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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 36)

Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Westlake Legal Group ap_19194416234126-4cd389ee2ba4f8891bcd10e7ed4b5c1ada90db7f-s1100-c15 Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Clouds from Tropical Storm Barry spin over downtown New Orleans on Saturday. The storm has been fueled by climate change, which is also exacerbating potential flooding. Matthew Hinton/AP hide caption

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Matthew Hinton/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Climate Change Fuels Wetter Storms — Storms Like Barry

Clouds from Tropical Storm Barry spin over downtown New Orleans on Saturday. The storm has been fueled by climate change, which is also exacerbating potential flooding.

Matthew Hinton/AP

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It’s a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it’s raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

“It is noteworthy that we’re in our 260th day of a flood fight on the Mississippi River, the longest in history, and that this is the first time in history a hurricane will strike Louisiana while the Mississippi River has been at flood stage,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in response to a question about climate change at a Friday news conference.

“If we anticipate that this could happen with more frequency going forward, then it has to inform a lot of things we do in the state of Louisiana to prepare for disasters in the future,” the governor continued.

Warm Water, Warm Air

The storm called Barry formed over hotter-than-usual water in the Gulf of Mexico, and that helped it gain strength and pick up moisture.

That makes Barry the latest in a string of recent tropical storms and hurricanes whose greatest threat is rain, not wind; most notably Harvey in Texas and Florence in the Carolinas.

Studies of those previous hurricanes, as well as other storms, have found that warm water and warm air both contribute to deadly flooding. The warm water evaporates and the warm air acts like a sponge for moisture that then falls as extreme rain. A study published last year found that hurricanes including Katrina, Irma and Maria are dumping about 5 to 10% more rain than they would have if global warming wasn’t happening.

Another study found that the amount of rain that fell on the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was equal to the amount of water that evaporated from the Gulf into the storm as it formed.

Barry has another thing in common with recent storms: it’s moving extremely slowly. On Saturday morning, it was traveling toward land at just a few miles per hour.

A study published last year found that slower tropical cyclones — which include hurricanes and tropical storms — are getting more common. Researchers looked at tropical cyclones around the world and found they have slowed down 10% in the past 70 years.

When storms move slowly over the water, it can give them more time to gain strength and pick up moisture, but the real danger is when storms move slowly after they make landfall, dumping rain on one area for hours or even days.

If Barry were to stall over southern Louisiana this weekend, it could drop more than 15 inches of rain. As a result, flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for the entire region.

The Wettest Year

The rain from Barry is falling onto a Lower Mississippi River region that is already saturated with water from the wettest 12-month period on record.

The rain started months ago, hundreds of miles north of Louisiana. Waves of extreme rain have battered communities along the Mississippi River and its tributaries since February, from the Dakotas and Minnesota down through Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri.

Unlike Barry, the storms did not have names, but they, nonetheless, flooded homes and farm land across an enormous swath of the Central U.S. It’s the latest, and one of the most extreme, examples of an uptick in the number of extreme rain events in many parts of the U.S. as the earth gets hotter.

“Increasing precipitation, especially heavy rain events, has increased the overall flood risk,” according to the most recent National Climate Assessment.

The water from this spring’s rains flowed downstream, into the Mississippi River and down toward the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, the Mississippi River in New Orleans was already high when Barry arrived, pushing ocean water upstream as storm surge, and dumping rain onto the region.

The initial storm surge did not cause the river to flood overnight on Friday — good news for low-lying New Orleans. But, as rain falls throughout the weekend, the river is forecast to keep rising, putting even more pressure on the levee system that protects the city.

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'This has got to be wrong': Disabled veteran's home sold at auction over $236 tax bill

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'This has got to be wrong': Disabled veteran's home sold at auction over $236 tax bill

Air Force veteran Jim Boerner may lose his Mesa home because of a $236 tax bill. Boerner says he paid the taxes but his home went to auction anyway. Tom Tingle, The Republic | azcentral.com

Disabled military veteran Jim Boerner bought his buttercup-yellow mobile home in Mesa, Arizona two years ago, hoping to live affordably into his old age.

Boerner, 49, is unable to work because of spinal and brain injuries he suffered during a training exercise in 1991 at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, he said. 

On his limited income, Boerner keeps a cat named Samantha, fixes guitars found at garage sales and brings flowers to widowed neighbors on Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.

To save money, Boerner says he applied to a Maricopa County program that reduces property taxes for people with disabilities and limited incomes. He thought he had been accepted.

So when a stranger knocked on his door last month claiming to have bought his home at auction because of $236 in late taxes, Boerner said he was floored.

Also in Arizona: AC company convinced 103-year-old WWII vet to pay $24K, son says

“I said, ‘What are you talking about? … This has got to be wrong,’ ” Boerner recalled. “Had I known I was in peril of losing my home, I would have paid it in full.”

Now Boerner is fighting to save his home, knowing he could be forced to pack his things any day.

Government officials have scrambled to find loopholes but say there may be nothing they can do. The new owner says he won’t negotiate and will begin eviction proceedings soon.

