February 22, 2024

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AP News in Brief at 6:02 a.m. EDT

Hurricane Ida evacuees urged to return to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With power due back for almost all of New Orleans by next week, Mayor LaToya Cantrell strongly encouraged residents who evacuated because of Hurricane Ida to begin returning home. But outside the city, the prospects of recovery appeared bleaker, with no timeline on power restoration and homes and businesses in tatters.

Six days after Hurricane Ida made landfall, hard-hit parts of Louisiana were still struggling to restore any sense of normalcy. Even around New Orleans, a continued lack of power for most residents made a sultry stretch of summer hard to bear and added to woes in the aftermath of Ida. Louisiana authorities searched Friday for a man they said shot another man to death after they both waited in a long line to fill up at a gas station in suburban New Orleans.

Cantrell said the city would offer transportation starting Saturday to any resident looking to leave the city and get to a public shelter. It already began moving some residents out of senior homes.

At the Renaissance Place senior home Friday, dozens of residents lined up to get on minibuses equipped with wheelchair lifts after city officials said they determined conditions at the facility were not safe and evacuated it.

Reggie Brown, 68, was among those waiting to join fellow residents on a bus. He said residents, many in wheelchairs, have been stuck at the facility since Ida. Elevators stopped working three days ago and garbage was piling up inside, he said. The residents were being taken to a state-run shelter, the mayor’s office said.

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Biden tells storm-ravaged Louisiana: ‘I know you’re hurting’

LAPLACE, La. (AP) — Giant trees knocked sideways. Homes boarded up with plywood. Off-kilter street signs.

Less than a week after Hurricane Ida battered the Gulf Coast, President Joe Biden walked the streets of a hardhit Louisiana neighborhood and told local residents, “I know you’re hurting, I know you’re hurting.”

Biden pledged robust federal assistance to get people back on their feet and said the government already had distributed $100 million directly to individuals in the state in $500 checks to give them a first slice of critical help. Many people, he said, don’t know what help is available because they can’t get cellphone service.

Residents welcomed Biden’s Friday presence, one of them drawing a sign with his last name and a heart for the dot on the “i.” They laughed and posed for selfies.

More formally, Biden met with state and local officials in LaPlace, a community between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain that suffered major wind and water damage and was left with sheared-off roofs and flooded homes.

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Brazil starts booster shots while many still await a 2nd jab

SAO PAULO (AP) — Some cities in Brazil are providing booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, even though most people have yet to receive their second jabs, in a sign of the concern in the country over the highly contagious delta variant.

Rio de Janeiro, currently Brazil’s epicenter for the variant and home to one of its largest elderly populations, began administering the boosters Wednesday. Northeastern cities Salvador and Sao Luis started on Monday, and the most populous city of Sao Paulo will begin Sept. 6. The rest of the nation will follow the next week.

France, Israel, China and Chile are among those countries giving boosters to some of their older citizens, but more people in those countries are fully vaccinated than the 30% who have gotten two shots in Brazil. A U.S. plan to start delivery of booster shots by Sept. 20 for most Americans is facing complications that could delay third doses for those who received the Moderna vaccine, administration officials said Friday.

About nine out of 10 Brazilians have been vaccinated already or plan to be, according to pollster Datafolha. Most have gotten their first shot but not their second.

Brazil’s cases and deaths have been falling for two months, with 621 deaths reported in the seven days through Sept. 2 — far below April’s peak of more than 3,000 reported deaths over a seven-day period. Older Brazilians have expressed concern about the efficacy of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine against the delta variant, prompting authorities to offer the booster shots.

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Surviving 9/11 was ‘just the first piece of the journey’

NEW YORK (AP) —

Trapped deep in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, Will Jimeno lived through the unthinkable. Twenty years later, he’s still living with it.

A brace and a quarter-sized divot on his left leg reflect the injuries that ended his police career, a lifetime dream. He has post-traumatic stress disorder. He keeps shelves of mementoes, including a cross and miniature twin towers fashioned from trade center steel. He was portrayed in a movie and wrote two books about enduring the ordeal.

“It never goes away, for those of us that were there that day,” he says.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijackers in Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network rammed four commercial jets into the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001. Yet an estimated 33,000 or more people successfully evacuated the stricken buildings.

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Searches, sorrow in wake of Ida’s destructive, deadly floods

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Police went door to door in search of more possible victims and drew up lists of the missing as the death toll rose to 49 on Friday in the catastrophic flooding set off across the Northeast by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

The disaster underscored with heartbreaking clarity how vulnerable the U.S. is to the extreme weather that climate change is bringing. In its wake, officials weighed far-reaching new measures to save lives in future storms.

