An unusually large number of humpback whales died last year

(CNN)The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched an investigation Thursday into a large number of humpback whale deaths from Maine to North Carolina.

The agency declared the deaths an unusual mortality event, the first one observed in humpback whales in nearly a decade. An unusual mortality event (UME) is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as “a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response.”
The last unusual mortality event declared for humpback whales was in 2006. Two other events were declared in 2005 and 2003, said Deborah Fauquier, veterinary medical officer for NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources. The cause of those UMEs was undetermined.
    Forty-one whales died in the region last year. According to NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources, the 16 year average for the region from 2000-2015 is 14 whales per year. As of April 24, 2017, 15 whales have died.
    Out of the 41 dead whales that died last year, 20 of them have been examined so far, said Mendy Garron, Stranding Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. Of those, 10 appear to have hit marine vessels. The whales’ bodies showed evidence of blunt force trauma, Garron said.
    Vessel strikes have been documented in Virginia (3), New York (3), Delaware (2), Massachusetts (1) and New Hampshire (1).
    Greg Silber, Large Whale Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources, said many factors could have caused the whales to move closer to shipping routes, but there hasn’t been a spike in ship traffic.
    “It’s probably linked to prey sources,” he said. “Humpback whales follow where the prey is and there may be aggregation in certain areas.”
    Now that the unusual mortality event has been declared, NOAA’s investigation will involve data collection and analysis as well as monitoring environmental and habitat conditions, including human-caused threats.
    Humpback whales were recently taken off the endangered species list, but are still protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Fauquier said.
    Since the marine mammal UME program was created in 1991, there have been 63 formally recognized UMEs in the United States involving a variety of species.

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    Manhattan man pleads guilty to ‘Producers’ scheme

    New York (CNN)A Manhattan resident on Wednesday pleaded guilty to conning several investors into giving him money intended to fund the production of a fake Broadway play, according to Manhattan district attorney spokesman Justin Henry.

    Roland Scahill pleaded guilty to three counts of grand larceny in the third degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, according to court documents. The former talent agent owes $189,885 to the various investors he was accused of taking money from.
    “Through his elaborate overtures to investors, Roland Scahill scammed patrons of the arts to the tune of more than $200,000. We are pleased to have brought his larcenous scheme to a grand finale,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus B. Vance said in a statement.
      Scahill’s scheme bears a striking resemblance to Mel Brooks’ Broadway musical, “The Producers” in which a producer and his accountant try to bilk victims by getting them to invest in a musical that is intended to fail.
      But Scahill didn’t have plans for his musical to fail, because he didn’t have plans to make the show happen at all, authorities claimed.
      He allegedly told investors he was creating a Broadway play about the life of Kathleen Battle, a famous opera singer, called “The KB Project.”
      Scahill allegedly created an elaborate storyline for his investors, telling them he had secured the life rights to Battle’s story, Lupita Nyongo’o had agreed to play the leading role and the show would play at the famed Booth Theater.
      In his plea statement, Schahill wrote, “All of these representations were false.”
      Over a nine-month long period, Scahill convinced 10 sets of investors to donate money to his project, according to court documents. All of those investments were deposited into two bank accounts. Scahill was the sole signatory on both of those accounts, according to his plea statement.
      In the plea, Scahill writes that he used the investors’ money for “personal expenditures” and “to purchase and trade securities.”
      Scahill paid $100,000 of his debts when he pleaded guilty. He must pay the remaining $89,885 within the next six months. If he does so, he will receive a six-month prison sentence followed by five years’ probation with ongoing mental health treatment, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor. If he fails to pay, he could face additional jail time, according to court documents.
      CNN has reached out to Scahill’s attorney for comment.

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      Steve Jobs Fast Facts

      (CNN)Here is a look at the life of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

