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Space tourism rocket crashes

Update -- 1:40 p.m.

A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded Friday during a test flight, killing a pilot aboard and seriously injuring another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert, witnesses and officials said.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, told The Associated Press that SpaceShipTwo exploded after a plane designed to take it to high altitude released it and the craft ignited its rocket motor.

Brown said the wreckage fell in the desert north of Mojave Air and Space Port, where the test flight originated. The area is about 120 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

SpaceShipTwo, which is typically flown by two pilots, was designed to provide a suborbital thrill ride into space before it returns to Earth as a glider.

Friday's flight marked the 55th for the spaceship, which was intended to be the first of a line of craft that would open space to paying civilians. At 60 feet long, SpaceShipTwo features two large windows for each of up to six passengers, one on the side and one overhead.

Virgin Galactic — owned by Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi — sells seats on each prospective journey for $250,000, with full payment due at the time of booking. The company says that "future astronauts," as it calls customers, have visited Branson's Caribbean home, Necker Island, and gone through G-force training.

Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand are among the celebrities to sign up for flights. Virgin Galactic reports taking deposits totalling more than $80 million from about 700 people.

During testing for the development of a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report said the blast occurred three seconds after the start of a cold-flow test of nitrous oxide — commonly known as laughing gas — which is used in the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo. The engine was not firing during that test.

Friday's accident was the second space-related explosion this week.


Original story -- 12 p.m.

Virgin Galactic has reported that its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket has been lost in Southern California after crashing Friday morning.

The company tweeted Friday: "During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo."

The company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson would not say what happened other that it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the "accident."

Kern County Fire Department reported it was heading to a location in the Mojave Desert. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson said the agency was responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area.

The California Highway Patrol is reporting that one person is dead and another is seriously injured following the crash.

Virgin Galactic has been the front-runner in the fledgling space-tourism industry. SpaceShipTwo, typically flown by a crew of two pilots, has been under development in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.

The Canadian Press


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Athletes charged in attack

Five football players from a state university in western Pennsylvania were arrested and suspended from the school after police say they beat and stomped a man outside an off-campus restaurant, then fled yelling "Football strong!" The victim was in intensive care Friday with severe brain trauma.

The California University of Pennsylvania players attacked Lewis Campbell, 30, of West Chester, as he was trying to stop an argument between his girlfriend and a player at about 2 a.m. Thursday, police said.

Witnesses heard the players yelling "Football strong!" as they fled to a car and Campbell lay unconscious, police said.

The university declared later Thursday that its Division II football team would forfeit Saturday's against Gannon University, jeopardizing its best season in three years.

"Behaviour has consequences," the university's interim president, Geraldine Jones, said in a statement.

Officers said they arrested the players — Jonathan Barlow, D'Andre Dunkley, Corey Ford, Rodney Gillin Jr. and James Williamson — at practice Thursday afternoon. They are charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, harassment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Online court records didn't list attorneys for the men, who remained jailed Friday because they were unable to post bail of $500,000 apiece. They face a preliminary hearing Nov. 17.

The California football team has won seven of eight games this season and this week reached No. 19 in D2Football.com, its highest ranking since 2012. The team has two games scheduled after Saturday's forfeit. It is unclear if they will be played.

The team took swift action Thursday to scrub its website of the arrested players, removing their names from the roster and deleting their biography pages.

Ford, a 22-year-old senior from Harrisburg, and Gillin, a 20-year-old junior from Reading, were starters at defensive back, according to a cached version of the team's website.

Barlow, a 21-year-old sophomore defensive lineman from Pittsburgh, and Dunkley, a 19-year-old tight end from Philadelphia, have seen limited action.

Williamson, 20, of Parkville, Maryland, transferred this year after two seasons at West Virginia Wesleyan.

The Canadian Press


Survivalist arrested

A survivalist accused of ambushing two state troopers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, was captured by U.S. marshals near an abandoned airplane hangar, ending a seven-week manhunt that had rattled the nerves of area residents.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, who meekly gave himself up when surrounded Thursday, authorities said.

"He did not just give up because he was tired," state police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. "He gave up because he was caught."

Frein's initial court appearance was scheduled for Friday morning. Crowds gathered outside the courthouse and jeered as he entered.

