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Villager Arrested in Fatal Snowmobile Attack in Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

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Defending Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Dallas Seavey (16) waves to the crowd as she begins the ceremonial start of the 1,000-mile race in Anchorage, Alaska, Saturday, March 5, 2016.

Two of the top competitors in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race were run down by a snowmobile on a remote section of the Yukon River early Saturday in what Alaska authorities are calling a deliberate attack.

The incident left one dog dead and several more injured, at least one seriously. The mushers themselves were shaken but escaped injury.

A man from the village of Nulato, near the scene of the attacks, was arrested shortly before noon Saturday, Alaska State Troopers said.

Arnold Demoski, 26, was charged with assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and criminal mischief.

Four-time Iditarod champ Jeff King, who was running one of the teams involved, said the snowmobile authorities believe Demoski was driving went through his team at high speed outside Nulato.

“He went by at 80, 90 mph, never slowed down. His snow machine cowling flew off, and he was gone,” King told KNOM public radio. “It really felt like reckless bravado and playing chicken.”

The 59-year-old musher, a veteran of 25 races and still a contender despite his age, said he tried to save his most seriously injured dog, a 3-year-old Alaskan Husky named Nash, but couldn’t.

“Several of my dogs were hit. One was killed; one’s leg was broken, appears broken; and one is in serious condition with shock and impact,” King said.

From trooper accounts, it appears the snowmobile first struck the team of Aliy Zirkle, a two-time Iditarod runner-up from Fairbanks, in the dark of night Friday, then sped down the Iditarod trail along the frozen Yukon River and slammed into King’s team.

Zirkle told a race official in Nulato that she thought someone was trying to kill her.

Unlike the encounter with King, which involved only one run through his dog team, troopers reported that the snowmobile first hit Zirkle’s dog sled on the side about five miles below the village of Koyukuk. It then turned around and made several more passes at her sled before driving away.

As Zirkle continued along the trail from Koyukuk toward Nulato, troopers reported, the snow machine came back, “revved up” and pointed at her before leaving the area. It then apparently returned to Nulato.

At the time of the attack, Zirkle was running third in the race on the trail out of Galena with King just behind. She remains in the race and left Nulato still in third-place. King stopped in the village and had fallen to eighth with other teams leaving in front of him. He planned to continue down the trail after seeing to it that his injured dogs were being properly tended.

All Iditarod checkpoints are manned by volunteer veterinarians who were treating the injured animals.

Nulato is a predominately Athabaskan Native community of about 350 people. As with many village communities in the 49th state, it struggles with unemployment and alcohol and drug abuse.

Demoski told Alaska Dispatch News that he was blacked out from drinking at the time of the incident, but insisted it was not a deliberate attack.

“I don’t care if people know if I was drinking and driving,” he said. “I’m really glad [Zirkle] and [King] are OK, and I really feel sorry for Nash.”

He said he hadn’t realized what had happened until Saturday morning, when he awoke, heard about what had happened, and saw his snowmobile damaged.

“I knew it was me right off the bat. I called the [village public safety officer] right off, told him it was me. I told him I’d do whatever they wanted me to do…I feel really bad for what I did.”

Eight years ago, a dog in the Iditarod team of Minnesota musher Blake Freking was killed when hit by a snowmobile on the trail between Koyukuk and Nulato, but that incident was said to be an accident.

There have been other Iditarod dogs injured and killed in collisions with snow machines, but all were accidents. Troopers say an intentional attack would be unprecedented.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.

The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.

In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.

“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”

“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”

Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.

Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.

Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

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McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.

McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.

A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.

Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.

Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.

The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.

Trump and Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.

Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.

Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.

Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.

The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.

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