Posts Tagged ‘Miami’

Western culture is decadent, evil and often meaningless — Says Scotland’s most famous ex-heroin addict — But readers love it

November 9, 2018

Western culture looks to be a whirlwind of drugs, sex and violence — and that’s BEFORE the Trumpian future sets in

Twenty-five years ago Irvine Welsh’s debut novel “Trainspotting” burst out of the housing schemes and back alleys of post-industrial Scotland in a whirlwind of drugs, sex and violence that horrified and delighted critics alike.

The novel’s protagonists have long since scammed, snorted and stolen their way to cult status — helped along by a hugely successful film adaptation.

And Scotland’s most famous ex-heroin addict is still delivering the goods, and says he is as far as ever from settling for “carpet slippers and a cottage on the coast”.

In town for the Hong Kong International Literary Festival Welsh told AFP the world right now “is a terrible place to be a citizen in but it’s a great place to be a writer in”.

He is tight-lipped about his current project — which is set in a Trumpian future and will have mass shootings as its main theme — other than to say that like every other, he is “constantly engrossed in it,” and that it’s “nearly finished.”

– Creating post-Trainspotting –

Welsh is happy that “Trainspotting”, his first creation, is still “bubbling” away in the age of the smartphone-toting millennial.

In 2013 it was voted readers’ favourite Scottish novel of the past 50 years.

And last year Historic Environment Scotland awarded listed status to Edinburgh’s “Banana Flats”, a textbook example of New Brutalist architecture made famous by the novel as the home of one of its characters, Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson.

Since 1993, Welsh has gone on to write 15 more books as well as a number of plays and adaptations, casting deeper into the murky lives of Edinburgh’s pimps, bent cops, burglars and dealers.

He has also moved from brutal chronicling of the dismantlement of post-war Britain, to America, where he takes violence and aggression off the football terraces and into the basement of a serial killer

Welsh has spent 10 years Stateside — in San Francisco, Chicago and now Miami — and says its “probably enough”.

He has laid into President Donald Trump in expletive-ridden Tweets and has criticised his brand of populism as a sham, but says he still feels compelled to write about America.

“With everything that’s going on in the States it’s difficult not to write about it,” he says.

“Just in the last few days a lot of things in the book are now rendered irrelevant in a way, because events have just moved on so quickly, so it might need a redraft again.”

– The Union ‘has to go’ –

His homeland is in flux too as Brexit asks new questions of what the UK stands for and how those living in its constituent parts see themselves and each other.

He recalls 1970s London and spending summer holidays there with an aunt, where he felt “very British then. I felt very Scottish too… there was a kind of unity… all that stuff was wrecked by thirty years of neoliberalism, and I don’t think it’s coming back.”

“Now I’m not so much pro-Scottish independence, but anti-UK,” he says, terming the more than 300-year old Union “false, artificial… and detrimental to the development of progressive forces”.

“As it currently is, it has to go.”

He says he is “neither pro nor anti-Brexit: the EU is an absolute mess and a shambles but the British ruling class are a mess and a shambles as well”.

– ‘Sanitised’ music –

Welsh does not limit himself to the written word. He is on a personal quest to inject some fun back into an electronic music scene he sees as too sanitised, serious and obsessed with technology.

“A lot of the young DJs today, they’ve been doing it since they were 10 years old in their bedrooms …the bedroom’s been their studio. You’ve got people playing dance music who don’t dance… they sit, masters of the technology but they don’t go out and have any fun.”

An album of his own is in the works, a “counterblast” offering of electro/techno that he is confident will bring some humour and fun back to the dance floor, “especially me singing with a German accent”.

Justice by Michał Murawski Electronic Beats Fest Warsaw DJ Tennis Perel Justice Meute Marching Band Techno Party

But that doesn’t mean he’s giving up writing. Far from it.

“The writer’s life is absolutely fantastic,” he says.

And still one that permits the odd juvenile relapse.

“I shouldn’t really say I don’t party hard these days after the past couple of nights in Singapore,” he says coyly.

“Singapore’s not known for that, more for locking you up forever for that sort of thing. But I think that’s what appealed to me, the transgression element to it. I had quite a whale of a time.”

