New malaria treatment paves way for eradication

Tafenoquine, developed by UK pharmaceutical company GSK and non-profit Medicines for Malaria Venture, is a single-dose treatment.

Dr Pauline Williams, GSK’s head of global health research and development, said this was a “key advantage” of the drug.

“With every medicine that requires a prolonged course of treatment – wherever you live in the world – compliance is known to be poor. Once symptoms subside people tend not to complete the course. Giving a single treatment gives patients protection from relapse,” she said.

P. vivax is not as deadly as P. falciparum but is still a horrible disease, said Dr Williams.

“As medical students we were always taught that P. vivax was the more benign form of malaria. But the disease is miserable and is characterised by multiple relapses – each of these relapses can lead to severe complications including organ failure and death,” she said.

Scientists hope that the new drug will be an important tool in the battle to eliminate malaria, alongside existing methods such as indoor residual spraying and long-lasting insecticide treated nets.

In a study of 522 patients with P. vivax malaria 60 per cent were relapse free, six months after taking the drug.

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    Missouri duck boat tragedy: 9 of Tia Coleman’s family members died

    BRANSON, Mo. — At first, the water splashing into the boat was comforting, a cool-down on a hot day.

    But then came a massive swell that rocked the boat, and Tia Coleman started getting nervous. Before she knew it, another wave tore through, the boat sank, and she could not see or feel anything. Not the son who had been sitting next to her, not her other two children, not any of the 10 family members who had joined her on an amphibious tourist bus — or duck boat — Thursday afternoon.

    “Lord, please let me get to my babies,” she prayed at one point, recalling the ordeal at a news conference Saturday.

    “If they don’t make it, Lord, take me too,” she thought at another.

    As it turned out, Coleman, 34, and her 13-year-old nephew, Donovan, were the only members of the Coleman family to survive one of the deadliest duck boat accidents in the country’s history.

    The Colemans, who had been on their annual summer road trip, accounted for nine of the 17 deaths in the accident in this popular tourist destination in southern Missouri. In an instant, three generations of this Indianapolis-based family had perished, leaving Coleman with the unimaginable task of moving forward.

    When the duck boat entered the lake the skies seemed fine, Coleman said. At one point, she said, one of the two employees on the vehicle — one operated it on water, the other on land — told them not to worry about putting on their life jackets.

    “If I was able to get a life jacket, I could have saved my babies,” she said. “Because they could have at least floated up to the top, and somebody could have grabbed them. And I wasn’t able to do that.”

    Federal law requires life jackets to be available for each passenger on a boat, including duck boats, but the crew has discretion on when to tell passengers to wear them.

    “He said, ‘Above you are your life jackets. There’s three sizes,’” Coleman recalled one of the workers telling the passengers. “He said, ‘I’m going to show you where they are but you won’t need them, so no need to worry.’ So we didn’t grab them.”

    The National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation into the accident, which had 14 survivors, including the captain of the boat.

    Asked at the news conference whether she was happy that she had made it out of the lake alive, Coleman said, “I don’t know yet.”

    “Going home, I already know it’s going to be completely, completely difficult,” she added. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Since I’ve had a home, it’s always been filled with little feet and laughter. And my husband.”

    Flanked by family members holding her hands, Coleman spoke from Cox Medical Center Branson, where she was recovering from her injuries. She smiled at times when recalling fond memories of her family and sobbed at others when discussing what she would miss.

    She had come to Branson with her three children, her husband, and her husband’s father, mother, uncle, sister and two nephews. They had rented a van and made the roughly seven-hour drive from Indianapolis in an annual ritual that has taken them to places as far-flung as Mackinaw City, Michigan, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

    Mackinaw City was Coleman’s favorite. Myrtle Beach was the children’s. But wherever the destination, the trips revolved around the children.

    The plan originally had been to go to Florida this year. But because Coleman’s mother-in-law, Belinda, was having health problems, the family decided on someplace closer, said Carolyn Coleman, a relative who lives in Georgia. It was the family’s first trip to Branson.

    They immediately gravitated to the pool at the hotel because the children loved water, Coleman said.

    “I caught myself sneaking off to get in the hot tub, and here come those little bodies, coming in there with me,” Coleman said. “They’re like, ‘Oh this feels so good, this feels so good.’ I said, ‘Get back in the kiddie pool.’”

