Henri hurls rain as system settles atop swamped Northeast
WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) — The slow-rolling system named Henri is taking its time drenching the Northeast with rain, lingering early Monday atop a region made swampy by the storm's relentless downpour.
Henri, which made landfall as a tropical storm Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island, has moved northwest through Connecticut. It hurled rain westward far before its arrival, flooding areas as far southwest as New Jersey before pelting northeast Pennsylvania, even as it took on tropical depression status.
Over 140,000 homes lost power, and deluges of rain closed bridges, swamped roads and left some people stranded in their vehicles.
Beach towns from the Hamptons on Long Island to Cape Cod in Massachusetts exhaled from being spared the worst of the potential damage Sunday. Other areas of New England awaited the storm's return.
The National Hurricane Center said Henri is expected to slow down further and likely stall near the Connecticut-New York state line, before moving back east through New England and eventually pushing out to the Atlantic Ocean.
US VP Harris: Focus must stay on Afghan evacuation
SINGAPORE (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris asserted Monday that the U.S. must maintain its focus on evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans and shouldn't get distracted by questions over what went wrong in the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
Speaking at a news conference in Singapore, Harris repeatedly declined to engage when asked what she felt should have been done differently in the withdrawal.
"There's no question there will be and should be a robust analysis of what has happened, but right now there's no question that our focus has to be on evacuating American citizens, Afghans who worked with us and vulnerable Afghans, including women and children," she said.
Harris took questions alongside Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the two met for about two hours to discuss issues ranging from the COVID-19 response to cybersecurity and supply chain cooperation. The news conference was dominated by Afghanistan, after the messy U.S. withdrawal sparked concerns about America's commitments to its allies globally.
Harris' visit to Singapore and Vietnam this week is seen as the first real test of the Biden administration's ability to reassure key allies of its resolve.
Gunfire at Kabul airport kills 1 amid chaotic evacuations
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A firefight at one of the gates of Kabul's international airport killed at least one Afghan soldier early Monday, German officials said, the latest chaos to engulf Western efforts to evacuate those fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country.
The shooting at the airport came as the Taliban sent fighters north of the capital to eliminate pockets of armed resistance to their lightning takeover earlier this month. The Taliban said they retook three districts seized by opponents the day before and had surrounded Panjshir, the last province that remains out of their control.
Afghanistan's security forces collapsed in the face of the Taliban advance, despite 20 years of Western aid, training and assistance. Tens of thousands of Afghans have sought to flee the country since, fearing a return to the brutal rule the Taliban imposed the last time they ran Afghanistan. That has led to chaos at the airport in Kabul, the main route out of the country, where some Afghan troops are assisting Western evacuation efforts.
Gunfire broke out near one of the airport's gates, where at least seven Afghans died a day earlier in a panicked stampede of thousands of people. The circumstances of the shooting, which occurred around dawn, remained unclear.
The German military tweeted that one member of the Afghan security forces was killed and three others were wounded by "unknown attackers." It later clarified that it was referring to "members of the Afghan army" involved in securing the airport.
22 dead, many missing after 17 inches of rain in Tennessee
WAVERLY, Tenn. (AP) — At least 22 people were killed and rescue crews searched desperately Sunday amid shattered homes and tangled debris for dozens of people still missing after record-breaking rain sent floodwaters surging through Middle Tennessee.
Saturday's flooding in rural areas took out roads, cellphone towers and telephone lines, leaving families uncertain about whether their loved ones survived the unprecedented deluge. Emergency workers were searching door to door, said Kristi Brown, a coordinator for health and safety supervisor with Humphreys County Schools.
Many of the missing live in the neighborhoods where the water rose the fastest, said Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis, who confirmed the 22 fatalities in his county. The names of the missing were on a board in the county's emergency center and listed on a city department's Facebook page.
"I would expect, given the number of fatalities, that we're going to see mostly recovery efforts at this point rather than rescue efforts," Tennessee Emergency Management Director Patrick Sheehan said.
The dead included twin babies who were swept from their father's arms, according to surviving family members, and a foreman at county music star Loretta Lynn's ranch. The sheriff of the county of about 18,000 people some 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Nashville said he lost one of his best friends.
Lebanese hospitals at breaking point as everything runs out
BEIRUT (AP) — Drenched in sweat, doctors check patients lying on stretchers in the reception area of Lebanon's largest public hospital. Air conditioners are turned off, except in operating rooms and storage units, to save on fuel.
Medics scramble to find alternatives to saline solutions after the hospital ran out. The shortages are overwhelming, the medical staff exhausted. And with a new surge in coronavirus cases, Lebanon's hospitals are at a breaking point.
The country's health sector is a casualty of the multiple crises that have plunged Lebanon into a downward spiral — a financial and economic meltdown, compounded by a complete failure of the government, runaway corruption and a pandemic that isn't going away.
The collapse is all the more dramatic since only a few years ago, Lebanon was a leader in medical care in the Arab world. The region's rich and famous came to this small Mideast nation of 6 million for everything, from major hospital procedures to plastic surgeries.
