15-page report that it didn't exist. She later told The Associated Press that it did exist but hadn't been "agency approved." She said the document will contribute to — but be replaced by — another review that is looking at the root causes of problems as well as what went right during that time.

Critics say the agency is trying to suppress the harsh report to soften its findings.

"They're trying to avoid accountability, which goes all the way to the director. That's why this report 'doesn't exist'," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which helped uncover the damaging projects. "Apparently, the park service doesn't want a wakeup call."

The monument, in northeast Iowa along the Mississippi River, includes more than 200 ceremonial and burial mounds that are considered sacred to the descendants of the builders, who are affiliated with numerous tribes.

The report says 78 construction projects costing a total of $3.4 million were approved there in violation of federal laws meant to protect archaeological resources and historic sites. The construction of boardwalks, bridges, roads and a shed damaged land around the mounds, and many had a "complete lack of compliance" as employees failed to conduct the mandatory environmental reviews and tribal consultation.

The report was written by a four-person review team led by National Park Service special agent David Barland-Liles, who conducted a lengthy criminal investigation into the violations. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids declined to charge then-superintendent Phyllis Ewing and monument maintenance chief Tom Sinclair with violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act in 2012 after concluding the agency's "weak and inappropriate initial response" undermined a criminal case and would make them sympathetic defendants, the report reveals.

NPS officials at the Midwest Regional Office in Omaha ignored employees who repeatedly went to them with evidence of mismanagement and failed to take action despite numerous other warning signs, the report says. Monument officials routinely misinformed regional administrators, who didn't follow up even when told of compliance problems.

"When oversight was finally provided, a decade of dysfunction was uncovered," the report says.

Ewing remained "willfully blind" to the laws in question and ignored and retaliated against monument employees who raised concerns, hurting the lives and careers of two valuable workers who left, the report said. Sinclair had an "inherent conflict of interest" because he was in charge of both completing projects and reviewing compliance.

"(Both) had an inexcusable lack of understanding of the fundamental importance of the archaeological resource they were assigned to protect, along with its complexity, pervasiveness, landscape qualities and history, which enabled them to discount concerns and justify gross physical and ethical violations of a site held sacred by many," the report says.

Ewing was transferred in 2010 after the agency learned of problems, then fired last year before the release of Barland-Liles' 700-page criminal investigation report. She is suing the agency for wrongful termination, claiming she was made a scapegoat.

The "Serious Mismanagement Report," dated April 2014, recently became public when an employee provided a copy to Timothy Mason, an activist with Friends of Effigy Mounds.

Mason asked Trap, the regional NPS official, for a copy last week. She responded, "Simply put, there is no such agency report."

Trap defended that denial to the AP, saying it isn't an "agency report" because administrators didn't approve the document. She said the agency instead has asked other employees from outside the region to conduct a separate review of the lessons learned at Effigy Mounds. She said that report will be completed and released this year.

She said the "Serious Mismanagement Report" was well-intentioned but team members were too close to the investigation and represented a narrow viewpoint. She said she took issue with the title.

"I'm not denying some serious mismanagement," she said. "But also there were actions taken along the way that were actually appropriate management."

Hunters in Africa say they have a role in conservation


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt headed a Smithsonian hunting and trapping expedition in Africa that included colleagues who prepared the wildlife he killed for shipment back to America. The former U.S. president and his son, Kermit, shot hundreds of animals.

"Really, I would be ashamed of myself sometimes, for I felt as if I had all the fun," Roosevelt later said in a speech. "I would kill the rhinoceros or whatever it was, and then they would go out and do the solid, hard work of preparing it. They would spend a day or two preserving the specimen while I would go and get something else."

Despite the killing spree, Roosevelt also advocated "a happy mean" between hunting and preserving wildlife sanctuaries, foreshadowing today's debate on hunting that has become more polarized as poaching and human encroachment have vastly reduced wildlife in sub-Saharan Africa. An international outcry erupted after an American dentist killed a well-known lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe last month in an allegedly illegal hunt. Wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe on Sunday reported another allegedly illegal lion kill involving a different American in the same area in April.

Many "Big Five" hunters believe that what they do is a legitimate sport, conserves wildlife by funneling funds back into game reserves and can be the ultimate personal challenge in a natural setting.

"Hunters are normal, living, nature-loving people," said Adri Kitshoff, chief executive officer of the Professional Hunters' Association of South Africa. "They're not bloodthirsty killers."

Some 7,600 foreign hunters traveled to South Africa in 2013, more than half of them from America, according to association figures.

Numerous slick websites tout hunting tours. South Africa's Palala reserve offers a 7-day beginner's "safari" for more than $5,000 in which clients hunt species including a large antelope and a warthog. Martin Pieters Safaris says it provides "ethical, fair-chase safaris" in Zimbabwe and describes the suspense of a leopard hunt:

"In the shadows you wait . as silent and as quiet as the dark night ... this is what it is all about sitting motionless a mere 60 yards from your bait, waiting for your chance, knowing that even though you have done everything right, he still might not come, that is leopard hunting!"

