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The iPhone 12 emits too much radiation and Apple must take it off the market, French agency says

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 20:21

By KELVIN CHAN and SYLVIE CORBET (Associated Press)

PARIS (AP) — French regulators ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12, saying it emits electromagnetic radiation levels that are above European Union standards for exposure. The company disputed the findings and said the device complies with regulations.

The French government agency that manages wireless communications frequencies issued the order after the iPhone 12 recently failed one of two types of tests for electromagnetic waves capable of being absorbed by the body.

It’s unclear why the phone, which was released in late 2020, didn’t pass the agency’s latest round of tests and why it was only that particular model.

France’s digital minister said the iPhone 12’s radiation levels are still much lower than levels that scientific studies consider could harm users, and the agency itself acknowledges that its tests don’t reflect typical phone use.

The National Frequency Agency on Tuesday called on Apple to “implement all available means to rapidly fix this malfunction” for phones already in use and said it would monitor device updates. If they don’t work, “Apple will have to recall” phones that have already been sold, it said.

The agency recently tested 141 cellphones and found that when the iPhone 12 is held in a hand or carried in a pocket, its level of electromagnetic energy absorption is 5.74 watts per kilogram, higher than the EU standard of 4 watts per kilogram.

The phone passed a separate test of radiation levels for devices kept in a jacket or in a bag, the agency said.

Radiation limits are set “well below the level at which harm will occur,” and therefore a small increase above the threshold “is unlikely to be of any health consequence,” said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at the U.K.’s Royal Berkshire hospital group.

Users of the iPhone 12 should be able to download an update that prevents radiation exposure from surpassing the limit, Sperrin said.

It’s not clear why this particular model appears to throw off higher radiation but it “may be associated with the initial stage of connection when the phone is ‘looking’ for a transmit/receive signal,” he said.

Apple said the iPhone 12 has been certified by multiple international bodies and complies with all applicable regulations and standards for radiation around the world.

The U.S. tech company said it has provided the French agency with multiple lab results carried out both by the company and third-party labs proving the phone’s compliance.

Jean-Noël Barrot, France’s minister in charge of digital issues, told France Info radio that the National Frequency Agency “is in charge of controlling our phones which, as there are software updates, may emit a little more or a little less electromagnetic waves.”

He said the iPhone 12’s radiation levels are “slightly higher” than EU standards but “significantly lower than levels where scientific studies consider there may be consequences for users. But the rule is the rule.”

The agency’s tests are carried out at diagnostic lab that uses a liquid-filled mold simulating a human head and body with brain and muscle tissue. Devices transmit at maximum power for the six-minute test, the agency says on its website, acknowledging that the tests “do not reflect the most common use of a telephone.”

During calls, the phone only transmits half the time, when the user is speaking, and calls rarely last six minutes, the agency said. Mobile internet or video use lasts longer, but the phone “rarely transmits more than 10% of the time,” it added.

Cellphones have been labeled as “possible” carcinogens by the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, putting them in the same category as coffee, diesel fumes and the pesticide DDT. The radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light.

While mobile phones have been in widespread use for years, studies haven’t shown a clear link to adverse health effects like cancer, headaches and cognitive function, said Ian Scivill, a senior scientist with expertise in radiation at the U.K.’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Experts have recommended that people concerned about their cellphone radiation exposure use earphones or switch to texting.


Chan reported from London.

North Korea’s Kim vows full support for Moscow at a summit with Putin in Russia

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 20:19


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un vowed “full and unconditional support” for Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as the two leaders isolated by the West held a summit that the U.S. warned could lead to a deal to supply ammunition for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

The meeting, which lasted over four hours at Russia’s spaceport in the Far East, underscores how the two countries’ interests are aligning: Putin is believed to be seeking one of the few things impoverished North Korea has in abundance -– stockpiles of aging ammunition and rockets for Soviet-era weapons.

Such a request would mark a role reversal from the 1950-53 Korean War, when Moscow gave weapons to support Pyongyang’s invasion of South Korea — and in the decades that followed, when the Soviet Union sponsored North Korea.

Reporting on the meeting Thursday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim invited Putin to visit North Korea at a “convenient time” and that Putin accepted with “pleasure and reaffirmed his will to invariably carry forward” the history of friendship between the nations.

The decision to meet at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s most important launch center on its own soil, suggests Kim is seeking Russian help in developing military reconnaissance satellites. He has previously said that is crucial to enhancing the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles, and North Korea has repeatedly failed to put its first military spy satellite into orbit.

Putin met Kim’s limousine, brought from Pyongyang in the North Korean leader’s armored train, at the launch facility, greeting his guest with a handshake of about 40 seconds. Putin spoke of the Soviet Union’s wartime support for North Korea and said the talks would cover economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the “situation in the region.”

Kim, in turn, pledged continued support for Moscow, making an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine.

“Russia is currently engaged in a just fight against hegemonic forces to defend its sovereign rights, security and interests,” he said.

North Korea may have tens of millions of aging artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs that could bolster Russian forces in Ukraine, analysts say.

Washington has accused North Korea of providing Russia with arms, including selling artillery shells to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Russian and North Korean officials deny such claims.

But either buying arms from or providing rocket technology to North Korea would violate international sanctions that Russia has previously supported.

It would both underscore and deepen Russia’s isolation in the 18 months after its invasion of Ukraine drew increasing sanctions that have cut off Moscow’s economy from global markets and shrunk the circle of world leaders willing to meet with Putin. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are also at their highest point in years as the pace of both Kim’s weapons demonstrations and the United States’ combined miliary exercises with South Korea have intensified. There are concerns the North would seek advanced weapons technologies from Russia that would increase the threat posed by Kim’s military nuclear program in exchange for fueling Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Jeon Ha Gyu, spokesperson of South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said Seoul was closely monitoring the diplomacy between Moscow and Pyongyang and urged Russia to “properly follow” U.N. Security Council resolutions.

When asked whether North Korean arms shipments to Russia would inspire Seoul to change its policy of limiting its support of Ukraine to non-lethal supplies, Jeon said “there’s no change in the government’s stance of not providing lethal weapons” to Kyiv.