    They ate at the Golden Corral, where Coleman told her children they could eat as much as they wanted. She plied them with indulgent treats like cotton candy and rainbow sherbet.

    The Colemans decided to ride the duck boat because it seemed like just the type of thing Coleman’s oldest son, Reece, who was autistic, would enjoy.

    What Coleman and her family did not know was that duck boats have a history of safety issues, with the NTSB ordering operators, including the one here in Branson, to make safety improvements after 13 people were killed when one sank in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1999.

    Before leaving for the boat tour, Coleman said, someone at Ride the Ducks, the tour company, said that because of the storm warning, they would do the lake part of the tour before the road portion.

    The Colemans planned to go to dinner after the duck boat ride. Instead, after a vigorous struggle in the water during which she said she gave up and just let her body float, Coleman was left to wonder what if.

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    Senate set to confirm Wilkie for Veterans Affairs secretary

    After months of tumult, Pentagon official Robert Wilkie is expected to become secretary of Veterans Affairs when the Senate votes Monday to confirm him, taking on the task of fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

    Wilkie is Trump’s third pick for the job in 18 months. The long-time public official says he will “shake up complacency” at VA, which has struggled with long waits in providing medical treatment to millions of veterans.

    He is expected to easily win confirmation after a Senate panel approved his nomination earlier this month. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at the time voted “no,” citing concerns the Trump administration would “privatize” VA.

    If confirmed, Wilkie, 55, was expected to be sworn into office quickly, the White House has told some veterans groups, possibly joining Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention Tuesday in Kansas City. VFW has left a slot open for the “VA secretary” to speak before Trump addresses the convention.

    Trump selected Wilkie for the post in May after firing his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, amid ethics charges and internal rebellion at the department over the role of private care for veterans. Trump’s initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

    Wilkie, a former assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, has received mostly positive reviews from veterans’ groups for his management experience, but the extent of his willingness to expand private care as an alternative to government-run VA care remains largely unknown.

    During his confirmation hearing, the Air Force and Navy veteran insisted he would not privatize the government’s second-largest agency of 360,000 employees and would make sure VA health care is “fully funded.” When pressed by Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the panel, if he would be willing to disagree with Trump, Wilkie responded “yes.”

    “I have been privileged to work for some of the most high-powered people in this town,” said Wilkie, currently a Pentagon undersecretary for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “They pay me for their opinions, and I give those to them.”

    Wilkie would be charged with carrying out a newly signed law by Trump to ease access to private health providers. That law gives the VA secretary wide authority to decide when veterans can bypass the VA, based on whether they receive “quality” care. Major veterans’ groups see VA medical centers as best-suited to veterans’ specialized needs, such as treatment for post-traumatic stress.

    Wilkie also would have more power under a new accountability law to fire VA employees. Lawmakers from both parties have recently raised questions about the law’s implementation, including how whistleblower complaints are handled.

    Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, praises Wilkie as “eminently qualified,” saying he will “bring stability and leadership” to VA.

    Wilkie served as acting VA secretary after Shulkin’s firing in March, before returning to his role as Pentagon undersecretary.

    If confirmed, he would replace current acting VA secretary Peter O’Rourke. Since taking over the acting role in late May, O’Rourke has clashed with the VA inspector general, initially refusing to release documents relating to VA whistleblower complaints and casting the independent watchdog as an underling who must “act accordingly.” Under pressure from Congress, the VA agreed last week to provide documents to the IG.

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    Cold case detectives told LandCruiser belonged to land council chief

    A distinctive Toyota Troop Carrier that police have been told may be connected to the 1994 disappearance of Julie Buck and Richard Milgin belonged to the present chairman of the Kimberley Land Council.

    Episode four of The Age’s investigative podcast seriesWrong Skin reveals that West Australian Cold Case Homicide Squad detectives recently showed photographs of the Toyota to people in the Looma community and nearby areas as part of their investigation into Julie’s 1994 death and Richard’s disappearance.

    The Toyota was registered to KLC chairman Anthony Watson at the time the couple disappeared. He is the son of land council founder and former chairman, senior traditional owner John Watson.

