Day: September 5, 2019

AP News in Brief at 12:09 a.m. EDT

A rescue, a reunion and a rush to help in Dorian’s aftermath

ABACO, Bahamas (AP) — When Hurricane Dorian hit Sylvia Cottis’ home at a beach club in the Bahamas, the fearsome Category 5 storm blew out the supposedly hurricane-proof windows, turning the glass into razor-sharp shrapnel that opened a wide gash on her knee.

Then the 89-year-old woman and her caretaker settled in to wait for help, and conditions soon worsened. The house became flooded with sewage after the septic tank overflowed with floodwater. They could not flush the toilet without using water from a pool. Surrounded by wet belongings and filth, Cottis spent the days sitting in her wheelchair and the nights sleeping in a metal lawn lounger.

Five agonizing days passed. Then on Wednesday, a neighbour and his friend at last pried opened the home’s jammed door with a screwdriver to check on Cottis and 58-year-old Kathryn Cartwright. By then, her gash had become infected and swollen.

They were two of the thousands of desperate people seeking help in Dorian’s aftermath. The storm’s devastation came into sharper focus as the death toll climbed to 20 and many people emerged from shelters to check on their homes. They confronted a muddy, debris-strewn landscape across Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, which are known for their marinas, golf courses and all-inclusive resorts.

Meanwhile, the now-distant Dorian regained strength as it pushed up the Southeastern U.S. coast as a Category 3 storm. It was on a path to menace Georgia and the Carolinas after millions of people were warned to clear out.


Dorian, back to a Category 3 hurricane, creeps up US coast

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Hurricane Dorian , back to a Category 3 storm, began raking the Southeast U.S. seaboard late Wednesday, threatening to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to southwest Virginia with a dangerous storm surge after its deadly mauling of the Bahamas.

Dorian had crashed into the island nation as its strongest hurricane on record leaving widespread devastation and at least 20 people dead. But it weakened substantially in the days since, dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 2 storm before increasing again late Wednesday. Dorian could maintain this intensity for about 12 hours or so, but guidance is showing shear increasing, and that should result in gradual weakening Thursday and Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Dorian still boasted dangerously high winds of 115 mph (185 kph) as it churned north toward the Carolinas while pushing crashing ocean waves onshore.

More than 1,500 people sought refuge in 28 shelters in South Carolina, where sheets of rain began falling late Wednesday in the historic port city of Charleston, located on a peninsula prone to flooding. As Dorian crept dangerously closer, winds picked up sending rain sheets sideways, thunder boomed in the night sky and power flickered on and off in places.

Though weakened, Dorian remained a force to be reckoned with, its swirling circle of winds and rain wrapped around a large, gaping eye visible on photos taken from space. At 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday the distinct eye of the hurricane churned about 105 miles (168 kilometres) south of Charleston, moving north at 7 mph (11 kph) off the coast.


Johnson’s Brexit plans in crisis after 3rd defeat in 2 days

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Wednesday for a national election on Oct. 15, saying it was the only way out of Britain’s Brexit impasse after lawmakers moved to block his plan to leave the European Union next month without a divorce deal.

But Parliament delivered Johnson his third defeat in two days and turned down a motion triggering a vote. Johnson indicated he would try again, saying an election was the only way forward for the country, and accusing opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of being afraid of the public’s judgment.

“The obvious conclusion, I’m afraid, is that he does not think he will win,” Johnson said.

Scarcely six weeks after taking office with a vow to break Britain’s Brexit deadlock — which entrapped and finally defeated his predecessor, Theresa May — Johnson’s own plans to lead the U.K. out of the EU are in crisis.

Johnson insists Britain must leave the bloc on the scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal, but many lawmakers — including several from Johnson’s Conservative Party — are determined to thwart him. On Wednesday the House of Commons approved an opposition bill designed to halt a no-deal Brexit.


Australia follows familiar, grim path to an opioid crisis

BLACK RIVER, Australia (AP) — Australia may be half a world away from the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States, but it faces an opioid crisis of its own. The country is experiencing skyrocketing rates of opioid prescriptions and related deaths.

Australia has failed to heed the lessons of the U.S. And it has been slow to respond to years of warnings from worried health experts.

Drug companies facing scrutiny for their aggressive marketing of opioids in America have turned their focus abroad and are pushing painkillers in other countries, like Australia.

Australia’s death rate from opioids has more than doubled in just over a decade. And health experts fear that without urgent action, Australia is on track for an even steeper spike in deaths like those in America.


‘Can’t feel my heart:’ IG says separated kids traumatized

WASHINGTON (AP) — Separated from his father at the U.S.-Mexico border last year, the little boy, about 7 or 8, was under the delusion that his dad had been killed. And he thought he was next.

Other children believed their parents had abandoned them. And some suffered physical symptoms because of their mental trauma, clinicians reported to investigators with a government watchdog.

“You get a lot of ‘my chest hurts,’ even though everything is fine” medically, a clinician told investigators. The children would describe emotional symptoms: “Every heartbeat hurts,” or “I can’t feel my heart.”

Children separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” last year, many already distressed in their home countries or by their journey, showed more fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress symptoms than children who were not separated, according to a report Wednesday from the inspector general’s office in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The chaotic reunification process only added to their ordeal.