Moscow’s priority is success in Ukraine, “and it would do pretty much anything in order to achieve that,” said James Nixey, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, a London-based think-tank.

“Russia possibly wants to settle in for a longer war, but it can’t meet the necessary industrial capacity,” he said. In return, Pyongyang is likely to get food and missile technology from Moscow, “a relatively easy gift” for the Kremlin, Nixey said.

As the leaders toured a Soyuz-2 rocket launch facility on Wednesday, Kim peppered a Russian space official with questions.

Kim and Putin met together with their delegations and later one-on-one, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. After the talks, there was an official lunch for Kim, Russian state media reported.

Kim has described space-based reconnaissance capabilities as crucial for enhancing the threat of nuclear-capable missiles designed to target the United States and its Asian allies, South Korea and Japan.

Following repeated failures, North Korea may want to launch a spy satellite on a Russian space launch vehicle, said Yang Uk, a military expert at South Korea’s Asian Institute for Policy Studies. He said North Korea could also ask Russia to build a more powerful spy satellite than the one it has been trying to launch.

“It’s possible that North Korea pushes to participate in the production process of the satellite, rather than just acquiring a finished product, to set up a natural transfer of technologies,” Yang said.

Putin told Russian state TV that Kim will visit two more cities in the Far East on his own after the summit, flying to Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where he will visit an aircraft plant, and then go to Vladivostok to view Russia’s Pacific Fleet, a university and other facilities.

Russia and North Korea have “lots of interesting projects” in spheres like transportation and agriculture, Putin said. Moscow is providing its neighbor with humanitarian aid, but there also are opportunities for “working as equals,” he added.

He dodged the issue, however, of military cooperation, saying only that Russia is abiding by the sanctions prohibiting procuring weapons from Pyongyang. “There are certain restrictions, Russia is following all of them. There are things we can talk about, we’re discussing, thinking. Russia is a self-sufficient country, but there are things we can bring attention to, we’re discussing them,” he said.

James O’Brien, head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the U.S. State Department, said Russia was “scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for help because it’s having trouble sustaining its military,”

A deal between the countries would violate existing sanctions, O’Brien said, and would trigger the U.S. to try to identify the individuals and the financial mechanisms used to “at least limit their ability to be effective.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a news conference that “any form of cooperation of any country with North Korea must respect the sanctions regime that was imposed by the Security Council.”

Wednesday’s meeting came hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea, extending a highly provocative run in testing since 2022, as Kim used the distraction caused by war in Ukraine to accelerate his weapons development.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said they landed in waters outside the country’s exclusive economic zones and there were no reports of damage.

Official photos showed Kim was accompanied by Pak Thae Song, chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and Adm. Kim Myong Sik, who are linked with efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines.

Kim also brought Jo Chun Ryong, who heads munitions policies and had joined him on tours of factories producing artillery shells and missiles.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it was the first time the North launched a missile while Kim was abroad.

Kim could have ordered them to show he is in control of military activities even while outside the country, said Moon Seong Mook of the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.

Asked whether Moscow will help North Korea build satellites, Putin was quoted by Russian media as saying “that’s why we have come here. The DPRK leader shows keen interest in rocket technology. They’re trying to develop space, too,” using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name. Asked about military cooperation, Putin said: “We will talk about all issues without a rush. There is time.”

Noting what he called the “laconic” official presentation of the summit’s outcome, Alexander Vorontsov of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Asian Studies was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency that “we can assume that … most of the agreements reached … will remain secret for the time being.”

At their lunch, which reportedly featured regional delicacies such as Kamchatka crab dumplings and taiga lingonberries with pine nuts, Kim said he and Putin agreed to deepen their “strategic and tactical cooperation.”


Litvinova reported from Tallinn, Estonia. Associated Press journalists Haruka Nuga and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; Emma Burrows in London, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Jim Heintz in Tallinn contributed.

Biden White House strategy for impeachment inquiry: Dismiss. Compartmentalize. Scold. Fundraise.

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 20:16

By COLLEEN LONG (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — On Capitol Hill, House Republicans were all-in Wednesday on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Down Pennsylvania Avenue, the president was holding forth at the White House on the importance of bipartisanship in fighting cancer — and ignoring shouted questions about impeachment.

It was a clear sign of Biden’s broader reelection pitch: the idea that if he simply does his job and governs, Americans will see the results and reward him with four more years. Never mind all that pesky impeachment talk across town.

“Look, I’ve got a job to do,” the president said later, away from the cameras, to a roomful of supporters at a reelection fundraiser in Virginia in his most extensive comments yet about the inquiry. “I get up every day — not a joke — not focusing on impeachment. I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to deal with the issues that affect the American people every single solitary day.”

The we’re-all-better-than-this attitude is central to the White House strategy for countering impeachment proceedings being launched ahead of the 2024 election by Republicans who are trying to link Biden to the business dealings of his son, Hunter. This as the GOP tries to shift attention away from Donald Trump’s own legal troubles.

The White House has been preparing for a potential impeachment essentially since Republicans won control of the House in the November elections. It has roughly two dozen staff members in the counsel’s office detailed to the matter. The new chief counsel, Ed Siskel, is a former Obama administration attorney who helped craft the response to the congressional investigations into the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

The White House impeachment playbook so far has been: Dismiss. Compartmentalize. Scold.

That is, shrug off the charges as baseless, stay focused on policy, leave the impeachment question to the lawyers and chide those who give too much credence to it all.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had dismissed the inquiry as a “political stunt” and deflected questions about the details to the White House counsel’s office. House Republicans? “We think they should work with us on legitimate issues — things that actually matter to the American people,” she said.

Still, the impeachment inquiry is a tricky matter for Biden because the thing is so personal, focused on his relationship with his 53-year-old son, a source of pain and pride whose questionable choices have landed the president here.

The White House has said that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business affairs. And so far, despite months of investigations, Republicans have unearthed no significant evidence of wrongdoing by the elder Biden, who spoke often to his son and as vice president did stop by a business dinner with his son’s associates. Hunter Biden is not a public figure.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys were on message, too.