State police said they didn't know whether Frein, who was unarmed when captured, had been using the hangar as a shelter during his 48 days on the run, and they wouldn't say what they found there.

Frein was held in the handcuffs of the trooper he's accused of killing, Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday at a nighttime news conference.

The quiet takedown of Frein, who kneeled and put his hands up when marshals approached him, ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, cancelled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors cancelled a popular Halloween parade.

Frein is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding Trooper Alex Douglass. After his arrest Thursday near the abandoned hangar, he was placed in Dickson's car for the ride back to the barracks, about 30 miles (48 kilometres) away.

Douglass and his family and Dickson's family expressed "relief and gratitude" over Frein's arrest, Noonan said.

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein's driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Officials, saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, had urged residents to be alert and cautious. Using dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools, law enforcement officials combed miles of forest as they hunted for Frein, whom they called an experienced survivalist at home in the woods.

They pursued countless tips and closed in on an area around Frein's parents' home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them and the signal was traced to a location about 3 miles away. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods — including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal's author described Dickson as falling "still and quiet" after being shot twice.

Police spotted a man they believed to be Frein at several points during the manhunt, but it was always from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep them at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Frein, 31, had expressed anti-law enforcement views online and to people who knew him. His criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanour case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

The Canadian Press




French state radio fire

A fire at the Paris headquarters of French state radio is sending columns of thick black smoke out of more than a dozen windows.

Photos of the scene Friday afternoon showed smoke pouring from the upper stories of the massive Maison de la Radio in the capital's 16th arrondissement.

No one was hurt and the building was safely evacuated, fire department spokesman Gabriel Plus said on television i-tele.

The fire was contained in the early afternoon and there was no risk of it spreading to other floors, Plus said. The fire started in a part of the building's eighth floor that was undergoing renovations and was not being used by radio personnel, Plus said.

In a sign of the building's national importance, President Francois Hollande interrupted a news conference with Turkish President Recep Erdogan to address the incident.

"The damage appears considerable," Hollande said, calling the fire "a great shock."

The building, nicknamed "The Round House" for its circular design, was built in 1963 and houses studios for some of France's most popular radio stations. Renovations have been ongoing for years, notably to modernize its anti-fire protections.

The Canadian Press


2 boys sue Malaysia Airlines

Two Malaysian teenage boys on Friday sued Malaysia Airlines and the government over the loss of their father on Flight 370, the first lawsuit filed by the family of a passenger of the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared eight months ago.

Jee Kinson, 13, and Jee Kinland, 11, said in the suit that when the plane dropped from the radar while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board, the civil aviation department did not try to establish contact within reasonable time. The immigration department also allowed passengers with fake identities to board the plane, they said.

"We have waited for eight months. After speaking to various experts, we believe we have sufficient evidence for a strong case. A big plane missing in this age of technology is really unacceptable," their lawyer Arunan Selvaraj said.

The suit said the flag carrier was negligent and failed to take all due measures to ensure a safe flight. It also named the director-generals of civil aviation and immigration, the country's navy chief and the government as respondents and alleged they committed gross neglect and breach of duty. The boys are seeking damages for mental distress, emotional pain and the loss of support following the disappearance of their father, Jee Jing Hang.

They said their father operated an Internet business earning monthly income of nearly 17,000 ringgit ($5,178).

"The question is, could we have salvaged the situation if action was taken earlier?" Arunan said. "We want accountability."

The plane is believed to have gone down in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean, where a search is ongoing. Not a single piece of debris from the plane has been found so far. Australian officials, who are co-ordinating the search, have said the hunt for the plane could take another year.

Malaysian police determined that two men travelling with stolen passports on Flight 370 were Iranians seeking to migrate illegally to Europe and were not terrorists.

The Canadian Press


Human rights officially invited

North Korea on Thursday said it has invited European Union's top human rights official to visit the country, but it threatened to drop recent offers of visits by United Nations rights officials unless a U.N. resolution on the country removes any reference to the International Criminal Court before Saturday.

North Korean diplomat Kim Un Chol told The Associated Press that the visit by the EU official, Stavros Lambrinidis, is expected next March.

"We have already sent the invitation letter," Kim said.

He also handed out a press statement that said, "We have also agreed to the visit of our country by the Special Representative for Human Right of European External Action Service," the name for the EU's diplomatic service.

