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Hurricane Maria lashes Dominican Republic after direct hit on Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria lashes Dominican Republic after direct hit on Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria thrashed parts of the Dominican Republic with heavy rain and high winds as it passed near its east and north coasts on Thursday after making a direct hit on Puerto Rico that caused severe flooding and cut power to the entire island. Maria has killed at least 10 people as it raged through the Caribbean, the second major hurricane to do so this month, and the U.S. National Hurricane Canter (NHC) said it was headed toward the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, bringing dangerous storm surges and torrential rain.


Storm Maria brings fear, pain and shock to Puerto Ricans

Storm Maria brings fear, pain and shock to Puerto Ricans By Dave Graham and Robin Respaut SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Miguel Cruz awoke to the descent of Hurricane Maria on his home on Wednesday morning when the massive storm peeled off most of the roof, sent his belongings flying in all directions, but left intact an icon of Jesus hanging above his bed. Cruz was one of thousands of Puerto Ricans picking through the wreckage left by Maria after the hurricane devastated basic services on the debt-laden U.S. territory, pitching most of its 3.4 million residents into darkness as night fell. Crashing into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, Maria flipped the tops off buildings, knocked out phones and electricity across the island and turned low-lying roads into swollen rivers awash with debris.


Trump administration red tape tangles up visas for skilled foreigners, data shows

Trump administration red tape tangles up visas for skilled foreigners, data shows The more intense scrutiny of the applications for H-1B visas comes after President Donald Trump called for changes to the visa program so that it benefits the highest-paid workers, though he has not enacted any such reforms. Data provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shows that between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, the agency issued 85,000 challenges, or "requests for evidence" (RFEs), to H-1B visa petitions - a 45 percent increase over the same period last year. The challenges, which can slow down the issuance of visas by months, were issued at a greater rate in 2017 than at any time in the Obama administration except for one year, 2009, according to the USCIS data, which has not been previously reported.


Girl in hospital after being struck by baseball at Yankee Stadium

Girl in hospital after being struck by baseball at Yankee Stadium The girl, who was seated down the third-base line, was treated by medics at Yankee Stadium before being taken to hospital as players -- including Frazier -- were visibly distraught. "I saw the whole thing," said Frazier, who kneeled outside the batter's box with his head bowed. Another New York player, Matt Holliday was seen wiping away tears as the girl received medical attention.


Martinique escapes brunt of Hurricane Maria, Guadeloupe takes lashing

Martinique escapes brunt of Hurricane Maria, Guadeloupe takes lashing The French island of Martinique escaped Hurricane Maria largely unscathed but a communications blackout with Guadeloupe meant it would be several more hours before damage there could be assessed, a senior French Civil Protection official said on Tuesday. Maria, the second major storm to hit the Caribbean this month, lashed Guadeloupe's southern shores as it tracked northwest toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. "In Martinique, reconnaissance operations are still underway but already we can see that there is no significant damage," Jacques Witkowski, France's head of civil protection and crisis response, told a news briefing in Paris.


Dominican Republic shuts most ports ahead of Hurricane Maria

Dominican Republic shuts most ports ahead of Hurricane Maria By Jorge Pineda SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - Dominican Republic closed most of its ports ahead of Hurricane Maria, but the country's 34,000-barrel-per-day refinery was still running, the government said on Wednesday. Ports that suspended operations under the "red alert" declared for extreme weather conditions are La Romana, Samana, Arroyo Barril, Puerto Plata and Manzanillo, the Dominican Port Authority said in a statement. Maria was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Puerto Rico earlier on Wednesday.


St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests

St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests St. Louis officials decided on Wednesday to supply police officers with body cameras for a year following nearly a week of protests touched off by the acquittal of a former police officer for the shooting death of a black man. The city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted 3-0 to hire Axon Enterprise Inc, a police body camera company, to supply its 1,200 officers with free software, hardware and training for a year.


Bipartisan health care fix dies in Senate

Bipartisan health care fix dies in Senate The Senate’s rejection of bipartisan health bill is a dispiriting moment for world’s greatest deliberative body.


Oklahoma City police fatally shoot deaf man who did not respond to commands

Oklahoma City police fatally shoot deaf man who did not respond to commands An investigation into a hit-and-run accident on Tuesday night led officers to a residence where Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was on the porch, Oklahoma City police spokesman Captain Bo Mathews said during a news conference. Sanchez was holding a 2-foot-long metal pipe that was wrapped in material and had a leather loop at the end, Mathews told reporters. Witnesses, who heard the officers yelling commands, shouted that Sanchez was deaf, Mathews said.


St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests

St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests St. Louis officials decided on Wednesday to supply police officers with body cameras for a year as the city prepares for a sixth night of protests after a white former police officer was acquitted of killing a black man. The city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted 3-0 to have Axon Enterprise Inc, a police body camera company, supply its 1,200 officers with free software, hardware and training for a year.