“It’s difficult. It’s just difficult,” Boerner said through tears on Monday. “I love my home. I love my neighbors. … This was my nest egg, you know? That’s why I paid cash for it. This is where I was going to retire. And now I don’t have that assurance anymore.”

What went wrong?

Boerner has had to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucracy to find out what went wrong.

The Maricopa County Assessor’s Office handles tax exemptions. The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office collects tax payments and issues delinquency notices. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office serves delinquent taxpayers with auction notices and conducts the sales.

“I’ve been getting the brick wall everywhere I turn,” Boerner said.

Treasurer Royce Flora, who has been trying to help, said it’s understandable that a taxpayer may feel lost.

“If we can’t figure out how to get through the maze, how is he supposed to?” Flora said.

The treasurer believes it’s outrageous that Boerner is facing eviction.

If Boerner had lived in a single-family home, he might not be on the verge of being kicked out. Single-family homeowners have five years to pay back taxes before foreclosure.

But different rules apply to mobile homes, which are considered personal property, Flora said. They can be auctioned as soon as tax payments are late.

Arizona law is “not treating (a mobile home) like someone’s home,” Flora said. “A home is a home, and they should be treated the same.”

No record of his application

Boerner’s problems began last year, when a sheriff’s deputy arrived to tell him he was late on his property taxes and his mobile home could be sold at auction.

Boerner said he was confused.

He remembered filling out paperwork in 2017 soon after he bought the home to apply for a property-tax exemption and receiving a postcard confirming his acceptance.

From 2017: Some homeowners see prepaying property taxes as way to save this year and next

After the deputy’s visit, Boerner said he sent another application to the Assessor’s Office and received another postcard. He didn’t keep either postcard, Boerner said.

Boerner called the Sheriff’s Office after last year’s visit and learned the home was not scheduled for auction, so he figured things were cleared up, he said.

The Assessor’s Office told The Arizona Republic it does send postcards to confirm property-tax exemptions. But after searching thoroughly, the office found no record of Boerner applying for an exemption in 2017 or 2018, although the office keeps all related documents including incomplete and rejected applications.

Another knock on the door

A few weeks ago, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at Boerner’s home again.

“Are we going to do this every year?” Boerner said he wondered.

The deputy told him he was “perilously close” to losing the home and advised he pay the tax soon, Boerner said.

Boerner called June 13 to make a payment. Two county employees told him the deadline was weeks away.

“There’s nothing serious you would need to be worried about as far as the home being in any danger or anything like that,” a county call-center employee told him, according to a recording made by the county.

When Boerner asked the amount he needed to pay, he was transferred to a Sheriff’s Office employee.

“Are they going to kick me out between now and June 30?” Boerner asked.

“I would imagine not. I would always advise paying as quickly as you can, but I don’t see anything in my comments saying they’re going to,” the employee replied.  

That wasn’t true.

Militarykind: Camp for veterans creates safe space

Boerner’s account with the Sheriff’s Office included notes that his home was scheduled for auction June 20, documents show.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesman did not respond to questions from The Republic about why Boerner was given incorrect information on the phone about the imminent auction.

The Sheriff’s Office employee then told Boerner he owed $641 in total. Of that, $405 was due from last year, the employee said.

When Boerner made the payment online, he said he only remembered $405. That’s what he paid.

It wasn’t enough. The home was sold at auction a week later for $4,400.

Conversations with the buyer

Soon, a man knocked on Boerner’s door and said he had bought the mobile home. How long would it take him to move out, Boehner remembered the man asking.

The man gave an alias, Alex Patron, Boerner said, but business records suggest the buyer’s real name is Lester Payne. He purchased the home under a business called Advanced Dynamic Energy Limited.

“I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Boerner said. “He said, ‘I have all the documentation.’ “

Boerner invited Payne in for a cool drink and called the county to ask what happened. An employee told him he hadn’t paid enough in taxes and his home had been auctioned.

Payne offered to sell the home back, Boerner remembered.

“Thank God,” he thought. Boerner figured he could pay $5,000, giving Payne a 16% profit.

But Payne said he would only settle for $30,000, nearly as much as Boerner had spent on the home originally and more than he could afford, Boerner said.

18.2 million US veterans: Which state is home to the most of them?

“I was begging him to rethink,” Boerner said.

Over the next few days, Payne told Boerner he would sell the home for $26,000, and then $52,000, according to text messages Boerner shared.

Payne told Boerner by phone if he didn’t pay, Payne could haul the home away at night, Boerner said.

Payne wanted to work with Boerner but the veteran called him and his family nasty names, the buyer told The Republic.

“I’m not going to try to deal with this issue anymore,” Payne said.

Text messages Boerner shared with The Republic don’t show him calling Payne names, but the veteran did tell Payne he could expose the buyer’s criminal rap sheet, which includes felonies for aggravated assault, misconduct involving weapons and endangerment along with misdemeanors for driving under the influence and shoplifting, according to county court records.

