APNewsBreak: 80,000 people died of flu last winter in US
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government estimates that 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter — the disease’s highest death toll in at least four decades.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, revealed the total in an interview Tuesday night with The Associated Press.
In recent years, flu-related deaths have ranged from about 12,000 to 56,000.
Last fall and winter, the U.S. went through one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory. The season was driven by a kind of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among young children and the elderly.
Fed raises rates for 3rd time this year with 1 more expected
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is raising a key interest rate for the third time this year in response to a strong U.S. economy and signaling it will likely maintain a pace of gradual rate hikes.
The Fed is lifting its short-term rate — a benchmark for many consumer and business loans — by a quarter-point to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. It marks the eighth hike since late 2015.
The central bank is sticking with its previous forecast for a fourth rate increase before year’s end and for three more in 2019.
The Fed is dropping phrasing it has used for years that characterized its rate policy as “accommodative” by favoring low rates. By doing so, it may be signaling its resolve to keep raising rates.
BILL COSBY-BLACK AMERICANS
Some black Americans see racial comeuppance in Cosby saga
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby once attacked poor blacks in a speech to the NAACP. Now some of the same people he criticized are talking about the comedian’s prison sentence as a moment of racial comeuppance.
They say Cosby’s three- to 10-year term for sexual assault represents a convergence of karma, hubris and hypocrisy. Some even quoted Cosby’s own words in tweets announcing the sentence.
In the 2004 speech, Cosby used his celebrity status to chide impoverished blacks to pull up their sagging pants and stop having children out of wedlock.
His own comments were a catalyst for his downfall. In 2015 a judge who unsealed a deposition in the case cited the speech. He said Cosby had become a “public moralist” and that his conduct was a matter of public interest.
The Latest: Temporarily shoring up 2 beams is a priority
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco official says his first priority is to shore up two cracking beams so a $2.2 billion transit center can re-open while engineers search for a permanent fix.
Transbay Joint Powers Authority executive director Mark Zabaneh said Wednesday he expects the Salesforce Transit Center to be closed through next week.
Workers discovered the first crack early Tuesday while installing roofing tiles. The second crack was discovered Tuesday night.
The center was shut down during Tuesday’s evening commute.
HOMELESS BEATINGS-THE LATEST
Latest: Arraignment postponed in California murder cases
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Arraignment has been postponed for a man suspected in a string of killings and beating targeting sleeping homeless people in Southern California.
Forty-seven-year-old Ramon Albert Escobar was charged Wednesday with three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and four counts of second-degree robbery.
However, his scheduled arraignment was pushed back to Nov. 8.
A judge in Los Angeles ordered him held without bail until then.
Escobar has a long criminal history and has been deported to his native El Salvador six times.
Police in Houston say he’s a person of interest in the disappearance of his uncle and aunt.
Los Angeles police say the series of attacks on sleeping men in L.A. and Santa Monica began this month shortly after Escobar arrived in California from Texas.
House approves bill including items for airline passengers
The House is approving a bill directing the federal government to set a minimum size for airline seats, bar passengers from being kicked off overbooked planes, and consider whether to restrict animals on planes.
Those and other passenger-related provisions are included in a bill to authorize Federal Aviation Administration programs for five years. The House vote Wednesday sends the measure to the Senate, which faces a Sunday deadline.
Privacy advocates are criticizing a provision that lets the government intercept and destroy drones that officials consider a threat to people or federal facilities.
The bill is just as notable for what is not included.
Lawmakers abandoned a plan backed by airlines to privatize the nation’s air-traffic-control system. And congressional negotiators dropped a proposal to crack down on “unreasonable” airline fees.
The Latest: Trump says he may delay meeting with Rosenstein
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he would “certainly prefer not” to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and says he may delay a highly anticipated meeting with him.
Trump said Wednesday that Rosenstein denied making remarks attributed to him in a New York Times report, including that Rosenstein discussed secretly recording Trump last year.
Trump and Rosenstein had been scheduled to meet Thursday.
Trump says he may postpone that meeting because he is focused on an extraordinary Senate committee hearing set for the same day with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
SUPREME COURT-KAVANAUGH-ARIZONA PROSECUTOR-THE LATEST
The Latest: Lawyer surprised by pick of Kavanaugh questioner
PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix area attorney who specializes in sex abuse cases and once worked for prosecutor Rachel Mitchell says he is surprised she was picked to pose questions in the sexual assault investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh.
Lawyer Matt Long said Wednesday he initially believed Mitchell was a good choice given her understanding of victim behavior. He says Mitchell is not an advocate for either side.
But Long says he later worried about whether Mitchell will be able to do her job in such a highly political environment, despite her adherence to “evidence-based approaches.”
Senate Republicans are bringing in Mitchell, also a Republican, to question both Kavanaugh and his first accuser at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
UNITED NATIONS-GENERAL ASSEMBLY-THE LATEST
The Latest: Russia, Turkey, Iran discuss Syria’s future
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran have discussed Syria’s political future — as Western countries hold parallel meetings on the same issue.
Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Mevlut Cavusoglu and Iran’s Javad Zarif met Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Lavrov called it a “good” meeting but gave no details.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says they discussed de-escalation efforts around the last Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib and “prospects for the launch of a truly sustainable process of political settlement.”
The U.S., France and other allies are having a separate meeting Thursday at the U.N. on the next steps for Syria.
The Russian delegation also met with Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy for Syria who is urging the launch of a constitutional committee for Syria as soon as next month.
TRUMP-UNITED NATIONS-THE LATEST
The Latest: Trump claims credit for saving Idlib from attack
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump is claiming credit for saving the rebel-held Syrian stronghold of Idlib from a Russian-backed offensive that could have resulted in thousands of deaths and a humanitarian crisis.
Trump said Wednesday that he instructed his national security team to warn Russia about the operation after he heard about it from a supporter at a rally and read a news story.
He also recalled that he used his Twitter account to warn of consequences in the event that chemical weapons were used there by Syrian forces who were poised to enter the province with Iranian proxy fighters and Russian air support.
The offensive was postponed indefinitely earlier this month after the leaders of Russia and Turkey reached a deal declaring a de-militarized zone around Idlib, which is home to 3 million residents and around 60,000 fighters, including some of the world’s most radical.
Some estimates put the number of radical fighters at about 10,000. The deal aims to end their presence in Idlib.
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