AFP

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Florida: Voicemail reporting cracking in bridge wasn’t picked up

March 17, 2018

MIAMI (AP) — An engineer left a voicemail two days before a catastrophic bridge failure in Miami to say some cracking had been found at one end of the concrete span, but the voicemail wasn’t picked up until after the collapse, Florida Department of Transportation officials said Friday.

The voicemail left on a landline wasn’t heard by a state DOT employee until Friday because the employee was out of the office on an assignment, the agency said in an email.

In a transcript released Friday night, Denney Pate with FIGG Bridge Group says the cracking would need repairs “but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective.”

The bridge collapsed Thursday, killing at least six people. Authorities are slowly removing the debris, looking for more victims.

At a news conference Friday night, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said they have just begun their investigation, and cannot yet say whether any cracking contributed to the collapse. They also said workers were trying to strengthen a diagonal member on the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University when it collapsed.

Relatives and friends of people who are missing after a pedestrian bridge collapsed on a highway gathered Friday in South Florida, praying and hoping for miracles as authorities searched the smashed concrete that has already claimed six lives. (March 16)

Robert Accetta, the investigator-in-charge for the NTSB, said crews were applying post-tensioning force, but investigators aren’t sure if that’s what caused the bridge to fall.

In a news release late Friday, FIGG Bridge Engineers said it “continues to work diligently” to determine the cause of the collapse, and is examining the steps its team has taken. It added, “The evaluation was based on the best available information at that time and indicated that there were no safety issues.” It also asked for time to accurately determine what led to the accident.

A college student who narrowly escaped from a car that got smashed in the collapse said he watched helplessly as the structure tumbled down atop the vehicle and killed his friend Alexa Duran, who was sitting next to him in the driver’s seat.

Richie Humble, who studies at FIU, was riding in a car under the pedestrian bridge when he heard a long creaking noise coming from the structure that spanned a busy Miami-area highway. It sounded different from anything he had ever heard before.

“I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it,” Humble said Friday in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Once Humble realized he was alive, he also realized that he could not get to Duran. He called to her but got no response. A group of men outside the car started yelling at him to try crawling through the rear window.

He couldn’t squeeze through because the window was crushed. The men outside grabbed a wooden plank and pried open the rear door to pull him free, he said.

“I was trying to get people to realize my friend was still in there,” he said.

He suffered cuts to his leg from glass and a slight fracture to a vertebra, but he was able to walk away from the scene.

While families waited for word on their loved ones, investigators sought to understand why the 950-ton bridge gave way during construction. The cables supporting the span were being tightened following a “stress test” when it collapsed, authorities said.

The Florida DOT said in its Friday release that it had not been notified of any stress test.

Detectives declared the rubble a homicide scene.

Scheduled to open in 2019, the bridge would have provided safe passage over a canal and six lanes of traffic and created a showpiece architectural feature connecting the campus of FIU with the community of Sweetwater, where many students live.

The $14.2 million project was supposed to take advantage of a faster, cheaper and safer method of bridge-building promoted by the university.

Authorities have not confirmed the victims’ names. Duran’s family has said she died. The fatalities included a student at FIU. One person died at a hospital. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said five bodies were located with the help of cameras but had not yet been retrieved.

In a Facebook post, Chelsea Brownfield said she was awaiting any information about her husband, Brandon. According to a Go Fund Me page set up for the family, Brandon Brownfield was driving home from work when the collapse happened.

“The outpouring of love we have received is incredible,” Chelsea Brownfield wrote. The post ended with the hashtag “praying for a miracle.”

Brownfield declined to comment in a message to The Associated Press.

Jorge and Carol Fraga feared their relative’s car was trapped beneath the bridge. Jorge’s 60-year-old uncle, Rolando Fraga, lives in the area and frequently takes the nearby turnpike to work, but no one has heard from him since midday Thursday.

“The waiting is so … I don’t have words for that,” Carol Fraga said through tears.

The bridge was put in place March 10, five days before the collapse.

When finished, the span would have been supported from above, with a tall, off-center tower and cables attached to the walkway. That tower had not yet been installed, and it was unclear what builders were using as temporary supports.

