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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 201)

To Prepare for 2020 Election, Tech Companies Are Said to Meet With U.S. Officials

Westlake Legal Group 04electiontech-facebookJumbo To Prepare for 2020 Election, Tech Companies Are Said to Meet With U.S. Officials twitter Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Political Advertising Microsoft Corp Homeland Security Department Google Inc Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American presidential election, according to a person briefed on the event.

The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information was confidential.

The meeting, which comes nearly 14 months ahead of Election Day, illustrates how tech companies are preparing for the 2020 presidential election after a troubled 2016 election in which Russian operatives used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to spread disinformation and sow discord. Since then, many of the tech companies have been on the defensive. Some have said they can do better and have made internal changes to reduce disinformation and foreign interference.

In May 2018, for instance, many of the same tech companies met at Facebook headquarters to discuss ways they could collaborate before the midterm elections that year. Tech companies and the federal government have gone to greater lengths to cooperate on threat modeling, intelligence sharing and building stronger ties between the public and private sector agencies, said the person briefed on the meeting.

The companies have also tried other tactics to get a handle on how their platforms and products can be misused in elections. Last month, for example, Facebook said it was strengthening how it verified which groups and people place political advertising on its site. And Twitter said last month that it would ban state-backed media from promoting tweets on its service.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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Conversion therapy organization founder comes out as gay: 'Please forgive me'

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Conversion therapy organization founder comes out as gay: 'Please forgive me'

The man who founded Hope for Wholeness, one of the most prominent conversion therapy groups in the United States, has come out as gay.

McKrae Game, the founder of the South Carolina-based conversion therapy ministry Hope for Wholeness, came out as gay this summer, nearly two years after being fired from the organization he founded.

Game said in an interview with The Post and Courier published Friday that his organization, founded nearly 20 years ago, “harmed generations of people.” He was ousted by the organization’s board of directors in November 2017.

He recounted his experiences as a conversion therapy minister in a Facebook post published Aug. 25. “Please forgive me!” the post began.

“I certainly regret where I caused harm. I know that creating the organization that still lives was in a large way causing harm,” he continued. “People reported to attempt suicide because of me and these teachings and ideals. I told people they were going to Hell if they didn’t stop, and these were professing Christians!”

Boston’s Straight Pride Parade: Hundreds of marchers and even more counter protesters

Report: LGBTQ-hate violence increased during Pride month, Stonewall’s 50th anniversary

The organization operates across at least fifteen states. Hope for Wholeness did not respond to multiple requests for comment from USA TODAY.

“Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful,” Game told The Post and Courier.

Game, now 51, is one of several former conversion therapy advocates who have come out as LGBTQ and condemned the practice of conversion therapy.

More than a dozen states have banned gay conversion therapy, which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice has been repeatedly condemned by the American Psychological Association.

Maine is the latest state to prohibit the practice, becoming the seventeenth state to do so in May.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

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Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security

Westlake Legal Group 04electiontech-facebookJumbo Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security twitter Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Political Advertising Microsoft Corp Homeland Security Department Google Inc Federal Bureau of Investigation Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American presidential election, according to a person briefed on the event.

The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information was confidential.

The meeting, which comes nearly 14 months ahead of Election Day, illustrates how tech companies are preparing for the 2020 presidential election after a troubled 2016 election in which Russian operatives used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to spread disinformation and sow discord. Since then, many of the tech companies have been on the defensive. Some have said they can do better and have made internal changes to reduce disinformation and foreign interference.

In May 2018, for instance, many of the same tech companies met at Facebook headquarters to discuss ways they could collaborate before the midterm elections that year. Tech companies and the federal government have gone to greater lengths to cooperate on threat modeling, intelligence sharing and building stronger ties between the public and private sector agencies, said the person briefed on the meeting.

The companies have also tried other tactics to get a handle on how their platforms and products can be misused in elections. Last month, for example, Facebook said it was strengthening how it verified which groups and people place political advertising on its site. And Twitter said last month that it would ban state-backed media from promoting tweets on its service.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200

An estimated 200 cruise passengers were stuck in New Orleans after the Norwegian Breakaway was forced to divert to Louisiana on Tuesday morning because of Hurricane Dorian.

