Dorian leaves Carolina behind
NAGS HEAD, N.C. — Skies cleared and floodwaters receded Saturday from North Carolina’s Outer Banks, leaving behind a muddy trail of destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian, which turned north and began lashing parts of eastern Canada. Dorian’s worst damage in the U.S. appeared to be on Ocracoke Island, which even in good weather is accessible only by boat or air and is popular with tourists for its undeveloped beaches. Longtime residents who hunkered down to wait out the storm described strong but manageable winds followed by a wall of water that flooded the first floors of many homes and forced some to await rescue from their attics. “We’re used to cleaning up dead limbs and trash that’s floating around,” said Ocracoke Island resident and business owner Philip Howard. “But now it’s everything: picnic tables, doors, lumber that’s been floating around.” Howard said by phone Saturday that flooding at his properties on the North Carolina island is 13 inches higher than the levels wrought by a storm in 1944, which he said had long been considered the worst. He raised his home higher than the 1944 flood level and still got water inside. “It’s overwhelming,” said Howard, who owns the Village Craftsmen, a store that sells handcrafted pottery, glass and kitchen items. He said much of the merchandise on the lower shelves is ruined. Pieces of pottery were floating around inside. Inside his house, the floorboards were buckling and curling up after being warped by the water, he said. Gov. Roy Cooper said about 800 people had remained on the island to wait out Dorian . The storm made landfall Friday morning over the Outer Banks as a far weaker storm than the monster that devastated the Bahamas . Yet despite having been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, it still sent seawater surging into homes on Ocracoke, many for the first time in memory. More than 1,100 Bahamians arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, after being evacuated by cruise ship from their hurricane-battered islands.
Dorian powers into Canada
TORONTO — Dorian’s powerful winds arrived on Canada’s Atlantic coast Saturday, toppling a construction crane in Halifax and knocking out power for more than 300,000 people a day after the storm wreaked havoc on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Residents of Nova Scotia braced for heavy rainfall and potential flooding along the coast, as officials in Halifax urged people to secure heavy objects that might become projectiles. Businesses were encouraged to close early. “We do not want the citizens of Halifax roaming downtown as the water is coming in,” said Erica Fleck, assistant chief of community risk reduction in Halifax, the provincial capital and home to 400,000 people. A crane toppled and crashed into the side of a downtown apartment building under construction. In the city’s south end, a roof was ripped off an apartment complex, and firefighter Jeff Paris said several apartment buildings were being evacuated. Those forced from their homes would be taken to emergency shelters, he said.
NOAA hit for defending Trump
WASHINGTON — Former top officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are assailing the agency for undermining its weather forecasters as it defends President Donald Trump’s statement from days ago that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama. They say NOAA’s action risks the credibility of the nation’s weather and science agency and may even risk lives. Dismay came those who served under Republican and Democratic presidents alike as leaders in meteorology and disaster response sized up a sustained effort by Trump and his aides to justify his warning that Alabama, among other states, was “most likely” to be hit hard by Dorian, contrary to forecasts showing Alabama was clear. That effort led NOAA to repudiate a tweet from the National Weather Service the previous weekend assuring Alabamans — accurately — that they had nothing to fear from the hurricane. The weather service is part of NOAA and the tweet came from its Birmingham, Alabama, office. “This rewriting history to satisfy an ego diminishes NOAA,” Elbert “Joe” Friday, former Republican-appointed director of the National Weather Service, said on Facebook. He told The Associated Press on Saturday: “We don’t want to get the point where science is determined by politics rather than science and facts. And I’m afraid this is an example where this is beginning to occur.”
