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WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

by Eyder Peralta
Jul 30, 2014

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The video is harrowing. It shows two women narrowly escaping death after a train is unable to come to a stop before running them over.

The Indiana Rail Road, which released the video to show the dangers of tresspassing on rail roads, describes the scene like this:

"The person who first saw the trespassers was the engineer in the lead locomotive of a northbound, 14,000-ton Indiana Rail Road (INRD) freight train traveling at 30 mph. Imagine, if you will, rounding a curve just before a 500-foot-long, 80-foot-high bridge, only to find two subjects sitting in your train's path.

"The engineer followed all appropriate protocols, immediately applying an emergency brake application and repeatedly sounded the horn. However, as the subjects ran toward the opposite end of the viaduct, the engineer was helpless to do more. The ever-slowing train was still catching up to the fleeing trespassers.

"Nearly every locomotive in North America - including INRD's - is equipped with video cameras for safety and security purposes. Video shows that with more than 100 feet left to the end of the bridge, and the train still catching them, one woman slammed her body onto the ties between the rails. The other veered to the left and nearly fell off the bridge, and then with the locomotive approximately 30 feet away, she too 'hit the deck' between the rails.

"By the time the train came to a stop, the locomotives were off the bridge; they completely passed the point where the subjects stopped running. The engineer assumed he had just killed two people; Monroe County Sheriff's Department was quickly alerted. Miraculously, however, the two subjects survived, and escaped to a nearby vehicle and fled the scene."

Via WTHR-TV, here is the video:

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Book News: PEN Award Winners Include Poet Frank Bidart, Ron Childress

by Annalisa Quinn
Jul 30, 2014

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The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The winners of the 2014 PEN Literary Awards - more than a dozen prizes honoring writers of various genres — were announced on Wednesday morning, and include Frank Bidart ("a poet of roiling intensity, a poet singularly unafraid of excess") and James Wolcott (a critic of "panoramic and encyclopedic variety"). Other winners include Ron Childress' And West Is West, which won the $25,000 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and Linda Leavell's Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore, which won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. The winner of the biggest prize, the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, will be announced at the awards ceremony in September; the finalists are Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Ian Stansel's Everybody's Irish, Shawn Vestal's Godforsaken Idaho, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh's Brief Encounters With the Enemy and Hanya Yanagihara's The People in the Trees.
  • Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura was awarded almost $2 million in a defamation suit against the estate of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who wrote the 2012 book American Sniper and who died last year. NPR's Alan Greenblatt reports: "Kyle wrote that in 2006 he had decked Ventura in a bar in California, after Ventura said that he hated America and that Navy SEALs 'deserve to lose a few.' Ventura denied having said any such thing and said the account had hurt his career, as well as his standing among the community of SEALs. Kyle died last year, but Ventura sued his estate."
  • Amazon said Tuesday that one of its key goals in its ongoing dispute with publisher Hachette Book Group is lower e-book prices. For months, Amazon has delayed shipments and removed pre-order buttons for some Hachette titles as a negotiating tactic. In a post, the online retailer wrote that it hopes to persuade the publisher to price most e-books to $9.99 (many are currently priced at $12.99 or $14.99) and that it would be willing to continue receiving 30 percent of digital book revenue. Amazon wrote: "With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books." Amazon said that according to its research, cheaper e-books would sell more copies and ultimately raise revenue. The company added that it also hopes Hachette will share a bigger portion of digital book revenue with authors, "but ultimately that is not our call." Hachette did not respond to request for comment.
  • Sen. Rand Paul will come out with a book in 2015, he told Louisville's Courier-Journal newspaper. The Kentucky Republican said that much of the book "is about policy and about my approach to a variety of issues, and maybe the uniqueness of that approach." He also said that the timing — right before the presidential election — was "just coincidence, probably just coincidence, yeah."
  • Tiphanie Yanique talks about her novel Land of Love and Drowning, Caribbean literature and the legacy of Jean Rhys in an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books: "There's a long, unfortunate tradition in literature set in the Caribbean, written by Americans or Europeans, of crazy women. Either women from the Caribbean are crazy, or women go to the Caribbean and end up crazy."
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Top Stories: UN School In Gaza Hit By Mortar Fire; U.S. GDP Jumps

Jul 30, 2014

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Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Gaza Conflict: Shell Strikes UN School, Killing Up To 19 Who Sought Shelter.

