Archive for Michelle Mark

A passenger is in custody after ‘suspicious and erratic behavior’ forced a plane to make an emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport

laguardia airport
New signage and access ramps guide travelers leaving LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 in New York. The new terminal will open Saturday, June 13.
  • A passenger was arrested after a "security incident" on a plane traveling from Indianapolis.
  • The plane had to make an emergency landing at LaGuardia Airport.
  • Authorities said the passenger had been displaying "suspicious and erratic behavior."

A flight from Indianapolis declared an emergency and landed at a New York City airport after a passenger began behaving erratically, officials said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson told Insider a "security incident" had occurred on the flight, prompting it to land at LaGuardia Airport around 3 p.m. on Saturday. All passengers safely disembarked from the plane, the spokesperson said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that the pilot had opted to make an emergency landing after a "passenger disturbance" and that authorities are monitoring the situation.

"There is no reason to believe there is any danger to New Yorkers at this time," she said.

A Port Authority spokesperson told CNN the passenger had been displaying "suspicious and erratic behavior" and was reported by fellow passengers. The Port Authority did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

One passenger described a chaotic landing to The New York Times, telling the newspaper that passengers were panicking, getting pushed to the ground, and saying the man had "a suspicious device."

"The lady next to him was talking to him the whole time and telling him not to do it," 19-year-old Fawad Khuja told The Times. "I think the guy had gone crazy."

Another passenger told CNN that the moment the plane landed, the pilot and flight attendants began yelling, "Evacuate! Evacuate!"

LaGuardia Airport tweeted later on Saturday night that the airport is still "operating normally."

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5 missing Navy sailors have been declared dead after their helicopter crashed into the sea

MH-60S helicopter
The Navy announced Saturday that five sailors are presumed dead after their MH-60S helicopter - similar to the one pictured above - crashed off the coast of San Diego.
  • Five Navy sailors have been declared dead after their helicopter crashed on August 31.
  • The Navy announced that search and rescue efforts have pivoted to recovery operations.
  • The sailors were "conducting routine flight operations" when the crash occurred off San Diego's coast.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The US Navy announced Saturday that five sailors who went missing after their helicopter crashed on August 31 have been declared dead.

As of September 4, the US 3rd Fleet's mission has pivoted from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations, the Navy said in a statement.

The MH-60S helicopter the sailors were in had been "conducting routine flight operations" when it crashed into the sea some 60 nautical miles off San Diego's coast, the Navy said.

Initial search and rescue efforts went on for more than 72 hours and included 34 search and rescue flights, five search helicopter flights, and "constant surface vessel search."

One crew member was rescued and was in stable condition as of September 1, The New York Times reported.

The Navy will release the sailors' names 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.

The helicopter had been assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 and was based on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, the Navy said.

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The Pentagon says its retaliatory airstrike killed 2 ISIS members: a ‘planner’ and a ‘facilitator’

pentagon john kirby general hank taylor
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, right, speaks as Army Maj. Gen. William "Hank" Taylor, left, listens during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, on the situation in Afghanistan.
  • Pentagon officials said Saturday that a US airstrike killed two prominent ISIS-K targets.
  • One of the targets was a "planner" and the other was a "facilitator," a Pentagon official said.
  • Biden warned Saturday that the retaliatory strike "was not the last."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Pentagon announced Saturday that Friday's retaliatory airstrike against the Islamic State group in Afghanistan killed two high-profile ISIS-K members and wounded a third.

Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby told reporters at a press conference that the targets who were killed were a "planner" and a "facilitator."

It's unclear whether the ISIS-K members had been involved in planning the attack at the Kabul airport, but Pentagon officials said Saturday both individuals had been planning to attack Americans. They did not identify the targets.

"The fact that two of these individuals are no longer walking the face of the earth - that's a good thing," Kirby said.

Kirby added that there were no civilian casualties from the strike.

The US's airstrike was in response to ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.

President Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday that Friday's retaliatory strike "was not the last."

He continued: "We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay."

Biden also warned there was still a high likelihood of more terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport ahead of the planned troop withdrawal date of August 31.

"The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high," Biden said. "Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours."

Biden said evacuations remain ongoing up until August 31. He said another 6,800 people were evacuated on Friday, including hundreds of Americans.

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There’s a high likelihood that Americans will be left behind in Afghanistan

kabul airport crowds afghanistan
U.S. soldiers stand inside the airport as hundreds of people gather near an evacuation control checkpoint on the perimeter of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
  • There are still at least hundreds of Americans left in Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 US withdrawal date.
  • "The likelihood is high" that some will get left behind, counterterrorism expert Jason Killmeyer told Insider on Wednesday.
  • The evacuations were thrown into even more jeopardy after multiple explosions at the Kabul airport on Thursday.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

After nearly two weeks of chaotic evacuations from Kabul, it's becoming increasingly clear that some Americans will be stranded in Afghanistan after the US completes its withdrawal on August 31, according to some lawmakers and counterterrorism experts.