“Rather than waste time and taxpayer dollars on this political sideshow, Mr. McCarthy should lead the Congress to do real work of governing,” Abbe Lowell said in a statement. “Americans deserve better.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for Hunter Biden filed a suit Wednesday in Los Angeles accusing former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler of violating computer privacy laws. The suit accuses Ziegler, a vocal Biden critic, and his researchers of “accessing, tampering with, manipulating, altering, copying and damaging computer data that they do not own,” purportedly from Hunter Biden’s laptop and iPhone data.

Before now, most of the questions from reporters fielded by the president on the topic were about a criminal investigation into Hunter’s business dealings running parallel to the House investigations. His responses were brief and upbeat: He’s done nothing wrong; we support him.

While the overall White House strategy is not expected to change, this week’s announcement of a formal inquiry shifts the dynamics somewhat. It will be harder to just shrug off questions. And the Biden reelection campaign is starting to blast out fundraising emails and texts denouncing the probe.

Even the donation pitches reflect the broader strategy. An email from Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday made this plea to potential donors: “It’s clear: They’re going to throw everything they have at Joe, because they know they can’t run against our record. If you’re waiting for a moment to show your support for him, trust me when I say: This is it.”

Threats of impeachment used to be rare so there’s not much basis for comparison. While Trump was twice impeached, neither was about personal conduct. The inquiry into Biden is more akin to the late 1990s impeachment of President Bill Clinton led by the Republican House speaker at the time, Newt Gingrich of Georgia. In that endeavor, the White House stonewalled, making then-special counsel Lanny Davis the public face of its response. By his account, it worked.

“Take a look at how things went for Speaker Gingrich and the GOP House members after the midterm congressional elections in November 1998,” Davis emailed Wednesday. “They lost five seats to the Democrats, defying U.S. history.”

He predicted McCarthy would suffer the same fate, praising the White House response so far.

“The Biden White House has begun to speak forcefully to rebut the misinformation and false innuendo that is the only basis Speaker McCarthy and House leaders can express as the basis of a House inquiry.”

Andrew Johnson was the other president impeached. Trump is the only president to face it twice — acquitted both times — and he is the first to face criminal charges in four separate indictments, including for trying to overturn the 2020 election he lost to Biden.

Rep. Ted Lieu, a top Democrat, said Wednesday there are no similarities between the Democratic impeachments of Trump and the Republicans’ pursuit of Biden.

“We had mountains of evidence,” he said. “That’s why articles of impeachment … were passed, and that’s why we had a bipartisan vote of U.S. senators to convict Donald Trump.” Lieu added that while the Democratic majority didn’t ultimately have enough support to remove Trump from office, they were able to get a handful of members from the other side to join them.

McCarthy said that House investigations so far “paint a picture of a culture of corruption” around the Biden family as Republicans probe the business dealings of Hunter Biden from before the Democratic president took office.

“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy said at the Capitol.

Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., says he doesn’t want the inquiry to last into election season. “I hope not. I hope we can get it through as quickly as possible. I’m an impatient person. We wouldn’t have to do impeachment inquiry if this administration would cooperate with us.”

As impeachment talk swirled elsewhere, Biden and first lady Jill Biden gathered with top administration officials on Wednesday afternoon to talk about battling cancer, one of the president’s top goals. Their elder son, Beau, died of brain cancer.

After the Bidens finished speaking, reporters erupted with questions about the impeachment inquiry. Four boom mics dangled above the table, ready to catch any response from the president.

He didn’t respond.


Associated Press writers Will Weissert, Chris Megerian, Stephen Groves, Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Rain-soaked New England hit by likely tornado amid wild weather ahead of Hurricane Lee’s arrival

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 20:07


LEOMINSTER, Mass. (AP) — Hurricane Lee barreled north toward New England on Wednesday and threatened to unleash violent storms on the region just as communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were dealing with tornado warnings and another day of heavy rain that opened up sinkholes and brought devastating flooding to several communities.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for portions of Maine. A tropical storm watch was issued for a large area of coastal New England from parts of Rhode Island to Stonington, Maine, including Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The National Weather Service in Boston said that looking at radar data and videos it appears likely that a tornado toppled trees and knocked down power lines in Rhode Island and Connecticut on Wednesday. Rob Megnia, a meteorologist with the weather service, said they received reports of about 20 trees down in Killingly, Connecticut, and trees and power lines down in Foster, Rhode Island.

The agency said it would survey the storm damage in both states on Thursday to help determine the tornado’s strength, maximum wind speed and its path.

Emergency sirens could be heard late Wednesday afternoon in parts of Providence, Rhode Island, as cellphones pinged with a tornado warning. In Lincoln, Rhode Island, photos after the storm showed at least one roof damaged, a trampoline blown into some trees and the press box at the high school stadium tipped into the bleachers.

The weather service also issued a flash flood warning for parts of Connecticut until 9:45 p.m.

In North Attleborough, Massachusetts, which was hit by heavy flooding Monday night, Sean Pope was watching the forecast with unease.

Heavy rains had turned his swimming pool into a mud pit and filled his basement with 3 feet (91 centimeters) of water. He has been able to get the power back on in the first and second floor of the home he shares with his wife and three children, but he worried about more flooding.

“I am hanging on, hoping and watching the forecast and looking for hot spots where it may rain and where there are breaks,” he said. “It’s raining really hard again so we have to make sure the pumps are working.”

Elsewhere in the state, Leominster resident Zac Brown was still cleaning up his home and backyard Wednesday after flood waters from a nearby stream flooded his basement, washed away part of his retaining walls and dumped rocks, boulders and other debris in his backyard.

He remembers his frantic efforts to survive the floods, including rushing to shut down the power, knocking on roommates’ and tenants’ doors and telling them to leave. While he built a “blockade” of cement bags, he said there wasn’t much he could do if more rain came.

“I have no physical attachment to the house, so if it goes, it goes and that’s what God wants, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t and that’s awesome,” Brown said.

Late Tuesday, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey issued a state of emergency following the “catastrophic flash flooding and property damage” in two counties and other communities. The 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain over six hours earlier in the week was a “200-year event,” said Matthew Belk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boston.

