AP News in Brief 02-16-20

Mississippi braces for flooding amid cresting river

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency Saturday amid predictions that a river running in the area around the state capital of Jackson could burst its banks and spark widespread flooding.

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Forecasters believe the Pearl River will crest at 38 feet (11.6 meters) Sunday evening to levels not seen in decades, following days of torrential rains across the Southeast. Reeves said the state should prepare for “the third worst flood” in its history.

“This is a historic, unprecedented flood,” Reeves said via Twitter.

Parts of Jackson and suburban Ridgeland were under evacuation orders, and some people had already filled trucks with furniture and other belongings to get out. Reeves said more than 2,400 homes and other structures in and near Jackson could either be inundated or isolated by the rising waters. That includes 1,925 structures in Hinds County, 461 in Rankin County and 31 in Madison County.

“I cannot stress to you how important the next 24 to 48 hours is for the people who are going to be affected,” Reeves said. He signed an emergency declaration to speed up spending for flood response and recovery. More than 96,000 sandbags had already been distributed by Saturday. The National Guard, the Highway Patrol and other high-water rescue teams were on standby, Reeves said.

Turkey, Russia to discuss grave situation in Syria’s Idlib

MUNICH — A Turkish delegation will travel to Russia on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib province amid mounting fears of a humanitarian disaster there, Turkey’s foreign minister said.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Idlib province are scrambling to escape a widening, multi-front offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

“What matters is today around 1 million people from Idlib have been moving towards our border,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement Saturday after a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump in which they discussed Syria and other topics. “We are already hosting 3.5-4 million people. Unfortunately we are not in a position of accepting this another 1 million.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after meeting his German counterpart on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference that 2 million people could head for Turkey’s border with Syria if no cease-fire is achieved.

He said a Turkish delegation was due to visit Moscow on Monday to talk discuss the situation in Idlib, much of which remains in rebel hands. The meeting follows previous visits by a Russian delegation to Ankara. Russia supports Assad, while Turkey backs the opposition.

14-year-old charged with Barnard College student death

NEW YORK — A 14-year-old has been arrested in the fatal stabbing of a Barnard College student in a park during a robbery in December, a crime that rattled New York City residents, authorities said Saturday.

Rashaun Weaver has been indicted by a grand jury and was taken into custody Friday night without incident, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference.

Weaver, charged with second-degree murder and robbery, is the second teenager to be charged in the attack on 18-year-old Tessa Majors in a Manhattan park.

“We are confident that we have the person in custody who stabbed her,” Shea said. “And that person will face justice in a court of law.”

The Associated Press is naming the juvenile defendant because of the seriousness of the crime and because he has been charged as an adult. Weaver’s attorney, Elsie Chandler, did not immediately return a call to Neighbor Defender Service of Harlem seeking comment.

Warren Buffett’s son helps Colombia kick cocaine curse

TIBU, Colombia — With Colombian military snipers in position, Howard Buffett descends from a helicopter and trudges through the wet grass in steel-toe boots chewed through by his dog’s teeth.

Waiting under a tin-roofed shack is a small group of coca farmers. They’ve never heard of multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett, but after decades of neglect by their own government they’re grateful for the outstretched hand of his eldest son, who they refer to simply as “the gringo.”

“There’s a saying here: The less you know, the better,” said Rubén Morantes, his leathery skin and calloused hands a testament to a lifetime of tillage in one of Colombia’s most-dangerous territories, where outsiders are traditionally mistrusted.

For nearly two decades Buffett has crisscrossed the world giving away part of his father’s fortune to promote food security, conflict mitigation and public safety. But his latest gamble is one of the most daunting yet: helping Colombia kick its cocaine curse.

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He is focusing on Tibu, heart of the remote, notoriously lawless Catatumbo region bordering Venezuela where Buffett accompanied President Iván Duque.

From wire sources

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