Two teens killed, many injured in Florida nightclub shooting

FORT MYERS, Fla. Two teenagers were killed and as many as 18 other people were wounded early on Monday in a shooting outside a party at a Florida nightclub that police in Fort Myers said was not an act of terror.The latest burst of gun violence to wrack the state this summer occurred around 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT) in the parking lot of Club Blu, which was hosting an event open to teenagers, the Fort Myers Police Department said in a statement. Police said Stef’An Strawder, an 18-year-old basketball star at a local high school, and Sean Archilles, 14, were killed. Two other people have potentially life-threatening injuries, local hospital officials said.Although police said they did not know the motive for the shooting, they confirmed in a statement that "this incident is not an act of terror." Police said three people had been detained for questioning early on Monday, and the area around the club was deemed safe. Area hospitals received 19 patients, ranging from 12 to 27 years old, from the nightclub shooting, said Lisa Sgarlata, chief administrative officer for Lee Memorial Hospital. An additional victim was pronounced dead at the scene.Four patients remain hospitalized at Lee Memorial. Two have potentially life-threatening injuries and were in intensive care, Dr. Drew Mikulaschek said at a news conference. The shooting came six weeks after a massacre at a nightclub in the Florida city of Orlando, where a lone gunman who sympathized with Islamist extremist groups killed 49 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.Club Blu, located in a partially vacant strip mall about 150 miles southwest of Orlando in the Gulf Coast city of Fort Myers, was hosting a "swimsuit glow party" for people all ages, according to a flyer posted on Twitter by local television station WINK.The nightclub said on its Facebook page that the shooting occurred when the venue was closing and parents were picking up their children. "We tried to give the teens what we thought was a safe place to have a good time," the nightclub said, adding that armed security guards were posted inside and outside the club. "It was not kids at the party that did this despicable act." Jean Archilles, the father of the 14-year-old killed, said his son loved sports, especially basketball. “I don’t know where he was shot,” the 37-year-old father, who is originally from Haiti, said in a telephone interview. "I don’t know. Nothing I can explain." He said his son was the baby of his family, with three older brothers, and was born in Fort Myers. Sean Archilles was due to enter eighth grade at Royal Palm Exceptional Center, while Strawder was to start his senior year at Lehigh Senior High School, according to the Lee County School District. Strawder's mother, Stephanie White, told the News-Press newspaper that her son was shot in his right shoulder as he walked out of the club and was pronounced dead at the hospital. His 19-year-old sister survived a gunshot wound in the leg, White said.Police said shots were also fired at a nearby residence, where there was one minor injury.In a video interview with local media, Syreeta Gary said her daughter and a friend ran for cover from the gunshots, seeking safety at a nearby apartment complex. “Dodging bullets and running, dropping between cars, it’s ridiculous that these kids have to go through this," Gary said in an interview posted on Twitter by a reporter for Fort Myers Fox affiliate WFTX. "They can’t enjoy themselves.” Her daughter got out unscathed, but a bullet struck a friend in the leg, Gary said. (Reporting Frank McGurty and Laila Kearney in New York, Mary Milliken in Los Angeles and Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Writing by Frank McGurty and Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Catherine Evans and Lisa Von Ahn)

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Zika mystery widens as Utah caregiver contracts virus

CHICAGO U.S. health officials are investigating the mysterious case of a person in Utah who contracted Zika while caring for an elderly man infected with the virus who died last month.Federal and state health officials said on Monday it is not clear how the individual contracted Zika, a virus that is most typically transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito and occasionally through sex with an infected person.The person had not traveled to an area with active Zika transmission nor had sex with a person who had recently returned from such a place. Health officials say they are not aware of any mosquitoes in Utah that are capable of transmitting the virus.“The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” said Dr. Erin Staples, CDC's medical epidemiologist who is in Utah leading an investigation into how the infection occurred.“Fortunately, the patient recovered quickly, and from what we have seen with more than 1,300 travel-associated cases of Zika in the continental United States and Hawaii, non-sexual spread from one person to another does not appear to be common.”Experts outside the CDC say the most likely possibility is that the person came into contact with blood or urine or other bodily fluids while caring for the infected person."We are still doing a lot of investigation to understand whether Zika can be spread person-to-person through contact with a sick person," said Dr. Satish Pillai of the CDC, who is investigating the case. Gary Edwards, director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said the infected individual is a family contact of the man who died.The cause of the deceased person's death is still under investigation, but the man was infected with Zika at the time of death and officials believe the virus was a contributing factor. He contracted Zika on a trip to a country with active transmission."We know that the patient had contact with the deceased patient while the deceased patient was very ill. The exact nature of that contact, we are still investigating," Edwards said.CDC tests showed extremely high levels of virus in the deceased man's blood, which were more than 100,000 times higher than seen in other samples of infected people. "This is a very unique situation with these elevated viral loads that we haven't previously seen," Pillai told reporters in a telephone briefing.Dr. Michael Bell, a CDC medical epidemiologist, said it was not clear whether the man's underlying condition had diminished his immune system, allowing the virus to replicate unchecked, or if the virus simply overpowered his immune system.Bell said CDC is taking the high viral load issue very seriously, but said it is "too early to make a clear statement about what we think could have happened."Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said it will be important to know whether the family contact of the deceased man had any skin lacerations or skin disease that might have allowed the virus access to the patient's blood. "We know bodily fluids like saliva and urine can harbor the virus, he said.Health officials are also investigating whether mosquitoes might have played a role. Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Department of Health, said state officials are not aware of any mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus within Utah. He said there were a few Aedes aegypti mosquitoes - the kind that carry Zika - discovered in traps in the southwestern parts of the state several years ago, but there have not been any since.Utah does not have any Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the other type that has been found capable of transmitting Zika. Health officials are doing mosquito trapping and testing near the deceased patient's home "to make sure this is not a potential route of transmission," Hudachko said.As of July 13, 2016, 1,306 cases of Zika have been reported in the continental United States and Hawaii; none of these have been the result of local spread by mosquitoes. Of these, 14 are believed to be the result of sexual transmission and one was the result of laboratory exposure. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bernard Orr and Cynthia Osterman)

