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Devastating photos show aftermath of deadly Italian earthquake

A deadly earthquake struck central Italy on Wednesday, killing dozens and reducing buildings to rubble, according to Italian media.

>> PHOTOS: Deadly earthquake leaves Italian town in ruins

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, centered about 105 miles northeast of Rome, had a magnitude of 6.2, while Italy's geological service said it had a magnitude of 6.0, according to The Associated Press.

>> Read more trending stories

One mayor said his entire town was left in ruins.

"The town isn't here anymore," said Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice.

Read more here.

>> Click here or scroll down to see heartbreaking photos from the scene

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Strong earthquake hits central Italy" on Storify]

Siblings say ISIS accusation and interrogation ruined their vacation

Three British siblings were pulled off a plane and interrogated on the tarmac after a fellow passenger accused them of being part of ISIS.

Maryam, Ali and Sakina Dharas were flying from London to Naples, Italy, for vacation when they were pulled off the plane and found themselves face-to-face with armed guards.

"The first thing we were asked was whether we spoke English, so we weren't offered any explanation immediately. I found that a bit patronizing, a bit Orientalist almost. As if just because we're Muslim we don't speak English," Maryam Dharas told Britain’s Channel 4 News.

>> Read more trending stories

Apparently, two fellow passengers had reported them to authorities, saying one of the sister's phones had either Arabic text or the words "praise be to Allah" on the screen. But the Dharases said they don't even know Arabic.

The siblings said they were forced to detail their personal lives, past travel history and parents' occupations to an MI5 agent. They also showed authorities their phones to prove that they weren't doing anything wrong.

It eventually became clear the siblings had nothing to do with any terrorist organization, and they were allowed to board their flight. They said the experience ruined their vacation.

EasyJet, the airline the siblings were flying on, apologized for any inconvenience and told Al Jazeera, "The safety and security of ... passengers and crew is our highest priority which means that if a security concern is raised we will always investigate it."

In an article for The Independent, Sakina Dharas said the experience was humiliating, and it left her with a question: "Why weren’t those passengers who made the false claim about us removed from the plane for wasting valuable police time?"

Adorable mail-loving dog gets personal postcard

A mailman in Brisbane, Australia, is lucky enough to encounter lots of dogs on his mail route in Brisbane, Australia.

But he is partial toone dog in particular. Pippa, a labrador retriever,  likes to get the mail.

>> Read more trending stories

BuzzFeed reported that Australian postal worker Martin Studer decided to improvise on days when there's no mail for Pippa to retrieve.

He wrote a note to Pippa on a delivery notice, and shared a photo of the note in a Facebook post about the mail-loving retriever.

"Sometimes, Pippa comes out for the daily delivery but there's no mail for her to collect," Studer wrote on the post.

"She’s a fantastic dog," Studer told BuzzFeed. "I give lots of dogs cuddles, but she’s really great."

BuzzFeed News reported that Studer is such a fan of the dogs that he gives them tennis balls to dogs and dresses up as Santa.

"It’s good to break down that ‘postie vs. dog’ stereotype," he said.

Posted by Martin Studer on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

7 things to know now: Clinton emails; Disney alligator report; 'Madden 17' drop

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. More emails from Clinton: Emails released Monday from when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, show a myriad of requests were made of the department by Clinton Foundation donors, and that those requests were funneled through her top aide, Huma Abedin. The emails show Abedin asked other aides and Clinton herself how she should respond to the requests for favors. Some were granted and some not, the emails -- 725 pages of correspondence from Abedin released as part of a lawsuit by the conservative group Judicial Watch -- show. Also on Monday, a federal judge ordered the State Department to organize a timetable for the release of 15,000 new emails – separate from the Judicial Watch batch -- that were uncovered during an FBI investigation.

2. Carter thought he had only weeks: Former President Jimmy Carter said he believes that both presidential candidates are “quite unpopular,” but he’s made a choice. “I’m a Democrat, and I’ll be voting Democratic.” Carter also said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press that when he received a diagnosis of cancer in his liver last year he believed he had only weeks to live. "Now I feel pretty certain about my cure and the cancer being in remission, but the doctors are still keeping an eye on me," he said.

