Saturday | October 21, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Nation and World briefs for September 21

Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.

Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning near the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph).

It punished the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for several hours, the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico has felt the wrath of a hurricane.

“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries on the island.

Trump to award Medal of Honor to Alabama veteran

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to a retired Army medic from Alabama who risked his life several times to provide medical care to his comrades during the Vietnam War, the White House announced Wednesday.

Trump will award retired Army Capt. Gary M. Rose of Huntsville, Alabama, the nation’s highest military honor for his actions in combat. Trump will honor Rose for his conspicuous gallantry during a White House ceremony on Oct. 23.

The White House said Rose, 69, will be recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group during combat operations in Vietnam in September 1970. Rose repeatedly ran into the line of enemy fire to provide medical care, and used his own body on one occasion to shield a wounded American from harm.

On the final day of the mission, Rose was wounded but put himself in the line of enemy fire while moving wounded personnel to an extraction point, loading them into helicopters and helping to repel an enemy assault on the American position.

As he boarded the final extraction helicopter, the aircraft was hit with intense enemy fire and crashed shortly after takeoff. The White House said Rose ignored his own injuries and pulled the helicopter crew and members of his unit from the burning wreckage and provided medical care until another extraction helicopter arrived.

Iranian president: Trump’s UN comments ‘ignorant, absurd’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran’s president warned Wednesday that his country will “respond decisively” to any violation of the agreement that reins in its nuclear program and called U.S. President Donald Trump’s “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric” about Iran unfit for the United Nations.

In remarks clearly directed at Trump’s 8-month-old administration, Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly: “It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics.”

“The world will have lost a great opportunity, but such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement,” Rouhani said.

His speech came a day after Trump, in his own address to the assembly, called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment” to the United States.

And he hinted that his administration, which has accused Tehran of aiding terrorism in the Middle East, could soon declare Iran out of compliance with the deal. That could unravel it.

‘I have decided,’ Trump says of Iran deal — before big talks

NEW YORK (AP) — “I have decided,” President Donald Trump declared Wednesday, announcing he’d reached a verdict on the Iran nuclear deal’s future even before top U.S. and Iranian officials held their highest-level talks of his presidency. Iran’s president, meanwhile, lashed out at “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric” in response to Trump’s blistering attack at the U.N.

The jabbing between Trump and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani set the stage for a contentious meeting of the nuclear accord’s parties. Trump has sent strong signals that he could walk away from the seven-nation agreement, which would potentially lead to new U.S. sanctions on Iran and its international trading partners. The Iranians, in turn, have threatened to respond to any U.S. pullout by restarting nuclear activities that could take them closer to bomb-making capability.

Asked about his stance on the nuclear pact Wednesday, Trump said he had made a decision. Pressed for details, he replied coyly: “I’ll let you know.”

Shortly afterward, Vice President Mike Pence told the U.N. Security Council that Iran “continues to flout the spirit of the Iran deal, destabilizing the region and brazenly threatening the security of sovereign nations,” a toned-down version of the diatribe delivered by Trump in a General Assembly speech to fellow world leaders Tuesday.

It wasn’t clear if Trump had made a final decision to leave or stick with the Iran deal. On several other issues over his presidency, he has teased reporters with the idea that a major verdict might be imminent, only to delay announcements for weeks or months. Trump must next certify by Oct. 15 if Iran is complying with the deal, and officials have said Trump may use that occasion to declare Iran in violation.

Trump: GOP health bill short of votes before deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday the Republicans’ last-resort “Obamacare” repeal effort remains two or three votes short, forecasting days of furious lobbying ahead with a crucial deadline looming next week.

The legislation by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina would repeal major pillars of former President Barack Obama’s health law, replacing them with block grants to states to design their own health care programs. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to round up 50 votes to pass the legislation before Sept. 30, when special rules preventing a Democratic filibuster will expire.

“We think this has a very good chance, Obamacare is only getting worse,” Trump told reporters covering the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. “At some point the Senate is going to be forced to make a deal.”

By his reckoning, “we’re at 47 or 48 already, senators, and a lot of others are looking at it very positively.”

Trump’s comments came several hours after McConnell’s office announced that the majority leader’s “intention” is to bring the legislation to the Senate floor next week, a question McConnell was noncommittal on a day earlier. After the embarrassing defeat of an earlier repeal bill in July, some Republicans believe McConnell would bring a bill to the floor only with the votes in hand.

Prospects for air traffic control privatization appear slim

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has made airlines’ longtime goal of privatizing air traffic control a key part of his agenda to boost America’s infrastructure. But his prospects for closing the deal with Congress appear slim.

A House bill that would put the aviation industry in charge of air traffic control has repeatedly stalled and prospects appear even worse in the Senate, where there has been no effort to take up the issue. While the White House and airline lobbyists have pushed for privatization, there has been fierce opposition from private pilots, corporate aircraft owners and others who fear they will have to pay more to use the system and would lose access to busy airports.

Airlines have pushed for getting the government out of air traffic operations for decades and seemed to have the brightest prospects after meeting with Trump early this year. Trump embraced the idea as part of his overall plan to boost infrastructure — a big part of his campaign promise to create jobs. While Trump has offered few other specifics about his overall infrastructure plans, he put the spotlight on air-traffic privatization at a White House infrastructure event in June.

Three weeks later, the House transportation committee approved a bill by its chairman, Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster, to spin off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration and place it under the authority of a private, non-profit corporation run by aviation interests, including airlines.

But the bill still hasn’t come to the House floor. Trump’s special assistant for infrastructure policy, D.J. Gribbin, told an airline industry conference last week that House leaders are planning a vote in early October. But the bill’s supporters acknowledge the vote would have already happened if there was enough support to pass it.

Young girl hospitalized by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK (AP) — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday’s game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

The Yankees said the girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, and New York manager Joe Girardi said he had been told by team security that she was OK. The game was delayed for about 4 minutes while she was attended to and then carried from the seats in the bottom of the fifth inning.

A shaken Frazier crouched with his hands over his face. The Yankees third baseman then bowed his head, walked away from the plate, crouched again and rested his head on the end of his bat.

“I thought of my kids. I have two kids under 3 years old and I just hope she’s all right,” said Frazier, who flied out later in the at-bat. “I know the dad or whoever it was that was with them was trying their hardest, but the ball’s coming at 120 miles an hour at them and the ball’s hooking. So it’s like if you’ve never seen a ball like that, which most people in the world haven’t, it’s very tough.”

Asked whether there should be more netting, Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge said: “We need it.”

 

Rules for posting comments