The European Union's mission to the U.N. was not immediately available for comment Thursday evening. But an EU official in Brussels earlier this month confirmed that Lambrinidis recently had met with a North Korean representative.

North Korea has been on the defensive since a U.N. commission of inquiry early this year detailed what it said were vast human rights abuses in the impoverished but nuclear-armed country and warned that leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable.

The new EU-Japan resolution at the U.N. echoes the report's recommendations, saying the Security Council should refer North Korea's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. Although ally China, a permanent council member, has signalled it would veto such a move, Pyongyang has been unnerved that international attention to its dismal human rights record hasn't seemed to fade.

For North Korea to offer any dialogue on human rights, a topic which its government until recently would not discuss, is seen as significant by the international community. But such an offer is also greeted with skepticism. One U.N. diplomat this week, asked what assurance countries have that Pyongyang will follow up on its word, said simply, "None."

Param-Preet Singh, a senior counsel for Human Rights Watch, said the U.N. special rapporteur made it clear in his report to the General Assembly this week that nothing had changed in North Korea's human rights situation since the commission of inquiry's findings.

"The bottom line is this: Empty promises should not distract the international community from its responsibility to bring those responsible for the worst crimes in North Korea to justice," Singh said. "Accountability is simply not negotiable."

Some of North Korea's recent gestures have been surprising.

This week, North Korean officials met with the U.N. special rapporteur on that country for the first time since the post was created 10 years ago, and said they "envisaged" his visit. They also floated the idea of a visit by the new U.N. high commission for human rights.

On Thursday, Kim Un Chol said those two offers "will be cancelled" if the language on the ICC isn't dropped from the EU-Japan resolution by the weekend. The resolution already has been submitted in the General Assembly's human rights committee, though its language can be changed right up until the committee votes on it next month.

He said the resolution showed a "path of confrontation" and called for greater flexibility on the part of the EU.

North Korea broke off a previous human rights dialogue with the EU in 2003.

The Canadian Press


Death penalty sought

A survivalist accused of ambushing two state troopers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, was captured Thursday by U.S. marshals in an abandoned airplane hangar, ending a seven-week manhunt that had rattled the nerves of area residents, authorities said.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Eric Frein, District Attorney Ray Tonkin said. Frein was held in the handcuffs of the trooper he's accused of killing, Gov. Tom Corbett said.

The quiet takedown of Frein on Thursday ended weeks of tension and turmoil in the area, as authorities at times closed schools, cancelled outdoor events and blockaded roads to pursue him. Residents grew weary of hearing helicopters overhead, while small businesses suffered mounting losses and town supervisors cancelled a popular Halloween parade.

Frein is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding another trooper.

Police said they linked him to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles (kilometres) from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein's driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Officials, saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, had urged residents to be alert and cautious. Using dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools, law enforcement officials combed miles of forest as they hunted for Frein, whom they called an experienced survivalist at home in the woods.

They pursued countless tips and closed in on an area around Frein's parents' home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them and the signal was traced to a location about 3 miles (5 kilometres) away. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods — including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal's author described Dickson as falling "still and quiet" after being shot twice.

Police spotted a man they believed to be Frein at several points during the manhunt, but it was always from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep them at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Frein had expressed anti-law enforcement views online and to people who knew him. His criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanour case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Police found a U.S. Army manual called "Sniper Training and Employment" in his bedroom at his parents' house, and his father, a retired Army major, told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who "doesn't miss," according to a police affidavit. Authorities believe Frein had been planning a confrontation with police for years, citing information they found on a computer used by him.

A man and a woman believed to be Frein's parents, reached separately by telephone on Thursday, declined to comment.

The manhunt for Frein in northeastern Pennsylvania had scrapped some plans for trick-or-treating. The chairman of Barrett Township's board of supervisors planned to meet with other town officials to try to salvage Halloween.

"No police were hurt. Nobody else was hurt. He didn't take any more lives. He didn't shoot anybody else, from what I understand," chairman Ralph Megliola said. "That's the best scenario."

Helen Blackmore, who lives in the heart of the search zone in Cresco, was ready for some normalcy.

"It was very crazy here. The helicopters were out all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Even today they were out," she said. "We're relieved. We're very relieved. We want things to get back to normal."

