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October 17, 2018

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AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

Updated Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 | 9:04 p.m.

'Changed Forever': Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews struggling to enter stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind.

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn't done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Under a clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Panhandle awoke to "unimaginable destruction."

"So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything," he said.

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Georgia girl dies when storm sends carport leg through roof

ATLANTA (AP) — By all accounts, Sarah Radney was safe inside her grandparents' home when Hurricane Michael roared into southwest Georgia.

If the family feared anything, it was probably falling trees — not a carport next to the house.

In what could only be described as a freak accident, authorities say Michael's powerful winds lifted the portable structure high into the air and slammed it back down on the house. When it landed, one of the legs tore through the roof, fatally striking the 11-year-old girl in the head.

Michael dropped from a Category 4 hurricane to a Category 1 as it arrived in Georgia, and later weakened to a tropical storm. Still, it caused havoc in parts of the state, spinning off tornadoes and leaving downed trees, damaged buildings and power outages behind as it marched toward the Carolinas.

Sarah had the week off from school for fall break and she and her 12-year-old brother had been staying at their grandparents' house near a lake in Seminole County since Monday. They were supposed to return home Thursday morning.

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Kanye West, in 'MAGA' hat, delivers surreal Oval Office show

WASHINGTON (AP) — Live from the Oval Office, it's Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance.

The rapper didn't rap. But, seated across from President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a rambling, multipart monologue Thursday that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more.

Seizing the spotlight from the typically center-stage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals — and went in for a hug.

"They tried to scare me to not wear this hat," West said of his red "Make America Great Again" cap. But, he said, "This hat, it gives me power in a way."

"You made a Superman cape for me," he told Trump.

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China trade surplus with US widens to record $34.1B

BEIJING (AP) — China's trade surplus with the United States widened to a record $34.1 billion in September as exports to the American market rose by 13 percent over a year earlier despite a worsening tariff war.

Exports to the United States rose to $46.7 billion, down from August's 13.4 percent growth, customs data showed Friday. Imports of U.S. goods rose 9 percent to $12.6 billion, down from 11.1 percent.

Chinese exports to the United States have stayed relatively strong despite being hit by punitive tariffs of up to 25 percent in a fight over American complaints about Beijing's technology policy.

"Exports continued to defy U.S. tariffs last month but imports struggled in the face of cooling domestic demand," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. "We expect both to soften in the coming quarters."

September marked the second straight month the Chinese trade surplus with the United States set a record.

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Thousands of young US children get no vaccines, survey finds

NEW YORK (AP) — A small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the U.S. have not been vaccinated against any disease, worrying health officials.

An estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday.

"This is pretty concerning. It's something we need to understand better — and reduce," said the CDC's Dr. Amanda Cohn.

Most young children — 70 percent — have had all their shots. The new estimate is based on finding that, in 2017, 1.3 percent of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated. That's up from the 0.9 percent seen in an earlier similar assessment of the kids born in 2011. A 2001 survey with a different methodology suggested the proportion was in the neighborhood of 0.3 percent.

Young children are especially vulnerable to complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, some of which can be fatal.

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APNewsBreak: Army expelled 500 immigrant recruits in 1 year

Over the course of 12 months, the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrant enlistees who were recruited across the globe for their language or medical skills and promised a fast track to citizenship in exchange for their service, The Associated Press has found.

The decade-old Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest recruiting program was put on hold in 2016 amid concerns that immigrant recruits were not being screened sufficiently. The Army began booting out those enlistees last year without explanation .

The AP has interviewed more than a dozen recruits from countries such as Brazil, Pakistan, Iran, China and Mongolia who all said they were devastated by their unexpected discharges or canceled contracts.

Until now, it's been unclear how many were discharged and for what reason because the Army has refused to discuss specific cases. But the Army's own list, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last month, says 502 service members who enlisted under MAVNI were discharged between July 2017 and July 2018.

The list, which was unsealed this week after a request from the AP, offers "refuse to enlist" as the reason for expelling two-thirds of the recruits. That is the reason given for 35 percent of enlistee discharges Army-wide, according to a research study posted on a Defense Department website.

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Fox News cutting back on Trump rally coverage

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel has recently pulled back from airing President Donald Trump's campaign-style rallies during prime time, a move that could put a crimp in Republican efforts to reach voters in the weeks before midterm elections.