The cruise was originally scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday, but due to the storm, the ship altered course and diverted to New Orleans, where passengers are claiming they have been left without transportation, food or water.

DISNEY WORLD REOPENS, COMPANY PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO BAHAMAS RELIEF

“They’re keeping us in this cargo terminal and we can’t get out and no one can come in,” passenger Sarah Alonso said to WVUE.

“Everyone’s been starving, no one knows what’s going on, basically Norwegian Breakaway just dumped us here and said, ‘See you later,’” she added.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler

The cruise ship was forced to divert because of the storm, which impacted travel into Florida. (iStock)

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According to Alonso, the cruise ship staff prohibited anyone from leaving the fenced-in area, and did not provide them with food and water for hours while they were held on a charter bus.

Another passenger, Beverley Albertie, told WVUE that Norwegian handled the situation incorrectly.

“The communication was off,” Albertie said.

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The cruise line was reportedly helping passengers return to Florida, but some have claimed those living in the Miami-area were not assisted in getting home.

“Everyone’s losing it a little bit right now. We’ve been here for hours, it’s hot, we’ve called our families countless times with different travel arrangements, different plans,” Alonso said to WVUE.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

The Norwegian Sun was also diverted to New Orleans because of the storm.

The cruise line did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler   Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler

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Rape, assault allegations mount against Lyft in what new suit calls 'sexual predator crisis'

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Rape, assault allegations mount against Lyft in what new suit calls 'sexual predator crisis'

The ride-hailing company Lyft is mishandling what amounts to a “sexual predator crisis” involving its drivers, a new lawsuit alleges, including failing to use its own technology to protect passengers and inadequately responding to reports of sexual abuse.  

The case was filed Wednesday on behalf of 14 women who say they were sexually assaulted by their drivers in 2018 and 2019. Five say they were raped, including one woman who is blind. 

Only one of the 14 women whose stories underpin the claim says she was told by the company that her driver was removed from the app. Others have worried their drivers may have kept contracting with Lyft even after the women reported them to the company or the police. 

Gladys Arce, 40, a mother of four, told USA TODAY she was kidnapped for hours by a driver who teetered between professions of love and threats of violence before raping her. Months after she filed a police report, she says, the investigator on her criminal case told her the man was still driving for Lyft.  

“We were doing the right thing. We were getting a Lyft driver to get home safely,” Arce said. “A drive that should have been 10, 15 minutes turned into a nightmare.” 

In a statement responding to the suit, which was filed in superior court in Lyft’s hometown of San Francisco, Lyft said the safety of its passengers is fundamental to the company. Spokeswoman Lauren Alexander said the man Arce accused of rape was removed from the app but did not say when.

The new allegations are at odds with Lyft’s public image as the socially conscious alternative to Uber, its predecessor in disrupting the taxi industry that in recent years has come under fire for its workplace culture and response to safety concerns. Lyft, founded in 2012, has seen huge gains in the market, in part by billing itself as a safe option for female passengers. 

Yet, Lyft has been behind the curve on implementing key safety measures

The company said that within the next few weeks, all users will have access to an in-app emergency button they can use to quickly call 911. Under the rollout, about half of riders have access to it now. Uber launched its emergency button in May 2018.  

Lyft also was nearly a year behind Uber when it in April announced it would institute continual background checks of drivers, who are independent contractors, instead of doing them only annually. Uber said it has removed more than 30,000 U.S. drivers since it implemented the system in July 2018. A spokeswoman for Lyft declined to say how many drivers the company has removed.  

Provided a list of cases included in the new suit, the spokeswoman verified that, in addition to Arce, seven other drivers “were permanently deactivated.” She declined to say when any of them were removed.

In the remaining five cases, only the driver’s first name – which is all that is included in the passenger’s app – was known to the women. Provided that name, the date of the incident and the city where it took place, Lyft could not determine whether the drivers were still on the road. 