Will Barcelona secede from Spain? Catalan independence is up for a vote — and Russia is stirring the pot

Will Barcelona secede from Spain? Catalan independence is up for a vote — and Russia is stirring the pot At issue is a wave of Catalan nationalism culminating in a referendum on secession, scheduled for Oct. 1.


Tax breaks cost New York $1.2 billion in financial year 2017, half went to film industry

Tax breaks cost New York $1.2 billion in financial year 2017, half went to film industry The state included the information in a July financial statement, but the report was not widely known until the group Good Jobs First spotted it. Hundreds of cities, counties and other local governments across the country have already reported similar information under a new mandated accounting rule now in effect. "It's important for state taxpayers and residents to be able to see accounting in one place and make their own judgments about whether those investments have been worth it," said Good Jobs First researcher Scott Klinger.


Trump makes his debut at ceremonies for new U.S. citizens

Trump makes his debut at ceremonies for new U.S. citizens More than 4,500 people from 120 countries were among the first to catch Trump's video as they were sworn in at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday morning. "You now share the obligation to teach our values to others, to help newcomers assimilate to our way of life, and uplift America by living according to its highest ideals of self-governance and its highest standards," Trump says in the video. Attendees applauded at the end of the one-minute-and-37- second recording, which few realized was new to such ceremonies.


Attorney General Sessions says marijuana still illegal

Attorney General Sessions says marijuana still illegal U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday criticized the legalization of marijuana in multiple states and warned that the federal law banning use and sale of the drug "remains in effect," remarks that could stoke fears of a federal crackdown. "I've never felt that we should legalize marijuana," Sessions said in response to a question from a reporter during a press conference in San Diego announcing record-breaking narcotics seizures by the U.S. Coast Guard in fiscal 2017. "It doesn't strike me that the country would be better if it's being sold at every street corner," he said, adding that medical organizations oppose it and federal law prohibits it.


Washington state sues over $1/day wages paid to immigrant detainees

Washington state sues over $1/day wages paid to immigrant detainees The lawsuit, filed in state court in Tacoma, follows a months-long investigation by the Attorney General's office that found immigrant detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma who prepared food and did maintenance in the center sometimes only received only snacks for their work. Geo Group has owned and operated the 1,575-bed facility for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds immigrants awaiting court hearings or deportation, since 2005.


U.S. incomes, poverty rate bounce back to pre-recession levels in 2016

U.S. incomes, poverty rate bounce back to pre-recession levels in 2016 The U.S. poverty rate fell for the second straight year in 2016 while median income rose to an all-time high of $59,000 as the economy made up ground lost during the 2007-2009 recession, federal government data released on Tuesday showed. Median household income rose 3.2 percent from $57,200 a year earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. "Real median household income has finally completed its nine-year slog of digging out of the ditch," IHS Markit Executive Director Chris Christopher said, with more gains expected in 2017 and 2018.


Lessons in identity from Kurds and Catalans

Lessons in identity from Kurds and Catalans One of the defining challenges in the 21st century has been how to balance demands for independence by certain peoples with the sanctity of national borders. Just in the coming days alone, two regions with distinct identities, Catalonia in Spain and the Kurdish area in Iraq, plan to stage referendums on independence. The two votes are an echo of demands by several countries for more sovereignty to protest the perceived effects of global or regional institutions that were set up to purposely impinge on national sovereignty.


Tusk-smuggling case ends in prison for Canadian ex-mountie :U.S. judge

Tusk-smuggling case ends in prison for Canadian ex-mountie :U.S. judge A retried Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was sentenced on Wednesday by a U.S. judge to five years and two months in prison, after pleading guilty to 10 money laundering charges related to a scheme to smuggle Arctic narwhal tusks. Gregory Logan, 59, of Saint John, New Brunswick, had been accused by U.S. prosecutors of smuggling more than 250 tusks from 2000 to 2010 into the United States from Canada, in a scheme to sell tusks to collectors and send proceeds back to Canada.


Friend of slain Georgia Tech student: 'If Scout was more gender-conforming, would it have been different?'

Friend of slain Georgia Tech student: 'If Scout was more gender-conforming, would it have been different?' Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student, was shot by campus police on Saturday night, and a protest two days later led to arrests. In the aftermath of those events, Yahoo Lifestyle talked to a friend of Schultz’s to gain some perspective on what happened and why.


Obama blasts 'aggravating' GOP plans to repeal Obamacare

Obama blasts 'aggravating' GOP plans to repeal Obamacare Former President Barack Obama mocked Republicans in a speech on Wednesday for repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law also known as Obamacare.