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Austrian biotech plans Zika vaccine clinical trials in 12 months

An Austrian biotech company working with the Institut Pasteur said on Tuesday it planned to start clinical trials with an experimental Zika vaccine in the next 12 months, marking a further acceleration of research in the field.Themis Bioscience has signed a license deal with the French research institute giving it extensive rights to the Zika vaccine candidate, which is based on established measles vaccine technology.More than a dozen small biotech firms and other organizations are working on vaccines against mosquito-borne Zika, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological disorders, although most work is at a very early stage.Erich Tauber, chief executive of Themis, believes his company's project will benefit from the proven track record behind the technology used to immunize against measles. French drugmaker Sanofi, the only big drugmaker working on a Zika shot, last week struck a deal with the U.S. Army to speed up the development of another vaccine, which should be ready for testing on humans in October. Global health officials are racing to better understand the Zika virus, which has caused a major outbreak that began in Brazil last year and has spread to many countries in the Americas.The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly, or small heads in babies, as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens)

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Red, white and extra blue as tight security marks U.S. July 4th celebrations

NEW YORK The United States celebrated the July Fourth holiday on Monday with parades, baking contests and picnics draped in red, white and an extra layer of blue, as police ramped up patrols because of concerns about terrorism and gun violence.Millions of Americans marked independence from Britain with celebrations as boisterous as a music-packed party by country music legend Willie Nelson for 10,000 people at a race track in Austin, Texas, and as staid as colonial-era costumed actors reading the Declaration of Independence at the U.S. National Archives in Washington. [nL8N19M5Q0]"It's a good day for reflecting on the positive things about America - the sense of freedom that you can go after and achieve whatever you want," said Helen Donaldson, 48, the mother of a multi-ethnic family of four adopted teens living in Maplewood, New Jersey.Donaldson, a white Australian immigrant, cheered with her two New Jersey-born African-American daughters, both 12 and dressed in red, white and blue, as a recording of the Star Spangled Banner played to kick off a children's relay race. Nearby, in the baking contest tent, 13-year-old Nate Fisher entered his cherry blueberry tart into competition."I have high hopes," he said, flashing a smile.History was made in the traditional hotdog-eating contest at New York's Coney Island when long-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut took back the Mustard Yellow International Belt from last year's upstart winner Matt Stonie. Chestnut set an unofficial new world record by downing 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes - topping his previous record of 69 franks. In the women's division, Miki Sudo successfully defended her title by eating 38 hotdogs in 10 minutes.With the holiday taking place days after attacks in Baghdad, Dhaka and Istanbul, the New York Police Department deployed eight new "vapor wake" dogs, trained to sniff out explosives on a moving target in a crowd. [nL1N19N1X6] The department's presence this holiday was boosted by nearly 2,000 new officers just days after they graduated on Friday from the New York City Police Academy."You're going to see a lot of people in heavy vests, helmets and long guns and they can respond at a moment's notice to any incident," NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill told a news conference. "There's also a lot you won't see." CHICAGO BRACED FOR VIOLENCEPolice in Chicago, which has seen a spike in gun murders this year, announced a stepped-up presence with more than 5,000 officers on patrol over the long weekend, traditionally one of the year's most violent, said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.The Chicago Tribune said at least three people had been killed and 34 wounded over the holiday weekend by Monday evening. Dry weather forecasts across the country thrilled fireworks lovers, although some spots in Michigan have been so rain-starved that pyrotechnic shows were canceled in a handful of communities near Detroit because of the risk of fires. A 19-year-old tourist in New York's Central Park suffered a severe foot wound on Sunday after an apparent homemade firework exploded when he jumped off a rock and stepped on the device, authorities said. [nL1N19P0CH]In Compton, California, a 9-year-old girl's hand had to be amputated when she was injured after unwittingly picking up a lit firework, media said. In New York, more than a million people packed balconies, rooftops and the East River's banks for the 40th annual Macy's Fireworks display, which the department store said showcased more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells and effects.The musical accompaniment featured the United States Air Force Band playing patriotic numbers including "This Land is Your Land" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," and Grammy-winning vocalist Jennifer Holliday will sing "America the Beautiful." (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Daniel Wallis in New York, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Adam DeRose in Washington, and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bill Rigby and Phil Berlowitz)

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South Korea antitrust regulator says investigating Apple on 'some matters'

SEOUL South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating "some matters" relating to tech giant Apple Inc, the head of the anticompetition body said during a parliamentary hearing, without disclosing further details. Speaking at the hearing on Tuesday, FTC Chairman Jeong Jae-chan declined to comment on the specifics of the regulator's investigation when asked to do so by a South Korean lawmaker. Domestic media reports said earlier this month the FTC was reviewing details of the U.S. firm's contracts with South Korean mobile telecoms carriers. Apple didn't immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. (Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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