      Death date: October 5, 2011
      Birth place: San Francisco, California
        Birth name: Steven Paul Jobs
        Father: Paul Jobs, machinist
        Mother: Clara (Hagopian) Jobs, accountant
        Marriage: Laurene (Powell) Jobs (March 18, 1991-October 5, 2011, his death)
        Children: with Laurene Jobs: Reed Jobs, Erin Jobs, and Eve Jobs; with Chris-Ann Brennan: Lisa Brennan-Jobs
        Education: Attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, 1972
        Religion: Zen Buddhism
        Other Facts:
        At about age 12, Jobs asked William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard for some parts to complete a school project. Hewlett offered Jobs an internship at his company.
        Met Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in high school when Jobs was 13 and Wozniak was 18.
        Dropped out of Reed College after one semester, but audited classes including calligraphy and modern dance
        Rejoining Apple in 1997, Jobs received an annual salary of $1.00.
        Jobs tracked down his biological parents Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali and discovered that his younger sister is novelist Mona Simpson.
        1972 –
        Graduates high school and enters Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Jobs drops out after one semester.
        1974 – Takes a job with Atari designing video games, then leaves that same year to travel through India.
        1976 – Co-founds Apple in his family’s garage with Steve Wozniak and introduces the Apple I computer.
        1977 – Along with Wozniak, produces the Apple II.
        1980 – Apple comes out with the Apple III.
        1983 – The Apple Lisa is introduced which is purportedly named for his daughter, Lisa.
        1984 – Apple introduces the Macintosh.
        1985 – Leaves Apple due to disagreements with management. Launches the computer company NeXT.
        1986 – Purchases Pixar Animation Studios from George Lucas.
        1996 – Sells NeXT to Apple and rejoins Apple as a consultant.
        1997 – Is named interim CEO of Apple.
        1998 – Apple introduces the iMac.
        2000 – Becomes permanent CEO of Apple.
        2001 – Apple introduces the iPod, a portable mp3 player.
        April 28, 2003 – Apple launches the iTunes store, a download music service.
        July 2003 – Apple Corps, Ltd., the record company owned by the Beatles, sues Apple, Inc., for trademark violation over the apple logo used on the iTunes website. The suit is settled in 2007.
        2003 – Jobs is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
        July 31, 2004 – Undergoes surgery to remove a tumor related to the cancer.
        2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 – Jobs is named to the Time 100, the magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
        2006 – Pixar merges with The Walt Disney Company and Jobs takes a position on Disney’s board of directors.
        April 1, 2006 – Apple celebrates its 30th birthday.
        January 9, 2007 – Jobs unveils the iPhone at the Macworld conference.
        2008 – Introduces the MacBook Air.
        June 27, 2008 – A class action suit is filed against Jobs and several members of the Apple’s board of directors, claiming that they had participated in the backdating of stock option grants. In 2006, Apple was forced to restate its financial results after acknowledging that an internal investigation had revealed irregularities in its stock option grants between 1997 and 2001.
        January 5, 2009 – Writes an open letter to the public dismissing rumors about his health, claiming that his weight loss in the past year is due to a “hormone imbalance.”
        January 14, 2009 – Announces he will take a medical leave of absence until the end of June 2009. Jobs gives no details on his health issues other than that they are “more complex” than originally thought.
        June 20, 2009 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Jobs underwent a liver transplant in April 2009. The surgery is confirmed by the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 23, 2009.
        June 29, 2009 – Apple spokesman Steve Dowling announces that Jobs has returned to work.
        January 27, 2010 – Jobs introduces the iPad. The half-inch-thick, 1.5 pound, 9.7 inch iPad allows users to read books, play games or watch video.
        January 2011 – Takes another medical leave of absence.
        March 2, 2011 – Jobs receives a standing ovation when he takes the stage to unveil the iPad 2.
        June 6, 2011 – At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Jobs introduces iCloud the new online media storage system. Other Apple officials demo the new operating systems OS-X Lion and iOS-5.
        August 2011 – Apple Inc. and oil company Exxon Mobil jockey for position as the most valuable company in the United States, with market capitalizations between $345 billion and $350 billion.
        August 24, 2011 – Resigns as CEO of Apple, but announces he will stay on as chairman. Tim Cook is promoted to CEO.
        October 4, 2011 – Apple announces their latest updated smartphone – the iPhone 4S.
        October 5, 2011 – Steve Jobs dies at the age of 56.

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        Arkansas set to execute first inmate since 2005

        (CNN)Prison authorities are expected to proceed with the execution of an inmate on Thursday evening after the Arkansas Supreme Court earlier denied his request for a stay and struck down a temporary restraining order on one of the drugs used in the lethal injection process.

        Ledell Lee, who was convicted in 1995 in the murder of Debra Reese, is scheduled to be executed at 8 p.m. ET. If he is put to death, his killing will be Arkansas’ first execution since 2005. The state had earlier planned to execute eight inmates over 10 days starting April 17.
        The Arkansas Department of Correction reported that Lee requested Holy Communion as his last meal.
          Stacey Johnson, who was also slated to be executed on Thursday, was granted a stay from the same court on Wednesday after requesting further testing of DNA evidence in his case. Johnson was convicted of the 1994 murder of Carol Heath.
          Like Johnson, Lee had requested a stay for additional DNA testing, but the court denied the request.
          The Arkansas Supreme Court also reversed a restraining order on the state’s use of vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs used in lethal injections. A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge issued the order on Wednesday, putting all eight executions on hold.
          Multiple last-minute legal challenges have derailed the state’s execution plans, which has been characterized as unprecedented.
          The schedule has been attributed to the expiration date of Arkansas’ supply of midazolam, the first drug administered in the three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections. The state’s supply of the drug expires at the end of April.

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