Many aid stricken Bahamas
ABACO, Bahamas — The hurricane death toll is rising in the Bahamas, in what its leader calls “this hour of darkness.” Search and rescue teams were still trying to reach some Bahamian communities isolated by floodwaters and debris Saturday after Hurricane Dorian struck the northern part of the archipelago last Sunday. At least 43 people died. Several hundred people, many of them Haitian immigrants, waited at Abaco island’s Marsh Harbour in hopes of leaving the disaster zone on vessels arriving with aid. Bahamian security forces were organizing evacuations on a landing craft. Other boats, including yachts and other private craft, were also helping to evacuate people. Avery Parotti, a 19-year-old bartender, and partner Stephen Chidles, a 26-year-old gas station attendant had been waiting at the port since 1 a.m. During the hurricane, waves lifted a yacht that smashed against a cement wall, which in turn collapsed on their home and destroyed it. “There’s nothing left here. There are no jobs,” said Parotti, who hopes to start a new life in the United States, where she has relatives. Dorval Darlier, a Haitian diplomat who had come from the Bahamian capital of Nassau, shouted in Creole, telling the crowd that sick people along with women and children should be evacuated before men. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said late Friday that 35 people were known dead on Abaco and eight on Grand Bahama island. “We acknowledge that there are many missing and that the number of deaths is expected to significantly increase,” he said. “This is one of the stark realities we are facing in this hour of darkness.” The U.S. Coast Guard said it has rescued a total of 290 people in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. Six MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are carrying out search and rescue missions and providing logistical support, while nine cutters are also helping, the Coast Guard said. The U.S. Agency for International Development on Saturday announced $1 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help Bahamians, bringing USAID’s total funding to more than $2.8 million so far. The United Nations said eight tons of food supplies were to arrive by ship on Saturday at islands devastated by the hurricane. Some 14,700 ready-to-eat meals as well as logistical and telecommunications equipment are being delivered, said Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program.
Purdue bankruptcy expected
CLEVELAND — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is expected to file for bankruptcy after settlement talks over the nation’s deadly overdose crisis hit an impasse, attorneys general involved in the talks said Saturday in a message to their counterparts across the country. The breakdown puts the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic on track to begin next month and sets the state for a complex legal drama involving more than 30 states and 2,000 local governments. Purdue, its owners, the Sackler family, and a group of state attorneys general had been trying for months to find a way to avoid trial and determine Purdue’s responsibility for a crisis that has cost 400,000 American lives over the past two decades. The email from the attorneys general of Tennessee and North Carolina said that Purdue and the Sacklers had rejected two offers from the states over how payments under any settlement would be handled and that the family declined to offer counterproposals. “As a result, the negotiations are at an impasse, and we expect Purdue to file for bankruptcy protection imminently,” they wrote in their message, which was sent to update attorneys general throughout the country on the status of the talks.
Iran uses advanced centrifuges
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Saturday said it now uses arrays of advanced centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal and can enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels to weapons-grade material, taking a third step away from the accord while warning Europe has little time to offer it new terms. While insisting Iran doesn’t seek a nuclear weapon, the comments by Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran threatened pushing uranium enrichment far beyond levels ever reached in the country. Prior to the atomic deal, Iran only reached up to 20%, which itself still is only a short technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. The move threatened to push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. Mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East followed Trump’s decision. “So far, Iran has showed patience before the U.S. pressures and Europeans’ indifference,” said Qassem Babaei, a 33-year-old electrician in Tehran. “Now they should wait and see how Iran achieves its goals.” Iran separately acknowledged Saturday it had seized another ship and detained 12 Filipino crewmembers, while satellite images suggested an Iranian oil tanker once held by Gibraltar was now off the coast of Syria despite Tehran promising its oil wouldn’t go there.
GOP 3 drop nomination votes
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Republican leaders in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas have voted to scrap their presidential nominating contests in 2020, erecting more hurdles for the long-shot candidates challenging President Donald Trump. “What is Donald Trump afraid of?” asked one of those rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Canceling primaries, caucuses and other voting is not unusual for the party of the White House incumbent seeking a second term. Doing so allows Trump to try to consolidate his support as Democrats work to winnow their large field of candidates. A spokesman for the South Carolina Republican Party, Joe Jackson, confirmed that the state party voted Saturday against holding a presidential primary next year. A similar move followed in Nevada, where party spokesman Keith Schipper said, “The vote to opt out of the caucus has passed. We will vote to endorse and bind the delegates to the President at a later date.” In Kansas, the state GOP tweeted on Friday that it will not organize a caucus “because President Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.” Its state committee planned to approve rules for an “internal party process” for selecting convention delegates, according to Kelly Arnold, the party’s former state chairman, and Helen Van Etten, a member of the Republican National Committee.