More than three days after the hurricane blew ashore in Louisiana, Ida’s rainy remains hit the Northeast with stunning fury on Wednesday and Thursday, submerging cars, swamping subway stations and basement apartments and drowning scores of people in five states.

Intense rain overwhelmed urban drainage systems never meant to handle so much water in such a short time — a record 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in just an hour in New York. Seven rivers in the Northeast reached their highest levels on record, Dartmouth College researcher Evan Dethier said.

On Friday, communities labored to haul away ruined vehicles, pump out homes and highways, clear away muck and other debris and restore mass transit.

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Judge shields Texas clinics from anti-abortion group’s suits

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A state judge has shielded, for now, Texas abortion clinics from lawsuits by an anti-abortion group under a new state abortion law in a narrow ruling handed down Friday.

The temporary restraining order Friday by state District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin in response to the Planned Parenthood request does not interfere with the provision. However, it shields clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director and 100 unidentified individuals.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request was set for Sept. 13.

The law, which took effect Wednesday, allows anyone anywhere to sue anyone connected to an abortion in which cardiac activity was detected in the embryo — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy before most women even realize they are pregnant.

In a petition filed late Thursday, Planned Parenthood said about 85% to 90% of people who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy.

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The Latest: Pakistan’s powerful intel chief arrives in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan — Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief has made a surprise visit to the Afghan capital of Kabul. That’s according to two Pakistan officials who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Gen. Faiez Hameed had to say Saturday to the Taliban leadership but the Pakistani intelligence service has perhaps the greatest outside influence over the Taliban.

The Taliban leadership had its headquarters in Pakistan and were often said to be in direct contact with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Although Pakistan routinely denied giving the Taliban military aid, the accusation was often made by the Afghan government and Washington.

— By Zarar Khan

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Extremist was released from New Zealand jail despite fears

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand authorities imprisoned a man inspired by the Islamic State group for three years after catching him with a hunting knife and extremist videos — but at a certain point, despite grave fears he would attack others, they say they could do nothing more to keep him behind bars.

So for 53 days from July, police tracked the man’s every move, an operation that involved some 30 officers working around the clock. Their fears were borne out Friday when the man walked into an Auckland supermarket, grabbed a kitchen knife from a store shelf and stabbed five people, critically injuring three.

Two more shoppers were injured in the melee. On Saturday, three of the victims remained hospitalized in critical condition and three more were in stable or moderate conditions. The seventh person was recovering at home. The youngest victim was a 29-year-old woman, the oldest a 77-year-old man.

Undercover officers monitoring the man from just outside the supermarket sprang into action when they saw shoppers running and heard shouting, police said, and shot him dead within a couple of minutes of him beginning his attack. A bystander’s video records the sound of 10 shots being fired in rapid succession.

The attack has highlighted deficiencies in New Zealand’s anti-terror laws, which experts say are too focused on punishing actions and inadequate for dealing with plots before they are carried out. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said lawmakers were close to filling some of those legislative holes when the attack occurred. She vowed law changes by the end of the month.

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Thai PM Prayuth wins confidence vote amid criticism on virus

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha won votes of confidence in Parliament on Saturday, helping to steady his government after it had come under intense criticism for bungling its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prayuth still faces pressure from street protests that have been demanding he step down. Pro-democracy activists opposing his policies have been seeking his resignation since last year and stepped up their efforts in recent weeks.

Major, though not huge, rallies were held this past week in defiance of limits on public gatherings as a virus-fighting measure, and another was scheduled for later Saturday, with organizers vowing to continue until he gets out of office.

Arriving at Parliament ahead of the voting on the censure motions against him and five members of his Cabinet, Prayuth had declared to reporters: “I am confident every day.” Asked if there will be a Cabinet reshuffle soon, he said, “It’s not time yet.”

Prayuth prevailed by a comfortable margin in the House of Representatives, with support from 264 lawmakers showing only a few defections from the 271 members of his ruling coalition, despite intense rumors of a plot among them to force him out.

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Osaka weighs another break from tennis after US Open loss

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Osaka looked over at her agent and said she wanted to tell the world what the two of them had discussed privately in an Arthur Ashe Stadium hallway after her U.S. Open title defense ended with a racket-tossing, composure-missing, lead-evaporating defeat in the third round.

His reply: “Sure.”

And then Osaka, pausing every so often as her voice got caught on her words and her eyes filled with tears, said Friday night she is thinking about taking another break from tennis “for a while.”

“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad,” Osaka said at her news conference following a 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 loss at Flushing Meadows to Leylah Fernandez, an 18-year-old from Canada who is ranked 73rd and never had been this far in Grand Slam competition. “I don’t think that’s normal.”

The moderator in charge of the session with reporters attempted to cut things off, but Osaka said she wanted to continue.

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