Authorities and residents in Florida are keeping a cautious eye on Tropical Storm Ian as it rumbles through the Caribbean, expected to continue gaining strength and become a major hurricane in the coming days on a forecast track toward the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a statewide emergency, expanding an order from Friday that had covered two dozen counties. He is urging Floridians to prepare for a storm that could lash large swaths of the state. Some residents have begun stocking up on supplies such as water, plywood and generators. President Joe Biden has also declared an emergency for the state.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Authorities and residents in Florida are keeping a cautious eye on Tropical Storm Ian as it rumbles through the Caribbean, expected to continue gaining strength and become a major hurricane in the coming days on a forecast track toward the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a statewide emergency, expanding an order from Friday that had covered two dozen counties. He is urging Floridians to prepare for a storm that could lash large swaths of the state. Some residents have begun stocking up on supplies such as water, plywood and generators. President Joe Biden has also declared an emergency for the state.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency across his entire state as Tropical Storm Ian gains strength over the Caribbean and is forecast to become a major hurricane in coming days. An emergency order DeSantis initially issued for two dozen counties was expanded to a statewide warning on Saturday. The governor is encouraging residents and localities to prepare for the storm, which could lash large swaths of Florida. The National Hurricane Center said Ian is forecast to rapidly power up to a hurricane by Sunday and a major hurricane as soon as late Monday. It's expected to move over western Cuba before approaching Florida in the middle of next week.

Few men in power have delved deeply into gender equality on the main stage of the United Nations this month. But the ones who did went there boldly. They claimed feminist credibility, sold “positive masculinity” and resolutely demanded an end to The Patriarchy. Gender equality is as one of the U.N.’s primary goals. It has long been a safe talking point for world leaders, and there were many brief and polite mentions of progress made toward female empowerment. There were also some leaders who did not say the words “women” or “girls” at all during their time on stage. At other times, a a word considered a dirty word by many for generations was used proudly. Feminism.

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A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office has launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket. The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. Saturday from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County. It was the last launch of a Delta 4 from the West Coast. Additional launches are planned from Florida before the Deltas are replaced by ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets. The Delta IV Heavy configuration first launched in December 2004. This was the 387th flight of a Delta rocket since 1960 and the 95th and final launch from Vandenberg.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for an overhaul of Democrats' political strategy. Newsom says Democrats are getting crushed because they are too timid. He says Republicans are winning because they dominate the political narrative in the United States. Newsom's comments came during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas. Newsom is running for re-election this year. So far, he has been spending his campaign money on ads in other states. He has paid for TV ads in Florida. He' also has put up billboards in Texas and six other states urging women there to come to California if they need an abortion.

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Arizona Democrats are vowing to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances. Democrats on Saturday looked to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact on the midterm elections. Top Democrats implored women not to sit on the sidelines this year, saying the ruling sets women back  to an era when only men had the right to vote. Republican candidates have been silent since the ruling, which said the state can prosecute doctors and others who assist with an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life.

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Saudi Arabia appears to be leaving behind the stream of negative coverage the killing of Jamal Khashoggi elicited since 2018. Once again enthusiastically welcomed back into polite and powerful society, it is no longer as frowned upon to seek their investments and accept their favor. Saudi Arabia’s busy week of triumphs included brokering a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia, holding a highbrow summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, marking the country’s national day, hosting the German chancellor and discussing energy supply with top White House officials. The pivot is drawing focus back to the crown prince’s ambitious re-branding of Saudi Arabia and its place in the world.

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Two U.S. military veterans who disappeared three months ago while fighting with Ukrainian forces have arrived in their home state of Alabama. The men were greeted Saturday by hugs and cheers at the airport in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Drueke, and Andy Huynh had gone missing June 9 in northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border. The Alabama residents were released by Russian-backed separatists as part of a recent prisoner exchange mediated by Saudi Arabia. Also freed were five British nationals and three others — from Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. Smiling but looking tired, the two were pulled into long emotional hugs by family members before being taken to a waiting car.