    Julie was the promised wife of elderly renowned Looma artist Jimmy Nerrimah when she was found dead at the age of 23 in December 1994. She continued seeing 24-year-old Richard Milgin in defiance of tribal rules which deemed the couple to be “wrong skin”.

    No cause of death has been established for Julie, and Richard remains a missing person. He is also presumed dead. Detectives recently handed a detailed investigation report on both cases to the WA Coroner.

    Wrong Skin, which is the Kimberly phrase used to describe a relationship forbidden under tribal laws, examines the possibility that traditional punishment may have been a factor in Julie’s death and Richard’s disappearance.

    Several people recall seeing or hearing about the Troop Carrier and a smaller car being packed with senior tribal men from Looma and nearby communities around the time Julie and Richard were last seen alive.

    A Troop Carrier is a long wheelbase LandCruiser that can seat 11 people. They are prized possessions in the Kimberley.

    Some of the senior tribal men reportedly seen in the Troop Carrier had allegedly previously threatened Richard with harm if he did not end his relationship with Julie.

    Witnesses also recall the Troop Carrier being spray-painted a different colour shortly after the couple went missing.

    As land council chairman, Anthony Watson, 47, is the most powerful man in the Kimberley. The KLC is the representative body for all Kimberley people, and receives about $20 million in federal funding a year to help get native title recognition for traditional owners.

    Anthony Watson was around the same age as Julie and Richard when they disappeared and he knew both of them.

    The Age is not suggesting Anthony Watson was involved in the death of Julie or the disappearance of Richard. He declined to answer questions.

    But the recollection by several people in and around Looma in 1994 of his Troop Carrier being seen full of senior tribal men around the time the couple disappeared has made the vehicle, and who had access to it back then, of interest to police.

    John Watson, Anthony’s father, has been nominated by several Looma people as potentially being able to help solve the mystery of what happened to the young couple. This is because of his status as a senior traditional law man and his association with many of the male elders alleged to have been troubled by Richard and Julie’s relationship. Most of these senior men have since passed away.

    John Watson and his son Anthony Watson.

    John Watson and his son Anthony Watson. Photo: Kate Geraghty

    John Watson was a founder of the 40-year-old KLC and has twice been its chairman. He has been a leading figure in the Aboriginal land rights movement and remains a strong advocate for traditional culture.

    The Age is not suggesting John Watson, who leads the Jarlmadangah community about 30 kilometres from Looma, was involved in Julie’s death or Richard’s disappearance.

    The KLC, one of Australia’s most famous land councils, named its $15-million Broome headquarters after John Watson and another respected leader, Frank Sebastian.

    The land council has managed to secure native title across the vast majority of the Kimberley, an achievement which has the potential to deliver benefits to many Aboriginal communities.

    But this process has also led to the KLC being offside with some people in the community, who accuse it of favouring certain groups over others and withholding anthropological information supplied by families.

    The Age sought to contact John Watson through the KLC but the land council said it could not assist because he was no longer a director. It also tried to make contact through his son, Anthony Watson.

    Court documents obtained by The Age reveal a long history of friction between the strongly traditional Jarlmadangah community and the majority-Christian Looma, despite strong family links between both places.

    In 2005, Anthony Watson was convicted of an assault that inflicted grievous bodily harm after he broke into a Derby home and violently assaulted Darren Skinner. The two men had been having a personal dispute.

    Mr Skinner was nearly blinded in the attack in which he was hit with an iron star picket. Anthony Watson’s sister and John Watson were also charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm in relation to this incident.

    But John Watson’s charges were discontinued shortly before the matter was heard in the Derby District Court. Anthony Watson’s sister was convicted.

    Anthony Watson and his sister were told by District Court judge Paul Healy that they had given Mr Skinner “a fair old thrashing” and their actions could attract a jail sentence of more than 10 years.

    However, both Anthony Watson and his sister received positive references from leading figures at the KLC and had clean records. Judge Healy sentenced both to 18 months in prison wholly suspended.

    Of the conflict with Looma families, Judge Healy said: “Unless you sort it out this generation, it’s going to keep on going … otherwise it’s going to flow and continue disrupting the two communities, Looma and your community, for a long period of time and probably the wider community as well.”

