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Nation and World briefs for September 13

FEMA estimates 25 percent of homes in the Keys are gone

LOWER MATECUMBE KEY, Fla. (AP) — Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the Florida Keys’ farthest reaches Tuesday, while authorities rushed to repair the lone highway connecting the islands and deliver aid to Hurricane Irma’s victims. Federal officials estimated one-quarter of all homes in the Keys were destroyed.

Two days after Irma roared into the island chain with 130 mph winds, residents were allowed to return to the parts of the Keys closest to Florida’s mainland.

But the full extent of the death and destruction there remained a question mark because cellphone service was disrupted and some places were inaccessible.

“It’s going to be pretty hard for those coming home,” said Petrona Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. “It’s going to be devastating to them.”

Elsewhere in Florida, life inched closer to normal, with some flights again taking off, many curfews lifted and major theme parks reopening. Cruise ships that extended their voyages and rode out the storm at sea began returning to port with thousands of passengers.

Europe leaders view devastated islands as locals struggle

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (AP) — France’s president and the Dutch king visited Caribbean territories on Tuesday that were hammered by Hurricane Irma, bringing in much-needed food, water and medical supplies amid accusations that European governments had been unprepared, slow to react and sometimes even racist in their responses to the devastation.

The visit came as residents tried to revive a sense of normalcy amid the chaos and destruction wrought by the Category 5 hurricane with small gestures like sharing radios and rescuing dogs.

The Dutch Red Cross said more than 200 people were still listed as missing on St. Maarten, but with communications extremely spotty a week after the storm hit it wasn’t clear how many were simply without cell service and power and unable to let friends and family know they had survived. The organization said 90 percent of buildings on the Dutch territory were damaged and a third destroyed as Irma roared across the island it shares with French St. Martin.

Yogesh Bodha, a 37-year-old jewelry store employee, said there was no response from European officials for two days, and that he hasn’t seen many changes since Dutch authorities arrived on St. Maarten.

“They should’ve been more organized than they were,” he said. “We have not received any food or water. They say it’s on its way. Let’s see.”

Apple unveils $999 iPhone X, loses ‘home’ button

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple has broken the $1,000 barrier with its latest, and most expensive, phone, the iPhone X.

With a price starting at $999 and a host of new features, the phone will be a big test for both Apple and consumers. Will people be willing to shell out really big bucks for a relatively fragile device that’s become an essential part of daily life?

On Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook called the iPhone X “the biggest leap forward” since the first iPhone. (“X” is pronounced like the number 10, not the letter X.) It loses the home button, which revolutionized smartphones when it launched; offers an edge-to-edge screen; and will use facial recognition to unlock the phone.

Apple also unveiled a new iPhone 8 and a larger 8 Plus with upgrades to cameras, displays and speakers.

Those phones, Apple said, will shoot pictures with better colors and less distortion, particularly in low-light settings. The display will adapt to ambient lighting, similar to a feature in some iPad Pro models. Speakers will be louder and offer deeper bass.

Aleppo still badly scarred by war, months after rebel defeat

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) — “Aleppo is in my eyes,” says a billboard depicting President Bashar Assad looking out over two men and a boy repaving the main Saadallah al-Jabiri Square — once a front line in one of the deadliest episodes of the Syrian civil war.

The recapture of eastern Aleppo in December 2016 was a landmark victory for Assad’s forces in the conflict, now in its seventh year, but it left the area in ruins.

Eight months later, neighborhood after neighborhood in the formerly rebel-held sector still look like ghost towns. Only rarely is a family seen sitting on white plastic chairs outside the rubble.

Life is slowly returning to the desolate streets where shop signs are covered with dust, where men hawk cigarettes on a street corner and teenagers sell bananas off a picnic table.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says thousands of people have returned to their homes in Aleppo — once Syria’s largest city — from camps for the displaced.

Bernie Sanders’ health care plan puts Democrats on the spot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Bernie Sanders rode his impassioned liberal army of supporters through a tumultuous 2016, fighting to snatch the Democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton. Now he’s disrupting the party anew, forcing Democrats to take sides over his plan to provide government-run health care for all.