Healey said Wednesday that while there aren’t plans to call up the National Guard, the state’s emergency management agency is keeping a close eye on the weather and is prepared to offer assistance.

She said the state is monitoring the conditions of dams in many communities and urged residents to take seriously any flood warnings and to stay off the roads when ordered.

“Something that looks pretty minor can, just within a couple of hours, turn into something very serious, potentially deadly and very, very destructive,” Healey said.

The rain created several sinkholes in Leominster, Massachusetts, including one at a dealership where several cars were swallowed up. In Providence, Rhode Island, downpours flooded a parking lot and parts of a shopping mall. Firefighters used inflatable boats to rescue more than two dozen people stranded in cars.

Parking lots at several businesses briefly became lakes in Leominster and North Attleborough, and many front yards were still partially covered in water. The sounds of generators filled the air in many neighborhoods, as residents worked to remove water from their basements.

John DeCicco, a retired school teacher in Leominster who loaned generators to neighbors, said residents of the close-knit community about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Boston were helping each other clean up and opening their homes to others whose residences are uninhabitable.

Dawn Packer, who runs a North Attleborough home preschool, had looked across the street Monday evening to see a UPS truck floating in several feet of water. Soon her yard was flooding.

“All of sudden, the door smashed open. The water was so forceful. It just smashed the door open and poured in, 4 feet,” she said.

After a dry day, it started raining in Leominster again Wednesday afternoon. Parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island were under a flash flood warning. Earlier in the day, there were heavy downpours in Danbury, Connecticut, where officials said they had to rescue several people from vehicles stuck in floodwaters.

“The ground is saturated. It can’t take in anymore,” Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said at a news conference Wednesday. But he said the city had emergency resources at the ready “for whatever the weather brings.”

Mazarella said up to 300 people were evacuated by Tuesday morning in the city, which has not seen such widespread damage since a 1936 hurricane. Most buildings downtown flooded and some collapsed. He said the city was trying to help get assistance to homeowners and businesses that suffered damage. He said early estimates on city infrastructure restoration projects could be anywhere from $25 million to $40 million.

New England has experienced its share of flooding this summer, including a storm that dumped up to two months of rain in two days in Vermont in July, resulting in two deaths. Scientists are finding that storms around the world are forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall a more frequent reality now. A warming world will only make that worse.


This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Dawn Packer’s last name in one instance, from Packard, and to correct the time elements in the portion of the story where Packer is included.


McCormack reported from Concord, New Hampshire. Associated Press writers Holly Ramer in New Hampshire, Steve LeBlanc and Rodrique Ngowi in Massachusetts, David Sharp in Maine, Lisa Rathke in Vermont, David Lieb in Missouri, and Lisa Baumann in Washington state contributed to this report.

No. 3 FSU rolling but challenges loom as ACC slate begins

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 20:04

By Bob Ferrante

Orlando Sentinel Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE — Despite some speed bumps in Florida State’s first two games, the Seminoles have been efficient on offense while the first-team defense has been dominant — in the second half vs. LSU and first half against Southern Miss.

Keep a close eye on Hurricane Lee on Saturday as Florida State (2-0) travels to Boston College (1-1) in the ACC opener for both teams. The storm track is projected to be off the New England coast on Saturday morning, possibly creating rainy and windy conditions.

Here are three things to watch as the Seminoles open ACC play:

How concerning should FSU’s offensive line injuries be?

The situation is potentially worrisome with BC  coming up but the thermostat gets uncomfortable next week at Clemson, which isn’t ranked and isn’t nearly as talented as in prior years yet Death Valley is still loud and the Tigers have the league’s best linebacking corps in the ACC.

FSU racked up 554 yards in Saturday’s 66-13 win over Southern Miss, which was overmatched up front. The Seminoles accumulated 314 rushing yards (on 8.3 yards per carry) even without starting center Maurice Smith (seen pregame in a walking boot) and starting tackle Robert Scott (not observed on the sideline).

The Seminoles had the veteran depth to roll out in Bless Harris, Casey Roddick, Darius Washington, D’Mitri Emmanuel and Jeremiah Byers, who collectively have 132 starts at the G5 or P5 level. This depth has been accumulated to provide competition in practices but also as an insurance policy against an injury.

Washington can play any of the five line positions.

“Darius has been our Swiss Army Knife,” offensive coordinator Alex Atkins said. “We can plug him in wherever we need to go.”

How the starting five linemen, with or without Smith and Scott, communicate and work together at BC will give confidence (or not) about how far the Seminoles can go in 2023.

Are any of FSU’s freshmen ready for showtime now that ACC play starts?

The best aspect of the second half of the Southern Miss game was FSU’s coaches could give freshmen playing time. Linebacker Blake Nichelson may have been the most impressive, leading the team in tackles with five. Nichelson often played running back and defensive back in high school, but the timing of his emergence is ideal and he can push for playing time as a second-teamer.

“He looks like he belongs, physically he does,” defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said.

Look for receiver Hykeem Williams to continue to earn more playing time. After a rough transition in the spring, Williams is just beginning to show what he can offer as a receiver and blocker.

Does FSU have its deepest receiving corps since 2015?

FSU spread the ball around very well in 2013 (a championship season) and 2014 (a playoff semifinal year). But even in 2015, FSU had three receivers accumulate 55 or more catches — Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield. The 2023 Seminoles likely won’t have three pass-catchers surpass 50+ receptions in the regular season but this is the deepest group FSU has had in eight seasons.

Johnny Wilson’s return, Keon Coleman’s emergence and a deep group of receivers, as well as transfer tight ends Jaheim Bell and Kyle Morlock, were a sign the reception totals would be spread out. But now it’s been seen what Winston Wright Jr. can deliver, Darion Williamson is finally healthy, Deuce Spann looks far more comfortable in Year 2 as a receiver (he spent his first year at Illinois as a quarterback) and Kentron Poitier could soon be back in the mix after missing FSU’s first two games.