    The Age can also reveal John Watson was charged by police in 1999 after he shattered the leg of a Looma woman with a club during a game of cards.

    He admitted causing the damage to the woman, who required extensive surgery and has never walked the same since.

    But The Age understands the magistrate in Derby received letters from supporters of John Watson which explained that there was cultural punishment context to the incident.

    Many in Looma, though, say the incident had nothing to do with culture.

    John Watson is understood to have received a light penalty and the Looma woman received a payout from the West Australian Criminal Compensation Tribunal.

    John Watson remains a justice of the peace who can preside alongside another JP in the Derby Magistrates Court when there is no magistrate in town.


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    The Republicans’ defensiveness about Russian hacking is revealing

    AMONG the Republicans cowering before President Donald Trump, the presence of Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan has been especially disheartening. Yet both threatened to regrow spines this week. “Russia is an adversary,” declared Senator Rubio, in response to the president’s fraternising in Helsinki. “Russia is a menacing government that does not share our interests,” said the Speaker of the House of Representatives. These were, if not stinging rebukes, better than Mr Rubio’s usual habit of keeping shtum and tweeting Bible verses whenever Mr Trump does something horrid, or Mr Ryan’s of offering a wry half-smile and a comment on tax reform. Yet both men, formerly known as principled conservatives, sullied their moment of revertebration. Both claimed the Russian election-hacking effort on Mr Trump’s behalf had been a failure. “It is also clear,” said Mr Ryan, that “it didn’t have a material effect on our elections.”

    Not so. The margin of Mr Trump’s victory in the electoral college was tiny, a matter of just under 80,000 voters in three rustbelt states. Any one of Hillary Clinton’s unforeseen troubles could account for that: including her late fainting fit, James Comey’s blundering or an illicit Russian social-media campaign that suggested she was in league with the devil. And a bigger Russian intervention, the cyberwar on behalf of Mr Trump described in Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers, could have hurt her more than all the rest combined. It appears to have been better-resourced, longer-running and more extensive and ingenious than almost anyone imagined.

    The special counsel’s indictment describes a global network of anonymous servers and bitcoin miners, rampant identity theft and money-laundering, all focused on the Russian objective of getting Mr Trump elected. The Russian spies, whose identities, responsibilities and individual activities the indictment meticulously identifies, had a free run of Mrs Clinton’s party and campaign computer files until a few weeks before the election. The indictment suggests that they may additionally have stolen the Clinton team’s voter-targeting data, which in the hands of her opponent could have been a devastating weapon.

    Even if those numbers were pinched (and Mrs Clinton’s data people claim to have seen other proof to that effect), it would be impossible to know whether Russia swung the election for Mr Trump. Yet given the extent of its effort and given that it need only have shifted 0.03% of the total number of votes from the Democrats to the Republicans, it might well have done. There is certainly no basis on which to conclude that it did not.

    The Democrats’ grousing over this possible election theft will get them nowhere, of course. Yet the grousing is inevitable and a mark of Mr Putin’s indisputable achievement: a serious jolt in Americans’ confidence in the integrity of their elections. Half of Americans think that Mr Trump colluded with the Russians to engineer his election. In the court of public opinion, that arguably makes his presidency illegitimate, which would be corrosive to American democracy even under a much less divisive leader. A governing party mindful of majority sentiment, and ambitious to win it, would respond to that carefully. By treating reasonable concerns about Mr Trump’s election as just another partisan fight, Mr Ryan and his colleagues are instead underlining the extent to which they have abandoned that ambition.

    Their complacency towards Mr Trump’s financial conflicts, a second source of doubt about Mr Trump’s presidency, provides another illustration of this. Among innumerable examples, China is reported to have granted trademarks to at least 39 Trump-branded products since his inauguration, including some the president had previously been denied. Mr Trump and his retinue spent almost a third of last year staying, at public expense, at Trump properties. A working weekend at one of the president’s golf courses in Scotland, during which he managed to squeeze in 18 holes in between plotting the downfall of the West, cost American taxpayers almost $70,000. There are laws against such self-enrichment. Yet even as legal challenges to Mr Trump’s behaviour creep through the courts, the Republicans dare not criticise it. To do so might cost them an invitation to Mar-a-Lago.