“You want a battle, Lester,” Boerner wrote. “We will battle.”

Payne texted that he was “tired of the threats.”

“It’s been long enough for you to try to buy the home,” Payne texted. “I’m starting (the) eviction process now.”

How tax-lien auctions work

From all accounts, it appears Payne legally purchased Boerner’s home and has the right to take over the title.

Tax-lien auctions help local governments collect unpaid property taxes that are needed to fund schools, law enforcement and roads.

In the case of single-family homes, owners have two years to pay delinquent taxes before the tax lien is auctioned. And an auction winner has three years to collect the tax payment, plus interest, from the taxpayer before being allowed to foreclose and take ownership of the home.

In the case of mobile homes, state law allows an auction to be held the day after a tax payment is due. In practice, there’s a little bit of a delay.

The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office allows mobile-home taxpayers 30 days after a tax payment is due before declaring it delinquent and another 30 days before notifying the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office decides which mobile homes to auction.

More on taxes: How likely is a tax audit?

A detective visits the home to confirm its location, notifies the delinquent taxpayer, explains where to make a payment, warns that failing to do so could result in an auction and leaves a notice of sale, said spokesman Sgt. Bryant Vanegas. If a deputy can’t serve the taxpayer, the Sheriff’s Office publishes a notice in a newspaper.

Once a mobile-home tax lien is purchased, the buyer owns the home and can evict the tenants.

An uncertain future

Boerner said he has no idea where he will live if he loses the mobile home.

He can’t burden his parents by living in their small house for long, Boerner said, and he may not be able to afford to buy another place.

“I don’t know where I would go,” he said.

Flora, the treasurer, has asked the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to investigate.

He thinks the sale should be reversed because the Sheriff’s Office gave Boerner incorrect information by phone about the timing of the auction and because Boerner paid the 2017 taxes.

The Sheriff’s Office typically doesn’t auction a home until a year or more of late taxes rack up, so it’s curious why the office moved forward based on 2018 taxes that were only a few weeks late.

A sheriff’s spokesman did not clarify the decision.

Flora said he will personally pay $15,000 to save the home. 

But Payne is no longer willing to sell, he told The Republic on Tuesday.

“I’m keeping the home,” he said. “My grandma needs a house. She likes the (mobile home) park.”

State lawmakers concerned by Boerner’s case said they want to change the law so that mobile-home owners have more time to pay back taxes. But those changes wouldn’t be made until the spring when the new legislative session opens.

“A mere $50 can mean the difference between an individual or family being forced to live on the streets,” Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said.

Thorpe held a meeting at the state Capitol on Thursday with the mobile-home industry, government officials and residents about possible changes to the law.

“I want fairness,” Thorpe told the group. “We need to make sure there is enough of a grace period similar to a stick-built home so a person with a fixed income is not going to lose their home out from under them.”

Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, said he will urge Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone to look for a way to reverse the sale.

“Nobody wants a disabled veteran kicked out of his home in 107 degrees,” Kern said.

Boerner said the stress is wearing on him.

“It’s emotional. It’s frustrating,” he said. “… It’s maddening I could lose my home over $200.”

Boerner doesn’t know how soon he’ll have to leave.

The buyer “could come at anytime and tell me, ‘Time to get out,’ ” Boerner said.

Contact the veteran

Offers of help or encouragement can be sent to Boerner through his attorney, Curtis Ensign, at curtisensign@cox.net or 602-266-3300.

Follow Rebekah L. Sanders on Twitter at @RebekahLSanders. 

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Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Westlake Legal Group ap_19194527566906_wide-df92dc22a9d85de0006db6cb9188ad7bab57c9ee-s1100-c15 Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning. Matthew Hinton/AP hide caption

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Matthew Hinton/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall In Louisiana

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning.

Matthew Hinton/AP

The storm named Barry approached Louisiana’s central coast Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.

It has already brought flooding to New Orleans where tornado warnings have been issued.

Residents across other parts of Louisiana have also been bracing for flooding — forecasters predict up to 25 inches of rain across much of southern Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, leading to dangerous, life threatening flooding.

“Today is really going to be the day of the biggest impacts from Barry,” John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at NHC, told NPR. Cangialosi said the biggest impacts of the storm will be from heavy rains and storm surge.

The hurricane center said a storm surge warning is in effect for much of southeast Louisiana, stretching from Intracoastal City to Biloxi, Miss.

The storm is bringing 75-mph sustained winds, and forecasters say tropical-storm-force winds will extend up to 175 miles outward from the storm’s center.

Parts of Louisiana have already been hit by strong wind and rains that have washed out some coastal roads. Rain bands were moving onshore by the early morning hours, forcing the cancellations of flights to and from New Orleans.

Authorities ordered emergency evacuations in much of Plaquemines Parish and parts of Jefferson Parish southeast of New Orleans, and the storm has knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.

On Thursday night President Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, allowing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin coordinating all relief efforts.

Officials are keeping a close watch on the city’s levees, which failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, inundating the city with water and leaving hundreds of people dead.