“We do not tolerate harassment or violence on our platform, and such behavior can and does result in a permanent ban from our service,” Alexander said. “We have made it a priority to continually invest in features that put riders in control of their experience.” 

The accounts in the lawsuit are harrowing.  

One woman said she was raped by a Lyft driver who followed her back to her hotel room, then stole her phone and added a $25 tip to the ride. Another said she woke up in the back seat of the car to find her driver on top of her, her pants unzipped. One driver was accused by two women who shared a Lyft ride home after a night out in Chicago. They said the driver molested one of them at her front door, then got back in the car, drove the second woman home and molested her there. 

“It’s mind-blowing the number of inquiries we get a week,” said attorney Steven Estey of Estey Bomberger, the firm that filed the suit. “It’s absolutely crazy.” 

The firm began to see an increase in inquiries from potential clients about ride-hailing companies a few years ago. The flow became so steady, Estey says, the firm added a page to its website on the topic, which drew even more inquiries. 

Though it’s impossible to know how many women are sexually assaulted by ride-hailing drivers each year, according to the suit Lyft received nearly 100 reports in a single state in the year ending May 2016 – and the company has only grown since then. Lawsuits alleging sexual assault have followed, including seven filed against the company last month.  

Estey says Lyft has tried to cover up the extent of the problem by keeping investigations internal and stonewalling law enforcement. The lawsuit alleges Lyft has gone as far as not complying with subpoenas.  

“It’s not unique. It’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to keep everything suppressed so they don’t get bad publicity,” Estey said. “The reality is, when you advertise yourself as being a safe alternative and safe ride, and in fact it’s the opposite, it’s fairly frustrating.” 

Lyft driver warns he has ‘done evil stuff’ 

The suit accuses Lyft of being a tech company that hasn’t leveraged technology to deter sexual assaults by its drivers.  

Alleging that Lyft was negligent in the design of its app, the lawyers say the company should more rigorously monitor rides, including by recording audio and video inside the cars, banning drivers who turn off the app midtrip, and sending messages to both the driver and the passenger when a ride veers off course.  

“They have the technology to easily do this,” said Michael Bomberger, another attorney on the case. “These drivers that are perpetrators and predators, they’d be far less likely to drive off course (or) turn off their app (if they were being monitored). … It’s an easy fix.” 

Arce says the receipt from her ride shows her trip ending just over a mile from her home, 16 minutes after her driver picked her up. In reality, she said, she didn’t make it home until nearly five hours later. 

She had taken a Lyft the night of Oct. 28, 2018, when she and her friends were too intoxicated to drive after a Halloween party near Los Angeles. Her sister ordered her a car. When the driver arrived, she buckled Arce into the back seat, told the driver Arce had been drinking and asked him to get her home safely.  

Instead, Arce says, the man held her hostage, refusing to say where they were going as he drove around the Los Angeles area. He appeared to be on drugs, she says, and darted between telling her he loved her and warning that he had “done evil stuff” to others. At one point, she says, he told her he had been accused of rape by a passenger when he worked as a taxi driver in another country. 

“He looked at me with these really evil eyes, like he wanted to kill me,” she said. 

As night turned to morning, Arce says, the man took her to a beach and pulled her from the car. As she trembled from fear, he asked if she was cold. Then he raped her on the sand, she says. 

“It was so fast,” she said.  “I just concentrated on the waves.” 

Back in the car, Arce decided to change tactics and stop trying to placate the man. She stared him in the eye, told him she had family members who worked in law enforcement and pleaded with him to take her home. He did.  

She went to the police the next day, where she says detectives told her she should not contact Lyft because they would do it. Officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to requests for information on the investigation.  

Arce says police matched the driver’s DNA to a sample taken from her rape kit, but a detective told her they do not plan to prosecute because the driver claimed the sexual contact was consensual. 

If Lyft had cameras in their cars, she says, there would be no question of what happened that night. And it might have never happened at all. 

Company accused of not cooperating with law enforcement 

Several of the women say they decided to pursue legal action – some by speaking out publicly – out of frustration over how Lyft handled their reports and their safety. The suit says company responses to reports of rape and assault are “appallingly inadequate.” 

