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AP News in Brief at 12:09 a.m. EDT

Deadly Dorian pounds relentlessly at desperate Bahamas

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) — Hurricane Dorian came to a catastrophic daylong halt over the northwest Bahamas, flooding the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama with walls of water that lapped into the second floors of buildings, trapped people in attics and drowned the Grand Bahama airport under 6 feet of water. At least five people died and 21 injured people were airlifted to the capital by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bahamas officials said.

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”

Winds and rain continued to pound the northwest islands late Monday night into early Tuesday, sending people fleeing the floodwaters from one shelter to another.

“This is unprecedented,” said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground. “We’ve never had a Category 5 stall for so long in the Atlantic hurricane record.”

Hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were ordered to evacuate before the storm rolls up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing the possibility of life-threatening storm-surge flooding even if the storm’s heart stays offshore, as forecast. Several large airports announced closures and many flights were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

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FBI: West Texas gunman ‘was on a long spiral of going down’

Odesa, Texas (AP) — The gunman in a West Texas rampage “was on a long spiral of going down” and had been fired from his oil services job the morning he killed seven people, calling 911 both before and after the shooting began, authorities said Monday.

Officers killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator on Saturday outside a busy Odesa movie theatre after a spate of violence that spanned 10 miles (16 kilometres), injuring around two dozen people in addition to the dead.

FBI special agent Christopher Combs said Ator called the agency’s tip line as well as local police dispatch on Saturday after being fired from Journey Oilfield Services, making “rambling statements about some of the atrocities that he felt that he had gone through.”

“He was on a long spiral of going down,” Combs said. “He didn’t wake up Saturday morning and walk into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble.”

Fifteen minutes after the call to the FBI, Combs said, a Texas state trooper unaware of the calls to authorities tried pulling over Ator for failing to signal a lane change. That was when Ator pointed an AR-style rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired on the trooper, starting a terrifying police chase as Ator sprayed bullets into passing cars, shopping plazas and killed a U.S. Postal Service employee while hijacking her mail truck.

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8 killed in deadly California boat fire; 26 missing

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — A middle-of-the-night fire swept a boat carrying recreational scuba divers anchored near an island off the Southern California coast early Monday, leaving at least eight dead and little hope any of 26 others missing would be found alive.

Five of six crew members on the Conception escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat they steered to a nearby vessel.

Rescuers recovered four bodies about 90 miles (145 kilometres) northwest of Los Angeles just off Santa Cruz Island and spotted four others on the ocean floor near where the boat sank about 20 yards (18 metres) from shore. They planned to continue searching for survivors, but Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester cautioned it was unlikely anyone else would be found alive.

“We will search all the way through the night into the morning, but I think we should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome,” she told an afternoon news conference.

The four bodies had injuries consistent with drowning, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll.

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Dorian isn’t moving because the upper atmosphere is too calm

Powerful Hurricane Dorian has been going nowhere because nothing high up is making it budge.

It may sound strange when talking about a storm that once had 185 mph (298 kph) winds, but it’s actually been too calm high in the atmosphere. While this has been horrible for the Bahamas, where the storm’s pounding has been relentless, it may help spare Florida a bit, meteorologists said.

Usually the upper atmosphere’s winds push and pull hurricanes north or west or at least somewhere. They are so powerful that they dictate where these big storms go.

But the steering currents at 18,000 feet (5,486 metres) above ground have just ground to a halt. They are not moving, so neither is Dorian.

After reaching record-tying wind speeds on landfall in the Bahamas, the storm just stalled. Its eyewall first hit Grand Bahama Island Sunday night, and 18 hours later part of the eye still lingered there, meteorologists said. The hurricane centre late Monday called the storm “stationary” after several hours of crawling at 1 mph (1.6 kph).