In New Orleans Lower 9th ward, resident Burnell Lucien spoke with NPR’s Debbie Elliott. Lucien said he believes the city’s infrastructure will be able to withstand this hurricane. “The levees are higher,” Lucien said. “We don’t get the storm surge in the canals no more. If it’s just rain water we good. We good.”

NPR’s Amy Held contributed to this report.

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Facebook Dodged a Bullet From the F.T.C. It Faces Many More.

Westlake Legal Group 13fbworld1-facebookJumbo Facebook Dodged a Bullet From the F.T.C. It Faces Many More. Social Media Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Privacy Politics and Government Libra (Currency) Law and Legislation General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Facebook Inc Data-Mining and Database Marketing Computers and the Internet Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

LONDON — Facebook escaped largely unscathed from the Federal Trade Commission’s decision on Friday week to fine it around $5 billion for privacy violations: The settlement neither bruised its bottom line nor severely restricted its ability to collect people’s data.

Yet even as the Silicon Valley company dodged that bullet, its pain was just beginning.

Regulators and lawmakers in Washington, Europe and in countries including Canada have already begun multiple investigations and proposing new restrictions against Facebook that will probably embroil it in policy debates and legal wrangling for years to come. And in some of these places, the authorities are increasingly coordinating to form a more united front against the company.

In the United States, the potential for a federal antitrust investigation looms, several state attorneys general have initiated investigations of the company, and members of Congress are considering a federal privacy law and other restrictions. Not to mention that President Trump has turned up the heat on Facebook and other tech behemoths, including on Friday when he said that the platforms were “dishonest” and “crooked” and that “something is going to be done.”

That momentum will be on display this coming week on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust plans to hold a hearing featuring executives from Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google about the power of the firms. That same day, the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hear from David Marcus, a top Facebook executive, on the company’s new Libra cryptocurrency project, which lawmakers have criticized and questioned.

In Europe, Facebook faces sanctions for breaking the region’s strict privacy laws, and the European Commission is in the early stages of an antitrust investigation against the company. In Britain, where a parliamentary report this year labeled Facebook “digital gangsters,” officials are writing new competition and social media laws, and regulators have started a broad antitrust inquiry targeted at Facebook and Google. France is also considering new penalties against the social network if hate speech and other harmful content is not removed within 24 hours.

And Australia, Japan, India, New Zealand and Singapore are either considering or have passed new rules against big internet platforms. Since 2016, at least 43 countries have passed or introduced regulations targeting social media and the spread of misinformation, according to Oxford University researchers.

“The debate has shifted,” said Tommaso Valletti, a professor at Imperial College Business School and the chief economist for the European Commission’s antitrust division. “The right question is not whether to intervene, but what kind of intervention do we need.”

For Facebook, these global fights could sting more than the F.T.C. decision and its $5 billion fine. While that amount would be a record penalty by the federal government against a technology company, it represents just a fraction of Facebook’s $56 billion in annual revenue. And while the F.T.C. also moved to increase oversight of how Facebook handles user data, none of the conditions in the settlement would impose strict limits on the company’s ability to collect and share data with third parties.

Yet governments and regulators can still potentially force the social media company to change how it conducts business through new laws and restrictions — a damaging outcome that Microsoft and other large companies have faced in the past. Already, Facebook has put huge amounts of time and resources into pushing back against tougher privacy, antitrust and hate speech rules, even as it has publicly expressed openness toward more regulation.

Facebook said in a statement on Saturday that, “by updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what’s best about it.” The company added, “We want to work with governments and policymakers to design the sort of smart regulation that fosters competition, encourages innovation and protects consumers.”

Facebook is the centerpiece of a broader reckoning facing the tech industry, with governments beginning to collaborate in their response. The European Commission has shared information with the F.T.C. and the Justice Department about its past investigations into Google. And this spring, Ireland’s top privacy regulator, who has been investigating Facebook and Google, met with officials in Washington.

In May, an annual meeting of antitrust regulators from around the world turned into a four-day strategy session focused on the tech industry. Joseph Simons, the head of the F.T.C., and Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general overseeing antitrust at the Justice Department, were among those who attended the event in Colombia.

“It’s good news that the U.S. agencies are diving into this discussion,” said Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust enforcer, who helped organize the meeting and in February issued one of the first antitrust rulings against Facebook. “It’s clear these are companies that are active worldwide and thus a worldwide approach is not a bad idea.”

Mr. Mundt and other regulators believe that actions against Facebook and its industry peers must go beyond fines. Instead, many authorities want to force structural changes to how the businesses operate — like their collection of data and sale of digital advertising.

After the F.T.C. decision, Facebook’s next sanctions are expected to come from Europe, where the authorities have traditionally been more assertive against the tech industry than American regulators.

Ireland’s data-protection office has 11 investigations underway against Facebook for violations of European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R. (Ireland has jurisdiction over Facebook under the privacy law because the company’s European headquarters is in Dublin.) At least two verdicts against the company are likely in the coming months.

