Officials: No apparent survivors in Texas balloon crash LOCKHART, Texas (AP) - A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas on Saturday, and there did not appear to be any survivors, authorities said. Authorities would not confirm the exact number of deaths, but Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said the balloon was carrying at least 16 people and the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that it didn't look like anyone survived. If 16 people were killed, it would be the one of the worst such disasters, possibly the worst in U.S. history. The deadliest such disaster happened in February 2013, when a balloon flying over Luxor, Egypt, caught fire and plunged 1,000 feet to the ground, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourists Saturday's crash happened at about 7:40 a.m.
FAA was warned of risk for high-fatality balloon crashes WASHINGTON (AP) - Warning about potential high-fatality accidents, safety investigators recommended two years ago that the Federal Aviation Administration impose greater oversight on commercial hot air balloon operators, government documents show. The FAA rejected those recommendations. A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people crashed Saturday in Central Texas. Authorities say it's unlikely anyone survived. In a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in April 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the FAA to require tour companies to get agency permission to operate, and to make balloon operators subject to FAA safety inspections. "The potential for a high number of fatalities in a single air tour balloon accident is of particular concern if air tour balloon operators continue to conduct operations under less stringent regulations and oversight," then-NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman wrote.
Donald Trump attacks Muslim father's convention speech JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - With 100 days left before the fall election, Hillary Clinton's campaign bus wound its way through Donald Trump's America as the Republican nominee picked a new fight with the bereaved father of a Muslim Army captain. In a well-received Democratic convention speech, Muslim lawyer Khizr Khan said Trump has "sacrificed nothing and no one" for his country. Trump disputed that Saturday, saying he'd given up a lot for his businesses. "I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures," he said, in an interview with ABC's "This Week." He added: "Sure those are sacrifices." Khan gave a moving tribute to their son, Humayun, who posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004.
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For 8 summer nights, 2 starkly different visions of America WASHINGTON (AP) - For eight summer nights, there were two starkly different visions of America. At Donald Trump's Republican convention, America was a nation spiraling into chaos and economic ruin. Immigrants were cast as criminals, or in some cases, potential terrorists. The government is rigged for the wealthy and powerful, almost past the point of repair. "I alone can fix it," Trump said as he accepted the GOP nomination in Cleveland. The Democratic convention in Philadelphia was a four-day rebuttal. "America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger," Hillary Clinton said as she became the first woman to lead a major U.S.
Pope to young: Try politics, activism; don't be couch potato BRZEGI, Poland (AP) - Pope Francis challenged hundreds of thousands of young people who gathered in a sprawling Polish meadow to reject being a "couch potato" who retreats into video games and computer screens and instead engage in social activism and politics to create a more just world. Peppering his speech with contemporary lingo, the 79-year-old pope, despite a long day of public appearances, addressed his eager audience with enthusiasm Saturday on a warm summer night. Francis spoke of a paralysis that comes from merely seeking convenience, from confusing happiness with a complacent way of life that could end up depriving people of the ability to determine their own fates.
Syrian civilians begin leaving rebel-held parts of Aleppo BEIRUT (AP) - Dozens of families and some opposition fighters started leaving besieged rebel-held neighborhoods in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday after the government opened safe corridors for civilians and fighters who want to leave, state media reported. The government completely closed the main road into rebel-held areas of Aleppo on July 17, effectively besieging the 300,000 people living there. Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar Assad offered an amnesty to rebels who lay down their arms and surrender to authorities in the next three months. Opposition activists denied reports that Aleppo residents were leaving rebel-held neighborhoods of the city, saying that state media was attempting to falsely suggest that civilians were fleeing the area in large numbers.
John Hinckley's return to normalcy has been years in making WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - Life for the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago has progressively become more normal, with greater freedom outside a psychiatric hospital, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than the record store where he whiles away so many hours. John Hinckley Jr., now 61, has made purchases at Retro Daddio one might expect from a man of his generation: A book about The Who, the graying rock band currently on a farewell tour, and an album by obscure '60s rockers Ian and the Zodiacs that languished on the shelf for six months.
Former KKK member convicted in deadly bombing up for parole BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. was a young Ku Klux Klansman with a reputation for hating blacks in 1963, when a bomb ripped a hole in the side of 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four black girls during the civil rights movement. Today, Blanton is old and imprisoned, the last survivor among three one-time KKK members convicted of murder in the bombing. Soon, Alabama's parole board will decide whether Blanton deserves to be free after serving 15 years of a life term for murder. The board has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to consider parole for the 78-year-old Blanton.
3 dead, 1 hurt in shooting near Seattle; suspect in custody SEATTLE (AP) - A gunman attacked a gathering of young adults at a suburban Seattle home early Saturday, killing two people at a fire pit before firing more shots from the roof, the grandmother of one of the witnesses said. A total of three people were killed and another injured at the Mukilteo property. State troopers pulled over and arrested the fleeing 19-year-old suspect on an interstate more than 100 miles away, authorities said. "She was hiding in the closet and called me from the closet while it was going on," Susan Gemmer said of her 18-year-old granddaughter, Alexis. "We were texting back and forth, telling her to stay quiet, stay calm, we're on our way.
Skydiver makes final preparations to jump without parachute LOS ANGELES (AP) - Skydiver Luke Aikins figures his next leap into thin air will start pretty much like the thousands that preceded it, only with one small but significant difference: This time when he steps out of the plane at 25,000 feet he won't take his parachute with him. If all goes according to plan, he will land two minutes later in a trawler-like fishing net 20 stories above the ground and only about a third the size of a football field. If he can pull it off, he will put his name in the history books as the only skydiver to go from plane to planet Earth without a parachute.