Questions swirl around Epstein’s monitoring before suicide
NEW YORK (AP) — One of Jeffrey Epstein’s guards the night he hanged himself in his federal jail cell wasn’t a regular correctional officer, according to a person familiar with the detention center, which is now under scrutiny for what Attorney General William Barr on Monday called “serious irregularities.”
Epstein, 66, was found Saturday morning in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a jail previously renowned for its ability to hold notorious prisoners under extremely tight security.
“I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” Barr said at a police conference in New Orleans. “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the office of inspector general are doing just that.”
He added: “We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.”
In the days since Epstein’s death while awaiting charges that he sexually abused underage girls, a portrait has begun to emerge of Manhattan’s federal detention center as a chronically understaffed facility that possibly made a series of missteps in handling its most high-profile inmate.
Hong Kong leader defends police, dodges protesters’ demands
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended law enforcement actions Tuesday after protesters prompted an airport shutdown with calls to investigate alleged police brutality.
At one of the world’s busiest airports, airlines were checking in passengers for new flights and for those unable to leave Monday when 200 flights were cancelled because thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators had packed into the airport’s main terminal.
Protesters have shown no sign of letting up on their campaign to force Lam’s administration to respond to their demands. No new violence was reported, although the city is on edge after more than two months of near-daily and increasingly bloody confrontations between protesters and police.
Demonstrators have called for an independent inquiry into what they call the police’s abuse of power and negligence. Some protesters thrown bricks, eggs and flaming objects at police stations.
Lam told reporters that dialogue would only begin when the violence stopped. She reiterated her support for the police and said they have had to make on-the-spot decisions under difficult circumstances, using “the lowest level of force.”
Parts of South and Midwest grapple with dangerous heat wave
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Forecasters are warning about days of scorching, dangerous heat gripping a wide swath of the U.S. South and Midwest, where the heat index on Monday eclipsed 120 degrees (48.9 Celsius) in one town and climbed nearly that high in others.
With temperatures around 100 degrees (37 Celsius) at midday and “feels like” temperatures soaring even higher, parts of 13 states were under heat advisories, from Texas, Louisiana and Florida in the South to Missouri and Illinois in the Midwest, the National Weather Service reported.
“It feels like hell is what it feels like,” said Junae Brooks, who runs Junae’s Grocery in Holly Bluff, Mississippi. Around her, many of her customers kept cool with wet rags around their necks or by wearing straw hats.
Some of the most oppressive conditions were in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
The heat index soared to 121 degrees (49.4 Celsius) by late afternoon in Clarksdale, Mississippi; and to 119 degrees (48.3 Celsius) in West Memphis, Arkansas, the weather service reported. Similar readings were expected in eastern Oklahoma.
New rules to deny green cards to many legal immigrants
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration announced Monday it is moving forward with one of its most aggressive steps yet to restrict legal immigration: Denying green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.
Federal law already requires those seeking to become permanent residents or gain legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S. — a “public charge,” in government speak —but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify them.
It’s part of a dramatic overhaul of the nation’s immigration system that the administration has been working to put in place, despite legal pushback. While most attention has focused on President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, including recent raids in Mississippi and the continued separation of migrant parents from their children, the new rules target people who entered the United States legally and are seeking permanent status.
Trump is trying to move the U.S. toward a system that focuses on immigrants’ skills instead of emphasizing the reunification of families.
Under the new rules, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will now weigh whether applicants have received public assistance along with other factors such as education, income and health to determine whether to grant legal status.
Feds: Friend of Ohio gunman bought body armor, ammo magazine
A longtime friend of the Dayton gunman bought the body armor, a 100-round magazine and a key part of the gun used in the attack, but there’s no indication the man knew his friend was planning a massacre, federal agents said Monday.
Ethan Kollie told investigators that he also helped Connor Betts assemble the AR-15-style weapon about 10 weeks ago, according to a court document.
Kollie first spoke with investigators just hours after the assault and later said he bought the body armor, the magazine and the rifle’s upper receiver and kept the equipment at his apartment so Betts’ parents would not find it, the court filing said.
Federal investigators emphasized that there was no evidence that Kollie knew how Betts would use the equipment or that Kollie intentionally took part in the planning.
The accusations came as prosecutors unsealed charges against Kollie that were unrelated to the Aug. 4 shooting. Early that day, Betts opened fire in a popular entertainment district, killing his sister and eight others. Police killed Betts within 30 seconds outside a crowded bar, and authorities have said hundreds more people may have died if Betts had gotten inside.
China’s Xi gets tougher on Trump after new tariff threat
BEIJING (AP) — Facing another U.S. tariff hike, Chinese President Xi Jinping is getting tougher with Washington instead of backing down.