“Facebook has powers that were previously poorly understood,” Helen Dixon, head of the Irish data commission, said in an interview. She declined to comment on specific Facebook cases, but said, “It’s up to us as regulators to enforce where we see accountability hasn’t been demonstrated.”

France is debating a sweeping new law that would require Facebook and other large internet platforms to prevent the spread of hate speech and other harmful content or risk fines. Germany has already enacted a similar law. In Britain, a similar measure is under consideration, as well as tougher competition rules that would create a new digital regulator and potentially require Facebook to make some of its data available to competitors.

Some academics and free speech advocates have raised concerns that in a rush to limit Facebook’s power, governments are drafting policies with unintended consequences. Human rights groups were alarmed by proposals in Singapore and India to give the government new powers to censor content on social media.

“They are all very reactionary,” said Samantha Bradshaw, a doctoral student and researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute who has been tracking government actions against Facebook and others. “I haven’t seen any proposals that really get to these systemic-level challenges about the algorithms, the data collection, and the privacy.”

What specific policies Facebook will accept remains unclear. In many places, the company has fought back against the regulatory and legal onslaught.

Ms. Dixon of the Irish data commission said Facebook has tried to stall her investigations by raising questions and challenges. The social network is “asking constantly for extensions,” she said. “There have been quite a few testy exchanges. Once you have a law with a very big stick” that can be used “against a very big company, they are going to seek to protect their interests at every turn.”

In Germany, Facebook is appealing an antitrust ruling that would prevent it from sharing data with its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as websites that use the “like” and “share” buttons. It is simultaneously fighting elements of the French and British proposals regarding hate speech, saying they place too much responsibility on the company to judge what is acceptable online content.

Facebook and other tech giants also oppose a European Union proposal to toughen privacy rules for communications platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.

In Australia, lobbyists were dispatched to battle antitrust proposals intended to limit Facebook and Google’s market power. And Canadian authorities are taking Facebook to court after the company refused to change its data-collection practices.

“They have softened their message toward the public, but ultimately they are trying to avoid as much binding regulation on them as possible,” said Margarida Silva, a researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory, a group that tracks lobbying in Europe.

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Barry Strengthens To Hurricane As It Bears Down On Louisiana Coast

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carrying “off the chart” amounts of moisture, sprawling Barry strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it crawled slowly toward shore, knocking out power on the Gulf Coast and dumping heavy rains that could last for days in a test of flood-prevention efforts implemented after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 14 years ago.

As natives and tourists in the Big Easy, Baton Rouge and other heavily populated areas in the storm’s path hunkered down or wandered through quiet, emptied streets waiting for the worst, the Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the flooded remote island of Isle de Jean Charles. Water on the island had risen so high that some residents were clinging to rooftops by the time help arrived.

Video showed water overtopping a levee in Plaquemines Parish, a finger of land extending deep into the Gulf of Mexico, downstream from New Orleans. Officials were still confident that New Orleans’ levees would hold firm. Most of the levees range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

Barry had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane by Saturday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the National Hurricane Center said. Storms become hurricanes when their winds reach 74 mph (120 kph) or higher.

Officials predicted Barry would make landfall near Morgan City, west of New Orleans. The small town had an overnight curfew that expired Saturday morning, after on-and-off rain and power outages. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.

More than 70,000 customers were without power Saturday morning, including 66,830 in Louisiana and 3,140 in Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane, Barry threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast. By Saturday morning, the storm system had gathered a “big slough of moisture,” meaning “a lot of rain is on the way,” said National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.

During a storm update through Facebook Live, Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water. “That is just an amazing amount of moisture,” he said. “That is off the chart.”

The rains inundated the remote Isle de Jean Charles, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of New Orleans. Coast Guard rescuers used helicopters to pluck some residents from rooftops and loaded others into boats from flooded homes on Saturday morning, Petty Officer Lexie Preston said.

Westlake Legal Group 5d29fe8b3b00003900dac4da Barry Strengthens To Hurricane As It Bears Down On Louisiana Coast

ASSOCIATED PRESS The sky is cloudy as over Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive as little flooding is reported in New Orleans, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry making landfall on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)  

Barry was moving so slowly, it was likely that heavy rain would continue throughout the weekend across Louisiana, Graham said. There were predictions of 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge with some parts of the state possible getting 25 inches (63 centimeters). Looking ahead, tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Water was flowing over a levee in Point Celeste in Plaquemines Parish, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said. He said crews were working to contain the water.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took unprecedented precautions in closing floodgates and raising the barriers around New Orleans. Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System since Katrina. Still, he said he didn’t expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream.

Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts.

There was one piece of good news: Late Friday night, forecasters said the Mississippi River was expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 meters) as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

On-again, off again rain hit New Orleans overnight. As day broke, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp. Street sweepers rambled by. It was breezy, but flags on balconies overhanging the empty streets still occasionally fell limp. A few cars were out on roads. Some nearby homes had piled sandbags outside their doors.

