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Scandal-hit New Mexico St. names Hooten coach


New Mexico State‘s basketball program ended its coaching search Friday, officially announcing the hire of Sam Houston State’s Jason Hooten.

The Aggies zeroed in on Hooten earlier in the week, sources said, and were able to close the deal despite Sam Houston’s attempts to keep him from its intraconference rival.

“I believe Coach Hooten is a tremendous fit for New Mexico State,” athletic director Mario Moccia said. “Throughout his coaching career, he has demonstrated an ability to build hard-nosed, defensive-minded teams. Importantly, his programs are always modeled on character and integrity.”

Hooten joins the Aggies after 13 seasons at Sam Houston State, where he racked up six 20-win seasons and at least 18 wins in each of the last 10 seasons. He guided the Bearkats to the Southland regular-season championship in 2019 and also landed the top seed in this season’s WAC tournament.

Prior to becoming Sam Houston’s head coach, Hooten was an assistant coach with the Bearkats for six seasons.

With Hooten’s hire, New Mexico State is hoping to turn the page from an ugly season that left a cloud over the Aggies’ program. They canceled their season in February after hazing accusations against three players. A police report cited three players for false imprisonment, harassment and counts of criminal sexual contact against a teammate.

Three months earlier, a New Mexico State player, Mike Peake, shot and killed a New Mexico student in what police have called self-defense. Multiple investigations have been launched to determine whether coaches and staff members cooperated with police and were forthcoming with evidence following the shooting.

Hooten replaces Greg Heiar, who was fired shortly after the season’s cancellation in February.

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Biden says federal deposit insurance could be tapped further if banks fail


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, March 13, 2023.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said on Friday that federal deposit insurance could be tapped for deposits above $250,000 if other U.S. banks fail, expressing confidence that mid-sized U.S. banks would survive strains in the sector.

Biden said U.S. banks are in “pretty” good shape, people’s savings were secure and he did not see an industry ready to explode.

“If we find that there’s more instability than appears, we’d be in a position to have the FDIC use the power it has to guarantee those (deposits) above $250,000 like they did already,” he told reporters at a news conference in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

Regional lenders in the United States are facing a crisis of confidence after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank this month. The turmoil has prompted unprecedented moves by regulators to guarantee the deposits of SVB and Signature.

In recent days, Biden, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other banking regulators have issued statements to reassure the public that the U.S. banking system is safe.

Still, investors have dumped banking stocks globally over the past two weeks, with rapid interest rate increases to rein in inflation blamed by some as the root cause of the debacle.

After a volatile week, the S&P Bank index ended modestly lower, while the KBW Regional Bank index rose 2.9%.

Swiss-government brokered rescue deal for Credit Suisse has further spooked investors.

Biden said it would take some time for the situation to calm down but he said what happened with Credit Suisse in Europe was of no consequence for U.S. banks.

“I don’t see anything that’s on the horizon that’s about to explode. But I do understand there’s an unease about this,” he said.

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Torture, forced abortions and insects for food: Life inside North Korean jails, says this NGO | CNN


Seoul, South Korea

Extrajudicial executions, rape, forced abortions, jail without trial, torture, starvation rations that leave prisoners so hungry some turn to eating insects.

These are just some of the abuses commonplace in North Korean prisons and other detention facilities, according to former detainees whose testimony forms the basis of a new report released by a human rights watchdog this week.

Using interviews with hundreds of survivors, witnesses and perpetrators of abuse who have fled the country, along with official documents, satellite images, architectural analysis and digital modeling of penal facilities, the non-profit NGO Korea Future has built up what it says is the most detailed picture yet of life inside the secretive country’s penal system.

“The purpose of our report is basically to reveal the human rights violations that have taken place within North Korea’s penal systems. (It) finds that even 10 years after the UN established a Commission of Inquiry there still is systematic and widespread human rights violations,” said Kim Jiwon, an investigator with Korea Future, which has offices in London, Seoul and The Hague and focuses on human rights issues in North Korea.

Alongside constructing 3D models of some of the detention sites, the group has documented what it believes are more than 1,000 instances of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, hundreds of instances of rape and other forms of sexual violence and more than 100 cases of denial of the right to life.

“Comparable to the Soviet Gulag, (North Korea’s) penal system is not to detain and rehabilitate persons sentenced by courts in safe and humane facilities. Nor is its purpose to decrease recidivism and increase public safety,” the report says.