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Associated Press writers Tim Reynolds, Josh Replogle, Freida Frisaro and Curt Anderson in Miami; Jason Dearen in Gainesville; Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg and Rodrique Ngowi in Boston contributed to this report.

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Florida: Engineer reported cracks in pedestrian bridge 2 days before collapse

March 17, 2018

New York Post

Miami Pedestrian Bridge Was Being Adjusted When It Collapsed

March 16, 2018

At least six people were killed; police are working to recover bodies

Police officers are seen next to a collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami Friday.
Police officers are seen next to a collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami Friday. PHOTO: JOE SKIPPER/REUTERS
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The new pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Miami killing at least 6 people had been undergoing adjustments Thursday after cables that suspend the bridge loosened, according to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The engineering firm building the bridge at Florida International University had ordered Thursday that the cables be tightened, Mr. Rubio, a Republican, said in a late Thursday tweet. “They were being tightened when it collapsed,” he said.

Police are working Friday to recover bodies trapped underneath more than 900 tons of concrete. Last Saturday, the bridge’s main 174-foot span had been lifted into place in a matter of hours. It had been built alongside the eight-lane thoroughfare over the course of months.

The cables that suspend the bridge had loosened & the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. They were being tightened when it collapsed today. https://twitter.com/officialjoelf/status/974477515594059776 

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said rescuers are trying to recover bodies in 8 cars trapped beneath the rubble. Fire officials said at least 6 people have died, including 1 person who was on top of the bridge and 5 people whose bodies are visible in trapped cars. Nine people were transported to the hospital.

One of the dead was an FIU student, according to local officials.

It is almost certain more bodies will be found, including passengers whose bodies aren’t visible from outside the wreckage, Mr. Perez said, in a press conference.

“We’re not even going to talk numbers anymore because we expect to find more victims down there,” Mr. Perez said.

The scene is the subject of numerous investigations, taking place simultaneously. Federal officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived late Thursday to look into what caused the collapse. The NTSB team of engineers and experts should be on the scene about a week, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

Police detectives were conducting their own homicide investigation, which is standard in cases like this, Mr. Perez said. It is not clear whether criminal charges will be brought at some point, he said, noting that local prosecutors also came to the scene for a consultation Friday.

The investigations should last far longer than it takes to clear the scene and get traffic moving again, he said. “We’re going to have to start at the beginning from contracts to the end, to find out what happened,” he said.

Timelapse Video Shows Pedestrian Bridge Being Built

A video posted to Florida International University’s Twitter page on March 10, 2018, shows a recently-constructed pedestrian bridge before it collapsed.

The bridge was a prominent example of accelerated bridge construction, an area of research focus at FIU. Accelerated bridge construction has been growing in popularity with state and federal transportation officials, as its emphasis on building off-site minimizes traffic disruption.

Overall, engineering professors say bridges constructed in this method are safe, but there is a critical period of vulnerability during their installation.

Professor Amjad Aref, a researcher at the University at Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, likens the process to building an arch out of Lego bricks, saying the arch is strong only when all of the pieces are in place.

“It’s not an issue of the design as a whole, but when you put things together, the construction loads have to be methodically calculated” for each component at each step of installation, he said.

Many students were on spring break, which 21-year-old Jacob Miller said was a blessing. Mr. Miller, a senior hospitality major, said the collapse was “a horrible scene, something you never want to see.”

“You could see the cars completely crushed,” he said.

The bridge was built as part of a $19.4 million federal transportation grant. Mr. Rubio cited the federal money in a Thursday letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, seeking answers about the materials and techniques used in construction, and what role they played in the bridge’s collapse.

“What safety standards are in place to ensure speed does not compromise safety in Accelerated Bridge Construction?” he asked. “What, if any, safety procedures were not followed in this instance?”

Write to Valerie Bauerlein at valerie.bauerlein@wsj.com and Scott Calvert at scott.calvert@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/miami-pedestrian-bridge-was-being-adjusted-when-it-collapsed-1521208571

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Bridge that collapsed was built in just ‘a few hours’ — First-of-its-kind “instant bridge” — 950-ton experiment?