Perhaps most troubling to Estey and his colleagues is the company’s interactions with law enforcement.  

The company is not a mandatory reporter, meaning it is not legally required to report allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement. When law enforcement gets involved, Estey says, “the cooperation Lyft gives to police is sketchy at best.” 

Lyft’s policy on law enforcement requests says the company requires a valid subpoena, court order or search warrant to provide any information to police. In cases involving an “immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm to a person,” only law enforcement is permitted to request information from Lyft, and it is instructed to do so via email.  

“We’ve seen this in other large organizations that want to divert complaints and keep them internalized not have third party like cops involved,” Estey said. With Lyft, “we’ve seen instances where they’ve not complied with subpoenas.”  

In one case, the lawsuit says police tried to contact Lyft but were unable to get in touch with the safety representative who had handled the assault report. Police are working to obtain a warrant for that driver’s name and other information, according to the suit.  

Survivors also recount receiving automated responses that felt impersonal and traumatizing, the generic wording failing to match the seriousness of their experiences.  

Brittany Robinson, 33, a mother of five from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says that after reporting her assault, she received a call from a Lyft employee asking for more details. She felt uncomfortable sharing those details with the male representative.  

“It felt like I was being assaulted again,” she said. 

Robinson is blind and relied on ride-hailing companies for most of her transportation. She ordered a car on a Saturday in January 2018 to take her to the grocery store. She said her driver followed her in, saying he would help her shop. She told him it wasn’t necessary, but he persisted, then offered to drive her back home. Once there, he helped her take her bags inside, again ignoring her protests.  

He took her cane, she says, then sat her on the couch while he walked through her home, perhaps checking to make sure they were alone. Then, she says, the man led her to a bedroom and raped her.  

In the coming days, Robinson reported what happened to the police and Lyft. Police later told her that the driver, known to her only as Christopher, claimed the sexual contact was consensual. They declined to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence.  

After her call with the male Lyft representative, Robinson says, the company followed up via email with what seemed like a form letter. She says it felt like “a band aid.” In it, the employee wrote that he was “so sorry to hear about this awful experience” and could “definitely understand why this made you feel unsafe and uncomfortable.” 

“Lyft is happy to cooperate with any information police may need,” he wrote, “as long as they can provide a subpoena or formal legal order.” 

Others report similar responses between periods of radio silence.  

Kim Natural was riding an electric scooter home from a night out for her birthday and a friend’s graduation when she was approached by a driver who said he worked for Lyft.  

It was winter and the driver said he’d be glad to take her home. She sat in the front seat, as she usually does, happy to meet a new person – her favorite aspect of Lyft. She pulled up the app, ordered the ride and plugged in her address. 

The driver began complimenting her on her appearance before pulling up to her house, she says. When the car stopped, he reached over the center console. He grabbed her neck forcefully, pleading with her to kiss him goodnight.  

Natural pushed him off, ran inside and locked the door. She filed a report with Lyft the next day, then reported it to police, too.  

She received a phone call and email from a Lyft safety representative. The representative said the company would reach out with any further questions.  

Then, nothing more from Lyft, even after her driver pleaded guilty to battery. She tried to follow up to see whether her driver was still on the app.   

“Their response to me almost sounded automated in a way, it was very impersonal, that they were unable to disclose the status of the driver, and that they are working with detectives on their platform,” Natural said. “That’s all I got from them.”  

Lyft told USA TODAY the driver’s account was among those that had been permanently deactivated, but declined to say when that happened.  

“I just felt so insignificant. That they’re not concerned about not only my well-being,” Natural said, “but any of their customers’ well-being.” 

Cara Kelly is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team, focusing primarily on pop culture, consumer news and sexual violence. Contact her at carakelly@usatoday.com or @carareports. Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at tnadolny@usatoday.com or @TriciaNadolny. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/09/04/lyft-rape-sexual-assault-lawsuit-crisis/2165119001/

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Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200

An estimated 200 cruise passengers were stuck in New Orleans after the Norwegian Breakaway was forced to divert to Louisiana on Tuesday morning because of Hurricane Dorian.