Critics say the Zimbabwe cases points to wider irregularities in the trophy-hunting industry. Online photos of triumphant hunters posing beside the carcasses of African wildlife only deepen the gulf for hunting opponents.

Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer lacked authorization to kill Cecil the lion, according to Zimbabwean authorities who say they will seek his extradition. The lion was lured out of Hwange National Park, wounded with a bow and then tracked down and shot, conservationists said.

Hunters can pay tens of thousands of dollars to shoot a lion, making it an exclusive club. King Juan Carlos of Spain made an elephant hunting trip to Botswana in 2012 at the height of Spain's financial crisis. Word got out after he was injured on the expensive expedition, and his reputation plummeted. The king, who abdicated in 2014, apologized for the trip.

In "African Game Trails," an account of his expedition, Roosevelt described himself as a "hunter-naturalist" and said he and his sons' kills included 11 elephants, 17 lions and 20 rhinos.

"Game butchery is as objectionable as any other form of wanton cruelty or barbarity; but to protest against all hunting of game is a sign of softness of head, not of soundness of heart," Roosevelt wrote.

In recent years, poachers have killed tens of thousands of elephants annually to meet demand for ivory in Asia. In South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, more than 1,200 were reported poached last year for their horns, which also fetch big money in Asia. Lions are designated as vulnerable on an international "red list" of species facing threats.

Brent Stapelkamp, a wildlife researcher who monitored Cecil, said he believes that some hunters in Africa try to locate and kill their quarry as quickly as possible, in contrast with old-style hunting trips that lasted weeks or months.

"They're here for the trophy more than the actual experience," Stapelkamp said.

But for some, it is also about the experience.

"You cannot describe a wild lion's roar," Ernest Hemingway wrote in "True at First Light," a book that was published posthumously. "You can only say that you listened and the lion roared. It is not at all like the noise the lion makes at the start of Metro Goldwyn Mayer pictures. When you hear it you first feel it in your scrotum and it runs all the way up through your body."

Stouts Fire 8.3.2015
By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

CANYONVILLE, Ore.-- The Stouts fire near Canyonville grew Sunday, but remains just over 15,000 acres and is estimated at 5% contained, according to a press release. The fire is burning approximately 1/3 on private land, 1/3 on Bureau of Land Management land, and 1/3 on National Forest land. 
The number of structures threatened by Stouts fire is 317. Evacuation Level 1 (Ready) is in place for the Milo Academy area and three residences along the Tiller Trail Highway in Jackson County. Level 2 (Set) evacuations are in place along the Upper Cow Creek Road on the south side of the fire; Ferguson, Stouts Creek, and Conley lanes on the north side; and the Drew Valley along the Tiller Trail Highway from milepost 28 to 39 on the east side. No Level 3 (Go) evacuations are in place at this time. The Red Cross evacuation shelter remains at the Canyonville YMCA.
Crews took advantage of the lower temperatures, higher humidity, cloud cover, and smoke inversion to build additional fire line, prepare contingency lines, and assess the areas around structures that need clearing and starting work to help protect them if the fire moves that way on Sunday. 
About 1400 firefighters continue fighting the Stouts Fire around the clock.Wildland firefighters will start clearing road systems and constructing line along the east side of the fire Monday, while the structural firefighters keep working around homes clearing the areas to help prevent a wildfire from harming homes. Smoke remains heavy and may start lifting around noon. The crews are using the weather to their advantage to make some gains on the fire. 
The Oregon Department of Forestry, the Oregon State Fire Marshal, and the USDA Forest Service Stouts Fire continue managing this fire under unified command. The Incident Management Teams representing these agencies train together, work together, and cooperate together under the Incident Command System. 
The Oregon State Fire Marshal Green Team, Oregon Department of Forestry Team 1, Roseburg Resources and other landowners, dozens of private contract crews, and structural firefighters from Clackamas, Lane, Linn/Benton, Lincoln, Marion and Yamhill counties continue fighting the Stouts Fire. 

Fire Resources Spread Out
By Aaron Nilsson/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore. -- The U.S. Forest Service said lightning storms are to blame for five new fire starts in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The largest of those is the Brown Mountain West fire, burning is up to nine acres in heavy fuels near Fish Lake.

Fire crews are using water from Lake of the Woods to put out the flames.

18 of the 37 fires in national forests are staffed and more will get firefighters as they're available.

"The smoke. That really limits our ability to detect fires and limits our ability to conduct air operations. Finding these fires is one thing and staffing them is another, especially when there's resources being stretched in other national forests, other regions as well," Brian Lawatch, with the U.S. Forest Service, said.

Forest service managers said they prioritize placing firefighters near people, structures, where safety is the biggest concern and where resources are available.

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