“It is to isolate persons from society whose behaviour conflicts with upholding the singular authority of the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un.”

The report states it has identified hundreds of active participants it alleges have participated in the violence and is calling for investigations and prosecutions for the abuses. Korea Future used witness testimony and satellite imagery to map 206 detention facilities, across every North Korean province, alleging that abuses are personally carried out by officials as high-ranking as major generals.

A 3D model of one of the detention centers, recreated by CNN with information from Korea Future.

The report makes for grim reading. Among the cases it highlights are those of three people jailed after trying to cross the border – a punishable crime in this country. The group alleges one was forced to have an abortion when seven or eight months pregnant; another was fed as little as 80 grams (less than 3 ounces) of corn a day, a starvation diet that saw his weight drop from 60 kilograms (132 pounds) to 37 kilograms (82 pounds) within a month and forced him to supplement his diet with cockroaches and rodents; a third was forced to hold stress positions for up to 17 hours a day for 30 days. Other survivors, who spoke to CNN, recounted surviving on animal feed and becoming skeletally thin, witnessing rapes and being subject to severe beatings.

Korea Future is hoping other countries will consider pursuing domestic court cases against North Korean agents and that some of its findings can be used as evidence. And, it hopes western countries will apply targeted sanctions against some of the accused in the report.

Due to North Korea’s self-imposed isolation, which has become even stricter since the country closed its borders in 2020 in response to Covid-19, CNN cannot independently verify the accounts.

However, the conditions outlined in the report are in line with the findings of recent investigations by the United Nations, including a report to the UN Human Rights council this week by Special Rapporteur Elizabeth Salmón, who said women detained in political prison camps were “subjected to torture and ill-treatment, forced labor and gender-based violence, including sexual violence by state officials.”

A reconstruction by Korea Future of detainees (in blue) carrying out forced labour in a North Korean field. The prison guard is in orange.

The hermit country is known as one of the most closed and repressive nations in the world. CNN has sought comment from North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York for comment, but it has not responded.

North Korea frequently denies allegations of human rights abuses – in its prisons or elsewhere – often claiming they are part of a US-orchestrated campaign against it. This week, soon after a UN meeting on the human rights situation in the country, North Korea released a statement saying it “resolutely denounces and rejects” what it characterized as a “US-waged human rights pressure campaign.”

“That such a country takes issue with the ‘human rights’ situation of other countries is indeed a mockery of and an insult to human rights itself,” reads the statement.

Referring to a joint military exercise between the US and South Korea, it claimed the US was using its “human rights maneuver as a mechanism for invading” North Korea.

Investigators from both Korea Future and the UN say many inmates become so dehumanized by the abuse that they begin to feel they somehow deserve it. Many, too, simply have no concept of human rights with which to frame their experience.

One former inmate, who says she was detained for little over a year from 2015 after complaining to authorities over her housing situation, likened her treatment to that of an animal.

“When we raise rabbits, we keep them in dens with fences and give them food. (In jail), it was like we were the rabbits, kept in a cell and given food from behind bars … we were not treated as humans, but as some kind of animal,” said the survivor, whose name CNN has agreed to protect as in North Korea the families of defectors can face retribution.

The location of North Hamgyong provincial holding center, according to co-ordinates supplied by Korea Future to CNN.

At one point her cell was around two square meters (21.5 square feet), “and I know this because we were sleeping zig-zag stye and someone’s feet were touching my shoulders.”

“We should not move in the cell and we had to sit with our hands on our sides and as we were not supposed to look up we had to look down. We were not supposed to talk, so all you hear is people’s breathing sound.”

She described being fed only corn mixed with rice bran – more commonly used as animal feed.

“How can it be enough? When you eat breakfast, from the moment you put down your spoon, you’re hungry. It’s all grass and no nutrition so you get hungry as you don’t even feel the food inside your stomach.

“All your nutrition in your body is gone so you end up looking like a skeleton by the time you leave, just right before dying.” She was released after a little more than a year inside.

“I didn’t feel like I was a human being. I thought it would’ve been better to be dead if I had to live like that.”

North Korea has long faced claims of torture and abuse in its political prison camps, known as “kwalliso”.

A landmark UN investigation in 2014 found that Pyongyang was using this type of camp to keep a lid on dissent – and the ruling Kim dynasty in power – and that up to 120,000 people were held in them. It also estimated that over the past few decades hundreds of thousands of political prisoners had died in kwalliso amid “unspeakable atrocities.”