Diving deaths felt across globe
Less than a year ago, Tia Salika was wearing an animal-print scuba suit and posing for a photograph in the depths of the iridescent blue ocean off South America with her parents and her best friend. So it seemed only fitting that the high schooler would celebrate her 17th birthday with another adventure: A diving tour through California’s rugged Channel Islands, a national park off Santa Barbara’s coast. That was how she and her parents lived their lives — as fearless world explorers like so many of the others who boarded the Conception vessel for the three-day excursion, friends said. Salika’s birthday ended in tragedy when fire erupted on the commercial dive boat, trapping the 33 divers and a crew member sleeping below deck. The pain would be felt across California, the United States and as far away as Japan, India and Singapore. The Conception brought together an exceptional group of people, who left behind a trail of photos and social media postings that serve as a testament to their lives. They were scientists, teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, photographers and activists. One woman, a water district employee, was dubbed the “Water Princess” for her work in urging people to conserve water. Another was a sales director who devoted her time advocating for the protection of sharks.
Mountain lion killed on freeway
LOS ANGELES — A male mountain lion who successfully crossed a 10-lane freeway in Los Angeles two months ago was struck and killed Saturday on the same section of the freeway. The 4-year-old big cat known as P-61 was hit around 4 a.m. in the Sepulveda Pass section of Interstate 405, National Park Service Ranger Ana Beatriz said on a Facebook post . In July, P-61 became the first big cat documented to cross the massive freeway during the NPS’ 17-year study of mountain lions in and around the Santa Monica Mountains. The most famous big cat to cross the 405 is P-22. P-22 was not wearing a GPS collar at the time, so little is known about his journey. In the same area where P-61 crossed, a mountain lion dubbed P-18 was hit and killed by a vehicle in 2011. A lion not tracked by scientists was killed along that stretch in 2009. Researchers believe a negative encounter with an uncollared male mountain lion could have caused P-61 to cross the freeway again to move back west, Beatriz said. Scientists tracking the mountain lions have found that roadways are largely trapping animals in the Santa Monica Mountains, which run along the Malibu coast and across the middle of Los Angeles to Griffith Park, where P-22 settled. The result of that isolation, they say, is imminent genetic collapse for mountain lions. Habitat loss has driven the populations to inbreeding that could lead to extinction within 15 years unless the big cats regularly connect with other populations to increase their diversity.
Director of MIT Media Lab quits
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The director of a prestigious research lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resigned Saturday, and the school’s president ordered an independent investigation amid an uproar over the lab’s ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Joi Ito, director of MIT’s Media Lab, resigned from both the lab and from his position as a professor at the Cambridge school, university President L. Rafael Reif said. The resignation was first reported by The New York Times. Ito’s resignation comes after The New Yorker reported late Friday that Media Lab had a more extensive fundraising relationship with Epstein than it previously acknowledged and tried to conceal the extent of the relationship. Epstein killed himself in jail Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors in New York had charged the 66-year-old with sex trafficking and conspiracy, alleging he sexually abused girls over several years in the early 2000s. In a letter to the MIT community Saturday, Reif called the allegations in The New Yorker “deeply disturbing.”
New rules on Mexico City canals
MEXICO CITY — New rules including alcohol limits are in place for Mexico City’s famed Xochimilco canals as the government moves to crack down on hard-core partiers following a drowning. Officials hope to encourage a more peaceful atmosphere for families and tourists and reduce dangerous behavior by those who treat the canal boats like floating nightclubs, drinking to excess, dancing on tables and even brawling. But workers say business has fallen off by about 80%. Some people are perhaps unnerved by the accident, and others put off by the anti-partying measures. At stake are the livelihoods of thousands of boatmen, owners and those on the margins who sell tourists food, drink, flowers and trinkets.