Democratic candidates focus on climate change in town halls

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Democratic presidential contenders talked tough Wednesday on cutting climate-damaging emissions from oil, gas and coal, turning their focus to global warming in a marathon evening of town halls that gave the candidates a chance to distinguish themselves on a topic of growing importance to their party’s liberal base.

The lengthy climate conversations promised to hand Republicans ammunition for next year’s general election fight by emphasizing one common element in the Democrats’ climate change plans: their overwhelming — and overwhelmingly costly — scope. But the 10 Democrats who participated in the seven-hour series of climate change forums on CNN didn’t shy away from making sweeping promises to reshape the American economy in service of what their party’s grassroots supporters see as the paramount goal of averting global warming’s most devastating effects.

“We have a moral responsibility to act and act boldly. And to do that, yes, it is going to be expensive,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who billed his $16 trillion climate change plan as a necessary response to scientists’ calls for dramatic cuts to carbon emissions.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden took a more pragmatic view than Sanders, even as he defended his own climate proposal as “aggressive enough” to meet the challenge. Biden, who has held an early lead in the Democratic primary, has pledged to regulate the oilfield production method known as hydraulic fracturing — though not abolish it, as some rivals have — and said Wednesday that he doubted an outright ban could be feasible.

After facing sharp questions about his plans to attend a Thursday fundraiser hosted by the co-founder of a natural gas company, Biden defended his decision as consistent with a pledge he signed to turn away any contributions from fossil fuel executives or lobbyists. The energy investor in question, his former aide Andrew Goldman, is described in a company press release as “a long-term investor in the liquefied natural gas sector.”


Probe to find cause of boat fire could lead to criminal case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The captain and crew who leapt from a burning dive boat off Southern California saved themselves as 34 people perished below deck.

Whether their escape from the Conception before dawn Monday was the only viable option, an act of cowardice or even a crime has yet to be determined. While the old saw about the captain going down with his ship is more an antiquated notion, there are laws to punish a ship’s master who shirks his duty to safely evacuate passengers.

The responsibilities of captain and crew are broadly defined, said professor Martin J. Davies, who is the maritime law director at Tulane University. With passengers, their duty is take reasonable care in all the circumstances, which is dependent on those circumstances.

If that captain made no attempt to save passengers trapped in a burning boat that would be a violation of his duty. But it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong if the crew decided there was nothing they could do to help the passengers in the berth and abandoned ship to seek help from a boat nearby.

“The notion of the captain always goes down with the ship is consistent with that only because the captain is expected to stay there and do something if that’s going to help,” Davies said. “The idea that the captain is actually supposed to die along with everyone else is not any kind of a legal requirement.”


Crew member fulfilled dream before death in scuba boat fire

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — Allie Kurtz gave up a job in the movie industry to live her dream of working on the water, and when she landed a job as deckhand on a scuba diving boat, she was thrilled.

She was on that boat, the Conception, when it caught fire and sank, the only crew member among the 34 people trapped below deck as flames blocked their only way out.

Friends from South America to Europe are mourning the 26-year-old, whose family said they will miss her lively, adventurous spirit but know she died doing what she loved most.

“She wanted to go on the Conception so bad. She wanted to work that boat, and she was finally able to work that boat,” her 20-year-old sister Olivia Kurtz told The Associated Press. “She left this world doing something she absolutely loved. This was her dream, and she was finally able to fulfil this dream.”

Five crew members, including the captain, who were above deck managed to escape after fire engulfed the boat as the victims slept early Monday during a three-day scuba diving excursion off the Southern California coast.


Trump clings to idea Alabama faced big threat from Dorian

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump isn’t giving up on the dubious idea that Alabama faced a serious threat from Hurricane Dorian.

During an Oval Office briefing Wednesday, Trump displayed a map of the National Hurricane Center forecast for last Thursday that showed Dorian could track over Florida. The map he displayed included what appeared to be a hand-drawn half-circle that extended the cone of uncertainty over a swath of Alabama.

Trump had raised eyebrows and drawn an emphatic fact check from the National Weather Service on Sunday when he tweeted that Alabama, along with the Carolinas and Georgia, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted in response: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

Few, if any, meteorologists put Alabama in the hurricane’s path. Asked Sunday if Trump had been briefed about potential impact to Alabama, Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote in an email, “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama.”


YouTube to pay $170M fine after violating kids’ privacy law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Google will pay $170 million to settle allegations its YouTube video service collected personal data on children without their parents’ consent.

The company agreed to work with video creators to label material aimed at kids and said it will limit data collection when users view such videos, regardless of their age.

Some lawmakers and children’s advocacy groups, however, complained that the settlement terms aren’t strong enough to rein in a company whose parent, Alphabet, made a profit of $30.7 billion last year on revenue of $136.8 billion, mostly from targeted ads.

Google will pay $136 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $34 million to New York state, which had a similar investigation. The fine is the largest the FTC has levied against Google, but it’s tiny compared with the $5 billion fine against Facebook this year for privacy violations.

YouTube “baited kids with nursery rhymes, cartoons, and more to feed its massively profitable behavioural advertising business,” Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra said in a tweet. “It was lucrative, and it was illegal.”

The Associated Press

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2nd daughter dies from Kincora house fire set by her father, who also perished

Dorna Dehdari Dorsa Dehdari

A 15-year-old girl has died months after her older sister, both victims of a Calgary house fire that police believe was deliberately set by their father — just a month after his wife of 27 years filed for divorce.

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