April 19, 2018
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Violent storms lash Great Smokies, killing four

By From wire service reports

TOWNSEND, Tenn. — Crews spent Friday clearing trees and reaching stranded visitors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, a day after violent thunderstorms swept through the popular tourist spot, killing at least two people and injuring several others.

The storms hit Thursday evening at the west end of the 500,000-acre, densely forested reserve on the Tennessee-North Carolina line. The storms then moved down the mountains to the Tennessee River Valley.

At Abrams Creek Campground, a tree fell into a swimming hole, killing 41-year-old Rachael Burkhart, of Corryton, Tenn., park officials said.

The same tree struck a family, including a 7-year-old girl, who was unconscious when pulled from the water, but revived after her mother performed CPR. The father suffered vertebrae fractures, multiple broken ribs and a collapsed lung and the mother was injured less seriously.

The girl and her father were airlifted to a Knoxville hospital. Their conditions were not available Friday.

Also killed in the park was Ralph Frazier, 50, of Buford, Ga., who was riding a motorcycle when a falling limb struck him in the head, park officials said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Eisentrout in Morristown said Friday that the severe heat that has gripped the region set up the intensity of the storms that struck Thursday.

The same storm system killed a child and her grandmother in Chattanooga when high winds overturned a 30-foot double-decker pontoon boat they were on in Chickamauga Lake.

George Zimmerman released from jail after posting $1 million bond

SANFORD, Fla. – Murder defendant George Zimmerman walked out of the Seminole County Jail on Friday with the help of donations to his legal defense fund.

Zimmerman posted the $1 million bond thanks in part to $20,000 in donations raised since Thursday when Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. set the bond amount.

That came on top of Thursday’s defense-fund balance of $211,000, more than enough to cover the 10 percent nonrefundable portion charged by most bonding companies.

The 28-year-old is charged with killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, Feb. 26 on a Sanford sidewalk.

World nuclear power output falls sharply after Fukushima disaster

LONDON — World nuclear power production dropped by a record 4.3 percent last year as the global financial crisis and the Fukushima disaster in Japan prompted plant shutdowns and slowed construction of new sites.

Reactors generated 2,518 terawatt-hours of electricity, down from 2,630 terawatt-hours in 2010, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012 published Friday. Atomic power accounted for 11 percent of all electricity generation.

The meltdown of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March last year drove countries including Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan to announce their withdrawal from nuclear power. Global output was further restricted as nations put new- build plans on hold amid safety concern and economic stagnation, forcing utilities to study extending the lives of current sites.

“The situation is much worse for the industry than after Chernobyl,” said Mycle Schneider, co-author of the report, referring to the 1986 accident in Ukraine. “New projects have a very dull future, but it will put enormous pressure on extending lifetimes and that raises obvious safety issues.”

Seven reactors began operating in 2011 and 19 were shuttered, the report shows. France, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States — six of the 31 countries that produce atomic power — generated more than 70 percent of the total.

At least five nations, including Egypt, Italy and Kuwait, have suspended plans to build their first reactors, according to the report. In Britain, RWE, EON and SSE have all abandoned new-build proposals in the past 12 months, while companies in Japan and Bulgaria have suspended construction.

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