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Thursday, May 01, 2014 - Updated: 8:37 AM

Stories of rescues, devastation emerge

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- Valencia Norton awoke to a neighbor pounding on the windows of the mobile home she shared with a friend. Water had washed away her steps and part of the porch. She grabbed a small bag of clothes and waited.

"I was freaking," said Norton, tears streaming down her face as she recalled the scene. "I don't know how to swim."

A short time later, a firefighter came by and carried her to dry land. It was one of many rescue stories from the single rainiest day ever recorded in Pensacola, and another tale of survival after days of relentless storms across the U.S., beginning with deadly and destructive tornadoes Sunday in the Midwest.

On Monday, the violent winds wrecked parts of Tennessee and Mississippi, but by the time the storm system arrived in the Panhandle, the devastation was all water.

The system was expected to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions today.

Botched execution could fire up debate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate is certain to fire up the debate over what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment -- the phrase written into the U.S. Constitution and defined by the courts, piece by piece, over two centuries.

Convicted killer Clayton Lockett, 38, began writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow Tuesday evening after he was supposedly rendered unconscious by the first of three drugs in the state's new lethal injection combination.

The execution was halted, and Lockett died of a heart attack about a half-hour later, authorities said.

While officials later blamed a ruptured vein -- not the drugs themselves -- the case is raising questions about the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the Eighth Amendment requirement that punishments be neither cruel nor unusual.

Death penalty opponents such as the American Civil Liberties Union called for moratorium on capital punishment. And the White House said the procedure fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.

Military sex assault reports increase

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Reports of sexual assaults by members of the military rose 50 percent after the Pentagon began a vigorous campaign to get more victims to come forward, prompting defense officials to order a greater focus on prevention programs, including plans to review alcohol sales and policies.

But officials are still unhappy with the low number of male victims who reported sexual assault, and they say there will be a greater emphasis in the months ahead on getting men to come forward and seek help. Final data obtained by The Associated Press show that about 14 percent of the reports filed last year involved male victims.

Defense officials said Wednesday that encouraging more men to report sexual assaults is a difficult challenge because male victims often worry that it will make people think they are weak and trigger questions about their sexual orientation. In most cases, however, sexual orientation has nothing to do with the assault and it's more an issue of power or abuse.

"There is still a misperception that this is a women's issue and women's crime," said Nate Galbreath, the senior executive adviser for the Pentagon's sexual assault prevention office. "It's disheartening that we have such a differential between the genders and how they are choosing to report."

Jail explosion kills 2, injures 100

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- An explosion rocked a jail in the Florida Panhandle late Wednesday, killing two inmates, injuring more than 100 other people, and causing the building to partially collapse, according to a county spokeswoman.

The blast happened about 11 p.m. CDT at a booking facility at the Escambia County Jail, and as many as 150 inmate and corrections officers were injured, said Kathleen Castro, the county's public information manager. About 600 inmates were in the Pensacola building at the time, and the uninjured were taken to jails in neighboring counties, she said.

The Pensacola area was drenched by rains and severely flooded Wednesday as part of a large storm system making its way across the U.S., but Castro said she didn't know whether that was a factor in the explosion.

Victims were taken to four hospitals in Pensacola and nearby Gulf Breeze.

Sacred Heart Hospital treated 31 patients with mostly neck and back injuries, spokeswoman Vicki Brooks said. West Florida Hospital treated 37 inmates in the emergency room, and all have been released back into the custody of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, spokesman Kendrick Dodge said.

Fifty patients were taken to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, with 12 treated and released by this morning, spokeswoman Liz Branch said. At Gulf Breeze Hospital, 13 of the 31 patients from the explosion were treated and released.

The names of the two inmates killed in the explosion weren't immediately released.

Draft of Dylan's song heads to auction

NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the most popular songs of all time, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," is going to auction this summer.

Sotheby's is offering a working draft of the finished song in Dylan's own hand for an estimated $1 million to $2 million.

The song is about a debutante who becomes a loner when she's cast from upper-class social circles.

The draft is written in pencil on four sheets of hotel letterhead stationery with revisions, additions, notes and doodles: a hat, a bird, an animal with antlers. The stationery comes from the Roger Smith hotel in Washington, D.C.

"How does it feel To be on your own" it says in his handwriting. "No direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone."

Scrawls seem to reflect the artist's experimentation with rhymes.

The name "Al Capone" is scrawled in the margin, with a line leading to the lyrics "Like a complete unknown."

Another note says: "...dry vermouth, you'll tell the truth..."

Dylan was only 24 when he recorded the song in 1965.

The auction is June 24 as part of Sotheby's rock and pop music sale.

Sotheby's described the seller as a longtime fan from California "who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought directly from Dylan." He was not identified.

     

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