Frein belonged to a military re-enactors group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

His 18-year-old sister, Tiffany Frein, earlier acknowledged that he "did something messed up" but told NBC News that he is "not a psycho."

Frein is charged with first-degree murder and various other offences, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs.

Dickson, at his funeral, was called a devoted husband and father and "impeccable" ex-Marine who took his work seriously but also enjoyed making wooden toys for his young sons and finding humour in everyday situations.

Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change. Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility, state police said.

"If you attack troopers, and a civilized society, the Pennsylvania State Police will bring you to justice. Eric Frein is a coward," the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association said in a statement. "Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II and Trooper Alex T. Douglass are true heroes."

 

The Canadian Press


Troops sent to lava site

The Hawaii National Guard is deploying troops to a rural Hawaii town as lava makes a slow crawl toward a major road and threatens to further isolate the community that got its start during the lumber and sugar-plantation heyday.

Hawaii County Civil Defence Director Darryl Oliveira said the National Guard deployed 83 troops to Pahoa on Thursday to help provide security. The troops will help with a roadblock and with other safety issues.

Lava from a vent at Kilauea volcano has been sliding northeast toward the ocean since June. Last month, scientists said it was two weeks away from hitting the main road in Pahoa, a town of about 950 residents. The lava slowed but largely has remained on course.

Pahoa residents say the lava will reshape the community yard by yard as it creeps toward the ocean.

"She is so gentle but so unrelenting. She is just slow and steady," said Jamila Dandini, a retiree who stopped at a coffee shop down the road from where scientists have forecast the lava likely will cross. Like many others, Dandini refers to the lava as Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

So far, the lava has burned a shed and a lot of vegetation. A finger of lava that branched off the main flow remained 100 feet from a house Thursday.

The front of the flow was "sluggish" Thursday, Oliveira said, moving less than 5 yards per hour.

The languid pace has given residents time to pack their valuables and get out of the way. But it's been agonizing for those wondering whether the lava might change directions and head for them, and stressful for those trying to figure out how they will cope once the lava blocks the town's only roads.

"It's like slow torture. It speeds up, it slows down. It speeds up, it slows down," said Paul Utes, who owns the Black Rock Cafe.

Utes' restaurant is just a few hundred yards south of where the lava likely will cross the main road. Even if the cafe is spared, he doesn't know how traffic will be diverted once the flow covers the road, how his vendors will supply his restaurant and what his customers will do.

For now, business is up because more locals and tourists have been streaming into town hoping to get a glimpse of the molten rock.

Once the lava crosses the main road and the bypass road — effectively slicing Pahoa in half — few residents will be able to get to the area's only supermarket, though it's just a mile from the town centre.

Puna will be cut off even more if the lava travels all the way to the ocean, some 6 miles away.

Some businesses are closing or moving, while others are vowing to stay.

 

The Canadian Press


Four dead in plane crash

Update -- 1 p.m.

Officials say only the plane's pilot was on board at the time of the crash, but it wasn't immediately clear how many people were inside the building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport where at least four people were found dead.

Four more people remained unaccounted for hours after the crash, but a search was halted at midday after a portion of the building collapsed.

Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp assured onlookers the search would resume as soon as the building was stable.

"We understand that this is a very difficult time, especially for folks who have family members who are working out here and they don't know," Crisp said.

The plane appeared to strike the top of the building and ignite what Wichita Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell described as a "horrific" fire.

Jay Boyle, who works at the airport, said he saw people standing outside and pointing, then spotted the crash site.

"I could see from a distance the cutout in the side of the building where it looked like a wing had gone through and you could actually see the aircraft landing gear through a hole in the building," he said.

The crash did not appear to be significantly disrupting passenger traffic at the airport as planes could be seen taking off from other runways.

Located several miles west of downtown Wichita, a longtime aircraft manufacturing hub, Wichita Mid-Continent is used by private aircraft and served by several airlines and their regional affiliates, including American, Southwest, Delta, United and Allegiant. It saw more than 13,000 departures and about 1.4 million passengers last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The crash is the latest in a string of incidents at the airport. In December, an avionics technician was arrested after a months-long undercover sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac in a plot prosecutors say was intended to kill as many people as possible. Then in January, an Oklahoma man rammed his pickup truck through a security gate at the airport. In September, the airport conducted a large-scale disaster exercise featuring the mock crash of a 737 aircraft.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said it is "too early to rule anything out" about the cause of Thursday's crash and confirmed the FBI is assisting in the investigation, but stressed the agency's protocol is to respond to "any and all plane crashes at airports."