Sandy Alcantara has UCL sprain, putting 2023 return in doubt; Marlins shut out Brewers

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 19:51

MILWAUKEE — Miami Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, manager Skip Schumaker said Wednesday, casting doubt on whether last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner can pitch again this season.

Schumaker did not say whether he thought Alcantara would return. Miami is fighting for a wild-card spot.

UCL injuries frequently require Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery.

Alcantara’s injury was initially reported as a forearm strain after his last start on Sept. 3, when he threw 94 pitches in eight innings in a win at Washington. He said he first experienced discomfort during that outing, and he went on the injured list three days later.

Alcantara played catch Wednesday before the Marlins’ game at Milwaukee, his first time throwing since the injury. He said he would be consulting with doctors but did not know what his next steps would be.

“I feel so happy because today I got the opportunity to play catch,” Alcantara said.

Alcantara is 7-12 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 starts. Last year, he was 14-9 with a 2.28 ERA. The two-time All-Star is 41-55 with a 3.32 ERA in seven years in the majors.

Garrett, bullpen blank host Brewers

Braxton Garrett pitched six innings of four-hit ball and the Miami Marlins beat the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 2-0 on Wednesday night.

After dropping the first two games of the four-game series, Miami (75-71) moved within one-half game of Cincinnati and Arizona for the final NL wild-card spot.

Garrett (9-6) struck out seven and walked two. The Marlins turned two double plays behind the 26-year-old left-hander, who didn’t allow a runner past second base.

Three relievers completed a seven-hitter for Miami, with Tanner Scott working the ninth for his eighth save. Tyrone Taylor reached on a throwing error by third baseman Jake Burger leading off the ninth. Scott then retired Victor Caratini, Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer.

Colin Rea (5-6) followed opener Trevor Megill and allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings for the Brewers, who were shut out for the 11th time this season.

In the fifth, Jesús Sánchez singled and was awarded second base when first baseman Carlos Santana stepped into his team’s dugout after catching a foul ball by Bryan De La Cruz. Sánchez scored on Xavier Edwards’ single.

Miami made it 2-0 in the seventh when De La Cruz doubled off Andrew Chafin and Garrett Sampson followed with a double against Bryse Wilson.

Milwaukee started the eighth with singles by William Contreras and Santana off Andrew Nardi. But Willy Adames hit into a double play and Josh Donaldson struck out.


Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara, who went on the injured list on Sept. 6, has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, manager Skip Schumaker said. Schumaker wouldn’t say whether he expects the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner to return this season. … CF Jazz Chisholm Jr. (right knee discomfort) left after grounding into a double play in the fourth.

Brewers: LF Christian Yelich (back) missed his fifth consecutive game. … LF Mark Canha (left wrist), who left Tuesday’s game in the third inning, is day to day, manager Craig Counsell said.


Milwaukee RHP Adrian Houser (5-4, 4.58 ERA) makes his first start since a stint on the IL with a right elbow injury as the series concludes Thursday. Miami had not announced a starter.

Searchers race to recover bodies in Libyan city where 5,100 died in flooding after 2 dams collapsed

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 19:37

By SAMY MAGDY and YOUSEF MURAD (Associated Press)

DERNA, Libya (AP) — Search teams combed streets, wrecked buildings and even the sea Wednesday to look for bodies in a coastal Libyan city where the collapse of two dams unleashed a massive flash flood that killed at least 5,100 people.

The Mediterranean city of Derna has struggled to get help after Sunday night’s deluge washed away most access roads. Aid workers who managed to reach the city described devastation in its center, with thousands still missing and tens of thousands left homeless.

“Bodies are everywhere, inside houses, in the streets, at sea. Wherever you go, you find dead men, women, and children,” Emad al-Falah, an aid worker from Benghazi, said over the phone from Derna. “Entire families were lost.”

Mediterranean storm Daniel caused deadly flooding Sunday in many towns of eastern Libya, but the worst-hit was Derna. Two dams in the mountains above the city collapsed, sending floodwaters roaring down the Wadi Derna river and through the city center, sweeping away entire city blocks.

As much as a quarter of the city has disappeared, emergency officials said.

Waves rose as high as 7 meters (23 feet), Yann Fridez, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya, told broadcaster France24.

Teacher Mohammed Derna said he, his family and neighbors rushed to the roof of their apartment building, stunned at the volume of water rushing by. It reached the second story of many buildings, he said. They watched people below, including women and children being washed away.

“They were screaming, ‘Help, help,’” he said over the phone from a field hospital in Derna. “It was like a Hollywood horror movie.”

Derna lies on a narrow coastal plain, under steep mountains. The only two usable roads from the south take a winding route through the mountains.

Collapsed bridges over the river split the city center, further hampering movement.

Search teams went through shattered apartment buildings and retrieved the dead floating offshore in the Mediterranean Sea, al-Falah said.

Ossama Ali, a spokesman for an ambulance center in eastern Libya, said at least 5,100 deaths were recorded in Derna, along with around 100 others elsewhere in eastern Libya. More than 7,000 people in the city were injured.

A spokesman for the eastern Libyan interior ministry put the death tally in Derna at more than 5,300, according to the state-run news agency.

The number of deaths was likely to increase since teams are still collecting bodies, Ali said. At least 9,000 people are missing, but that number could drop as communications are restored.

At least 30,000 people in Derna were displaced by the flooding, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said.

The storm hit other areas in eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa and Marj. Rescuers retrieved at least 150 bodies Wednesday from the sea off Bayda, bringing the death tally in the town to about 200, Ali said.

The startling devastation pointed to the storm’s intensity, but also Libya’s vulnerability. The country is divided by rival governments, one in the east, the other in the west, and the result has been neglect of infrastructure in many areas.

Ahmed Abdalla, a survivor who joined the search-and-rescue effort, said they were putting bodies in the yard of a hospital before taking them for burial in mass graves at Derna’s sole intact cemetery.

“The situation is indescribable. Entire families dead in this disaster. Some were washed away to the sea,” Abdalla said by phone.

Derna is 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Benghazi, where international aid started to arrive on Tuesday.

Neighboring Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as Turkey, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, sent rescue teams and aid. The U.K. and German governments sent assistance too, including blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, tents, water filters and generators.