March 16, 2018

New York Post

Image result for FIU bridge collapse, photos

The pedestrian walkway that collapsed in Florida on Thursday, killing multiple people, was a first-of-its-kind “instant bridge” — which was built using a radical new approach known as “accelerated construction.”

Installed this past Saturday, the 950-ton structure was erected in just a “few hours” under orders from MCM Construction Management and Florida International University, where the bridge is located.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” school president Mark B. Rosenberg said in a statement.

“We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live.”

The walkway was supposed to link FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus to the Miami suburb of Sweetwater, where roughly 4,000 students reside.

Workers installed the main span, which collapsed Thursday, over the Tamiami Trail and expected to open up the entire bridge by early 2019.

The piece measured 174 feet from end-to-end and was built using Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which are being “advanced” at the FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC).

“This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions,” the school said in a press release following Saturday’s installation.

“The main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend.”

Workers constructed the large stretch of walkway on the side of the Tamiami Trail, while the support columns were said to have been erected in place. The main span was then picked up by special gantry cranes and lowered into position.

Atorod Azizinamini, chair of FIU’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and one of the world’s leading experts on Accelerated Bridge Construction, hailed the $14.2 million project — calling it an “outstanding example of the ABC method.”

“Building the major element of the bridge — its main span superstructure — outside of the traveled way and away from busy Eighth Street is a milestone,” he said.

Local officials closed traffic along Southwest Eighth Street on Friday night until 5 a.m. Monday before eventually opening the road back up to the public. It’s unclear if any testing was done to ensure that the area was safe.

Both FIU and the companies involved in the bridge’s construction have released statements, saying they were “stunned” and “shocked” by what happened Thursday.

The cause of the collapse remains unclear. The National Transportation Safety Board plans to send a 15-person team down to Miami to investigate.

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https://nypost.com/2018/03/15/bridge-that-collapsed-was-built-in-just-a-few-hours-school/
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Miami pedestrian bridge collapses over highway — At least four dead, nine hospitalized

March 16, 2018

A pedestrian bridge has collapsed atop an eight-lane highway in Miami, crushing cars and people beneath. Authorities have said at least four people were killed in the accident.

Bridge collapsed in Miami (picture-alliance/dpa/WPLG)

Miami authorities scrambled on Thursday to rescue several people thought to be trapped under a collapsed pedestrian bridge next to Florida International University (FIU).

Miami-Dade County’s Fire Chief Dave Downey said four people were found dead at the site of the collapse. Nine people were brough to the hospital.

Read more: Trump reveals plan to repair America’s creaky infrastructure

Television footage showed people being loaded into ambulances, while medics treated injured people on the side of the street.

“We are in a full search and rescue mode,” Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said at a briefing. “We have multiple victims. The final number hasn’t been determined yet.”

Video footage showed that at least five cars had been crushed underneath the bridge.

This is the scene at @FIU after bridge collapse. Police moving media away “just in case the rest falls down.” @MiamiHerald

University officials ordered students and others to stay away from the area as rescue operations got underway.

Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted that he would travel to the scene of the accident. “I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day,” Scott said.

I’m on my way to Florida International University to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump was aware of the accident and would offer “whatever support is needed.”

FIU said in a statement that it was “shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” and that “at this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information.”

Collapsed bridge in Miami (picture-alliance/Zuma Press/Miami Herald/Roberto Koltun)Emergency services are combing through the rubble to rescue those trapped beneath the collapsed bridge

Construction firm goes offline

According to the Miami Herald newspaper, the 950-ton span had only been completed on Saturday using an accelerated modular building method that allowed it to go up in the space of just a day. However, it was not yet open to the public.

The bridge, erected at a cost of some $14.2 million (€11.5 million), crossed over a highway and connected the university campus and the city of Sweetwater.

The “accelerated bridge construction” method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians while minimizing traffic disruption, the university said when it unveiled the bridge over the weekend.

Read more: Opinion: Let’s be critical about infrastructure

The university raised the need to install a bridge over the busy southwest Eighth Street after a student was killed trying to cross the road last August.