During much of the late summer, Fox would pre-empt its lucrative nightly lineup of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in order to air the rallies. None of its rivals did so. It was an important platform for the president and his supporters, since Fox's opinionated hosts are generally their first choice for political coverage.

On Tuesday of last week, Carlson told viewers that Fox would be monitoring the president's rally from Mississippi and would break in for any news. He did interrupt his show later to tell viewers of Trump's comments about Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who had accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual harassment.

During Martha MacCallum's show two nights later, Fox showed a portion of Trump speaking in Minnesota with the battle over Kavanaugh's mission coming to a climax. With Hurricane Michael in the news Wednesday, Fox didn't air Trump's rally from Pennsylvania.

Without live coverage of his rally on Wednesday, the president found other ways to reach Fox's audience. He had a phone interview with Fox's Shannon Bream on Wednesday night and called into the morning "Fox & Friends" show on Thursday.

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Saudi crown prince's carefully managed rise hides dark side

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In a kingdom once ruled by an ever-aging rotation of elderly monarchs, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands out as the youthful face of a youthful nation. But behind the carefully calibrated public-relations campaign pushing images of the smiling prince meeting with the world's top leaders and business executives lurks a darker side.

Last year, at age 31, Mohammed became the kingdom's crown prince, next in line to the throne now held by his octogenarian father, King Salman. While pushing for women to drive, he has overseen the arrest of women's rights activists. While calling for foreign investment, he has imprisoned businessmen, royals and others in a crackdown on corruption that soon resembled a shakedown of the kingdom's most powerful people.

As Saudi defense minister from the age of 29, he pursued a war in Yemen against Shiite rebels that began a month after he took the helm and wears on today.

What the crown prince chooses next likely will affect the world's largest oil producer for decades to come. And as the disappearance and feared death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul may show, the young prince will brook no dissent in reshaping the kingdom in his image.

"I don't want to waste my time," he told Time Magazine in a cover story this year. "I am young."

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Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation

NEW YORK (AP) — The urgency of hurricane coverage with its colorful satellite maps and reporters standing in the wind is a television staple, but devastation in Hurricane Michael's wake was so severe that it made images of some of the hardest-hit areas in Florida trickle out Thursday as slowly as if from a distant, third-world nation.

Broadcast news organizations faced a challenge in getting reporters to Mexico Beach, 40 miles east of the more populated Panama City, where wind and storm surge left behind a moonscape of damage. Roads were impassable and some reporters had been pulled out of the town in advance of the storm because of safety fears.

"We knew that was a bad place and our mission was to try to get there today," said Michael Bass, CNN's executive vice president of programming. A source's cell phone footage of water rushing through the town, picking up houses and cars along the way, and an official's anguished cell phone call on Wednesday gave hints about the damage.

Thursday's coverage illustrated that there are still limits to technology and reportorial ingenuity in the face of a massive disaster. For several hours, television viewers following the story had the ominous sense that something was missing. Cable networks filled time with other stories, but even the sight of Kanye West meeting in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump seemed like a distraction.

By arranging a helicopter ride, CNN's Brooke Baldwin broke through. The network aired aerial shots of the town and, shortly before noon, Baldwin landed to deliver reports. "When I tell you that all of Mexico Beach has been leveled, this is the truth," Baldwin said, standing before a mound of debris.

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Wentz throws 3 TD passes, Eagles look Super vs. Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — All the Philadelphia Eagles needed to get over their Super Bowl hangover was a little more urgency, some big plays — and a timely game against the New York Giants.

Carson Wentz threw a season-high three touchdown passes and the Eagles got an early lift from their defense and special teams in beating the struggling Giants 34-13 on Thursday night, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since the 2016 season.

Wentz sandwiched touchdowns passes of 13 and 1 yard to Alshon Jeffery around a 10-yarder to tight end Zach Ertz to help the Eagles (3-3) build a 31-6 lead. They beat the Giants (1-5) for the fourth straight time and seventh in eight games.

Corey Clement scored on a 1-yard run and Jake Elliott added field goals of 33 and 30 yards for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Rookie halfback Saquon Barkley scored on a 50-yard run and rushed for 130 yards in one of the few bright spots for the Giants' offense, which was booed repeatedly in losing at home for the third time. Aldrick Rosas had field goals of 33 and 21 yards.