As Cuomo exits, Hochul to take office minus 'distractions'
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Andrew Cuomo neared the end of his decade as New York's governor Monday, as he prepared to relinquish his tight grip on government to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a midnight power transfer that will break another glass ceiling for women in state politics.
Cuomo, a Democrat, was set to end his term at 11:59 p.m., just under two weeks after he announced he would resign rather than face a likely impeachment battle over sexual harassment allegations.
Hochul was scheduled be sworn in as New York's first female governor just after midnight in a brief, private ceremony overseen by the state's chief judge, Janet DiFiore.
The switch in leadership was happening in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Henri, which narrowly missed Long Island on Sunday but was dumping potentially dangerous amounts of rain over parts of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley, even after it was downgraded to a tropical depression.
The storm drew Cuomo back out into public view over the weekend, albeit briefly. He gave two televised briefings — warning New Yorkers to take the storm seriously with the same mix of scolding and reassurance that once made his daily COVID-19 briefings popular.
Kabul airlift is accelerating but still hampered by chaos
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says the "hard and painful" airlift of Americans and tens of thousands of others from Afghanistan's capital is accelerating, but he would not rule out extending it beyond the Aug. 31 deadline he set before the Taliban's swift takeover.
In remarks at the White House on Sunday, one day after the Taliban completed their victory by capturing Kabul, Biden defended his decision to end the war and insisted that getting all Americans out of the country would have been difficult in the best of circumstances. Critics have blasted Biden for a grave error in judgment by waiting too long to begin organizing an evacuation, which became captive to the fear and panic set off by the government's sudden collapse.
"The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful, no matter when it started, when we began," Biden said. "It would have been true if we'd started a month ago, or a month from now. There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss of heartbreaking images you see on television."
Biden said military discussions are underway on potentially extending the airlift beyond Biden's Aug. 31 deadline. "Our hope is we will not have to extend, but there are discussions," he said, suggesting the possibility that the Taliban will be consulted.
In a statement later Sunday, a White House official said eight U.S. military flights — seven C-17s and one C-130 — evacuated about 1,700 passengers from Hamid Karzai International Airport in a 12-hour period ending at 3 p.m. EDT. In addition, 39 coalition aircraft took off with approximately 3,400 passengers, the official said.
For Afghan refugees in India, hopes dim for returning home
NEW DELHI (AP) — Her memory of the assassination attempt is hazy. What she does know is that her father asked the Taliban to do it.
A former Afghan policewoman, Khatera Hashmi was shot multiple times on her way home from work last October in the capital of Ghazni province, south of Kabul.
As she slumped over, one of the attackers grabbed her by the hair, pulled a knife and gouged out her eyes.
Five months pregnant at the time, Hashmi survived the gruesome attack, as did her unborn child. Hashmi's father had vehemently opposed her decision to join the police force, and although she didn't elaborate on her father's involvement, she told The Associated Press that the police had arrested and imprisoned him.
After recovering from her wounds, she and her husband fled to India, leaving two children in the care of her mother-in-law. Her third child, a daughter, was born a few months after their arrival in India.
Budget clash pits moderate Democrats against Biden, Pelosi
WASHINGTON (AP) — Outnumbered and with their party's most powerful leaders arrayed against them, nine moderate Democrats trying to upend plans for enacting President Joe Biden's multitrillion-dollar domestic program face a House showdown.
All the rebellious group must do to prevail is outmaneuver the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and numerous progressive colleagues who've stood firmly against them. That's no small task.
The House meets Monday in what Democratic leaders hope will be just a two-day interruption of lawmakers' August recess. They want quick approval of a budget resolution setting up future passage — maybe this fall — of legislation directing $3.5 trillion at safety net, environment and other programs over the next decade.
That huge measure, largely financed with tax increases on the rich and big business, comprises the heart of Biden's vision for helping families and combating climate change and is progressives' top priority.
The moderates have threatened to oppose the budget resolution unless the House first approves a $1 trillion, 10-year package of road, power grid, broadband and other infrastructure projects that's already passed the Senate. With unanimous Republican opposition expected to the fiscal blueprint, moderates' nine votes would be more than enough to sink it in the narrowly divided House.
Mental health online: Police posts of crises may traumatize
EDITOR'S NOTE — This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The videos are difficult to watch.
In one, a man dangles over the edge of an Oklahoma City overpass, his legs swinging in midair as police grab his arms and pull him from the brink. In another, a woman hangs high above the Los Angeles Harbor as a half-dozen officers drag her, head-first, up the side of the bridge. The panicked voices of cops cry out, "We got you, we got you!" just before they pin her to the ground and pull out handcuffs.
The short clips were posted on official law enforcement social media accounts, part of a longstanding practice by police agencies to showcase their lifesaving efforts online — especially in 2021 as desperation grows for positive press amid accusations of excessive force and racism following George Floyd's murder, and rising gun violence and killings.
But with renewed attention on officer interactions with people who are suffering from mental health issues, experts and advocates are taking another look at these posts with an eye toward whether they exploit the very victims law enforcement just saved.