U.S. President Joe Biden also said the United States would send money to relief organizations and coordinate with Libyan authorities and the United Nations to provide additional support.

Authorities transferred hundreds of bodies to morgues in nearby towns. More than 300, including 84 Egyptians, were brought to the morgue in the city of Tobruk, 169 kilometers (105 miles) east of Derna, the local Medical Center reported.

The victims’ lists reflected how Libya, despite its turmoil, was always a magnet for workers from around the region because of its oil industry.

More than 70 of Derna’s dead hailed from a single southern Egyptian village, el-Sharif. On Wednesday morning, hundreds attended a mass funeral in the village for 64 people.

Rabei Hanafy said his extended family lost 16 men in the flooding, 12 of whom were buried Wednesday. Another funeral for four others was held in a town in the northern Nile Delta.

Among those killed in Libya was the family of Saleh Sariyeh, a Palestinian originally from the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon who had lived in Derna for decades. The 62-year-old, his wife and two daughters were all killed when their home in Derna was washed away, his nephew Mohammed Sariyeh said.

The four were buried in Derna. Because of ongoing gunbattles in Ein el-Hilweh, the family there could not hold a gathering to receive condolences from friends and neighbors, Mohammed said.

Derna, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli, is controlled by the forces of powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter, who is allied with the eastern Libyan government. The rival government in western Libya, based in Tripoli, is allied with other armed groups.

Derna was once a hub for extremist groups in the years of chaos that followed the NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press Writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

Biden brushes off House impeachment inquiry and says Republicans want to shut down the government

Wed, 09/13/2023 - 18:26


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden late Wednesday brushed off the House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry, saying the way he sees it, they launched the investigation against him because they want to shut down the federal government.

Biden, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Virginia, said that instead of being concerned about the probe, “I’m focused on the things the American people want me focused on.”

The president’s remarks were the first since Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the launch of a Biden impeachment inquiry while the Republican House leader is also struggling to shore up votes to fund the government and prevent a federal shutdown.

“The best I can tell is they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government,” Biden said.

He also made a reference to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., a top ally of his chief rival heading into the 2024 election, Donald Trump. “The first day she was elected, the first thing she wanted to do was impeach Biden,” he said.

“Look, I’ve got a job,” Biden told his audience. “I’ve got to deal with the issues that affect the American people every single, solitary day.”

McCarthy’s sudden decision to direct an impeachment inquiry into Biden over the business dealings of his son, Hunter, and the family finances has won over even the most reluctant Republicans, with some GOP lawmakers pushing for swift action while others expect it to drag into the 2024 election year.

McCarthy opened and closed a private meeting Wednesday of House Republicans justifying his reasoning for the inquiry sought by former President Trump.

The moment is a politically pivotal one for the embattled McCarthy, whose job is being targeted by Trump’s right-flank allies. He has already signaled potential charges of abuse of power, corruption and obstruction for possible articles of impeachment.

“There’s a lot of accusations out there you just want the answers to,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.

The White House mobilized to fight what it called the “unprecedented, unfounded claims” against the president regarding his son, Hunter, and family finances.

In the inquiry, House Republicans are trying to link Biden to the business dealings of his son and deflect attention away from Trump’s own legal peril.

The White House has said that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business affairs. And so far, Republicans have unearthed no significant evidence of wrongdoing by the elder Biden, who spoke often to his son as vice president and did stop by a business dinner with his son’s associates.

In a 14-page memo to news media leaders, the White House urged them to hold Republicans “accountable for the fact that they are lurching toward impeachment over allegations that are not only unfounded but, in virtually all cases, have been actively disproven.”

Biden did not respond early in the day to shouted questions about impeachment during a White House event on cancer research.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called it “a political stunt.”

The Republican front-runner for the White House in 2024, Trump is the only president to be twice impeached — acquitted both times — and he is the first to face criminal charges in four separate indictments, including for trying to overturn the 2020 election he lost to Biden.

The sooner the better to go after Biden, some GOP lawmakers feel.

“I hope we can get it through as quickly as possible,” said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chairman of the Oversight Committee leading the impeachment inquiry.

Comer and the other House chairmen involved in the impeachment inquiry headed across the Capitol later Wednesday and spent nearly an hour walking Senate Republicans through the evidence they said they had gathered in the past eight months.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned the House off impeachment. And GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, after announcing he would not seek reelection in 2024, told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I haven’t heard any allegation of something that would rise to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor.”

But John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said the briefing by House members left him feeling “there’s enough smoke there that there are legitimate questions.”

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and other senators said they urged the House chairmen to solidify the process by holding a House vote to move forward with the inquiry.

“I think they’d be better off having a vote. It does give it more legitimacy,” Graham of South Carolina said.

With no vote to launch the inquiry, the impeachment probe is being done without formal House-passed ground rules. That allows Republicans to conduct the investigation in ways the Democrats say are not always transparent, releasing only partial information to the public.

On another front, McCarthy’s decision to launch the impeachment inquiry appears to have done little to appease conservative lawmakers he needs to win over for his more immediate task: persuading the GOP majority to pass the federal spending bills needed to avoid a government shutdown in just over two weeks.

Hard-right Republicans still want McCarthy to slash federal spending below the levels he and Biden agreed to as part of a budget deal earlier this year. And that stand risks a federal shutdown if they don’t fund the government by Sept. 30, when current money runs out.

Democrats are expected to oppose those Republican efforts as well as fight Biden’s impeachment.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the first impeachment of Trump, said McCarthy’s failure to bring the inquiry before the full House for a vote was “an acknowledgement that he lacks the support in his conference to move forward.”

“He is beholden to the more extreme elements,” Schiff said as lawmakers returned to Washington late Tuesday. “It is yet another indication of the weakness in the speakership and the degree by which he is manipulated by Donald Trump.”

Yet moderate Republicans representing districts that Biden won in 2020 over Trump and who are most at risk in next year’s election generally were supportive of McCarthy’s decision to launch the impeachment probe.

“I would have voted for it,” Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., said about the impeachment inquiry.