California sues Trump administration over border wall

California sues Trump administration over border wall By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California filed a lawsuit on Wednesday over the Trump administration's plan to construct a wall along the border with Mexico, adding to the obstacles facing one of the Republican president's key campaign promises. President Donald Trump has insisted Mexico would pay for building the wall, which experts said could cost about $22 billion and take more than three years to complete. With Mexico refusing to pay, Trump has said since taking office in January that the wall will initially need U.S. funding but that he will find a way to make Mexico ultimately pay for it.


Pence presses Myanmar, U.N. to end Rohingya violence

Pence presses Myanmar, U.N. to end Rohingya violence Vice President Mike Pence pressed Myanmar’s military to end its violent campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority and urged the U.N. Security Council to respond forcefully to the resulting humanitarian crisis in Southeast Asia.


S&P downgrades Pennsylvania credit to A-plus, cites budget problems

S&P downgrades Pennsylvania credit to A-plus, cites budget problems S&P Global Ratings downgraded Pennsylvania's general obligation debt one notch to A-plus on Wednesday as state officials struggle to close a $2.3 billion budget gap, the credit rating agency said. Pennsylvania lawmakers are battling on how to balance its $32 billion spending plan nearly three months into the 2018 fiscal year, forcing Governor Tom Wolf to delay scheduled bill payments. "The downgrade largely reflects the commonwealth's chronic structural imbalance dating back nearly a decade, a history of late budget adoption and our opinion that this pattern could continue," S&P analyst Carol Spain said in a statement.


Remembering '85, Mexico City public leaps into quake rescue

Remembering '85, Mexico City public leaps into quake rescue Baruch García stood at an intersection Tuesday afternoon after a deadly earthquake, trying to direct traffic away from a road cutting through La Condesa’s lush Parque México. On the other side of the park, hundreds of volunteers – from a young boy in a yellow soccer uniform, to a woman in slacks and ballet flats, and a man wearing an apron from a nearby café – lined the street for blocks, helping to remove rubble from an eight-story collapsed building with an unknown number of people buried inside. Tuesday afternoon, a 7.1 earthquake in nearby Puebla State rocked Mexico City, some 75 miles away.


Pelosi calls DACA deal a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform

Pelosi calls DACA deal a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that supporting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, the so-called "Dreamers," was a "first step" toward broader reform.


Boston beheading plotter cited 2013 bombing: prosecutor

Boston beheading plotter cited 2013 bombing: prosecutor A Massachusetts man charged with plotting to attack police and behead a conservative blogger on behalf of Islamic State told someone online that he wanted to cause more harm than the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a prosecutor said on Wednesday. David Wright's trial on charges of conspiring to help a foreign terrorist organization opened in Boston federal court with a prosecutor describing what she called his plan with two other men to kill Pamela Geller, a blogger who organized a 2015 "Draw Mohammed" contest in Texas. "He stated in an online conversation that he wanted to harm the United States more than the Boston Marathon bombings, because in his words, that was not sufficient," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann told jurors.


Presidential paranoia: Does Mueller have a mole in the White House?

Presidential paranoia: Does Mueller have a mole in the White House? President Trump has long spoken in conspiratorial terms about a range of topics. It appears this is partly responsible for fostering a culture of distrust and paranoia in the White House.


Trump urges 'strong and swift' U.N. action to end Rohingya crisis: Pence

Trump urges 'strong and swift' U.N. action to end Rohingya crisis: Pence WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump is urging the United Nations Security Council to take "strong and swift action" to bring Myanmar's Rohingya crisis to an end, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday. Speaking at the United Nations, Pence reiterated a call for Myanmar's military to end the violence immediately, warning that if it continued, it would "sow seeds of hatred and chaos that may well consume the region for generations to come and threaten the peace of us all." (Reporting by David Brunnstrom)


Kremlin frets as Russia's once restive Islamist region takes up political Islam

Kremlin frets as Russia's once restive Islamist region takes up political Islam Russia fought two bloody wars in its Caucasus republic of Chechnya, ostensibly to crush an emerging threat of Islamist extremism on its own soil. Mr. Kadyrov is imposing sharia (Islamic law) on his population – and lately, even defying the Kremlin's foreign policy – with an apparent eye on a global, Islamic stage. “He has introduced politicized Islam in Chechnya, and this is definitely a problem for the Kremlin.


Kimmel: Cassidy 'lied to my face' on health care; Cassidy: 'I'm sorry he does not understand'

Kimmel: Cassidy 'lied to my face' on health care; Cassidy: 'I'm sorry he does not understand' Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., says Jimmy Kimmel “does not understand” the new health care legislation he and Sen. Lindsey Graham are co-sponsoring after the late-night host blasted their proposal and accused Cassidy of lying to his face.


