Weakened Barry rolls into Louisiana, drenches Gulf Coast
NEW ORLEANS — Barry rolled into the Louisiana coast Saturday, flooding highways, forcing people to scramble to rooftops and dumping heavy rain that officials had feared could test the levees and pumps that were bolstered after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said.
By early evening, New Orleans had been spared the worst effects, receiving only light showers and gusty winds. A National Weather Service forecaster said the city may escape with only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain. But officials warned that Barry could still cause disastrous flooding across a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast and drop up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) through Sunday across other parts of Louisiana.
“This is just the beginning,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It’s going to be a long several days for our state.”
The Coast Guard rescued a dozen people from flooded areas of Terrebonne Parish, south of New Orleans, some of them from rooftops, a spokeswoman said. The people included a 77-year-old man who called for help because he had about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water in his home.
Hurricane Barry’s rain and floods hammer Gulf environment
Hurricane Barry could affect the environment of the Gulf coast and Lower Mississippi Valley in numerous ways, from accelerating runoff of farmland nutrients to toppling trees and damaging wildlife habitat and fisheries, scientists say.
But the extent of the damage — and whether it will be at least partially offset by benefits such as disruption of the notorious Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” — is hard to predict, they say. That’s because the region faces a rare one-two-three punch : the storm’s anticipated tidal surge and torrential downpour, combined with record-high water levels in the Mississippi River.
“We don’t know how the system is going to respond to all this because it’s so unusual,” said Melissa Baustian, a coastal ecologist with the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
One of the wettest-ever springs in the nation’s heartland engorged the Mississippi, sending massive volumes of water southward toward the Gulf. Levees and dams were breached and millions of acres of cropland flooded in the Midwest. Barry threatens to hurl a storm surge of up to 3 feet (1 meter) onto coastal regions. And forecasters said the hurricane could stall inland and dump up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) of rain.
Rainfall washes manure and chemical fertilizers from Midwestern corn and soybean fields into streams, smaller rivers and eventually the Mississippi. The nutrients — especially nitrogen — overfeed aquatic plants that eventually die and decompose, leaving a large section of the Gulf with little or no oxygen each summer. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that this year’s dead zone will be roughly the size of Massachusetts.
No lights, big city: Power outage KOs Broadway, Times Square
NEW YORK — Authorities were scrambling to restore electricity to Manhattan following a power outage that knocked out Times Square’s towering electronic screens, darkened marquees in the theater district and left businesses without electricity, elevators stuck and subway cars stalled.
The New York City Fire Department said a transformer fire Saturday evening at West 64th Street and West End Avenue affected more than 44,000 customers along a 30-block stretch from Times Square to about 72nd Street and Broadway.
Officials with Con Edison later tweeted that they were working to restore electricity to customers and businesses primarily on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The temperature was warm, above 80 even as the sun set, but not as steaming as Manhattan can get in July.
Power reportedly went out early Saturday evening at much of Rockefeller Center and reached the Upper West Side.
Police: Man dies after attacking immigration prison
TACOMA, Wash. — A man armed with a rifle threw incendiary devices at an immigration jail in Washington state early Saturday morning, then was found dead after four police officers arrived and opened fire, authorities said.
The Tacoma Police Department said the officers responded at about 4 a.m. to the privately run Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security detention facility that holds migrants pending deportation proceedings. The detention center has also held immigration-seeking parents separated from their children under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, an effort meant to deter illegal immigration.
The shooting took place about six hours after a peaceful rally in front of the detention center, police spokesman Loretta Cool said. She said another rally was planned for later Saturday, but it would have to be held in a different area because of the investigation into the police shooting.
Police said the man caused a vehicle to catch fire and that he attempted to ignite a large propane tank and set buildings on fire. Police said that besides the rifle, he had a satchel and flares.
Police said officers called out to the man, and shots were fired.
More to come: FTC fine doesn’t spell closure for Facebook
Facebook may be close to putting a Federal Trade Commission investigation behind it. But it faces a variety of other probes in Europe and the U.S., some of which could present it with even bigger headaches.
While the $5 billion fine from the FTC, which Facebook has been expecting, is by far the largest the agency has levied on a technology company, the real worries for Facebook — and its investors and the companies that use it to advertise on its service — are the other restrictions and government oversight that might come with it. This goes for the other investigations as well, which span the globe from the European Union, Germany, and Belgium to New York, Canada and elsewhere.
“This fine signals that regulators are ratcheting up the pressure,” said Dimitri Sirota, the CEO of BigID, a business data privacy company, in an email. He said that the FTC action, together with recent European fines on British Airways and Marriott, shows that regulators around the world are getting bolder in cracking down on data privacy violations. Facebook may think the fine is easily affordable, he said, but it hurts its image and trustworthiness.
Beyond the regulatory investigations, Cowen analyst John Blackledge noted that Facebook and other big companies also face broader antitrust concerns .