The US has evacuated some 4,500 Americans since the August 14 airlift began, according to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. But multiple explosions at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday threw the remaining evacuations into jeopardy, killing dozens - including at least 12 US service members.

The precise number of Americans remaining in the country is unclear, but a State Department spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that 500 of the 1,500 Americans it had been tracking in the country were evacuated within the last 24 hours. US officials were phoning, emailing, and texting the remaining 1,000 multiple times a day to confirm their whereabouts and check if they still want to evacuate, according to the statement.

Jason Killmeyer, a former chief of staff of global defense, security & justice at Deloitte, told Insider on Wednesday "the likelihood is high" that Americans will get left behind.

"The Taliban will have their revenge… the brutality of the regime will be revealed to any of us here in the United States and in the west who may have forgotten about it," he said.

The New York Times reported Thursday that some senior US officials doubt the evacuations will be completed by August 31. Some lawmakers have also expressed doubts that Biden will be able to fulfill his promise to bring all Americans home. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse told NPR that "unless something changes, it looks like the president and his team have a plan that is just to accept the risk that we will leave Americans behind."

The US is running out of options to get people out

Already, the Biden administration has begun implementing drastic solutions to get Americans past Taliban checkpoints and into the airport. The CIA and the US military have been conducting clandestine rescue missions for Americans trapped in and around Kabul, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Officials told the newspaper that the military has rescued over 200 Americans in the last week - some airlifted via helicopter, and others on the ground, where troops led them by foot into the airport.

kabul explosion afghanistan
Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
Killmeyer said there may only be a few options when it comes to rescuing any stranded Americans once the August 31 deadline passes - and those options will depend on how many are left.

"Is the number of Americans left behind such that we require some other element of a formal military-led capacity?" he said. "Or is it more of a one-on-one type of individual negotiation process?"

Past the deadline, Killmeyer said the Biden administration could negotiate a temporary presence in one of Afghanistan's neighboring countries to the north, which include Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

The US could also focus on specific cities or provinces in Afghanistan where Americans remain, and engage in an "institutional but non-military evacuation capacity," he said.

The Biden administration has so far rejected the notion that Americans could be left behind. White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki told one reporter on Monday it was "irresponsible" to suggest Americans were stranded.

"We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home," Psaki said.

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Biden will deploy 5,000 more US troops to Afghanistan for ‘an orderly and safe drawdown’ as the Taliban close in

joe biden
President Joe Biden speaks about prescription drug prices and his "Build Back Better" agenda from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Washington.
  • President Joe Biden announced the deployment of 5,000 more US troops to Afghanistan.
  • In recent days and weeks, city after city has fallen to the Taliban in a rapid takeover.
  • Biden said in a statement the troops will ensure "an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden announced Saturday afternoon he would deploy roughly 5,000 US troops to Afghanistan amid a rapid Taliban takeover of major Afghan cities.

"I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance," Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

Biden also said the White House has conveyed to Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, that "any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response."

Afghanistan's fourth-largest city, Mazar-i-Sharif, fell to the Taliban earlier on Saturday, leaving just two major cities under government control: Kabul and Jalalabad. Earlier in the week Herat and Kandahar, the country's second- and third-largest cities, also fell to the insurgents.

taliban take over herat afghanistan
Taliban fighters pose on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, after they took this province from Afghan government.

The Taliban's lightning-quick advance has resulted in a takeover of half of the country's 34 provincial capitals, and more than two-thirds of the country entirely.

The US military has estimated that the Taliban could take Kabul within 30 days, and seize the remainder of the country within several months.

In Biden's Saturday statement, he defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, saying he was the "fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan," and would not pass the war on to a fifth.

He also blamed his predecessor, President Donald Trump, whom he accused of cutting a deal "that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces."

In a statement on Friday, Trump asked "DO YOU MISS ME YET?" in part referring to the "tragic mess in Afghanistan."

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2 major San Francisco hospitals reported that 233 staff members tested positive for COVID-19

ucsf medical center
Night view of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) medical center in Mission Bay, San Francisco, California, December 2, 2019.
  • More than 200 hospital staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in July.
  • Most of those staff members were vaccinated and presented mild to moderate symptoms.
  • The Delta variant has also been known to spread among vaccinated people in breakthrough cases.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Hundreds of staffers at two major hospitals in San Francisco have tested positive for coronavirus in July, with most of them being breakthrough cases of the highly infectious Delta variant, The New York Times reported Saturday evening.