White House says Trump didn't apologize to Turkey's Erdogan for D.C. clash with protesters

White House says Trump didn't apologize to Turkey's Erdogan for D.C. clash with protesters "President Trump … said that he was sorry, and he told me that he was going to follow up on this issue,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told PBS in reference to the incident, which resulted in charges against 15 Turkish security officers.


Factbox: Trump on Twitter (Sept 20) - Graham-Cassidy bill, Luther Strange

Factbox: Trump on Twitter (Sept 20) - Graham-Cassidy bill, Luther Strange The following statements were posted to the verified Twitter accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump, @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS. The opinions expressed are his own. Reuters has not edited the statements or confirmed their accuracy. @realDonaldTrump : - Big meetings today at the United Nations. So many interesting leaders. America First will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! [0614 EDT] - After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes. ...


Trump fires back after Clinton calls U.N. speech 'dangerous'

Trump fires back after Clinton calls U.N. speech 'dangerous' President Trump lashed out at Hillary Clinton on Twitter after his former election opponent called his speech to the United Nations General Assembly “very dark” and “dangerous.”


Eerie calm hangs over Puerto Rican capital before storm

Eerie calm hangs over Puerto Rican capital before storm By Dave Graham and Robin Respaut SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - Streets usually abuzz with diners, shoppers, and traffic stood silent, shuttered and empty in the center of San Juan on Tuesday as the Puerto Rican capital prepared for the onslaught of a massive hurricane the following morning. Category 5 storm Maria was expected to tear across Puerto Rico after barreling through St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the early hours of Wednesday, becoming the second highest-category hurricane to ravage the Caribbean this month. "We're taking more precautions this time after Irma." Swathes of the Caribbean are still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma, which killed more than 80 people as it plowed through the Leeward Islands, Cuba and Florida this month.


Convicted killer recaptured after escape from Mississippi prison

Convicted killer recaptured after escape from Mississippi prison The two men were discovered missing on Monday during a routine inmate count at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, about 125 miles west of Tupelo, and were presumed to have escaped between late Sunday night and early the next morning, prison officials said. How the pair made their getaway from the maximum-security prison farm in Mississippi's Delta region remained under investigation. Sanders, 41, incarcerated since 2000 and serving a life term for murder, was caught late Tuesday afternoon after a reward for information leading to both men's capture was increased to $10,000, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a statement.


Gillespie and Northam play it safe in second gubernatorial debate

Gillespie and Northam play it safe in second gubernatorial debate Republican Ed Gillespie and and Democrat Ralph Northam meet in second gubernatorial debate in Virginia.


Trump's U.N. speech shows nationalist instincts firmly intact

Trump's U.N. speech shows nationalist instincts firmly intact Among the many signals that Donald Trump sent in his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, one was especially clear: former chief strategist Steve Bannon's White House departure has not muted the president's "America First" foreign policy instincts. Trump's eight months in office have been characterized by a sometimes dramatic tug-of-war between "globalists" and "nationalist" advisers who have sought to move the president in myriad ways on issues both domestic and international. Bannon's exit last month caused some of the former New York businessman's core supporters to fret that the more multilateral-leaning group inside the administration had gained ground.


Hospital allow kids to drive themselves to operating room

Hospital allow kids to drive themselves to operating room A San Diego children's hospital unveiled a collection of remote controlled luxury mini cars on Tuesday that allow its young patients to 'drive' themselves to the operating room. The cars at the Rady Children's Hospital are actually operated by a nurse or a doctor, and are part of a new program designed to make children more relaxed before their procedures. The parents are seeing that they're relaxed and that they're happy," said Dr. Daniela Carvalho, medical director of surgical services at the hospital.


Attorney General Sessions steps up anti-'sanctuary' rhetoric after setbacks

Attorney General Sessions steps up anti-'sanctuary' rhetoric after setbacks U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped up the Trump administration's critique of so-called sanctuary cities on Tuesday, saying local and state policies to limit cooperation with immigration enforcement are a criminal's "best friend." Sessions' remarks, at a gathering of law enforcement authorities in Portland, Oregon, came days after repudiation of his stance against the sanctuary movement in separate actions by a federal judge in Chicago and the California legislature. The judge in Chicago on Friday barred the Justice Department from withholding public safety grants to cities unless they allowed U.S. immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and provided 48 hours' notice before releasing individuals sought for deportation.


Democratic Senator Murray thinks bipartisan Obamacare deal still possible

Democratic Senator Murray thinks bipartisan Obamacare deal still possible U.S. Democratic Senator Patty Murray said Tuesday she thought a bipartisan deal to repair Obamacare was still possible, despite the announcement by her negotiating partner, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, that they had failed to reach an agreement. Murray, in a statement, said she had made some "tough concessions" in the talks, when it came to giving states more flexibility under Obamacare. Alexander and Murray had been working to protect the government payments made to insurers to help reduce medical expenses for low-income Americans enrolled in Obamacare.


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