Among Korea Future’s key contentions is that similar methods of abuse are being used “systematically” in ordinary prisons, known as “kyohwaso,” and other penal institutes such as holding centers and prosecution offices.

Not only that, but it says the abuse in these centers is “greater in scale … than in better-known political prison camps” and that while some of the people held in kyohwaso are accused of standard crimes, such as theft, many are being held essentially as political prisoners.

The report places responsibility on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

“The purpose of (North Korea’s) penal system is to isolate persons from society whose behaviour conflicts with upholding the singular authority of the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un,” states the report.

“Detainees are re-educated through forced labour, ideological instruction, and punitive brutality with the purpose of compelling unquestioning obedience and loyalty to the Supreme Leader.”

Kim Jiwon, the Korea Future investigator who interviewed many of the survivors, praised their courage in speaking up, adding that he had found it was “really, really difficult to hear their stories.”

“I can’t even fathom how they felt, and what they had to go through,” he said.

While difficult, asking the survivors to relive their experiences and cross checking their accounts against each other had been vital in corroborating and building up a picture of what had occurred, Kim said.

Among the things that had struck him during the interviews was that, so dehumanizing had their treatment been, that many “just didn’t have the concept of torture.”

“They were always told by the penal facility, the correctional officers, that they had done something bad. So they just simply thought that they were bad people and for that reason, they were being punished. This was very ingrained in their mindset,” Kim said.

“They didn’t even realize that they were being subjected to torture.”

A 3D model of one of the detention centers, recreated by CNN with data from Korea Future.

A male survivor whose testimony was used in the Korea Future report told CNN he had been detained multiple times for defection, including in 2000 and 2017, after making his way across the border with China to seek work.

While he described seeing prison guards raping women detainees, being beaten up and forced to walk around with his body bowed at a right angle during one spell in jail, he said the conditions were an improvement on his first experience.

“In the past, we had to crawl with both hands and knees when we were moving, but in 2017, we could stand up and walk. All you needed was to bend your back forward 90 degrees when moving,” he said.

He said as many as five people would be held in a single 6.6 square meter room (71 square feet) that had no heating, but that at least in 2017 they were given blankets to help them cope with the cold – winter temperatures in North Korea can fall as low as minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius) – unlike when he was imprisoned in 2000, when they were given nothing.

He even went as far as to describe some periods of his detention as “no stress,” at one point moving to a center where there were no beatings or torture and thinking “wow, Korea has been changed.”

But he painted a bleaker picture of one holding center. “I noticed the center guards were raping female detainees at night. They’d ask some women to wash their clothes at night and when the women came out they raped (them)… I thought some things haven’t changed after all these years.”

A survivor from a North Korean detention center speaks to CNN.

He said he told an inspector what he had seen and that initially he was thanked for bringing the matter up, but soon afterward two men beat him up “so hard.”

Soon afterward, “I thought I couldn’t live like this so I broke the window in the room and grabbed a piece of glass,” he said. “The police guard came into my room and in front of them I stabbed my tummy.”

Despite all this, he said it was better to focus on those aspects that had improved – likening it to encouraging a child, saying that focusing purely on bad behavior would not encourage them to change for the better. He said in 2017 he received three meals a day and the same food as the police were eating, unlike in 2000 when his rations were only vegetable soup.

“We were used to being called like sons of bitches back in 2000,” he said. “But in 2017, we were called comrades.”

James Heenan, representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Seoul, said many escapees simply didn’t have a concept of human rights; one of the first steps in helping them was to educate them so they could recognize that what had happened to them was abuse.

“Generally they tell us the raw, unadulterated version of what happened to them and sometimes they see it as a bad thing. Sometimes I think that’s just the way the system works. (They think,) ‘I was beaten because I deserved it.’ So the issue of knowledge of human rights is a key one.”

Heenan said the abuse fit into four main categories.

Firstly, people were being detained arbitrarily and either not given a trial or given a show trial, without a lawyer, that might be as short as 10 minutes, he said. Secondly, people were being tortured and subject to other forms of ill treatment related to health, food and sanitation that could be “tantamount to torture if it’s done in a certain way,” he said.

James Heenan, of the UN Human Rights Office, speaks to CNN.

Thirdly, “We also see the issue of extrajudicial executions in prison, people who are just executed from prison without trial are subjected to the death penalty,” he said. “And the final thing that we see (is) forced labor. People in prisons, in detention, are forced to work in inhumane conditions for no pay for the profit of the state. And this is one of the most widespread violations we see.”