Garcia said, “There’s smoke there so we have a requirement to go investigate that and see if there’s fire there.”

Rep. Nick LaLota of New York, another one of the Republicans from districts Biden won, said he wasn’t worried about any backlash back home. “I think my constituents deserve some answers,” he said.

The freshmen lawmaker and other potential holdouts like Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., were offered private briefings from leadership this week in order to assuage any concerns.

On the government-funding issue, McCarthy does not appear to have a viable plan to keep the government open, several lawmakers said.

The chamber came to a standstill Wednesday. A massive House Republican bill to fund the Defense Department and related military affairs was scheduled for a vote, but it was shelved amid the clash over spending levels.

Conservative Republicans are demanding that McCarthy commit to a total spending amount for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, a request he is not likely to be able to fulfill.


Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Darlene Superville, Chris Megerian and Colleen Long contributed to this story.

Dog training is tough. These 5 things make it easier

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 23:02

Training a dog isn’t easy, but it’s an integral part of them becoming good canine citizens. We know that dog training is challenging, requiring time, patience and repetition, but some things make it easier.

What you should know about dog training before starting

You shouldn’t start training your dog without any knowledge of dog training. Getting things wrong at the start can lead to bad habits that are hard to break. Luckily, it isn’t too difficult once you’ve got the hang of it, but you will need plenty of time and oodles of patience.

Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a training method that forgoes punishment and involves rewarding your dog when they get the behaviors right. It works for all kinds of training, from obedience and trick training to training away undesirable behaviors, such as chewing or peeing in the house. While you should learn more about the nuances of positive reinforcement training before you start, it essentially involves rewarding your dog with treats and praise for getting things right. You’ll need an ample supply of dog treats first, particularly high-value treats that your dog is willing to work to receive.

Repetition and consistency are key

Patience is a necessity when training your dog because you’ll need to repeat tricks and reinforce other behaviors over and over until they sink in. You must also be consistent with your training. Otherwise, you’ll end up confusing your dog, and they won’t know what you want from them. For instance, if you’re trying to teach your dog to walk to heel, you’ll need to correct their behavior every time they pull on the leash (by standing still or turning around and walking in the other direction). If you let it slide half the time, they won’t understand what you want and training will take significantly longer.

Start in distraction-free environments

If you start training your dog around distractions, such as strangers or other dogs, you’ll set them up to fail. Instead, start training a new trick or behavior in a calm, distraction-free environment, such as your home or an enclosed yard. Once they can reliably perform without distractions, try it out and about with more distractions and be prepared for some backsliding at first.

Items that make dog training easier

Vital Essentials Minnows Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats ]

It’s important to use high-value treats when training your dog, and the tastier and stinkier, the better. Use these treats for training new tricks or behaviors only so they remain novel and your dog is willing to work for them. These freeze-dried whole minnow treats are ideal for fish-loving dogs.

PetSafe Treat Pouch Sport ]

You need easy access to treats when training your dog so you can give them at the right moment to reinforce the desired behavior. This pouch has a detachable belt and belt clip and several pockets that can hold treats. You can choose from several colors, and there are clips to attach clickers and other training accessories.

Downtown Pet Supply Dog Training Clickers ]

When your dog performs the desired behavior, you must mark it so they know what they’ve done right. While you can mark behaviors with an upbeat “yes” or “good,” some people find it easier to get the timing right using a clicker. This pack contains multiple clickers, so you always have spares to hand.

Hi Kiss Long Dog Training Leash ]

Training your dog to come when called can be a minefield. You can teach it in your home or an enclosed yard, but trying it out and about with plenty of distractions around can be dangerous if your dog ends up not obeying you. Using a long leash is a great way to practice recall safely because your dog can get some distance from you but can’t run off. This leash comes in lengths between 15 and 100 feet.

Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution ]

If you’re not clued into dog training techniques, it’s a great idea to read a book or look at a range of other resources before getting stuck. This book is written by a popular dog trainer with a successful YouTube channel and outlines gentle, positive reinforcement training techniques.

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Which JBL speaker is the loudest?

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 23:02

When shopping for a new speaker, it’s best to look for one with well-balanced audio across the lows, mids and highs, as it makes music sound clearer. Once you’ve checked off all the boxes for a high-quality speaker, high volume output should be your next consideration.

JBL makes high-quality portable speakers. Although Bluetooth speakers typically don’t deliver the same volume as standing speakers, some JBL speakers are impressive for their size and cost.

JBL party speakers

Party speakers are bulky and deliver plenty of power output and loud volume. They’re your best bet if you want the loudest speaker possible, but they’re also more expensive than portable Bluetooth speakers. JBL party speakers are also portable, but unlike smaller Bluetooth speakers, you can’t toss one in a bag and travel with it. This makes them more suitable for home or backyard use.

JBL portable Bluetooth speakers

Portable Bluetooth speakers aren’t nearly as loud as party speakers, but they’re good enough for small- to medium-sized gatherings in a home or backyard. Portable Bluetooth speakers are made for traveling. Although some JBL speakers deliver impressive bass and volume for their size, a party speaker is ideal for a gathering of over 30 people.


The more powerful a speaker is, the louder its potential volume output. Generally, a speaker with the capacity to handle more wattage is usually louder than one with a lower capacity.


A speaker with a large physical diameter also has a more significant threshold for the amount of sound the driver and woofer can pump out. Larger speakers aren’t always necessarily louder than smaller speakers, but they can often handle more power.

Sound pressure level

Speakers emit sound pressure waves. The intensity of these waves, when compared to the environment, determines how you perceive volume level. Sound pressure level is measured in decibels. Although it’s uncommon in a party or portable Bluetooth speaker, some specify how many decibels they can crank out. In other words, the higher the decibels, the louder the speaker can get.

Loudest JBL party speakers

JBL PartyBox 1000 ]

You’ll bring the house down with this speaker that delivers a 1,100-watt power output. It is the loudest party speaker and offers terrific sound quality. Plus, you can connect musical instruments or a microphone to put on a live show.