The cruise was originally scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday, but due to the storm, the ship altered course and diverted to New Orleans, where passengers are claiming they have been left without transportation, food or water.

DISNEY WORLD REOPENS, COMPANY PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO BAHAMAS RELIEF

“They’re keeping us in this cargo terminal and we can’t get out and no one can come in,” passenger Sarah Alonso said to WVUE.

“Everyone’s been starving, no one knows what’s going on, basically Norwegian Breakaway just dumped us here and said, ‘See you later,’” she added.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler

The cruise ship was forced to divert because of the storm, which impacted travel into Florida. (iStock)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

According to Alonso, the cruise ship staff prohibited anyone from leaving the fenced-in area, and did not provide them with food and water for hours while they were held on a charter bus.

Another passenger, Beverley Albertie, told WVUE that Norwegian handled the situation incorrectly.

“The communication was off,” Albertie said.

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The cruise line was reportedly helping passengers return to Florida, but some have claimed those living in the Miami-area were not assisted in getting home.

“Everyone’s losing it a little bit right now. We’ve been here for hours, it’s hot, we’ve called our families countless times with different travel arrangements, different plans,” Alonso said to WVUE.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

The Norwegian Sun was also diverted to New Orleans because of the storm.

The cruise line did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler   Westlake Legal Group iStock-537893569 Hurricane Dorian forces Norwegian Breakaway cruise to divert to New Orleans, stranding 200 fox-news/travel/general/cruises fox-news/science/planet-earth/natural-disasters/hurricane-dorian fox news fnc/travel fnc cd415bfe-dbc9-5d1e-afa3-8c63093965ed article Alexandra Deabler

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Dan Crenshaw is worried that universal background checks might keep him from arming his friends – It is unclear why he doesn’t think his friends could pass background checks.

Westlake Legal Group YWUv-Qus8w1kGHbIPqZMTl-XtrL2FuW7aj4B8qNeazE Dan Crenshaw is worried that universal background checks might keep him from arming his friends - It is unclear why he doesn't think his friends could pass background checks. r/politics

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Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away

NASSAU, Bahamas — As Hurricane Dorian pulled away from the Bahamas, relief workers, medical personnel, pilots and others gathered at a private terminal of the Nassau airport on Wednesday amid boxes of supplies, anxiously awaiting permission from the government to fly to devastated areas and provide assistance.

But with most of the runways on Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama — the islands most heavily pummeled by the storm — flooded or covered in sand, it was difficult to deliver help or even assess the damage wrought by the storm. In addition, the government has given priority to helicopter evacuations.

“It is frustrating,” said Wes Comfort, director of operations for Heart to Heart International, a Kansas-based group. “There are people who want to help and professionals who know how to help.”

Westlake Legal Group bahamas-damage-hurricane-dorian-1567618513584-articleLarge Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away Rescues Hurricane Dorian (2019) Grand Bahama Island Floods Bahama Islands Abaco Islands (Bahamas)

The Bahamas, Before and After Hurricane Dorian

Aerial images of flattened neighborhoods and a flooded airport give a first look at the large-scale damage there.

Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on Sunday, then lingered, pummeling the northern islands of the Bahamian archipelago for more than three days. At least seven people have died, including children, government officials said, adding that the toll is expected to rise. Now a Category 2 storm, Dorian is heading toward the Eastern Seaboard.

Despite the limited access to the islands, pilots have conducted flyovers revealing scenes of absolute devastation. Entire neighborhoods were reduced to unrecognizable fields of rubble, houses were crushed into splinters and boats were tossed into heaps like toys.

The Bahamian prime minister, Hubert Minnis, was able to go on a reconnaissance mission over Abaco on Tuesday afternoon, though storm conditions still prevented flying over Grand Bahama, the larger island.