After the outbreak of Covid-19 prompted North Korea to shut down its few remaining connections with the outside world, it became harder to know what was happening in the detention centers, Heenan added. While prior to that, some escapees like the one who spoke to CNN, had suggested “limited improvements” with perhaps fewer cases of torture and extrajudicial killings, he cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from this saying there were too many “blind spots.”

“(For instance), many people are sent to political prison camps on lists, and not many people leave – they’re there for life until they die. So firsthand experience of most of these centers has always been difficult to come by,” he said.

But rights groups could be confident that such abuses were still occurring, he said, and that the situation was “still very dire,” because the testimonies of survivors were cross-checked for consistency, or “triangulated,” not only against other survivors but against medical evidence of their injuries and in some cases satellite evidence.

“These individuals are telling consistent stories … you also have the sheer weight of testimony, he said.

“In these cases, the weight of evidence, the weight of testimony is very, very strong.”

The situation in detention facilities was “one of the most egregious examples of the (human rights) violations we see (in North Korea),” Heenan added.

“And this is what the UN Commission (and most others) have concluded, that the things like torture and ill treatment and so forth that are going on in those facilities reaches the level of a crime against humanity.”

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Antibiotics may not help survival of patients hospitalized with viral infections -Study – Times of India


LONDON: Most patients admitted to hospitals with acute viral infections are given antibiotics as a precaution against bacterial co-infection, but this practice may not improve survival, new research suggests.
Researchers investigated the impact of antibiotic use on survival in more than 2,100 patients in a hospital in Norway between 2017 and 2021 and found that giving antibiotics to people with common respiratory infections was unlikely to lower the risk of death within 30 days.
At the height of the pandemic, antibiotics were prescribed for around 70% of Covid-19 patients in some countries, potentially contributing to the scourge of antibiotic-resistant pathogens known as superbugs.
This new data, which has not been published in a medical journal, suggests there is “a huge overuse of antibiotics,” said lead author Dr. Magrit Jarlsdatter Hovind from Akershus University Hospital and the University of Oslo, Norway.
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has helped microbes become resistant to many treatments, a development scientists consider one of the greatest threats to global health, given the pipeline of replacement therapies in development is alarmingly sparse.
This latest research, which will be presented at next month’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Copenhagen, involved patients who tested positive via nasal or throat swab for viral infections such as the flu, RSV or Covid-19. Those with confirmed bacterial infections were excluded from the analysis.
In total, 63% of the 2,111 patients received antibiotics for respiratory infection during their hospital stay. Overall, 168 patients died within 30 days, of which only 22 had not been prescribed antibiotics.
After accounting for factors including sex, age, severity of disease and underlying illnesses among patients, the researchers found those prescribed antibiotics during their hospital stay were twice as likely to die within 30 days than those not given antibiotics.
The research team noted that the sicker patients and those with more underlying illnesses were both more likely to get antibiotics and to die. Other factors such as patients’ smoking status could have also played a role, they said.
“Doctors have to dare to not give antibiotics, instead of doubting and giving antibiotics just in case,” Hovind said.
Given the limitations of a retrospective study such as this one, a clinical trial, which Hovind and colleagues recently initiated, is necessary to determine whether patients admitted to hospital with common respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, she said.

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Concern grows over violent rhetoric amid Trump’s legal battles


Concern grows over violent rhetoric amid Trump’s legal battles – CBS News

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There are new fears of violence regarding the rhetoric surrounding former President Donald Trump’s legal battles. On Friday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg received a threatening letter containing white powder. Trump is awaiting a New York grand jury’s decision on a possible indictment. CBS News chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa discussed the latest on Trump’s legal woes.

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2 dead, 7 missing after explosion rocks Pennsylvania chocolate factory


Two people are dead and seven are missing after an explosion rocked a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania on Friday, authorities said. 

Six people were also taken for medical attention in the blast at R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading, 63 miles northwest of Philadelphia, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said.

A spokeswoman for Reading Hospital said eight people were brought to the facility. One was transferred, two were in fair condition and the others were released, said the spokeswoman, Jessica Belzer, of Tower Health.

Fire and smoke at the scene of an explosion in West Reading, Pa., on Friday.Courtesy Renèe Rivera

The cause of the blast was unclear. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Images posted on social media showed massive flames tearing through the building and a tower of smoke after the arrival of fire fighters.