Meanwhile, MCM, the Miami-based construction management firm that was commissioned to build the bridge, reportedly took down its website on Thursday. However, in a statement shared on social media, the firm said it was “a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”

Just in: Statement from MCM, the construction firm responsible for installing @FIU bridge. It collapsed over SW 8th Street in just days after being installed. @CBS12

Juan Perez, Miami-Dade County police director, said that the immediate focus was to rescue people but that “our homicide bureau will take the lead” afterwards.

FIU is the second-largest university in Florida with some 55,000 students. Most of its students were away on spring break vacation when the incident happened.

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

dm/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/several-killed-in-miami-after-pedestrian-bridge-collapses-over-highway/a-42997689

Tampa mayor: Irma wrath not as bad as feared — The latest

September 11, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

7 a.m.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says that while the city hasn’t escaped Hurricane Irma’s wrath, the situation isn’t as bad as they had feared.

Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Buckhorn said “What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow.”

Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.

He said Tampa’s officials have vehicles positioned “to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets.”

He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:45 a.m.

Police in Miami are investigating reports of people looting stores as Hurricane Irma hit the state.

On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.

Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.

Police had issued a curfew Saturday night, partly to ward off looters by giving officers probable cause to stop anyone for being on the street during the storm.

Cabrera didn’t have specific details about the looting incidents.

Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida from coast-to-coast with winds up to 130 mph Sunday, swamping homes and boats, knocking out power to millions and toppling massive cranes. Irma’s winds slowed to around 100 mph before midnight. (Sept. 11)

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6:45 a.m.

The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm.

The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands were all pummeled by the hurricane last week, leaving thousands without electricity or shelter.

Opposition politicians have compared Britain’s response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.

Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it’s pledged to the relief effort.

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6:30 a.m.

Police in Lakeland, Florida, say a family with small children was rescued from a car that was submerged in water as Hurricane Irma crossed the area.

Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children’s car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.

“When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Facebook post said. “Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference.”

Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:30 a.m.

A Florida sheriff’s sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff’s vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.

Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.

Crews from Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the lines around 1:15 a.m. Monday. Both men have returned to their jobs to continue assisting hurricane recovery efforts.

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6:10 a.m.

More than 120 homes are being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in.

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.

A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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5 a.m.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula early Monday.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, hammering much of the state with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph (135 kph). Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a tropical storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.

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4:45 a.m.

Dutch search and rescue experts are heading to the shattered former colony of St. Maarten to support the humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that’s home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.

The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.

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2 a.m.

Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph (135 kph) with additional weakening expected.

As of 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).

Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.

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HURRICANE NEWSLETTER — Get the best of the AP’s all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

Irma heads for Bahamas, Cuba, leaving devastation in its wake — Dire warnings for Flordia

September 8, 2017

Story highlights

  • Irma has caused at least 10 deaths, officials say
  • New hurricane and storm surge warnings issued for southern Florida

(CNN) — Hurricane Irma hurtled through the Caribbean on Friday, leaving catastrophic damage in its wake as it closed in on Florida where it could slam into Miami this weekend.

The storm barreled between Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday morning, and is expected to move westward toward the Bahamas.
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Irma was downgraded to a strong category 4 storm on Friday, but winds still reached a sustained maximum of 155 mph,the US National Hurricane Center said. At its peak, winds reached sustained maximums of 180mph.
At least 10 people were killed as Irma pummeled small northeastern Caribbean islands such as Barbuda. In Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands people were left without power.
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Hurricane Irma forecast track
The Red Cross estimates that 1.2 million people have already been battered by the storm and warned that it poses a serious threat to millions more.
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The US National Hurricane Center issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for South Florida on Thursday night. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for many counties in South Florida, where residents have begun a mass exodus.
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Here are the latest developments

