Mexico City, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — Mexican authorities say federal police found 65 severely dehydrated and hungry migrants from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka wandering on a highway in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.
The federal Public Safety Department said Thursday that the migrants recounted a long, complicated trip in a bid to reach the U.S. border.
The migrants reported they set out April 24 from an airport in Qatar and flew to Turkey and Colombia. From there, they moved through Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala before reaching Mexico.
Once in Mexico, the migrants said, they boarded boats and travelled on the Coatzacoalcos River, though it is not clear why. The river does not lead anywhere near the U.S. border.
Flagstaff, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — Snow swamped mountains across the U.S. West last winter, leaving enough to thrill skiers into the summer, swelling rivers and streams when it melted, and largely making wildfire restrictions unnecessary. But the wet weather can be misleading.
Climate change means the region is still getting drier and hotter.
"It only demonstrates the wide swings we have to manage going forward," James Eklund, former director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, an interstate agency that ensures river water is doled out properly, said earlier this year. "You can put an ice cube — even an excellent ice cube — in a cup of hot coffee, but eventually it's going to disappear."
For the seven states relying on the Colorado River, which carries melted snow from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California, that means a future with increasingly less water for farms and cities.
Climate scientists say it's hard to predict how much less. The river supplies 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as well as a $5-billion-a-year agricultural industry.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday will release its projections for next year's supply from Lake Mead, a key reservoir that feeds Colorado River water to Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico.
After a wet winter, the agency isn't expected to require any states to take cuts to their share of water.
But that doesn't mean conditions are improving long term. Arizona, Nevada and Mexico could give up some water voluntarily in 2020 under a drought contingency plan approved by the seven states earlier this year.
Here is a look at the Colorado River amid climate change:
COLORADO RIVER FLOW
Much of the water in the Colorado River and its tributaries originates as snow.
As temperatures rise and demand grows, the water supply declines. Even if more snow and rain fell, it wouldn't necessarily all end up in the river. Plants will suck up more water, and it will evaporate quicker.
Brad Udall, a water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University, said the river's flow could decrease even further to 20% by 2050 and 35% by 2100.
"On any given day, it's hotter, we have more days for a growing season to occur, we have a thirstier atmosphere," he said. "When you put all those things together, you lose flow in the river."
Climate change doesn't mean the American West will be hot and dry all the time. Extreme swings in weather are expected as part of a changing climate — something Udall has called "weather whiplash."
The Southwest got a reprieve this year with average and above-average snowfall following a year that sent many states into extreme drought. Nearly empty reservoirs quickly rose, including Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the largest manmade reservoirs in the country that hold Colorado River water.
The lakes still are far below capacity, steadily declining since 2000 with a bigger spike after winter 2011.
A wet year interrupting years of dryness isn't uncommon.
"We're very thankful for this gain in wet hydrology and storage in the reservoirs that happened this year, but we know we can lose it just as fast," said Carly Jerla with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Many states declared an end to short-term drought this year, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, which looks at land conditions.
The map is produced by the National Drought Migration Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But not all agencies use the same indicators for drought.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation uses Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border and Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border. The reservoirs were nearly full in 1999 before the agency declared a drought the following year that hasn't let up. As of Monday, Lake Powell was 57% full and Lake Mead was 39% full.
Jerla says the bureau won't say the drought is over until those reservoirs fill completely, which won't happen without consecutive years of wet weather.
PROTECTING THE RIVER
The seven states that rely on the Colorado River signed a plan earlier this year to protect the waterway from climate change and keep Lake Mead and Lake Powell fuller.
The drought contingency plan is meant to keep the reservoirs from dropping so low that they cannot deliver water or produce hydropower amid prolonged drought and climate change.
Nevada, California and Arizona voluntarily would give up water when Lake Mead reaches certain levels, as would Mexico, which also gets a portion of water from the river. The deal expires in 2026, and the states will begin negotiating new guidelines next year.
Birmingham, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — An oppressive heat wave blamed for a death in Mississippi eased a little across the Southeast on Wednesday after a cold front pushed through the region, bringing damaging storms along with lower temperatures.
Stifling heat and humidity that had made it feel like it was 120 degrees (49 Celsius) in places was replaced by slightly cooler weather, forecasters said. Damaging overnight storms ripped up roofs, knocked down power lines and toppled trees in northwest Alabama. No injuries were reported, but the National Weather Service warned of additional severe thunderstorms near the Florida Panhandle as the front moved southward.
The excessive heat began earlier this week and stretched across much of the U.S. In the South, it limited outdoor work details for Alabama inmates and prompted requests from Baltimore teachers to install temporary fans in sweltering classrooms to make up for faulty air conditioning.
In Mississippi, Winston County Coroner Scott Gregory said a 74-year-old woman died of a heat-induced heart attack while mowing her lawn on Monday. The heat index was about 106 degrees (41 Celsius) at the time, he said, and the woman's body temperature was about 105 degrees (40.5 Celsius) at a hospital where she was treated. Gregory said the woman's family didn't give permission for him to release her name, but she had a medical history that included multiple health problems and heart surgery.
Gregory said it was so hot in Mississippi he banned his 7-year-old son from practicing with his youth football team on Tuesday.
"You've got to have common sense," he said. "I mean, these are kids."
Heat alerts that extended northward into the Midwest earlier this week were limited on Wednesday to Gulf Coast states plus Georgia and South Carolina. The heat index was expected to reach around 110 degrees (43 Celsius), forecasters said. Higher temperatures also were expected in central California and the Southwest, where forecasters predicted afternoon highs could hit 115 degrees (46 Celsius).
Even Alaska was hot. The National Weather Service office in Anchorage tweeted that the overnight low of 63 degrees (17 Celsius) tied the all-time high for a daily low temperature. The normal low is 51 degrees (10.5 Celsius), it said.