“So far it’s been really nice. It’s been cool. It’s been a little breezy,” said Wayne Wilkinson, out with his dog in the French Quarter. He welcomed the pre-storm respite from July’s normal heat, but said he was mindful things could change: “I know we have to be on the alert.”

Baton Rouge , which was devastated by floods in 2016 , was similarly quiet Saturday, with puddles left from overnight rains, wind shaking the trees and only a few cars and trucks on thoroughfare Interstate 10. In Alabama, rain pounded the eastern shore of Mobile Bay overnight, with scattered power outages in communities including Daphne, along Interstate 10.

Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans , where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”

Before they did, people packed stores to stock up on bottled water, food and other essentials.

Lifelong New Orleans resident Terrence Watkins grabbed supplies at a Costco. He said he has a few simple big-storm rules: “Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm — ride it out.”

Associated Press reporters Rebecca Santana in New Orleans and Sarah Blake Morgan in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Baton Rouge; and Rogelio Solis in Morgan City contributed to this report.

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Barry Weakens To Tropical Storm As It Hits Louisiana Coast

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carrying “off the chart” amounts of moisture, Barry crawled ashore Saturday in Louisiana and quickly weakened to a tropical storm that promised to dump heavy rains that could last for days and pose a test of the flood-prevention systems built after Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago.

The storm made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, about 160 miles west of New Orleans, and its winds fell to 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the remote Isle de Jean Charles, south of New Orleans, where water rose so high that some residents clung to rooftops. But in the city, locals and tourists wandered through mostly empty streets under a light rain or stayed indoors.

Video showed water overtopping a levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico. Officials were still confident that the levees would hold firm.

More than 70,000 customers were without power Saturday morning, including nearly 67,000 in Louisiana and more than 3,000 in Mississippi, according to poweroutage.us.

Hours earlier, the storm had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), just above the 74 mph (120 kph) threshold to be a hurricane. Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression on Sunday.

The system threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast.

During a storm update through Facebook Live, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water. “That is just an amazing amount of moisture,” he said. “That is off the chart.”

Westlake Legal Group 5d29fe8b3b00003900dac4da Barry Weakens To Tropical Storm As It Hits Louisiana Coast

ASSOCIATED PRESS The sky is cloudy as over Lake Pontchartrain on Lakeshore Drive as little flooding is reported in New Orleans, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry making landfall on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)  

Downpours also lashed coastal Alabama and Mississippi. Parts of Dauphin Island, a barrier island in Alabama 200 miles (322 kilometers) from where Barry was headed, were flooded both by rain and surging water from the Gulf, said Mayor Jeff Collier, who was driving around in a Humvee to survey damage. He said the island still had power early Saturday afternoon and wind damage was minimal.

Water was flowing over a “back levee” in Point Celeste in Plaquemines Parish, officials said in an automated telephone recording distributed to residents. The levee was not on the Mississippi River, and there was no indication that the barrier was breached or broken or that major flooding was occurring, the recording said.

Officials said they were worried the water could close Highway 23, cutting off a key road and the rest of the parish to the south. Much of Plaquemines Parish had been under an evacuation order since Thursday.

Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend, with predictions of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Some parts of the state might get 25 inches (63 centimeters).

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell thanked residents for staying off the streets and urged them to remain vigilant because the worst of the wind and rain was yet to arrive.

“Although you may not have seen rainfall as we have been discussing, it is coming our way,” Cantrell said.

Forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans area since Katrina in 2005. Still, he said he did not expect the Mississippi River to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream.

The barriers range in height from about 20 feet to 25 feet (6 meters to 7.5 meters).

There was one piece of good news: Late Friday night, forecasters said the Mississippi River was expected to crest in New Orleans at about 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) on Monday, not 19 feet (5.8 meters) as had been earlier predicted. The levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height.

Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”

“It’s moving really slowly,” New Orleans Councilwoman Helena Moreno said. “Because of that, there is concern it could be building as it just sits over the water. … We could feel a bigger impact.”

Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Sarah Blake Morgan in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Baton Rouge; Rogelio Solis in Morgan City; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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Video shows Mike Pence ‘callously’ turning back on caged migrants while touring border detention centres – One person said: ‘I saw not a single shred of pity or empathy in that empty man’s eyes’

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Barry Upgraded To Hurricane As It Approaches Louisiana Coast

Westlake Legal Group ap_19194527566906_wide-df92dc22a9d85de0006db6cb9188ad7bab57c9ee-s1100-c15 Barry Upgraded To Hurricane As It Approaches Louisiana Coast

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning. Matthew Hinton/AP hide caption

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Matthew Hinton/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Barry Upgraded To Hurricane As It Approaches Louisiana Coast

Aimee Cutter, the owner of Beach House restaurant, walks through water surge from Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, La. Hurricane Barry made landfall Saturday morning.

Matthew Hinton/AP

The storm named Barry approached Louisiana’s central coast Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.

It has already brought flooding to New Orleans where tornado warnings have been issued.