3. Boy’s death at Disney: A report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released Monday said the death of a 2-year-old boy killed by an alligator behind a Walt Disney World hotel was an incident that would have been difficult to predict. The attack that took the life of Lane Graves was a predatory event, the report said, not one caused by human behavior. The Graves family was on the beach to watch a movie and their son was getting a bucket of water from the lake to make sandcastles when the alligator grabbed the boy. According to the report, the boy’s father went into the water to try to get the child out of the alligator’s mouth, but was unsuccessful.

4. Obama to Baton Rouge: President Obama is set to visit flood-ravaged areas around Baton Rouge. La., on Tuesday. The president had been criticized by some for not leaving a Martha’s Vineyard vacation and going to Louisiana earlier. The governor of Louisiana said he preferred the president not come before Tuesday so as not  to stretch police resources necessary to keep recovery efforts moving forward.

 5. Bergdahl motion: Attorneys for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will argue in a military court Tuesday that comments made by Arizona Sen. John McCain tainted the case against their client. McCain publically disputed Bergdahl’s story of capture by Taliban forces, and vowed to examine the case after it is concluded in a military court. Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Taliban operatives being held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

And one more

Are you ready for some football – the video game kind? If so, you’re in luck today as "Madden NFL 17” will be released for download Tuesday. The “Madden NFL” series is one of EA Sports' most popular.

In case you missed it

Yep, those are flowers.

Teen calls 911 because she didn't approve of parents' vacation choice

A teen in Canada was cautioned about the proper use of 911 after police said she called the emergency number and expressed dissatisfaction with her parents' choice of vacation venue.

CBC News reported the 15-year-old called 911 last Tuesday to “complain that her parents forced her to go on vacation with them” and she didn’t approve of the rental cottage in Toronto that they selected.

Officers came to the cottage to make sure everyone was safe and cautioned about the misuse of 911.

"This appeared to be a case of a teenager being a teenager," Northumberland  Ontario Provincial Police Const. Steve Bates told CBC News. "Although she perceived this as a real issue, it was not an appropriate use of 911."

No charges were filed, but the teen was given a lesson in proper emergency number usage. "Calls such as this tie up police resources which could impact the safety of others in the community who are in real need of assistance," Bates told CBC News.

At least in this case, it was someone actually talking after a study found that 30 percent of calls to 911 are butt-dials.

Two synthetic drugs pose an enormous threat to public health. What are they?

Victims of a new and deadly street drug which is similar to the legal version of  the drug authorities say killed pop icon Prince are being seen in more and more emergency rooms around  the country. 

Five times more potent than herion, acetyl fentanyl is often mixed with the herion, or sold as oxycodone on the street,  leaving those to take it little chance of knowing what they are ingesting. 

Overdoses with this synthetic drug have happened across the country, putting state and federal officials on alert for the latest in mixed street drugs.

According to an Associated Press story, some of the pills taken from Prince's estate in Paisley Park after his death were counterfeit drugs that contained fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin, an official close to the investigation said Sunday. Acetyl fentanyl is very similar to fentanyl and often made using it.

 >>What is flakka and what does it do to you?

Here’s a look at two classes of synthetic drugs that the federal government is warning citizens about.

Types of synthetic drugs

There are two types of synthetic drugs the government has issued warnings about  -- cannabinoids and cathinones. 


Cannabinoids as often called synthetic marijuana, K2 or Spice. It is sold in legal retail outlets as as “herbal incense” or “potpourri”.

  • There are more than 120 known chemical variants that make up synthetic cannabinoids, with 50 or so of these chemical either regulated by U.S. law, or that are illegal in the United States.
  • The bulk of synthetic marijuana is produced in China where the “recipe” is altered to skirt U.S.. law.
  • Cannabinoids are sold in packets which carry one of  more than 500 brand names such as Spice, Ace of Spades, Demon, King John Pot Pourri, Mojo and Mr. Bad Guy.
  • Because they are labeled “not for human consumption” they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Cannabinoids and other synthetic drugs are also readily available via the Internet. 
  • For a list of more than 600 names for synthetic cannabinoids, click here. 