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— Around 2 a.m. ET, Irma’s center was about 20 miles north of the Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, moving west-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. Hurricane-force winds could be felt as far as 75 miles from the center. Winds have lessened slightly from a top of 180 mph. Irma has sustained these speeds longer than any storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.
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— Irma is forecast to move toward the southeastern Bahamas Friday morning, then heading between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas in the next day or two.
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— Irma left at least 10 people dead, including four on St. Martin, four in the US Virgin Islands, one on Anguilla, and one on Barbuda, officials said.
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— Hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of Cuba, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas.
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— The Red Cross said as many as 26 million people could be exposed to destructive winds and torrential rain just in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.
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— Hurricane and storm surge warnings are also in effect for South Florida, extending from Jupiter Inlet on the east coast of the state, southward around the Florida Peninsula to Bonita Beach on the west coast. The hurricane warning included the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.
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The Bahamas, a nation of about 390,000, ordered evacuations ahead of Irma’s arrival for six southern islands — Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.
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“This is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.
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Devastation to islands

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Irma brought heavy rain and powerful winds to the low-lying Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory with about 35,000 people. Residents were told to stay put.
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“Fifteen roofs have come off and there’s damage to part of the roof of the hospital,” Gov. John Freeman CNN Thursday night. He said there was “quite a bit of damage” in the capital island of Grand Turk.
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The UK Foreign Office said officials on the islands were working intensively on disaster preparedness and response.
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“Some of these Turks and Caicos (Islands) will be completely overwashed,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
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Wreckage in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In Puerto Rico, about 56,680 customers were without water, with the island’s northeast hit the hardest, according to Jesus Poupart of the emergency operations center.
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In the beachside area of Piñones near San Juan, Irma tore the roof off Cristian López’s fried-food restaurant. He said he wouldn’t be able to reopen the place for about five days.
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“At least we are all alive,” he said.
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The island of St. Martin was also badly hit, with about 50 people reported injured as well as the four killed.
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Irma is expected to bring massive rainfall, which could cause flash floods and mudslides in parts of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos islands, the Bahamas and Cuba, as well as the US.
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Damage caused by in Orient Bay on Saint-Martin.

After Irma, Hurricane Jose looms

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The Caribbean islands already pummeled by Irma have begun assessing the damage, finding shredded buildings, battered cars and streets submerged in water.
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Barbuda is barely habitable, with about 95% of its buildings damaged, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said late Wednesday.
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Barbuda, which has 1,800 residents, is one of two major islands in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Browne estimated the damage will cost $100 million to fix.
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“It looks like (a) garbage disposal,” Marlon Carr, a photographer who toured the island with the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, told CNN on Thursday. “There was rubble and roof galvanized all over the island. It looked like some of the houses … were imploded on.”
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An aerial image over Barbuda on Thursday shows the devastation from Hurricane Irma.

Witnesses told him of “40-foot containers flying, animals flying” during the storm, he said.
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Irma’s eye passed directly over Barbuda on Wednesday and now the northeastern Caribbean nation is anxiously watching Hurricane Jose to the east, which has strengthened to a Category 3 storm.
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Antigua and Barbuda are under a hurricane watch for Jose, which could pass close to those islands Saturday. The government has called for voluntary evacuations from Barbuda, Browne said.
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“Our worst fears have played out in Barbuda and elsewhere,” said Walter Cotte, the regional director for the Americas for the Red Cross. “We can’t yet assess the full extent of damage, but we expect that the Red Cross will be delivering extensive support to many thousands over the coming weeks and months.”
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Florida and the Southeast US brace for Irma

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The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday that it had become more likely that Irma would “make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous major hurricane, and bring life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts to much of the state.”
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It warned of possible storm surges that could bring five to 10 feet of water above ground on Florida’s coast.
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The hurricane center forecast moved the most likely path of the eye of the storm to the west, which means Miami could take a major hit.
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“This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state and you have to take this seriously,” warned Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
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Scott urged residents to be prepared regardless of which side of the coast they live in the state. “This is not a storm you can sit and wait through,” he said.
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Drivers wait in line in for gas as they prepare for Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, September 7.