Residents across other parts of Louisiana have also been bracing for flooding — forecasters predict up to 25 inches of rain across much of southern Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, leading to dangerous, life threatening flooding.

“Today is really going to be the day of the biggest impacts from Barry,” John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at NHC, told NPR. Cangialosi said the biggest impacts of the storm will be from heavy rains and storm surge.

The hurricane center said a storm surge warning is in effect for much of southeast Louisiana, stretching from Intracoastal City to Biloxi, Miss.

The storm is bringing 75-mph sustained winds, and forecasters say tropical-storm-force winds will extend up to 175 miles outward from the storm’s center.

Parts of Louisiana have already been hit by strong wind and rains that have washed out some coastal roads. Rain bands were moving onshore by the early morning hours, forcing the cancellations of flights to and from New Orleans.

Authorities ordered emergency evacuations in much of Plaquemines Parish and parts of Jefferson Parish southeast of New Orleans, and the storm has knocked out power for tens of thousands of people.

On Thursday night President Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, allowing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin coordinating all relief efforts.

Officials are keeping a close watch on the city’s levees, which failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, inundating the city with water and leaving hundreds of people dead.

In New Orleans Lower 9th ward, resident Burnell Lucien spoke with NPR’s Debbie Elliott. Lucien said he believes the city’s infrastructure will be able to withstand this hurricane. “The levees are higher,” Lucien said. “We don’t get the storm surge in the canals no more. If it’s just rain water we good. We good.”

NPR’s Amy Held contributed to this report.

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One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race

Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This Week in the 2020 Race”: a quick way to catch up on the presidential campaign and the field of 24 candidates for the Democratic nomination. Here’s our latest edition:

Three months to the day after he announced his presidential campaign, saying he was “burning the boats” behind him and would not run for re-election to Congress, Representative Eric Swalwell of California ended his presidential campaign and said he would run for re-election to Congress.

Less than 24 hours later, the California billionaire Tom Steyer — who had said in January that he would not run for president — said he would run for president, because the 2020 gods have decreed that the Democratic field shall not dip below two dozen.

Mr. Swalwell had centered his campaign on reducing gun violence, calling, among other things, for a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. But while gun control has been a much bigger issue in the 2020 race than in previous cycles, it was not enough to get Mr. Swalwell past 1 percent in the polls.

Mr. Steyer, the new entrant, is best known for his activism around climate change and for his efforts to persuade Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. He says he will spend $100 million on his campaign. That’s more than the five highest-polling Democrats have raised in the past three months combined.

Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

June 14, 2019

Westlake Legal Group democratic-polls-promo-1560481207024-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v4 One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race Swalwell, Eric M Steyer, Thomas F Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Essence Magazine
ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157567104_06348356-7a51-4f86-a98f-c1cc35b37ff6-articleLarge One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race Swalwell, Eric M Steyer, Thomas F Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Essence Magazine

Senator Kamala Harris proposed a $100 billion fund to help people of color buy homes in historically redlined communities.CreditDonald Traill/Invision, via Associated Press

Seven presidential candidates spoke over the weekend at the Essence Festival, an annual music and culture event geared toward black women.

Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts used the occasion to introduce new proposals aimed at closing the racial wealth gap.

The centerpiece of Ms. Harris’s plan is a $100 billion fund to help people of color buy homes in historically redlined communities. She says it would help up to four million families or individuals with down payments and closing costs.

Ms. Warren called for new requirements for the recipients of the $500 billion in contracts the federal government awards each year: Contractors would have to pay women and people of color equally and would be barred from asking about past salaries and criminal records.

Also at the festival were Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and Mayors Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Bill de Blasio of New York.

More on inequality
Can the Racial Wealth Gap Be Closed Without Speaking of Race?

May 10, 2019

Westlake Legal Group up-wealthgap-threeByTwoSmallAt2X One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race Swalwell, Eric M Steyer, Thomas F Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Essence Magazine
Democratic Candidates Promise to Close Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites

June 15, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 15econforum1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race Swalwell, Eric M Steyer, Thomas F Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Essence Magazine
Booker Campaigns on Baby Bonds Program to Combat Inequality

April 6, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 06BOOKER-threeByTwoSmallAt2X One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race Swalwell, Eric M Steyer, Thomas F Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Essence Magazine
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign released his most recent tax returns on Tuesday.CreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times

We learned a bit more about some of the candidates’ finances this week, with new information about Ms. Warren’s second-quarter fund-raising and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s personal wealth.

On Monday, Ms. Warren’s campaign announced that she had raised $19.1 million in the past three months. At the moment, that puts her behind only Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg for that period.

Then, on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s campaign released his tax returns. The documents showed that Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, reported an adjusted gross income of about $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018 — far more than any of his major primary opponents. Ms. Harris and her husband have reported the next-highest income: $3.4 million over those two years.

This week we learned that the third set of Democratic primary debates will be held in (drumroll, please): Houston!

Yes, Texas will play host to what could be a two-night event on Sept. 12 and 13. The debate (or debates) will be broadcast by ABC News and the Spanish-language network Univision.