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Forty years after a predominantly Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, rallied against hosting a hazardous waste landfill, President Joe Biden’s top environment official has returned to what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement to unveil a national office that will distribute $3 billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution. Joined by civil rights leaders and participants from the 1982 protests, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced Saturday that he is dedicating a new senior level of leadership to the environmental justice movement they ignited. The new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will merge three existing EPA programs.

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Pharoah Sanders, the revered tenor saxophonist known to the jazz world for the spirituality of his work, has died. He was 81. His record label says Sanders died early Saturday in Los Angeles. Sanders was known for his work performing alongside John Coltrane in the 1960s. The saxophonist’s best-known work was his two-part “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” from the “Karma” album released in 1969. The combined track is nearly 33 minutes long. After more than a decade of performing but not recording albums, Sanders released the much-admired “Promises” in 2021,  with producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra.

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European Union candidate Serbia has signed an agreement with Russia to hold mutual “consultations” on foreign policy matters. Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selakovic signed the agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly. Although the Serbian government says it supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it has refused to join Western sanctions against its Slavic allies in Moscow. Aligning foreign policies with the EU is one of the main pre-conditions for joining the 27-nation bloc. Officials from Serbia’s pro-Western opposition said the deal signed Friday is a sign President Aleksander Vucic has given up on EU membership and is bringing his country closer into Moscow’s fold.

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A soldier from Massachusetts who went missing during the Korean war and was later reported to have died in a prisoner of war camp has been accounted for. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says Army Cpl. Joseph J. Puopolo, of East Boston, was just 19 when he was reported missing in December 1950. It was later reported he had died in a prisoner of war camp. Military officials say remains disinterred in 2019 were identified as Puopolo through dental and anthropological analysis, mitochondrial DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence. Puopolo's grandnephew says his family, including the soldier's sister who is now 99 years old, has not forgotten him.

“The Crown” will return to its Netflix throne in early November. The streaming service says the series about Queen Elizabeth II and her family circle will begin its fifth season on Nov. 9. The debut will come two months after the queen’s Sept. 8 death at 96. Production on the sixth season was suspended on the day of the queen’s death and again for the funeral of Britain’s longest-serving monarch. In the upcoming season, Imelda Staunton is the latest in a succession of actors who have played the queen. The role of Princess Diana will be filled by Elizabeth Debicki of the film “Tenet.”

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Mali's prime minister is lashing out at everyone from the U.N. secretary-general to former colonizer France. In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Abdoulaye Maiga took aim at what he called a “French junta.” He says that Mali was “stabbed in the back” last year when France made the unilateral decision to relocate its troops to Niger. The last French troops departed Malian soil in August after months of deteriorating relations with the two-time coup leader who holds power in Bamako. Maiga, a lieutenant colonel in the army, also said that the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSMA, has failed to achieve its objectives nearly 10 years later.

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Some Oregon parks officials say high demand for crowded campsites is leading to arguments, fistfights and even so-called campsite pirates. The Statesman Journal reports that park rangers have sometimes had to play mediator and detective when disputes break out over reserved and first-come, first-served campsites. In some cases, would-be campers will remove a reservation card from a reserved site and replace it with their own. Brian Carroll with Linn County Parks and Recreation says in a few cases people have even thrown punches in disputes at Sunnyside County Park. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has said it will seek legislation to give rangers added protection amid increasing harassment on the job.

New York City officials are appealing a judge’s ruling that they lacked the legal authority to fire members of the city’s largest police union for violating a COVID-19 vaccination mandate. State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank in Manhattan ruled Friday that the city health department’s vaccine mandate couldn’t be used to fire or put on leave members of the Police Benevolent Association. Frank ordered the reinstatement of union members who were “wrongfully” terminated or put on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated. The city immediately filed a notice of appeal, freezing the judge’s decision until the appeal is heard.