Scott said others in Florida need to watch Irma’s path and be ready to move to shelters for safety if necessary. Schools will be closed Friday.
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Evacuees stocked up on supplies, waited for hours at gas stations, and sat through massive traffic jams on the interstate.
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Monroe County administrator Roman Gastesi told residents in the Florida Keys that they need to heed the evacuation order and leave.
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Florida is not the only state preparing for possible impact. Some computer models show Irma potentially threatening Georgia and South Carolina.
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Hurricane Irma plots
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Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 30 counties and the state is ordering coastal evacuations for people in the Savannah area and everywhere along the coast east of Interstate 95, starting Saturday.
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The Governors of North and South Carolina also declared states of emergency.
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Are you affected by Irma? Text, iMessage or WhatsApp your videos, photos and stories to CNN: +1 347-322-0415.
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 http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/us/hurricane-irma-caribbean-florida/index.html

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Computer System Outage Ties Up Airports

January 3, 2017

The Associated Press and CBS News

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection system outage Monday at some airports caused long lines and delays for those trying to enter the United States.

A CBP spokesperson confirmed the outage in a statement to CBS News, saying its processing systems at various airports of entry were experiencing a temporary outage.

Systems are back online, CBP said on Twitter late Monday.

“No indication the disruption was malicious in nature,” CBP said.

All airports are back on line after a temporary outage of ’s processing systems. No indication the disruption was malicious in nature.

“CBP took immediate action to address the issue and CBP officers continued to process international travelers using alternative procedures at airports experiencing the disruption,” CBP spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News. “Travelers at some ports of entry experienced longer than usual wait times as CBP officers processed travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security.”

It is unclear how widespread the outage was, but issues were reported in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Washington Dulles International Airport. The outages began around 5 p.m. EST and ended around 9 p.m. EST, CBP said.

Miami Airport said on Twitter that it will take time for passengers to be processed.

@CustomsBorder system up & running. Will take time for passengers to be processed. Thx 4 UR patience. Many airports affected 2nite.

Dozens of social media users took to Twitter to share photos of the long lines and large crowds.

@iflymia – 100’s stuck in customs lines. Please make an announcement and/or update

Disappointing Miami International Airport @MiamiHerald – all systems down at US customs. No global entry, no mobile, NOTHING!

Nightmare at the airport for all incoming int’l flights: all systems were down at immigration. Hours of wait

Passport control line at Miami Intl Arprt at standstill & literally 1k+ ppl long. Bad look, @CustomsBorder cc: @MiamiHerald

And some said that they had been waiting for hours.

Craziness @iflymia Immigration sys down… Hundreds in line…Very dangerous. Been here for 180 min & no progress…Mob rule soon.

In Atlanta, CBP public affairs officer Robert Brisley says the outage at the city’s airport lasted about an hour from late afternoon into early evening. He said that officers were working to recover quickly afterward but even short outages can lead to backups at the airport, one of the world’s busiest.

He said the agency apologizes to travelers who were delayed getting into the country after long flights.

Brisley said the cause of the outage was still being evaluated.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-customs-outage-airports-long-lines-stress/

Norway tells pregnant women to avoid Miami over Zika fears — “Avoid sexual contact with this mosquito”

August 2, 2016

AFP

© AFP | Miami’s popular arts and restaurant district, Wynwood, has recorded 14 Zika cases

OSLO (AFP) – Norwegian authorities on Tuesday issued a travel warning for the US city of Miami for pregnant women due to risks linked to the Zika virus.

“Pregnant women are advised not to travel to Miami and people who have been to Miami should take the necessary precautions on their return,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said in a statement.

Zika is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and also by sexual contact

The recommendation follows the announcement of 14 cases of Zika in the Miami neighbourhood of Wynwood, a popular arts and restaurant district.

US health authorities on Monday issued a travel warning for the Wynwood district alone, while the Norwegian recommendation covers the entire city of Miami in the US southern state of Florida.

The institute said its decision was based on the “uncertain situation at this stage concerning the spread of the virus in Miami.”

Contacted by AFP, the institute said it had taken its decision independently of other European health authorities, which have yet to issue any travel recommendations. It added it wanted to pre-empt any departures for Miami during this summer holiday season.

The 14 Miami cases mark the first time the Zika virus, which can cause birth defects and is considered particularly dangerous for pregnant women, is known to be spreading via local mosquitoes in the United States.

Zika is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and also by sexual contact.

Over 1,600 cases of Zika have been previously reported in the United States, but most were brought by travelers who were infected elsewhere

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