Update -- 11 a.m.

Authorities are now saying that four people are dead after a plane crashed at an airport in Wichita, Kansas earlier Thursday morning.

Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp says at least four people inside the building were killed and five others injured.

Four other people remain missing, as a search was halted at midday after a portion of the building collapsed and was too dangerous for crews.


Original story -- 9 a.m.

A small plane that reported losing engine power has crashed into a building at a Kansas airport, sending up huge plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles around the city.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro says a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reported the trouble just after takeoff from Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport on Thursday morning.

Molinaro says the plane crashed into a building on airport property while attempting to return to the runway.

Fire trucks were positioned near the crash and were pouring water on the wreckage.

The FAA referred other questions to local search and rescue officials.

Officials with the airport and city did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Canadian Press


Foreigners to be quarantined

North Korean officials have announced they will quarantine foreigners for 21 days over fears of the spread of the Ebola virus.

An announcement distributed to foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang said that, regardless of country or region of origin, all foreigners will be quarantined under medical observation for 21 days.

It said foreigners from affected areas will be quarantined at one set of locations, while those from unaffected areas will be sent to other locations, including hotels. It said the staff of diplomatic missions and international organizations in North Korea will be allowed to stay in their residences.

A copy of the document, dated Wednesday, was obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.

There have been no reported cases of Ebola in North Korea.

More than 13,700 people have been sickened in the Ebola outbreak, and nearly 5,000 of them have died. Nearly all the cases are in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, though there were 20 in Nigeria, four in the U.S. and one each in Mali, Senegal and Spain. No cases have been reported in Asia.

North Korea's frantic response to Ebola, including a broad but so far poorly defined ban on foreign tourism, is also surprising because the notoriously reclusive country admits so few foreigners in the first place.

Other than diplomatic and government missions, it has virtually no contact with any of the countries that have been most affected in west Africa, though it has tried to cultivate good relations with some African nations.

Kim Yong Nam, the head of North Korea's parliament, is now touring other parts of Africa.

Last week, North Korea's state media announced that travellers and cargo would be subject to stricter monitoring at airports, seaports and railway border crossings. Warnings are also being aired on television to increase public awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

North Korea's reaction isn't unprecedented. It closed its borders for several months in 2003 during the scare over SARS.

But that was a much more obvious threat. SARS affected China, and Beijing is where most flights into Pyongyang originate. In the case of Ebola, North Korea's efforts to defend itself from what appears to be a tiny risk may end up alienating it from foreigners who have been willing to invest here.

The Canadian Press


UK opens sperm bank

Britain opened a National Sperm Bank on Thursday to help meet rising demand for donors.

Officials said it is designed to help single women, men with fertility problems and same-sex couples to build families.

The bank was set up to counter a national shortage of sperm donors at a time when the number of patients seeking sperm donation is increasing. It is based at the Birmingham Women's Hospital 185 kilometres northwest of London.

The National Sperm Bank will be run by the National Gamete Donation Trust in conjunction with the hospital. It said the sperm bank will reduce the number of patients "putting themselves at risk" by using unregulated donation services.

The centre is also intended to help men who have had cancer treatment or suffer a genetic defect and cannot produce sperm.

It will recruit and screen donors and bank the sperm.

One goal is to increase donors from inside Britain to lessen reliance on sperm from other countries. Both Denmark and the United States supply large quantities of sperm to Britain to offset the shortage.

Dr. Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, told BBC that economics has sometimes made it easier to import sperm from other countries than to increase the donor supply.

He said "it kind of just doesn't feel right" to import so much from other countries. Pacey said another goal is to increase the ethnic diversity of sperm donors.

The Canadian Press


Nurse defies Ebola quarantine

A nurse who vowed to defy Maine's voluntary quarantine for health care workers who treated Ebola patients followed through on her promise Thursday, leaving her home for a bike ride.

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend stepped out of their home Thursday morning and rode away on bicycles, followed by state police who were monitoring her movements and public interactions. Police couldn't detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

Hickox contends there's no need for quarantine because she's showing no symptoms. She's also tested negative for the deadly disease.