    It might also invite a primary challenge, given the way Mr Trump has weaponised his unpopularity, rallying his supporters against any critic. No doubt right-minded Republicans, among the many who privately abhor Mr Trump, would otherwise speak up. Yet it also seems notable that their unwillingness to do so is consistent with their party’s acceptance of a different sort of illegitimacy. That is the tyranny of minority rule, enabled by the quirks of an electoral system that gives its white, rural supporters more power for fewer votes than the more diverse, clustered Democrats—almost 3m fewer, in the case of Mr Trump’s victory over Mrs Clinton. The adoption of white identity politics represents an embrace of minoritarianism as a core strategy. That led Republicans to Mr Trump. Further compromises with democratic legitimacy have followed.

    The Russia House

    It is hard to see any happy end to this. The question is whom the unhappiness might befall: the Republicans or America. In one scenario, which might take an election cycle or two, the Democrats’ superior numbers will eventually prevail, and the minoritarians will be overwhelmed by the aggrieved majority. In the other, the Republicans’ continued disdain for the majority, even as they cling to power, will cause an explosion. Perhaps the likeliest spark for that would be if Mr Putin is again suspected of fixing an election on their behalf. So it is also notable that, despite their brief flash of pique with the president this week, Republican congressmen such as Mr Ryan and Mr Rubio have not yet done anything to make that less likely. Until they do, every American election will come with a risk attached.

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    Gunman in Trader Joe’s standoff was feuding with grandmother

    A feud between a man and his grandmother over his girlfriend staying at the grandmother’s home exploded into violence that ultimately led to him taking dozens of people hostage inside a Los Angeles supermarket, a relative said Sunday.

    Investigators believe Gene Evin Atkins, 28, shot his grandmother several times and wounded his girlfriend at their South Los Angeles home on Saturday afternoon before he led police on a chase, while exchanging gunfire with officers, crashed into a pole outside the Trader Joe’s in the city’s Silver Lake section and ran inside.

    Atkins was booked Sunday on suspicion of murder after an employee was killed as he ran into the supermarket, police said.

    His cousin, Charlene Egland, told The Associated Press that he had been arguing with his grandmother — who had raised him since he was 7 years old — “on and off for about two or three weeks” over his girlfriend staying at the elderly woman’s home.

    “She didn’t want the girl over there anymore,” Egland said.

    On Saturday, Atkins’ grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Madison, 76, was walking back into the home and told her grandson “he needs to turn some of them TVs off” when he shot her, she said.

    Egland said she heard about six gunshots before another cousin came running from the porch and shouted to Egland, “I think Gene shot my mama!”

    The girlfriend was grazed in the head, police said.

    Egland said she ran to call 911 and waited for an ambulance to arrive. At the same time, police said Atkins stole his grandmother’s car and forced his girlfriend into the vehicle.

    Officers tracked the car using a stolen-vehicle tracking system and tried to stop the man in Hollywood, but he refused to pull over, police said. During the chase, he fired at officers, shooting out the back window of his car.

    More gunfire ensued before Atkins crashed into a pole outside the supermarket. The man exchanged gunfire with police again and that’s when a 27-year-old Trader Joe’s employee, Melyda Corado, was shot and killed, Police Chief Michel Moore said. Officers escorted the girlfriend from the vehicle.

    Customers and employees frantically dove for cover and barricaded themselves inside storerooms and bathrooms as bullets fired by police shattered the store’s glass doors.

    As he heard gunfire, Sean Gerace, who was working in the back of the supermarket, grabbed several of his co-workers and the group made their way into an upstairs storage area. He grabbed a folding ladder and tossed it out a window, helping his colleagues escape to safety, he told KNBC-TV.

    “I grabbed an emergency ladder, barricaded the hallway, grabbed a weapon, put the ladder out the window and just tried to get the attention of the SWAT officer,” Gerace told the television station.

    About three hours later, Atkins — who had been shot in the left arm — agreed to handcuff himself and walked out the front door, surrounded by four of the hostages. He was being held on $2 million bail Sunday and it wasn’t clear if he had an attorney to comment on the allegations.

    A gun was found in the store, police said.

    A 22-year-old woman was wounded by glass fragments and later took herself to a hospital, police said.