How can cannabinoids be a part of the plant material sold as synthetic marijuana?

After the chemical is created it is often sprayed on plant material. The material is chopped up and packaged.

According to the government, the synthetic cannabinoids gives users a high similar to marijuana because it mimics THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

How long has this been going on in  the U.S.?

Synthetic cannabinoids on plant material were first reported in the United States in Dayton, Ohio, in December 2008. In 2009, two synthetic cannabinoids were identified by authorities. In 2012, 51 new  synthetic cannabinoids had been identified.

It is generally transported into the United States in powder form where it is tableted, pilled or changed into some other from prior to sale.

How prevalent is its use?

According to a survey in 2012, one in nine U.S. high school seniors reported using synthetic cannabinoids, making it the second most frequently used illegal drug after marijuana. 

What are the risks of cannabinoids?

The effects of synthetic cannabinoids include severe agitation and anxiety, nausea, vomiting, a fast, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, tremors and seizures, hallucinations and dilated pupils. Suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions have also been reported.


Cathinones, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the leaves of khat, is used in combination with other chemicals to make a drug similar to amphetamines.

  • Synthetic cathinone products often consist of methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone.
  • Like cannabinoids, most cathinones are produced in China. They are referred to as “bath salts,”  and distributed under trade names such as 'Ivory Wave', 'White Lightning' and 'Vanilla Sky.’ They are also  labeled as "not for human consumption" to avoid penalty under the Analogue Enforcement Act.
  • Bath salts are generally snorted, but some smoke it, inject it or take it as a pill.

How long has  this been going on in the U.S.?

Four synthetic cathinones were identified in 2009. By 2012, 31 new synthetic cathinones were identified. According to the U.S. Drug Administration, synthetic cathinone drug reports to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) increased from 34 in 2009 to 628 in 2010. 

What’s the risk of cathinones?

• The risk in the synthetic cathinones come from a complete lack of knowledge as to what and how much of any substance is in the drug.  It is not difficult to overdose on cathinone.

Similar to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, synthetic cathinone use is associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, chest pain, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior.

What is the government doing?

• The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, which is part of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, placed 26 types of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)  - meaning they are illegal to possess or distribute. The problem with legislating against synthetic drugs is that they are altered so quickly.


• National Institute on Drug Abuse

• American Association of Poison Control Centers

• Congressional Research Service

• National Conference of State Legislators

• National Center for Biotechnology Information 

Ethiopian Olympic marathoner might have put his life in danger with protest gesture

Like many other Olympic athletes in the past, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa made a gesture Sunday night when he crossed the finish line in Rio.

But simply making the sign with his arms could have cost the silver medalist his freedom or even his life if he returns home.

He told reporters after the race: "I was protesting for my people. ... If I go back to Ethiopia, maybe they will kill me. If I am not killed, maybe they will put me in prison."

Crossing one's arms over one's head as Lilesa did is a sign used by members of his Oromo tribe to protest the Ethiopian government.

Tensions between the Oromo and the government have been on the rise since last November, when the government announced plans to reallocate Oromo farmland for development.

The announcement sparked intense protests across the nation that lasted for months. 

Officials scrapped the idea in January, but demonstrations flared up once again in recent weeks over protesters who are still being detained. 

And according to a Human Rights Watch report, the government is using violence to stop the protests. The group says more than 400 people have been killed and thousands more injured.

"Oromo is my tribe ... Oromo people now protest (for) what is right, for peace, for a place," Lilesa said in a news conference after his medal ceremony.

Lilesa also said he has family members who are in prison, and "if they talk about democratic rights they are killed."

Lilesa, a father of two, said that because of the violence in his home country, he can't return to Ethiopia after the Olympics. He said he might stay in Brazil or go to Kenya or the U.S. if he can.