State officials were going to court in an effort to detain Hickox for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10

It was the second time Hickox broke quarantine. She left her home Wednesday evening briefly to speak to reporters, even shaking a hand that was offered to her.

"There's a lot of misinformation about how Ebola is transmitted, and I can understand why people are frightened. But their fear is not based on medical facts," Norman Siegel, one of her attorneys, said Wednesday.

Hickox, who volunteered in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders, was the first person forced into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at the Newark airport from three West African countries. Hickox spent the weekend in a tent in New Jersey before travelling to the home she shares with her boyfriend, a nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," she told reporters Wednesday evening.

Generally, states have broad authority when it comes to such matters. But Maine health officials could have a tough time convincing a judge that Hickox poses a threat, said attorney Jackie L. Caynon III, who specializes in health law in Worcester, Massachusetts.

"If somebody isn't showing signs of the infection, then it's kind of hard to say someone should be under mandatory quarantine," he said.

Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, has killed thousands of people in Africa, but only four people have been diagnosed with it in the United States. People can't be infected just by being near someone who's sick, and people aren't contagious unless they're sick, health officials say.

The Canadian Press


Red hot lava threatens home

Rain fell Wednesday on a red-hot river of lava as it threatened to consume its first home on its slow advance into a rural Hawaii town.

A breakout of the lava flow was about 100 feet (30 metres) from a Pahoa residence — about the length of a basketball court, said Hawaii County Civil Defence Director Darryl Oliveira. The couple who lives in the home has left.

Scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory who are walking alongside the lava reported its leading edge was 240 yards (219 metres) from Pahoa Village Road, which goes through a commercial hub of the Big Island's sprawling and isolated Puna district.

The leading edge remained in a large agricultural parcel that included another house, which was about 100 yards (91 metres) from the lava, Oliveira said.

Dozens of homes, business and other structures are in the area of the lava flow. That amount could increase as the flow front widens.

So far lava has burned a garden shed, tires and some metal materials.

On Wednesday, it burned mostly vegetation, while the rain helped tamp down smoke from the crackling stream.

Officials are monitoring hazards from the smoke. Chemists from the observatory detected only low levels of sulfur dioxide, Oliveira said.

The lava flow emerged from a vent in June and until recently had been slowly weaving through uninhabited forest and pastureland.

Jeff and Denise Lagrimas packed up to leave for a town 14 miles (22 kilometres) away. The flow is expected to slither past properties across the street from their home as it works its way toward the ocean, about 6 miles (9 kilometres) away. They decided not to stay and see if that happens or if the lava burns their home.

___

Associated Press writer Alina Hartounian contributed to this report.

The Canadian Press


Cheaper by the dozen + 1

A western Michigan couple with 12 sons is expecting baby No. 13, and even though they're sticking to their tradition of not finding out in advance whether they're having a boy or girl, they said they'd be shocked if their streak is broken.

Jay and Kateri Schwandt's baby is due May 9, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Even though they expect it will be another boy, the couple said they would welcome either into the family.

"If we were to have a girl, I think we would go into shock," Kateri Schwandt said. "It would probably be disbelief."

If he had a choice, Jay Schwandt said he would love to have a girl, but they're just "hoping for a healthy baby." Still, he would like to see the effect of adding a girl to the mix in a household with 12 boys.

"I've experienced all the boy stuff," he said. "As long as we are having all these children, it would be really neat to experience the other side."

The couple welcomed their twelfth son, Tucker, to the world on Aug. 4, 2013. Their oldest son is now 22 years old.

"The stuff that goes on in this house is all-boy — roughhousing and wrestling," Jay Schwandt said. "If there was a little girl in there, I assume it would be different."

Kateri Schwandt, after being the sole female in the family for more than two decades, said she would lean toward having one more boy.

"A little girl would be neat to have in the house, but a little boy kind of takes the pressure off," she said. "We know what we are doing. Why change things up?"

The Schwandts, who live Rockford, which is north of Grand Rapids, consider themselves devout Roman Catholics and don't believe in using birth control. Kateri Schwandt comes from a family of 14 kids. She said she is feeling well.

"I love being pregnant," she said. "I've spent half of my life being pregnant. It's very neat and very special."

The Canadian Press




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