    The Fire Department took six people to hospitals for non-life threatening conditions or injuries, police said.

    Atkins’ grandmother initially was taken to a hospital in critical condition and police said she had been shot seven times but Egland, who visited Madison at the hospital on Sunday, said she had only been shot three times, had undergone surgery and her condition was improving.

    Atkins, who has two daughters, bounced between several jobs, including working as a security guard, but had been repeatedly fired, Egland said. His license to work as a security guard expired in November 2017, according to state records. It was not clear whether the particular license he possessed would have allowed him to legally carry a firearm.

    His grandmother had also tried to help him find employment and “was just trying to make him do better,” Egland said.

    Atkins never grew violent toward his grandmother before, Egland said, but she started to grow concerned about him over the last several weeks because he seemed upset and distant.

    “He didn’t seem right to me,” Egland said. “I’m just devastated.”

    On Sunday, grieving family members, co-workers and customers remembered Corado, the Trader Joe’s worker, as lively, hardworking and always smiling. A makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and notes grew on the sidewalk outside of the store on Sunday.

    “I’m sad to say she didn’t make it. My baby sister. My world,” her brother, Albert Corado said on Twitter.

    Trader Joe’s said the store — known by customers as a neighborhood hangout with great customer service — would remain closed for the foreseeable future to give their employees time to process and grieve.

    “Yesterday marks the saddest day in Trader Joe’s history as we mourn the loss of one our own,” company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with her family, and our Crew Members and customers who experienced this terrifying and unimaginable ordeal.”

    ___

    Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Robert Jablon contributed to this report.

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    Deadly Missouri duck boat to be raised, most survivors leave hospital

    (Reuters) – The duck boat that sank in a Missouri lake last week, killing 17 people, was set to be raised on Monday and taken to a secure facility as part of a federal investigation into one of deadliest U.S. tourist accidents for years.

    Rescue personnel work after an amphibious “duck boat” capsized and sank, at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Stone County, Missouri, U.S. July 19, 2018 in this still image obtained from a video on social media. SOUTHERN STONE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT/Facebook/via REUTERS

    The U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday it will oversee the salvage operations for the amphibious vessel that was carrying 31 people when it went down on Thursday in a fierce and sudden storm on Table Rock Lake outside of the tourist destination of Branson.

    Seven of the 14 survivors were taken to a local hospital, and all but one had been discharged as of Sunday. That person is in good condition, a spokeswoman for the Cox Medical Center Branson hospital said.

    Two of the World War Two-style amphibious duck boat vehicles were out on the lake and headed back to shore when the storm struck, but only one made it. The dead were aged one to 70 and came from six U.S. states.

    Readings near Branson when the boat went down showed winds of up to 73 miles per hour (117 kph), two miles (3.2 km) shy of hurricane force, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Saturday.

    Tia Coleman, who lost nine family members including her husband and three children, told a news conference on Saturday from a Branson hospital that she does not know how she will recover from the loss.

    “Going home is going to be completely difficult. I don’t know how I am going to do it. Since I have had a home, it has always been filled with little feet and laughter,” she said, choking back tears.

    Coleman said the boat’s captain, who was among the survivors, pointed out the life jackets but told those aboard there was no need for them.

    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley was in Branson over the weekend talking with investigators. He has said the state is contemplating whether to bring criminal charges.

    Jim Pattison, president of Ripley Entertainment, which owns the Branson “Ride The Ducks” tour company, told CBS This Morning on Friday that the strength of the storm was unexpected and the duck boats should not have been on the lake.

    More than three dozen people have died in incidents involving duck boats on land and water in the United States over the past two decades.

    Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Sandra Maler

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    rural communities living in fear as confidence in police drops

    Countryside dwellers are living in fear of crime as their faith in rural policing to deal with blights such as fly-tipping shrinks, a new report has found.

    Just over a quarter – 27 per cent – of people living in the country have confidence in their local police force to keep them safe, according to the National Rural Crime Survey, 11 per cent lower than at the last survey in 2015.

    Fly-tipping, speeding and the financial burden of keeping property secure all feature prominently in a list of concerns described by the authors as “stark and worrying”.