Ahead of the start of the school year, Baltimore's teachers union requested fan donations as classrooms are expected to reach sweltering temperatures when students return next month. But district officials said electrical systems might not be equipped to handle it.
In Alabama, prison officials limited outdoor work details for inmates, and officers also were running large ventilation fans and providing prisoners with extra water and ice, spokesman Bob Horton said.
Philadelphia, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — At least one gunman opened fire on police Wednesday as they were serving a drug warrant in a Philadelphia neighborhood, wounding six officers and triggering a standoff that extended into the evening, including a potential hostage situation, authorities said.
Two other officers were still trapped inside the house more than four hours after the shooting broke out, as dozens if not hundreds of their fellow police outside tried to talk down the shooter and sporadically took fire from him.
None of the officers' injuries was considered life-threatening and they were being treated at hospitals, Philadelphia police Sgt. Eric Gripp said.
The shooting began around 4:30 p.m. as officers went to a home in a north Philadelphia neighborhood of brick and stone rowhomes, to serve a narcotics warrant, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. Shots were still being fired three hours later, police said, and officers returned fire.
Ross said many officers "had to escape through windows and doors to get (away) from a barrage of bullets."
Police were imploring the gunman to surrender, calling him on the phone several times and using a loudspeaker to communicate, Ross said.
"We're doing everything within our power to get him to come out," Ross said, adding: "He has the highest assurance he's not going to be harmed when he comes out."
The situation was exacerbated by the apparent presence of officers inside the house with the gunman. Ross said police were trying to resolve a "potential hostage situation" without elaborating.
Asked about two officers inside the house, Ross said: "We believe they're OK, and I'm not going to say much more about that right now, out of concern for their safety."
Temple University locked down part of its campus, and several children and staff were trapped for some time in a nearby daycare.
Police tried to push crowds of onlookers and residents back from the scene. In police radio broadcasts, officers could be heard calling for backup as reports of officers getting shot poured in.
Dozens of officers on foot lined the streets. Others were in cars and some on horses.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said its agents responded to the scene to assist Philadelphia police.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr were briefed on the shooting, officials said.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was thankful that officers' injuries weren't life-threatening.
"I'm a little angry about someone having all that weaponry and all that firepower, but we'll get to that another day," Kenney said.
Morristown, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — With a pair of weekend retweets, President Donald Trump amplified an unfounded conspiracy theory.
It was hardly the first time. His political career began the same way.
Trump has a long history of spreading falsehoods drawn from the conservative fringe. His unlikely rise to the White House was fueled in part by spreading the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., and he has trafficked in numerous others to malign his opponents and advance his own views.
Now he has used the power of the presidency to promote a baseless claim about the death of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, breaking another norm of the office and further sowing public confusion over the apparent suicide of one of the most high-profile inmates in the federal system. Epstein, who faced up to 45 years in prison on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, was found dead in his cell in a Manhattan jail early Saturday.
Epstein had ties to prominent people around the globe, including Trump, who partied with him in the 2000s, and former President Bill Clinton. Within hours of Epstein's apparent suicide, Trump retweeted an accusation that tied both Bill and Hillary Clinton to the death, one of many conspiracies circulating on social media. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Trump defended the retweet on Tuesday, calling the original poster "a very respected conservative." He said he had "no idea" whether the Clintons were involved in the death, but continued to fan the theory, saying that the former president spent far more time on Epstein's private plane, and perhaps his private island, than known.
The Clintons have denied any wrongdoing. In a statement last month, Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña said the former president took four trips —one to Asia, one to Europe and two to Africa — on Epstein's airplane in 2002 and 2003. Staff and Secret Service detail traveled with Clinton on "every leg of every trip," Urena said.
Ureña also said Clinton had never traveled to Epstein's private island.
Trump has made a similar accusation before: that the Clintons had a hand in a high-profile suicide. He previously tweeted about the 1993 death of White House aide Vince Foster, calling it "very fishy." But there is no evidence of foul play.
As he was privately considering his own run for the White House, Trump began to try to stoke doubts about Obama's legitimacy as president. He began to get notice among hard-line conservatives in 2011 when he claimed that Obama, the nation's first African American president, was not born in the United States. Even after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate that proved he was born in Hawaii, Trump repeatedly voiced the belief, only fully backing off in the final stages of the 2016 campaign.
While birtherism was Trump's most infamous conspiracy theory, it was far from his only one.
He has promoted dozens of outlandish claims, many of which are so blatantly untrue that they have not required even a cursory fact check to disprove.
Among his claims:
— That Sen. Ted Cruz's father may have had a hand in President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
— That Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered.
— That thousands of Muslims celebrated in U.S. cities after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
— That 3 million to 5 million votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election, none of them for Trump.
— That vaccines may cause autism.
— That global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
— That wind farms may cause cancer.
With the weight of the Oval Office behind these claims — some containing deliberate misinformation, others ignorance — the theories carry a degree of peril, according to presidential historian Julian Zelizer.
"We expect some semblance of truth from the Oval Office and sending out conspiracy theories like this is a whole new level of danger," Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University. "People believe some of this, people can act on some of this. People can act violently, even, and part of that comes from a president dealing in untruths and conspiracies."
For his part, Trump sometimes says that a mere retweet absolves him of any responsibility.
Repeatedly, he claimed he was just passing on information to his Twitter followers — now over 63 million — while not recognizing the significance carried by words, distributed in any fashion, by the president of the United States or leader of the Republican Party. During the 2016 campaign, in just one example, Trump retweeted false crime statistics that dramatically overstated the number of white people killed by black people.
"Bill, am I gonna check every statistic?" he told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly then. "All it was is a retweet. It wasn't from me."