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Faculty members at Eastern Michigan University have voted to ratify a new four-year labor agreement with the school. The Eastern Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors says Friday that 96% of its members voted in favor of the deal which would include pay raises and more favorable health care coverage. Dozens of faculty members began picketing Sept. 7 at the school, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit. The union and the school’s administration had been split over pay raises and how much faculty members should pay for health care. Striking faculty members returned to their classrooms Sept. 12, after a deal was reached with the university to end the walkout.

NASA is skipping next week's launch attempt of its new moon rocket because of a tropical storm that's expected to become a major hurricane. It's the third delay in the past month for the lunar-orbiting test flight featuring mannequins but no astronauts. Hydrogen leaks and other technical problems caused the previous scrubs. NASA decided Saturday to forgo Tuesday's planned launch attempt and instead prepare the rocket for a possible return to its Florida hangar. Managers will decide Sunday whether to haul the 322-foot rocket off the launch pad. Currently churning in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to slam into Florida's Gulf coast by Thursday.

The names of three people found shot outside a suburban Chicago home and the man believed to have killed them before fatally shooting himself have been released. They were identified Friday by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as 44-year-old Carlos Gomez, 43-year-old Lupe Gomez, 22-year-old Briana Rodriguez and 20-year-old Emilio Rodriguez. Autopsies were expected Saturday. Police have not said specifically who did the shooting but indicated it was the person found inside the house. Officers responding to reports of gunfire early Friday found three victims outside the house in Oak Forest, about 25 miles south of Chicago.

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Iranian activist Masih Alinejad says the videos and messages she’s been receiving in recent days from women in Iran are showing how angry they are following a young woman’s death in police custody over a violation of the country’s strict religious dress code. The spur for this latest explosion of outrage was the death earlier this month of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The young woman was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely in violation of strictures demanding women wear the Islamic headscarves in public. She died in custody. Protests have been going on around the country for days. Alinejad would love to see more support from those in the West, as well.

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With one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, Oklahoma has struggled for decades to properly staff its prisons. A private prison in rural east-central Oklahoma where a correctional officer was fatally stabbed by an inmate this summer is no exception. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville has been plagued with staffing shortages and prison violence. In addition to the killing of 61-year-old guard Alan Hershberger, three inmates have also been killed at the prison so far this year. A 2021 audit of the prison shows it was operating at about 70% of its contractually obligated staffing level.

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A stark gender divide has emerged in debates unfolding in Republican-led states including West Virginia, Indiana and South Carolina following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to end constitutional protections for abortion. As male-dominated legislatures worked to advance bans, protesters were more likely to be women. That happened even as legislators often had support of the few Republican women holding office. In all three states, lawmakers fighting against abortion bans have pointed to the gender divide. They've insisted that male counterparts shouldn’t get to dictate medical decisions for women. Ban supporters maintain that abortion affects not only women, but also children, and all of society.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is under investigation for using a state-owned airplane to fly to political events and bring family members with her on trips. But the decision on whether to prosecute the Republican governor likely hinges on how a county prosecutor interprets an untested law that was passed by voters in 2006. State law allows the aircraft only to be used “in the conduct of state business.” But Noem attended events hosted by political organizations. State plane logs also show that Noem often had family members join her on in-state flights in 2019. It blurred the lines between official travel and attending family events, including her son’s prom and her daughter’s wedding.

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St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run, becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history. The 42-year-old Pujols connected for his second home run of the game, a three-run drive against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford in the fourth inning. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. It was same location where homer No. 699 landed in the third inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney. With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds, who had 762 homers, Hank Aaron with 755 and Babe Ruth at 714 in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 11-0.

Friday, September 23, 2022
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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to “reintroduce the Philippines” to the world. He has ambitious plans for his nation on the international stage and at home. That is, if the twin specters of pandemic and climate change can be overcome or at least managed. And if he can get past the legacies of two people: his predecessor, and his father. He also wants to strengthen ties with both the United States and China. That's a delicate balancing act for the Southeast Asian nation. Marcos spoke in an AP interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

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St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols has hit his 700th career home run, becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history. Pujols connected for his second home run of the game, a three-run drive against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford in the fourth inning. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. It was same location where homer No. 699 — a two-run shot — landed in the third inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.