The Democratic National Committee has tightened the requirements for the ABC debate such that less than half of the current 24-person field is likely to qualify. As a result, it could look and feel significantly different than the June debates and the ones coming up this month in Detroit.

We also got more information this week about those Detroit debates, which CNN will broadcast on July 30 and 31. We learned they will be moderated by two of the network’s leading political correspondents, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, along with the prime-time anchor Don Lemon. And in a move borrowed from the world of reality television, CNN will broadcast a live drawing on July 18 in prime time to determine which of the qualifying candidates will appear on which night.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said she would push to investigate allegations of criminal abuse of immigrants.CreditTiffany Brown Anderson for The New York Times

Ms. Warren unveiled a key element of her policy agenda on Thursday, a detailed proposal to overhaul the country’s immigration system.

She would seek to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings, establish judicial review for immigration cases and create an “Office of New Americans” that would provide services to immigrants transitioning into American society.

A Warren administration, she said, would also investigate allegations of criminal abuse of immigrants under the Trump administration and would allow far more refugees into the country.

Much of the rest of her plan, which she posted on Medium, is similar to what other candidates have suggested. She seeks to reverse what she calls “bigoted” policies imposed by the Trump administration, expand pathways to citizenship for immigrants and spend more on aid to Central America to help address the root causes of migration.

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor,” Ms. Warren wrote. “We can be better than this.”

  • Mr. Buttigieg, whose campaign is struggling to appeal to African-American voters, released a plan to “dismantle racist structures and systems” in the government. His goals include eliminating federal incarceration for drug possession and reducing sentences for other drug offenses; legalizing marijuana at the federal level; and abolishing the death penalty and mandatory minimum sentencing.

  • Ms. Harris wants to provide $1 billion to eliminate rape kit backlogs and prevent future ones. To receive funding, states would have to report, every year, how many untested rape kits they had; process all new kits within a certain period of time; give victims status reports on their rape kits; and make the kits more accessible in rural areas.

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota released a “plan for seniors” that addresses Alzheimer’s disease, prescription drug costs and financial security in retirement. She is proposing more funding for caregivers, and for research on Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions. Her plan also includes a perennial Democratic call to allow the government to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, and a provision that would effectively increase Social Security taxes for wealthy Americans.

  • Mr. Steyer introduced his first proposal, with the lofty goal of “fixing the broken political system in Washington.” The plan, which he described in a video, calls for imposing congressional term limits, establishing independent redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering, reversing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and introducing a “vote-at-home system.”

MORE STORIES ON THE 2020 RACE
Why Sanders Wanted His Meeting With a Rabbi Kept Secret

July 12, 2019

Here’s One List Where Kirsten Gillibrand Is Winning and Kamala Harris Is Tied With Marianne Williamson

July 11, 2019

Biden, in Foreign Policy Speech, Castigates Trump and Urges Global Diplomacy

July 11, 2019

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What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale?

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6058784547001_6058795091001-vs What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale? Zoe Szathmary fox-news/weather fox-news/us/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/us/disasters fox-news/us fox news fnc/science fnc article 48cd29e9-0dbd-5dfb-838b-8f4c7cdd6a03

Hurricanes are categorized using what’s known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) explains online that it “is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.”

Different types of damage may occur depending on each storm category. Read on to see what they signify.

Category 1, sustained winds of 74 – 95 mph

For storms in this category, there’s going to be “some damage” from winds, the NHC advises.

Large tree branches and shallow trees could be knocked down, according to the agency. Gutters, roofs, shingles and vinyl siding for what it calls “well-constructed frame homes” could be affected, too.

Category 2, sustained winds of 96 – 110 mph

“Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage,” the NHC warns for such storms.

There may be power outages “that could last from several days to weeks.”

Category 3, sustained winds of 111 – 129 mph

Category 3, Category 4 and Category 5 storms are all labeled “major” hurricanes.

With Category 3, there will be “devastating” damage, according to the NHC.

“Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends,” the agency warns. There also may be no water or electricity for days to weeks after the storm moves along.

Category 4, sustained winds of 130 – 156 mph

“Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls,” the NHC explains.

For both Category 4 and Category 5 storms, “catastrophic” damage is forecast: they involve residential areas being cut off by trees and power poles that have come down, the agency says, and there may be months-long power outages.

Category 5, sustained winds of 157 mph or higher

This is the highest rating for hurricanes on the scale.

“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse,” according to the NHC. 

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6058784547001_6058795091001-vs What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale? Zoe Szathmary fox-news/weather fox-news/us/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/us/disasters fox-news/us fox news fnc/science fnc article 48cd29e9-0dbd-5dfb-838b-8f4c7cdd6a03   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6058784547001_6058795091001-vs What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale? Zoe Szathmary fox-news/weather fox-news/us/disasters/hurricanes-typhoons fox-news/us/disasters fox-news/us fox news fnc/science fnc article 48cd29e9-0dbd-5dfb-838b-8f4c7cdd6a03

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