“People need mostly food, security and shelter,” Mr. Minnis said in brief comments to reporters when he returned.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160181334_7dc798f6-f08e-4e62-8d07-67f39ff04a1f-articleLarge Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away Rescues Hurricane Dorian (2019) Grand Bahama Island Floods Bahama Islands Abaco Islands (Bahamas)

A local man recovering dishes from his son’s home, destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in Pine Bay, near Freeport, Bahamas, on Wednesday.CreditRamon Espinosa/Associated Press

Videos taken by helicopters flying over the islands showed desperate residents stranded on rooftops amid swirling currents, roads turned to rivers, and basic infrastructure — including shelters, hospitals and public buildings — under water.

“It’s not just the power and ferocity of the storm, it’s also the length of time it spent over Abaco and Grand Bahama,” said Marvin Dames, the minister of national security for the Bahamas. “That’s a disastrous outcome.”

[How to help the survivors of Hurricane Dorian.]

The deputy commander for the United States Coast Guard’s Altantic area, Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, said on Tuesday they had brought seven helicopters into the central Bahamas. The Coast Guard, together with Customs and Border Patrol, were able to airlift 61 people from the Bahamas over two days, the United States Embassy in Nassau said on Twitter Wednesday.

The prime minister said that roughly 60 percent of homes in Marsh Harbour were badly damaged. The town “looks like a lake” and the roads are flooded, he said.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 04dorian-updates01sub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away Rescues Hurricane Dorian (2019) Grand Bahama Island Floods Bahama Islands Abaco Islands (Bahamas)

Now a Category 2 storm, Hurricane Dorian is slowly moving northwest, threatening the U.S. southeast coast, after leaving behind major damage in the Bahamas.CreditCreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times

Cindy Russell, a resident of Marsh Harbour whose home was destroyed, said she had no words to describe what Dorian left in its wake.

“It’s like we just need to be rescued and put on another island to start over again,” she said. “Complete devastation.”

Rebecca Roberts, who lives in Nassau but grew up on Green Turtle Cay, which is part of the Abaco Islands, said her family there suffered heavy losses. The extended family had 12 buildings among them, between businesses and homes. Of the four they had been able to check up on, three were completely demolished.

The one building that stood, which was made of cement, was housing the entire family, she said.

“My aunt was out in the road picking up pieces from her house,” she said.

Westlake Legal Group hurricane-dorian-map-promo-1566933204147-articleLarge-v336 Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away Rescues Hurricane Dorian (2019) Grand Bahama Island Floods Bahama Islands Abaco Islands (Bahamas)

Maps: Track Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Maps tracking the hurricane’s path as it makes its way toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

[See photos of the power and devastation of Hurricane Dorian.]

Though the weakened hurricane is pushing its way toward Florida, it did not clear the islands until early Wednesday.

“Storm surge is the number one killer in a tropical storm,” said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, speaking of the rising sea level that results from the wind and pressure changes brought on by a storm.

In Freeport, the largest city on Grand Bahama, Sarah Kirkby watched helplessly as a massive tidal flood poured in and inundated her house.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” she said. “I have never seen water come in like that. You don’t realize the power until you’re in it.”

Some local rescue efforts began on Tuesday, she said, as the water began to recede, with neighbors manning Jet Skis to rescue people trapped on their roofs — but it was unclear where they might go, since many shelters were also flooded or damaged by the storm.

All of the rescues on Abaco were conducted by the Coast Guard, which also provided the prime minister and Bahamas emergency management officials with their first flyover to assess the damages. But with conditions on Grand Bahama too poor for even military helicopters, the Coast Guard attempted no rescues there.

Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk said officials still had a “large volume” of calls for help from people stranded on their rooftops.

[Live updates as the storm turns toward the southeast coast of the United States.]

Responders were trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity after the eye passed over Grand Bahama to try to rescue people, but many police cruisers and other emergency vehicles were under water.

Coast Guard personnel moving a patient from the Marsh Harbour Healthcare Centre in the Bahamas on Tuesday.CreditBrandon Murray/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Some of the bigger vehicles, dump trucks and fire engines, are trying to get through the water,” Kevin D. Harris, director general of the Bahamas Information Service, said. “Grand Bahama is flat, and you can imagine the devastation we are going to incur.”

There was so much water that government offices, including the government radio station, had to leave their lower floors.

