• U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore, 3rd MAW Combat Camera/Released(TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.) -- An F/A-18C Hornet fighter jet crashed near Twentynine Palms, California, Thursday night, killing the pilot on board.According to the Marine Corps, the pilot was conducting a training mission out of Air Station Miramar, just north of San Diego. The crash occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time.The Marine Corps said in a statement that the cause of the crash is currently under investigation. The pilot's name has not been released.
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  • California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/California State Prison/Los Angeles County(LOS ANGELES) -- A group of inmates at a California state prison are providing shelter, care and love for dozens of deaf dogs that were recently forced to evacuate a nearby shelter threatened by a wildfire.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A new report alleges that the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $20 million between 2004 and 2014 on costly artwork.The expenditures included more than $1 million for a courtyard with a large sculpture at a Palo Alto veterans facility; $330,000 for a glass-art installation; and $21,000 for an artificial Christmas tree, according to the report.Open The Books, a nonprofit that claims to be the world’s largest private database of government spending, in conjunction with Cox Media used government data to examine the Veterans Affairs Department's (VA) spending on art for their facilities in the decade ending in 2014.Much of the spending occurred at a time when veterans were experiencing lengthy waits for treatment at VA facilities. After as many as 40 veterans died while seeking care at the VA's Phoenix Healthcare System, the federal agency's inspector general found in 2014 that lengthy waits for treatment might have contributed to the deaths but did not definitively cause them.The Veterans Affairs agency admitted publicly around this time that its health care operations were overwhelmed and understaffed.Now this new report is sparking fresh anger from both veterans and lawmakers.Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, wrote Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald on July 26, demanding a “moratorium on art spending by the VA.” In his letter, Kirk mentioned that a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing last fall highlighted what he said were excessive expenditures, $6.3 million, by the VA on artwork at the Palo Alto Healthcare System.A spokesperson for the Palo Alto facility told ABC News that it had more than $4 million in art contracts in 2013 and 2014, including for an installation on the side of a parking garage. The installation, meant to honor blind veterans, featured quotes by Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt in Morse code that light up. The irony, critics point out, is that a blind veteran would be unlikely to see the massive artwork that cost $280,000.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A wildfire on California's northern coast is gaining ground one week after it started, threatening an expanding number of homes and businesses. The blaze has destroyed 41 homes, seven of them in the last day, as it approaches 30,000 acres in size, with only 15 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.About 2,000 structures surrounding the wildfire are in danger, according to authorities, and the fire has also damaged power lines and interrupted electrical service. Several hundred people in nearby communities have left the area under mandatory evacuation orders.
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  • PR Newswire/Mondelez International(SIMI VALLEY, Calif.) — Luke Aikins has safely landed 18,000 parachute jumps so far in his 26-year career, but the elite daredevil is seriously upping ante in his latest stunt.The 42-year-old aerial expert and third-generation skydiver will jump out of an airplane at 25,000 feet over Simi Valley, California Saturday evening with nothing but the clothes on his back.Aikins will free-fall without a parachute for two minutes in an attempt to become the first skydiver to land safely in a net.During the 126-second fall, twice the height as a normal dive, Aikins will rely solely on his body and wind currents to land on a 100-by-100 foot net suspended 20 stories above the California desert.Aikins says he is aiming for a specific spot "right in the middle" of the target, an area one-third the size of a football field.The net will be suspended some 200 feet above the ground, providing enough stretch to soften his landing without leaving room for the daredevil to bounce out.Aikins completed his first tandem jump at 12-years-old and over the last 30 years has helped train some of the world's most elite skydivers. He also worked as a stuntman for Marvel's Ironman 3 film.In the last six months, Aikins has made over 200 practice jumps as part of a meticulous planning and preparation routine that he says will allow him to pull off the daring jump safely.Aikins said he has a special motivation to make it to the ground in one piece."I mean, I got a wife and a son," he said, adding that his family will be waiting on the ground for him in Simi Valley Saturday. "I plan on being here for a long time, being a pain in his neck."All of Aikins' practice adds up to the big moment Saturday night on live television. The event dubbed 'Heaven Sent' will broadcast on Fox at 8:00 p.m. EDT.Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ASPEN, Colo.) — The nation's top intelligence official called the hacking of the Democratic National Committee to potentially influence the upcoming U.S. election "a serious proposition," but he urged an end to "the hyperventilation over this.""Was this to just stir up trouble or was this ultimately to try to influence an election? Of course, that’s a serious -- a serious -- proposition," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, Thursday.Not only did the hack apparently allow the cyber operatives to steal opposition research on Republican nominee Donald Trump, but many suspect it led to the theft of internal messages that show efforts by DNC officials to undermine Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders during the primary season. Those damaging emails have since been released by WikiLeaks, agitating Sanders supporters at the start of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia."We don't know enough [yet] to ... ascribe a motivation, regardless of who it may have been," Clapper said.Clapper said the U.S. government is not "quite ready yet" to "make a public call" on who was behind the cyber assault, but he suggested one of "the usual suspects" is likely to blame. According to government sources, Russia is the most likely culprit.Asked whether Russia might have intentions to undermine the U.S. political process, Clapper said Russian President Vladimir Putin is "paranoid" about the potential for revolutions in Russia, "and of course they see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush, and ascribe far more impact than we’re actually guilty of.""They believe we’re trying to influence political developments in Russia, we’re trying to affect change, and so their natural response is to retaliate and do unto us as they think we've done to them," he added.In fact, according to Clapper, cyber warfare is not "terribly different than what went on during the heyday of the Cold War," just with different tools and "a different modality." And, he said, the U.S. intelligence community is now "at war" with Russia, conducting operations every hour of every day against Russia and other adversaries.Nevertheless, Clapper said he's "taken aback a bit by ... the hyperventilation over" the hack of the DNC, adding in a sarcastic tone, "I'm shocked somebody did some hacking. That’s never happened before."The American people "just need to accept" that cyber threats and computer-based attacks are a major long-term challenge facing the United States, and he said Americans should "not be quite so excitable when we have yet another instance of it."Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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