— U.S. Economy Rebounds In Spring With GDP Expanding At 4 Percent Rate.

— Water Main Break Dumps Up To 10 Million Gallons, Flooding UCLA.

And here are more early headlines:

Obama In Missouri To Speak On U.S. Economy. (Kansas City Star)

U.S., E.U. Add New Economic Sanctions On Russia. (BBC)

Small Cars Don't Fare As Well In Crash Tests. (USA Today)

CDC Says Weather Kills 2,000 A Year In U.S., Mostly From Cold. (AP)

Hall Of Famer Vin Scully To Cover Dodgers Games For 66th Year. (MLB)

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U.S. Economy Rebounds In Spring With GDP Expanding At 4 Percent Rate

by Eyder Peralta
Jul 30, 2014

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The Commerce Department had some good news about the U.S. economy today: Rebounding from a quarter of negative growth, Commerce said the country's gross domestic product expanded at a 4 percent annual rate during the second quarter.

"The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment," Commerce said in a statement.

As The Wall Street Journal sees it, the positive news is fueling hopes "for sustained growth in the second half of 2014." The paper adds:

"The solid gains come on the heels of a first quarter when the economy shrank at a 2.1% pace. While still the worst quarter of the current recovery, the figure reflects an upward revision from a previously estimated 2.9% contraction. The economy only grew at about a 1% pace for the first half of 2014.

"Annual revisions, also released Wednesday, showed the economy also expanded at a 4% pace in the second half of 2013, the best six-month stretch in 10 years.

"But figures over the past five years, including new revisions back to 2011, continue to tell a familiar tale. Unable to string together several quarters of steady growth, the recovery that began in 2009 is the weakest since World War II."

Bloomberg reports that the newly released data drove equity futures higher and treasuries lower.

Later today, the Federal Reserve will release a statement with their appraisal of the U.S. economy.

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A Palestinian girl cries while receiving treatment for her injuries caused by an Israeli strike at a U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya on Wednesday. (AP)

Gaza Conflict: Shell Strikes U.N. School, Killing Up To 19 Who Sought Shelter

by Eyder Peralta
Jul 30, 2014

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The U.N. breakdown of Palestinian deaths.

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As many as 19 people were killed when a shell struck a school run by the United Nations in Gaza, this morning.

In a message on Twitter, Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, which is responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, blamed the attack on the Israeli military.

"Children, women and men killed & injured as they slept in place where they should have been safe and protected," Krähenbühl said, referring to the fact that the school was being used as a shelter. "They were not. Intolerable."

According to Krähenbühl, this is the sixth time shells have hit a UNRWA school. He called this incident "a breaking point."

NPR's Emily Harris reports that this is the second time a U.N. school has been hit and people have been killed.

With that, here's what you need to know as the conflict enters its 23rd day.

— Israeli Response:

A spokesman for the Israeli Army tells the Washington Post that Israeli forces "came under mortar fire earlier Wednesday from a point near the school in the Jebaliya refugee camp and responded toward the source of the fire."

They will review the incident.

— The Death Toll:

NPR's Emily Harris reports the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 1,200. The death toll in Israel is 56, which includes three civilians.

Here's the United Nations' breakdown of those numbers, but note the graphic has not caught up with the current tolls:

— The Peace Process:

The conflict does not seem to be ending any time soon.

As Emily explained on Morning Edition, it's hard to tell what both sides are thinking but what's clear is that "neither side seems to be in a position to get what they want to end this fighting."

Remember: Israel is seeking a complete demilitarization of Gaza, which Hamas is unlikely to accept and Hamas is seeking an end to the blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, which Israel is unlikely to accept.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports Israel is considering submitting a resolution to the U.N. Security Council that would end the fighting. A resolution of that kind ended the 1996 Lebanon war.

Emily reports one Israeli official said Israel would only pursue this route if the U.S. agreed.

— A Temporary Cease-Fire:

The AP reports:

"The Israeli military says it's declared a four-hour cease-fire in some areas of the Gaza Strip for humanitarian reasons."

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