The islands in the northwestern Bahamas that were hit the hardest — the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama — are 30 feet at their highest point, and the storm surge reached up to 23 feet, not counting the waves, said Joel Cline, the Tropical Program Coordinator at NOAA.

Photographs from flights over Abaco show trees sheared of limbs and leaves and saltwater ponds covering swaths of land where homes once stood. Some houses had their roofs ripped clean off, while others were reduced to piles of debris mired in water. All around, a rough ocean lapped at the low-lying islands.

The Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino on Grand Bahama had opened its doors to those who needed shelter, said Michael Scott, who is the chairman of the government-owned hotel.

“It’s a catastrophic and dystopian mess,” he said on Tuesday, estimating that more than 400 people were now being cared for at the hotel. “Other shelters which have been compromised are having their people decanted into our facility.”

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Fifth Texas Republican Congressman Will Not Seek Re-election

Representative Bill Flores of Texas said he would not seek re-election in 2020, joining a long list of Republicans retiring in a state that has become increasingly competitive.

“When I originally announced that I was running for Congress in 2009, I was firm in my commitment that I would run for six or fewer terms,” Mr. Flores, who is serving a fifth term, said in a statement on Wednesday. “After much prayer over the past few days and following conversations with my wife, Gina, during that time, I have decided that my current term will be my last.”

With his announcement, Mr. Flores became the fifth Republican in the state to bow out of the next election cycle, rather than face challengers. Representative Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House, and Representatives Michael Conaway, Pete Olson and Kenny Marchant also recently announced they did not plan to run again.

Texas Republicans, who have enjoyed a generation of dominance, are facing resistance as the population diversifies and because of their connection to President Trump and his incendiary brand of nationalist politics, including from suburban voters, a once dependable base.

The Republican Party is facing an uphill battle to win back the House in 2020. Fifteen, including Mr. Flores, have said they will retire or seek other offices.

Much as they did in California ahead of the 2018 election, House Democrats have bolstered their presence in Texas, opening up an office in Austin just as they did in Orange County.

Nathan L. Gonzales, the editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Inside Elections, said on Twitter that for now, the seat would retain its “Solid Republican” rating in their system.

Mr. Flores was elected to the House for the 17th District of Texas in 2010, beating a Democratic incumbent by the largest margin of victory that election cycle. The district includes Waco, part of the Austin suburbs, as well as Texas A&M University and Baylor University. Mr. Flores is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Before his career in politics, Mr. Flores, a ninth-generation Texan, was the chief executive and president of Phoenix Exploration, a company focused on the extraction and transmission of natural gas.

Mr. Flores planned to spend more time with his family, “to resume business activities in the private sector and to stay politically active on a federal, state and local level,” according to the statement.

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Marianne Williamson Deletes Tweet Crediting Mind Power For Shifting Dorian’s Path

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ff1052400004f0074267b Marianne Williamson Deletes Tweet Crediting Mind Power For Shifting Dorian’s Path

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson on Wednesday tweeted ― then quickly deleted ― a message that credited “power of the mind” and positive visualization for turning Hurricane Dorian “away from land.” 

The problem, of course: Dorian made that turn over the Bahamas, which it hit as a Category 5 storm, leaving the islands in a state of “total devastation.”

Williamson’s tweet overlooked what’s been described as an “apocalyptic” scene 150 miles east of Palm Beach.

There’s nothing wrong with mindfulness, prayer or positive visualization, but it’s critically important people heed the warnings of the National Weather Service and take action when told to do so.

(For the record, nuking hurricanes ― a method reportedly suggested “multiple times” by President Donald Trump ― is also a dangerous idea.)

Williamson replaced the deleted tweet with a call for peace and comfort for those affected by the storm:

In the meantime, the threat posed by Hurricane Dorian is far from over. The storm could yet come ashore in Georgia, South or North Carolina, all of which remain within the National Hurricane Center’s forecast cone.

South Carolina is bracing for what could be the the region’s second-worst flooding in 85 years, and more than 2 million people along the coast from Florida to North Carolina have been urged to evacuate.

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