Richard M. Palmer Sr. founded the company in 1948.

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NPR News: 03-24-2023 9PM ET


NPR News: 03-24-2023 9PM ET

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US sailor goes missing after leaving Illinois bar; search reaches ‘standstill’ as mother pleads for help


Illinois police investigating the mysterious disappearance of a young U.S. sailor last seen walking away from a bar nearly a week ago said Friday the search is at a “standstill.” 

Seamus Gray, 21, vanished in the early morning hours of March 18 following his departure from a bar on Genesee Street in Waukegan, police say.  

Waukegan Police Cmdr. Scott Chastain told reporters Friday the last time Gray was captured on surveillance footage he was in “close proximity” to the harbor in Waukegan along Lake Michigan. But exhaustive searches on land and water, including with the help of 100 fellow Navy personnel, have come up empty. 

“If he is in the water and that is what happened, it may be days or weeks before the body would come back up,” Chastain said. 


The Waukegan Police Department said Gray is assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes. (Waukegan Police Department )

“The problem is with the cold weather right now and the cold temperatures in the water, if somebody does go in the water, they are not coming up right away,” he added. “I was told by our fire department the gases in the body won’t come out right away because of the cold, which makes them stay under the water a little bit longer than normal.” 

Chastain hailed the U.S. Navy’s help in the search, saying law enforcement is “very appreciative of that” and “I know the family was as well to see his fellow Navy men come out here and search.” 

But “right now, we are just kind of at a standstill,” he said, pleading to the public for information for anyone who may have come into contact with Gray after 2 a.m. the morning of March 18. 

“With the currents, if someone did go underwater, it could take them as far as Chicago or all the way out to Milwaukee, and that has happened in the past. That is the challenges we face with Lake Michigan,” Chastain added. 


Seamus Gray at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Washington Street in Waukegan at around 1:40 a.m. March 18 after leaving a bar. He has not been heard from since.

Seamus Gray at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Washington Street in Waukegan at around 1:40 a.m. March 18 after leaving a bar. He has not been heard from since. (Waukegan Police Department)

On Thursday, police released surveillance footage showing Gray being involved in an apparent altercation outside the Ibiza bar in Waukegan shortly before his disappearance, according to Fox32 Chicago. 

The station, citing police, says Gray visited the bar earlier in the evening on St. Patrick’s Day before returning around closing time and being refused admission. 

Ibiza Nightclub said Wednesday it was cooperating with the police investigation and that it would help “any way we can” to find Gray.

The video, Fox32Chicago says, shows Gray speaking to a group of people outside the bar before he is held down by an individual on the ground. 

“We’re aware of the video from outside of the bar, and our investigators are working with [the] Naval Criminal Investigative Service to identify people who might be on that video,” the station quoted Waukegan Deputy Chief Brian Mullen as saying Thursday. 

Kerry Gray, mother of missing U.S. sailor Seamus Gray, speaks Thursday.

Kerry Gray, mother of missing U.S. sailor Seamus Gray, speaks Thursday. (WSL-TV via APTN)

Police said “Gray has not been seen or spoken to since leaving the bar” and that Gray, “a member of the United States Navy assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes, did not report back at his assigned time.” 

Gray’s mother Kerry has traveled from Florida to Illinois to help in the search efforts. 


“I would like everybody’s help to find my son,” she said, according to Fox32Chicago. “I’m here, I’m going through dumpsters looking for my son.” 

Gray was last seen wearing a pink/red shirt and pants. He stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes and tattoos on his left arm and rib cage. 

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Selena Gomez, Zayn Malik spark dating rumors by having dinner together in NYC


Selena Gomez and Zayn Malik spotted together at NYC, spark dating rumors 

Selena Gomez and Zayn Malik were spotted together having dinner at New York City today which has sparked massive dating rumors among their fans.

According to a report by People, their appearance went viral on TikTok after a user shared a text exchange with a friend of hers who claimed she was present at the same time as rumored couple at an unnamed restaurant in the city. However, media teams Gomez and Malik have not responded to rumors as of yet.

Earlier today, Gomez also made a statement about heavy bullying Hailey Bieber is receiving from past few days. She asked people to practice kindness and stop trolling Hailey. Her gesture was widely appreciated by fans. 

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Bank fears will likely lead to even more market volatility in the week ahead


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