    The report, titled Living on the Edge, also found a growing number of communities are feeling “frustrated at the way crime, deprivation and vulnerability is hidden by a picture postcard view of the countryside”.

    The National Rural Crime Network, which commissioned the survey, said crime and the fear of crime was most experienced by young people, families and farmers.

    More than two-thirds – 69 per cent – of farmers and rural-specific business owners have been a victim of crime over the past 12 months, it found.

    Some of the more common concerns were issues such as fly-tipping and speeding, where the police have a shared responsibility along with local authorities and other agencies.

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    Last photo shows happy family before duck boat horror left 9 of them dead

    In the last photo they took together, 11 members of the Coleman family are shown smiling and posing with a life preserver just before they boarded a duck boat in Branson, Missouri, for a voyage only two of them survived.

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    In the picture, Tia Coleman is seen holding her 1-year-old daughter Arya and standing next to her 76-year-old uncle, Ray Colemen. Her husband, Glenn, rests his hands on the shoulder of their nephew, Donovan Hall, 13, who has his arms around his cousin, Reece, 9.

    PHOTO: The Coleman family before the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, that left nine of them dead.Family handout via WRTV
    The Coleman family before the duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri, that left nine of them dead.

    Glenn’s parents, Horace and Belinda, stand to the right in the group picture, while 7-year-old Evan Coleman, his aunt, Angela, and his little cousin Max, 2, round out the family portrait.

    The cheery snapshot was to be a vacation souvenir, a vivid reminder of a summer spent together. Now it is all that Tia Coleman and her nephew, Donovan, have to remember their last moments spent with their loved ones before they died.

    PHOTO: Tia Coleman talked about the support she has received from family and friends and her faith since surviving the duck boat tragedy that left nine of her relatives dead.ABC News
    Tia Coleman talked about the support she has received from family and friends and her faith since surviving the duck boat tragedy that left nine of her relatives dead.

    Shortly after taking the photo on Thursday afternoon, the family embarked on a Ride the Ducks tour of Table Rock Lake near Branson, a scheduled 70-minute adventure that turned into a nightmare when a fierce storm suddenly struck and the boat they were on was buffeted by gusts of up to 73 miles per hour and capsized by waves that crested at 6 feet, officials said.

    PHOTO: A video grab shows a tourist duck boat taking on water in a lake near Branson, Mo., July 20, 2018.Courtesy Trent Behr
    A video grab shows a tourist duck boat taking on water in a lake near Branson, Mo., July 20, 2018.

    The Colemans, of Indianapolis, were among 31 people, including two crew members, aboard the amphibious vessel. Seventeen people died in the tragedy.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, trying to determine what doomed the boat dubbed the “Stretch Duck 7.”

    PHOTO: People look at a memorial in front of Ride the Ducks, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo.Charlie Riedel/AP
    People look at a memorial in front of Ride the Ducks, July 21, 2018 in Branson, Mo.

    The U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday that a salvage operation will commence Monday morning to bring the sunken boat to the surface to be examined.

    On Saturday, divers retrieved a recorder of the boat’s trip data, the equivalent of an airplane’s black box, and it was flown to Washington, D.C., to be analyzed.

    PHOTO: People pray by a car thought to belong to a victim of Thursdays boating accident before a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks, July 20, 2018, in Branson, Mo.Charlie Riedel/AP
    People pray by a car thought to belong to a victim of Thursday’s boating accident before a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Ride the Ducks, July 20, 2018, in Branson, Mo.

    In an emotional press conference Saturday from Cox Medical Center in Branson, Tia Coleman, who lost her husband and three children in the tragic lake excursion, said when she and her family boarded the boat, the captain pointed out life jackets but said they wouldn’t be needed.

    “The captain did say something about life jackets,” Coleman recalled Saturday. “He said, ‘Above you are your life jackets. There are three sizes. He said, ‘I’m gonna show you where they are, but you won’t need them. So, no need to worry.’ So we didn’t grab them.”

    A memorial service for those who died on the duck boat was held Sunday at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri.

    “Our lives were forever changed on 7/19/18,” Branson Mayor Karen Best said in a statement.

    Best said the service was not only scheduled to pay tribute to the victims and survivors but to “begin the healing process for our community.”

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