An Ethiopian government spokesman said Monday that Lilesa could return to the country and would receive "a heroic welcome," the Associated Press reported.

It's unclear if his post-race gesture will affect his win in Rio. The Olympics committee has stripped athletes of their medals over political statements in the past.

7 things to know now: Hillary health talk; mass killing; AP Top 25

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Mass killing: A Mississippi man has been arrested in the shooting deaths of five people in a south Alabama home over the weekend. Derrick Ryan Dearman allegedly broke into the home in Citronelle, Ala., in the early hours of Sunday and shot and killed five people, including a pregnant woman. Police say Dearman was getting revenge on his former girlfriend. He kidnapped the woman and a 3-month-old infant before he was captured. The girlfriend and the baby survived the shootings.

2. Hillary’s health: Former New York mayor and current Donald Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani said Sunday that he believes Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is suffering from a serious medical condition. Giuliani, speaking on Fox News Sunday said of Clinton, “She has an entire media empire that constantly demonizes Donald Trump and fails to … point out several signs of illness by her. All you’ve got to do is go online. Go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness’ and take a look at the videos for yourself.” Clinton’s campaign staff has denied the candidate is ill.

3. Just an over-exaggeration: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte told a Brazilian TV network that his main  mistake during an alleged incident at the Rio Olympics “was overexaggerating" a story about being held up at gunpoint after a night of partying. "I just over-exaggerate part of it, the very first part, I was very intoxicated.” When asked if what he actually had done was lie, Lochte said, "I wasn't lying to a certain extent. I overexaggerated what had  happened."

4. Not happy with the choice: An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken earlier this month shows that 57 percent of those surveyed are dissatisfied with the choice between Republican nominee for president Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Thirty-five percent of the  respondents said they are considering voting for a third-party candidate. Fifty-nine percent of those respondents said they are worried that a vote for a third-party candidate would cause their least preferred candidate to win.

5. Obamacare troubles: Several large national insurance companies have announced plans to abandon Affordable Care Act marketplaces in many states because of sharply decreasing profits. According to a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the law known as Obamacare has not “evolved as expected” with more  older and sicker people buying the healthcare plans. Health insurers in Wisconsin, the story says, are expected to ask for rate increases ranging from 5.44 percent  to a whopping 37.88 percent. It’s not certain they will get them, though.

And one more

With the start of college football just days away, The Associated Press has released its first Top 25 poll of the 2016 season. The University of Alabama sits atop the poll with Clemson, Oklahoma, FSU and LSU rounding out the top five.

In case you missed it

Here’s a look at 16 of the largest craters in the universe.

How Olympian Caster Semenya's medical condition became a controversy

Caster Semenya has become the unwilling face of an issue plaguing the Olympics. 

>> Watch the video from Newsy

The South African runner won the gold medal in the women's 800-meter final, beating the next-closest runner by more than a second. 

But she reportedly has a condition called hyperandrogenism, which causes much higher levels of testosterone than women typically have. 

There's speculation other athletes have the condition, as well — and it's led to criticism that they have an unfair advantage.

>> PHOTOS: Closing ceremonies at the Rio Olympics

In 2010, the International Association of Athletics Federations had Semenya sidelined while she underwent gender testing. She was eventually cleared to compete. 

For the 2012 Olympics, athletes with the condition were forced to take drugs that lower testosterone levels, but those rules were thrown out for the Rio Olympics. 

That's because The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that there was no clear evidence that athletes with hyperandrogenism have an unfair advantage over other athletes. 

Medical experts say hyperandrogenism can affect people in different ways, and athletes with the condition aren't necessarily guaranteed a competitive advantage. 

>> Read more trending stories

But there is still frustration among the athletes. Lynsey Sharp, one of the runners competing against Semenya, said, "Everyone can see it's two separate races, so there's nothing I can do."

Semenya told the BBC that all the criticism is only helping her grow as a person.

"They're making you a better person," she said. "People should learn how to unite. Sport is all about uniting people and not discriminating."

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