The Vermont independent’s proposal, which he plans to unveil Wednesday, is thrilling the party’s progressive base and attracting many potential 2020 presidential hopefuls eager to align those activists behind them. Yet Democratic leaders are stopping short of embracing it, and others are warning it’s a political and policy trap.

Meanwhile, the so-called single-payer bill has Republicans gleefully anticipating wielding it as a campaign weapon, particularly against the 10 Democrats defending Senate seats in states President Donald Trump won last year and where liberal voters are scarce.

“I’m not seeing any evidence single payer is attractive to the swing voters Democrats would need to win control of the House and Senate,” said Jim Hobart, a GOP political consultant. Using it against Democrats will be “a very inviting attack line,” he said.

Sanders evolved last year from a fringe senator to a major force commanding loyalty from progressive Democratic voters, activists and contributors. He could still seek the presidency in 2020, when he’d be 79. Clinton, in her new book, accuses him of inflicting lasting damage that hurt her chances of defeating Republican Donald Trump.

Edith Windsor, who helped end gay marriage ban, dies at 88

NEW YORK (AP) — Edith Windsor, a widow who brought a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down parts of a federal anti-gay marriage law and paved a path toward legalizing same-sex nuptials nationwide, died Tuesday. She was 88.

Windsor died in New York, said her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan. The cause of death wasn’t given, but Windsor had struggled with heart issues for years.

“The world lost a tiny but tough-as-nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” said her current spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor. They married last year.

Windsor became a gay rights pioneer after her first spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. The women had married legally in Canada in 2007 after spending more than 40 years together.

At 81, Windsor sued the federal government, saying its definition of marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a marital deduction on Spyer’s estate. That meant she faced a huge tax bill that heterosexual couples would not have.

Seattle’s mayor resigns after 5th sex abuse claim emerges

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday after a fifth man — one of his cousins — came forward and accused him of sexual abuse decades ago.

Murray, who had already announced that he would not seek a second term even as he denied the claims, said he would step down effective 5 p.m. Wednesday

The Democrat said in a statement had “become clear to me that in light of the latest news reports it is best for the city if I step aside.”

Murray made the announcement after the Seattle Times reported on the allegations by the mayor’s first cousin once removed, Joseph Dyer.

“To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation,” Murray said.

White House accuses Clinton of ‘reckless attacks’ in book

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is accusing former campaign rival Hillary Clinton of “propping up book sales with false and reckless attacks.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she’s unsure if President Donald Trump will be reading “What Happened,” Clinton’s account of the 2016 campaign. She says the president is “pretty well-versed on what happened.”

Clinton’s book was released on Tuesday.

Sanders says Clinton “ran one of the most negative campaigns in history” and says it’s “sad” the last chapter of her public life will be defined by selling books with “false and reckless attacks.” Sanders did not elaborate or offer any specifics.

Suicide of teen who made sex video shows dilemma for schools

CHICAGO (AP) — Staff at a suburban Chicago high school called 16-year-old Corey Walgren to the dean’s office to ask about a video he made of himself having sex with a classmate. A few hours later, the teen walked to the top of a five-story parking deck and jumped.

The suicide of the honor-roll student underscored a dilemma for schools when confronting students suspected of recording and sharing sexual images: Should school officials wait until parents arrive to pose questions and search cellphones for illicit photos or video? Or do they, as de facto parents, have the authority to investigate crimes that might include child pornography?

The issue also raises a high-stakes legal question because many child porn laws predate the phenomena of teens sharing sexual images by cellphone. And neither they nor their parents usually have any idea that doing so can trigger serious penalties, including being labeled a sex offender for life.

“It’s not that big a deal until it happens to your school,” said Joshua Herman, a lawyer who represents schools across Illinois. “Then it’s a nightmare.”

Police reports, court filings, witness accounts, emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press offer an inside look at how Naperville North High School and police responded in the hours before Walgren’s death in January.

 

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