Facebook has enjoyed more than a decade of unfettered growth as Silicon Valley’s golden child, trusted to regulate itself and keep its 2.4 billion users’ interests at heart.
Islamic extremist attack on Somali hotel leaves 26 dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Islamic extremists blew up the gate of a Somali hotel with a car bomb and took over the building for more than 14 hours, leaving 26 people dead before Somali forces who besieged the hotel overnight killed the attackers. The victims included a prominent Canadian-Somali journalist .
Three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans and a Briton also were among the dead, said Ahmed Madobe, the president of Jubbaland regional state which controls Kismayo. Fifty-six people, including two Chinese, were injured in the hotel attack, he told reporters.
At least four al-Shabab assailants attacked the Asasey Hotel Friday evening, beginning with a suicide car bomb at the entrance gate and followed by an assault by gunmen who stormed the hotel, which is frequented by politicians, patrons and lawmakers.
The attack lasted more than 14 hours before troops shot dead all attackers inside the hotel compound, Col. Abdiqadir Nur, a local police officer, told The Associated Press.
Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, often uses car bombs to infiltrate heavily fortified targets like the hotel in Kismayo, which has been relatively quiet in recent years.
Barr: Justice Dept. is ‘all in’ on criminal justice overhaul
EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Leroy Nolan has spent the last 26 years behind bars at a federal prison for a drug conviction. In the prison factory, he works making T-shirts, backpacks and other products that are later sold to government agencies, nonprofits and others.
But what has become a decades-long routine for Nolan behind the barbed wire, steel gates and concrete walls of FCI Edgefield, a prison in rural South Carolina, will all change on Friday when he walks out the front door. The 67-year-old is among about 2,200 federal inmates who will be released that day by the federal Bureau of Prisons under a criminal justice reform measure signed into law last year by President Donald Trump.
The measure, known as the First Step Act, gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders, eases mandatory minimum sentences and encourages inmates to participate in programs designed to reduce the risk of recidivism, with credits that can be used to gain an earlier release.
On a visit this past week to Edgefield — a facility with a medium-security prison and minimum-security camp — Attorney General William Barr took a firsthand look at some of the programs in place, from computer skills to cooking, auto mechanic training and factory work. He met with prison staff and a handful of inmates, including some who will be released early under the First Step Act.
Barr’s visit signaled a major policy shift since his first stint as attorney general in the early 1990s, when he exuded a tough-on-crime approach, advocating for more severe penalties, building more prisons and using laws to keep some criminals behind bars longer. Barr has said he will fully support and carry out the law.
Russia launches major new telescope into space after delays
MOSCOW — A Russian Proton-M rocket successfully delivered a cutting-edge space telescope into orbit Saturday after days of launch delays, Russia’s space agency said.
Roscosmos said the telescope, named Spektr-RG, was delivered into a parking orbit before a final burn Saturday that kicked the spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit and on to its final destination: the L2 Lagrange point.
Lagrange points are unique positions in the solar system where objects can maintain their position relative to the sun and the planets that orbit it. Located 1.5 million kilometers (0.93 million miles) from Earth, L2 is particularly ideal for telescopes such as Spektr-RG.
If all goes well, the telescope will arrive at its designated position in three months, becoming the first Russian spacecraft to operate beyond Earth’s orbit since the Soviet era. The telescope aims to conduct a complete x-ray survey of the sky by 2025, the first space telescope to do so.
The Russian accomplishment comes as the U.S. space agency NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.
Armstrong’s famous “one small step” quote -- explained
What did Neil Armstrong really say when he took his first step on the moon?
Millions on Earth who listened to him on TV or radio heard this :
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But after returning from space, Armstrong said that wasn’t what he had planned to say. He said there was a lost word in his famous one-liner from the moon: “That’s one small step for ‘a’ man.” It’s just that people just didn’t hear it.”
During a 30th anniversary gathering in 1999, the Apollo 11 commander acknowledged that he didn’t hear himself say it either when he listened to the transmission from the July 20, 1969, moon landing.
Halep wins Wimbledon, stops Williams’ bid for 24th Slam
WIMBLEDON, England — Clutching her trophy 20 minutes after becoming Wimbledon’s champion, Simona Halep checked out the board inside Centre Court that lists tournament winners. Below all of the mentions of Serena Williams, her opponent in Saturday’s final, there already was inscribed: “Miss S. Halep.”
Halep was not concerned with preventing Williams from winning a 24th Grand Slam title. All Halep cared about was winning her first at the All England Club. And she played pretty much perfectly.
On top of her game right from start to finish, Halep overwhelmed Williams 6-2, 6-2 in stunning fashion for her second major championship. The whole thing took less than an hour as Williams lost her third Slam final in a row as she tries to equal Margaret Court’s record for most major trophies in tennis history.
“I’m very sure,” Halep said, “that was the best match of my life.”
The No. 7-seeded Romanian made a mere three unforced errors, a remarkably low total and 23 fewer than Williams.
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