The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center told media outlets that 183 of its 35,000 staffers tested positive. Of those infected, 84% were fully vaccinated, and just two vaccinated staff members required hospitalization for their symptoms.

At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, at least 50 members out of the total 7,500 hospital staff were infected, with 75-80% of them vaccinated. None of those staffers required hospitalization.

UCSF's chief medical officer, Dr. Lukejohn Day, told The Times the numbers from his hospital showed just how important and effective vaccinations are.

"What we're seeing is very much what the data from the vaccines showed us: You can still get COVID, potentially. But if you do get it, it's not severe at all," Day said.

Day also told ABC7 News that at least 99% of the cases at UCSF were traced back to community spread, but that hospital officials are still investigating and conducting contact tracing.

He added that most of the cases presented mild to moderate symptoms, and some were completely asymptomatic. He said the cases were spread among doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff.

"We sort of are seeing that across the board," he said. "We have so far not detected any patient-to-staff or staff-to-patient transmission right now."

The highly infectious Delta variant has been deemed more transmissible than the viruses that cause the common cold, Ebola, and smallpox, and is equally as contagious as chickenpox, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in internal documents.

The Delta variant has also been known to spread among vaccinated people in breakthrough cases, prompting the agency this week to recommend that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission rates.

The CDC emphasized that getting vaccinated is still highly beneficial and is a crucial component to combatting the coronavirus - even the Delta variant.

"Getting vaccinated continues to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even with Delta," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told media on Tuesday.

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Melinda Gates’ lawyer reveals what he advises billionaires and celebrities not to do when settling a divorce

robert stephan cohen
Cohen sat down with Insider for an interview from his midtown Manhattan office on May 25, 2021.
  • Melinda Gates' divorce lawyer told Insider the spouses of very wealthy people sometimes settle for much less than they deserve.
  • Robert Stephan Cohen said he'd try to talk a client out of a deal where they're giving up too much.
  • To resolve bitter financial disputes, he often proposes setting up trusts for a couple's children.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As Bill and Melinda Gates divide their enormous and complex estate, Melinda has the backing of a divorce lawyer who has decades of experience advising high-net-worth and celebrity clients.

Her attorney, Robert Stephan Cohen, recently sat down with Insider for an exclusive interview, speaking broadly about the complexities of a billionaire's divorce and how America's elite divide their astronomical wealth when their marriages crumble.

Occasionally, Cohen said the spouses of very wealthy people don't ask for as much money as they could and instead settle for much less. He added that if he thinks a client is about to do a deal he thinks is "egregiously bad," he'll advise them to not to take it.

"I might push them a little bit and try to get them to see the other side of it," he said. "Remember: for the unmoneyed spouse, it's likely to be the largest business deal that they'll ever do in their life. And they really need to think about it, because they may not have a second opportunity."

Some clients will find a happy medium between the extremes of accepting too little or demanding too much of their spouse, and those are the cases Cohen says he resolves fairly easily out of court.

If Cohen were to represent the wife of a man who's worth $500 million, he said it wouldn't be unusual for that client to ask him to win a settlement closer to $100 million or $115 million, rather than a full $250 million. In such a case, Cohen said he could simply call up the lawyer representing the hypothetical husband - it's a small number of elite divorce lawyers handling these cases, and they all know each other.

"You'll never get that deal again," Cohen said. "Because if we go to court and we have to fight about that, you know what the end result is going to be, because I know what the end result is going to be, and you're a smart guy."

Though the famed Manhattan lawyer has a long reputation for being "mean" and a "killer," Cohen said people would be surprised by how fair he tries to be. He said he often has to remind his clients that what they consider fair may be very different from what their spouse considers fair.

"One of my jobs is not only to do well for my client, but I think one of my jobs is also to make it possible that both parties at the end of the day feel reasonably good about the resolution," he said. "Especially if there are children involved."

Melinda French Gates
Melinda French Gates speaks onstage at a February 2019 event.

Cohen considers himself something of an expert at determining what's a square deal: He's known for winning the first major equitable-distribution case in New York in 1985, Karp v. Karp, after the state's divorce laws required marital assets to be split "equitably" - which means the assets must be distributed fairly, but not necessarily 50/50.

"To be candid, I'd like my client to come out a little better than 'reasonably fair,' but nevertheless, I want both people to walk away and say, 'I did okay,'" Cohen said.

But he acknowledged that he has to get "clever" at times when fairness doesn't cut it. When neither side can agree on the amount of money that should be paid to or received by a given spouse, Cohen often will propose taking that sum and creating a trust for the couple's children.

"You're doing something you're likely to do anyway, which is leave money to your kids," he said. "It's a way to sort of get around the delta that we sometimes run into."