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Taliban attack Kabul as US envoy says deal almost final

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban claimed responsibility for a large explosion in the Afghan capital Monday night, just hours after a U.S. envoy briefed the Afghan government on an agreement “in principle” with the insurgent group that would see 5,000 U.S. troops leave the country within five months.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahmi said at least five civilians were killed and around 50 wounded, but said the toll could still rise because a number of homes were destroyed. He confirmed that the target of the blast was the Green Village compound, which houses several international organizations and guesthouses. The explosion sent a plume of smoke into the night sky over Kabul and caused a nearby gasoline station to burst into flames.

Another interior ministry official, Bahar Maher, told the local TOLO news channel that the blast was caused by a car bomb.

“It was a horrifying explosion,” a witness, Wali Jan, said. One hospital director, Dr. Nezamuddin Jalil, said the wounded included women and children. Associated Press video showed bloodied people streaming into a local hospital.

The Green Village, home to many foreigners and heavily guarded by Afghan forces and private security guards, has been a frequent target.

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Lam says she hasn’t resigned because it’s easy way out

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says she has never tendered her resignation to China over the anti-government protests that have roiled the city for three months.

Lam was asked repeatedly at a news briefing Tuesday about a Reuters report citing leaked audio of her telling business leaders recently that she would quit “if I had a choice.”

Lam said she did voice her frustrations during the private meeting but also explained that quitting was an easy way out for her amid the prolonged crisis. She also slammed the recording and leaking of her comments as “unacceptable.”

Lam was elected as Hong Kong’s chief executive by a pro-Beijing committee of Hong Kong elites and has come under withering criticism for pushing the widely opposed extradition bill that set off the protests.

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Biden taps influence industry despite pledge on lobbyists

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden entered the Democratic primary promising “from day one” to reject campaign cash from lobbyists.

“I work for you — not any industry,” he tweeted.

Yet hours after his April campaign kickoff, the former vice-president went to a fundraiser at the home of a lobbying executive. And in the months since, he’s done it again and again.

It’s hard to quantify how much Biden has raised from the multibillion-dollar influence industry, but the roughly $200,000 he accepted from employees of major lobbying firms is far more than any of his rivals have received, according to a review of campaign finance data by The Associated Press.

Though it’s a small fraction of the $21.5 million he reported raising in the second quarter of 2019, the money demonstrates a comfort with an industry that is the object of scorn of Democratic activists and some of Biden’s principal rivals.

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Wife says Hart ‘going to be fine’ after car crash

NEW YORK (AP) — Comic actor Kevin Hart’s wife says he’s “going to be just fine” following a weekend car crash that left him with a major back injury.

Eniko Hart was questioned by a TMZ reporter while visiting him at the hospital Monday. She gave no details beyond that assurance, and the actor’s press representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Hart was a passenger in a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda that went off a highway above Malibu in the early morning hours of Sunday. It rolled down an embankment, after police said the driver lost control while turning from a canyon road onto Mulholland Highway.

The 40-year-old Hart and the car’s driver, Jared Black, both had back injuries. Another passenger, 31-year-old Rebecca Broxterman, only complained of pain.

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In California, a buzzy campaign idea gets a test run

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — One of the most expensive presidential campaign proposals is getting a trial run in California.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has a plan to give every American $1,000 a month. Another contender, Sen. Kamala Harris, has a bill that would give up to $500 a month to working families.

A program in Stockton, California, began giving 125 people $500 a month in February. The experiment is scheduled to last 18 months and is funded by private donations.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs says such a program could be a solution to the poverty that plagues his community. But some residents worry the program encourages people not to work.

The program’s researchers say their chief interest is the impact on the happiness of those receiving the money, not finances.

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Harry Potter removed from Tennessee Catholic school library

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Catholic school in Tennessee has removed the Harry Potter books from its library after the school’s priest decided they could cause a reader to conjure evil spirits.

In an email obtained by The Tennessean , the Rev. Dan Reehil of Nashville’s St. Edward Catholic School said he consulted exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books.

Reehil wrote, “The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Catholic Diocese of Nashville superintendent Rebecca Hammel said Reehil has the final say at his school.

Hammel said she thinks the books by J.K. Rowling are still on the shelves of other libraries in the diocese.

The Associated Press

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