Beijing fired what economists called a “warning shot” at Washington by letting its yuan currency weaken in response to President Donald Trump’s latest threat of more punitive import duties on Sept. 1. Chinese buyers canceled multibillion-dollar purchases of U.S. soybeans. Regulators are threatening to place American companies on an “unreliable entities” list that might face curbs on their operations.
Both sides have incentives to settle a trade war that is battering exporters on either side of the Pacific and threatening to tip the global economy into recession. But Xi’s government is lashing out and might be, in a revival of traditional Chinese strategy, settling in for prolonged wrangling in response to what it deems American bullying and attempts to handicap China’s economic development.
Negotiators are to meet in September in Washington, but China’s political calendar makes progress unlikely. The ruling Communist Party is preparing to celebrate its 70th anniversary in power on Oct. 1 — a nationalism-drenched milestone that puts pressure on Xi, the party leader, to look tough.
“The downside risk of no deal has increased,” said Raoul Leering, chief trade analyst for Dutch bank ING.
5 Russian nuclear engineers buried after rocket explosion
MOSCOW (AP) — Thousands of people attended the funerals Monday of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by an explosion as they tested a new rocket engine, a tragedy that fueled radiation fears and raised questions about a secretive weapons program.
The engineers, who died Thursday, were laid to rest Monday in Sarov, which hosts Russia’s main nuclear weapons research center, where they worked. Flags flew at half-staff in the city 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of Moscow that has been a base for Russia’s nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s. The coffins were displayed at Sarov’s main square before being driven to a cemetery.
The Defense Ministry initially reported the explosion at the navy’s testing range near the village of Nyonoksa in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region killed two people and injured six others. The state-controlled Rosatom nuclear corporation then said over the weekend that the blast also killed five of its workers and injured three others. It’s not clear what the final toll is.
The company said the victims were on a sea platform testing a rocket engine and were thrown into the sea by explosion.
Rosatom director Alexei Likhachev praised the victims as “true heroes” and “pride of our country.”
Canada police: 2 teen fugitives took their own lives
TORONTO (AP) — Canadian police said Monday they believe two teenage fugitives suspected of killing a North Carolina woman, her Australian boyfriend and another man took their own lives amid a nationwide manhunt.
The Manitoba Medical Examiner completed the autopsies and confirmed that two bodies found last week in dense bush in northern Manitoba province were indeed 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky. A police statement said they appeared to die by suicide.
McLeod and Schmegelsky were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Leonard Dyck, a University of British Columbia lecturer whose body was found July 19 along a highway in British Columbia.
They were also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina, whose bodies were found July 15 along the Alaska Highway about 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where Dyck was killed. The couple had met at a hostel in Croatia and their romance blossomed as they adventured across the U.S., Mexico, Peru and elsewhere, the woman’s older brother said.
A manhunt for the teenage suspects had spread across three provinces and involved the Canadian military. The suspects had not been seen since July 22, and their bodies were found near Gillam, Manitoba — more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from northern British Columbia.
Early study results suggest 2 Ebola treatments saving lives
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two of four experimental Ebola drugs being tested in Congo seem to be saving lives, international health authorities announced Monday.
The preliminary findings prompted an early halt to a major study on the drugs and a decision to prioritize their use in the African country, where a yearlong outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people.
The early results mark “some very good news,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study. With these drugs, “we may be able to improve the survival of people with Ebola.”
The two drugs — one developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the other by NIH researchers — are antibodies that work by blocking the virus.
While research shows there is an effective albeit experimental vaccine against Ebola — one now being used in Congo — no studies have signaled which of several potential treatments were best to try once people became sick. During the West Africa Ebola epidemic several years ago, studies showed a hint that another antibody mixture named ZMapp worked, but not clear proof.
Missing dentures found stuck in throat 8 days after surgery
Here’s why it’s best to remove false teeth before surgery: You just might swallow them.
A medical journal is reporting the case of a 72-year-old British man whose partial dentures apparently got stuck in his throat during surgery and weren’t discovered for eight days.
The man went to the emergency room because he was having a hard time swallowing and was coughing up blood. Doctors ordered a chest X-ray, diagnosed him with pneumonia and sent him home with antibiotics and steroids. It took another hospital visit before another X-ray revealed the problem: His dentures — a metal roof plate and three false teeth — lodged at the top of this throat.
The man thought his dentures were lost while he was in the hospital for minor surgery.
How it happened isn’t exactly clear, but a half-dozen previous cases have been documented of dentures going astray as surgical patients were put to sleep.
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