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Chris Rock reveals a key piece of advice he got from his divorce attorney, who now represents Melinda Gates

chris rock
Chris Rock spoke to Insider in an interview about his former divorce lawyer, who is now representing Melinda Gates.
  • Chris Rock opened up about his experience with famed divorce lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen.
  • Cohen is currently representing Melinda Gates, who could land the largest-ever divorce settlement.
  • Rock said Cohen once told him the bitterest divorce disputes only amount to a fraction of what's at stake.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

In the worst moments of Chris Rock's famously bitter 2016 divorce, the comedian said there was one piece of wisdom his lawyer shared that helped him get through the two-year legal battle.

That attorney, Robert Stephan Cohen, made headlines in recent weeks after court filings revealed he's representing Melinda Gates in her divorce from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Rock told Insider in an interview that Cohen was a capable, intelligent, and realistic lawyer who helped the comedian see the bigger picture: That most of his divorce had already been resolved, and the most contentious parts composed a tiny fraction of what was at stake.

"Put it this way. People get divorced. People fight. Things take sometimes years. At the end of the day, you're only talking 4%, one way or the other," Rock said. "[Cohen] said that to me. I was like, 'Oh, okay.' And that put it in perspective."

Cohen told Insider his 4% rule holds up in most divorces he handles. He's one of the most prominent divorce lawyers in the country, and has represented a number of other high-profile clients, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the actors Uma Thurman and James Gandolfini, and both of Donald Trump's ex-wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples.

"At the end of the day, the differences are usually a small percentage. Both with respect to money, and with respect to custody issues," he said.

robert stephan cohen
Cohen sat down with Insider for an interview from his midtown Manhattan office on May 25, 2021.

Rock's turbulent divorce was highly publicized, and he's since opened up about his flaws as a husband - in particular, his numerous infidelities.

But he said Cohen remained cool-headed throughout the process, particularly when it came to disputes over child custody.

"I had some issues," Rock said. "It's like, when you're a guy, some people don't even think you want to see your kids. [Cohen] was very understanding about all of that."

"He got me through a very tough time in my life," Rock added.

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VIDEO: Melinda Gates’ divorce lawyer explains what it takes to handle separations between billionaires

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Over 100 employees sued a Houston hospital for requiring COVID-19 vaccines, saying they were forced to be ‘human guinea pigs’

covid vaccine
A child receives a Covid-19 vaccine on May 13, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
  • More than 100 workers are suing Houston Methodist Hospital over its vaccine mandate.
  • The staffers allege the hospital is violating the Nuremberg Code against human experimentation.
  • The hospital says the vaccines are not "experimental" and have been shown to be safe and effective.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Dozens of workers at Houston Methodist Hospital have sued their employer over a policy requiring them to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, includes the names of more than 100 staffers and alleged that the hospital was "forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment."

Houston Methodist made national headlines earlier this year when it announced it would require its 26,000 employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by June 7.

"Those who are not vaccinated by that date face suspension and eventual termination," the hospital said in a FAQ page published in April. The hospital's policy also contained exemptions for workers with sincerely held religious beliefs, and certain medical conditions, including pregnancy.

The lawsuit called the COVID-19 vaccines "experimental," and noted that none have been granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Instead, the FDA has granted "emergency use authorization" to the three major vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Each of the vaccines have undergone rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. Pfizer and BioNTech have already applied for full approval of their vaccine and Moderna has announced plans to apply soon.

The workers allege the hospital is violating the Nuremberg Code against human experimentation

moderna vaccine
A container of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is seen at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 21, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

The lawsuit against Houston Methodist cited the Nuremberg Code of 1947, regarding medical ethics around consent and experimentation, saying workers had a "right to avoid the imposition of human experimentation."

"Shockingly, [Houston Methodist's] policy memo fails to recognize, appreciate, or identify that the 'mandatory immunization' and 'vaccination program' requires the employee to be injected with an experimental vaccine that has not been approved by the FDA." the lawsuit said.

A Houston Methodist spokesperson told Insider in a statement that 99% of the network's employees have already been fully vaccinated and that the hospital is "extremely proud of our employees for doing the right thing and protecting our patients from this deadly virus."

The statement also noted that there's precedent for a mandatory vaccination policy at the hospital.

"It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way," the statement said. "It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental."

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday released updated guidance on vaccine mandates, noting that federal laws allow employers to require COVID-19 vaccines for workers who are physically present at the workplace - so long as the employers also include accommodations such as religious and medical exemptions.

The lawsuit against Houston Methodist alleged that the hospital has "arbitrarily denied" some employees' requests for religious and medical exemptions.

The lawsuit requested that a judge order a temporary injunction to prevent the hospital from taking action against non-compliant employees while the case is litigated.

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