JBL PartyBox 710 ]

This massive party speaker has dual 2.75-inch tweeters and 8-inch woofers, and it offers an 800-watt maximum power output. It has party lights, a splashproof design, wheels for portability and a tuned bass reflex port for rich sound.

JBL PartyBox 110 ]

The PartyBox 110 isn’t as loud or powerful as the PartyBox 1000 or 710, but it offers high-quality sound at a discounted price. It has colorful party lights you can customize with the PartyBox app and features powerful JBL Original Pro Sound technology.

JBL PartyBox Encore Essential ]

This speaker is excellent for indoor parties of 25 to 50 people and has a more portable design than other JBL party speakers. It has a splashproof build and supports True Wireless Stereo technology, so you can ramp up the volume with an additional speaker.

Loudest JBL portable Bluetooth speakers

JBL Boombox 2 ]

The Boombox 2 is the loudest portable JBL speaker and has a handle and an IPX7 protection rating. It lasts up to 24 hours, and you can charge your phone with the built-in power bank.

JBL Xtreme 3 ]

The JBL Xtreme 3 has four drivers and two JBL bass radiators that work in sync to deliver a dynamic sound with deep bass. It has a carrying strap and an IP67 protection rating, making it suitable for outdoor use.

JBL Xtreme 2 ]

While this speaker has a slightly different design and less volume capability than the JBL Xtreme 3, the JBL Xtreme 2 is still an excellent value pick that delivers booming volume and bass.

JBL Charge 5 ]

The JBL Charge 5 is by no means a loud speaker, but it delivers impressive volume for its size. It’s an excellent alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to spend an extra $100 on the JBL Xtreme 3.

Other loud speakers worth checking out

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom Portable Bluetooth Speaker ]

This speaker delivers pitch-perfect audio and has an adaptive equalizer feature that automatically optimizes sound based on the environment. It lasts 24 hours and offers booming bass.

SoundBoks Gen. 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker ]

This speaker doesn’t have the same colorful party lights as other loud speakers, but it offers 126 decibels of concert-level volume and impressive sound clarity. It has a swappable battery that lasts up to 40 hours.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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Kim Jong Un meets Vladimir Putin in Russia. What do Pyongyang and Moscow want from each other?

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 22:29

By HYUNG-JIN KIM and KIM TONG-HYUNG (Associated Press)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with President Vladimir Putin at a cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Wednesday for talks that are likely to focus on Russia’s desire to buy ammunition to refill reserves drained by its war in Ukraine.

The meeting underscores deepening cooperation as the two isolated leaders are locked in separate confrontations with the United States. In return for providing ammunition, North Korea will likely want shipments of food and energy and transfers of sophisticated weapons technologies.

The meeting with Putin is Kim’s first with a foreign leader since North Korea closed its borders in January 2020. They met for the first time in April 2019, two months after Kim’s high-stakes nuclear diplomacy with then-U.S. President Donald Trump collapsed.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, in July and asked Kim to send more ammunition to Russia, according to U.S. officials. Shoigu said Moscow and Pyongyang were considering holding military exercises for the first time.

It’s unclear how far Kim and Putin’s military cooperation could go, but any sign of warming relations will worry rivals like the U.S. and South Korea. Russia seeks to quash a Ukrainian counteroffensive and prolong the war, while North Korea is extending a record pace of missile tests to protest U.S. moves to reinforce military alliances with South Korea and Japan.

Here’s a look at what Kim’s trip to Russia could mean:

Since last year, U.S. officials have suspected that North Korea is providing Russia with artillery shells, rockets and other ammunition, much of which is likely copies of Soviet-era munitions.

“Russia is in urgent need of (war supplies). If not, how could the defense minister of a powerful country at war come to a small country like North Korea?” said Kim Taewoo, former head of Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification. He said Shoigu was the first Russian defense minister to visit North Korea since the 1991 disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Buying munitions from North Korea would be a violation of United Nations resolutions, supported by Russia, that ban all arms trade with the isolated country. But now that it faces international sanctions and export controls over its war in Ukraine, Russia has been seeking weapons from other sanctioned countries such as North Korea and Iran.

North Korea has vast stores of munitions, but Du Hyeogn Cha, an analyst at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, doubted whether it could swiftly send significant amounts to Russia because the narrow land link between the countries can handle only a limited amount of rail traffic.

Kim’s priorities would be aid shipments, prestige and military technology, experts said.

“It would be a ‘win-win’ deal for both, as Putin is cornered over his exhausted weapons inventory while Kim faces pressure from the South Korea-U.S.-Japan trilateral cooperation,” said Nam Sung-wook, a former director of the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank run by South Korea’s spy agency. “Their needs are matched perfectly now.”

Pandemic-era border closures have left North Korea with severe economic difficulties, and Kim is likely to seek supplies of food and energy to address shortfalls.

Kim will likely also trumpet expanding relations with Moscow as a sign that his country is overcoming its years of isolation. North Korean leaders have long valued face-to-face meetings with world leaders as signs of international importance and for domestic propaganda purposes.

Kim is likely also seeking Russian technology to support his plans to build high-tech weapons systems such as powerful long-range missiles, hypersonic ballistic weapons, nuclear-powered submarines and spy satellites, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.

It’s unclear whether Russia would be willing to provide North Korea with advanced technologies related to nuclear weapons and ICBMs, Cha said. Russia has always tightly guarded its most important weapons technologies, even from key partners such as China, he said.

Shoigu told reporters that Russia and North Korea were pondering the possibility of a bilateral military exercise. Earlier, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers that Shoigu appeared to have proposed a trilateral training exercise involving China.

Either way, it would be North Korea’s first military drills with a foreign country since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The country has avoided training with a foreign military in line with its official “juche,” or “self-reliance,” philosophy.

Kim Taewoo, the former institute director, said expanding South Korea-U.S.-Japan security cooperation could prompt Kim Jong Un to break that taboo and hold drills with Russia and China for the first time.

But Nam, who is now a professor at Korea University, said North Korea won’t likely accept the offer, as it could leave it even more dependent on China and Russia.

Park Won Gon, a professor at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University, said it’s too early to predict what Kim’s diplomacy could yield beyond making a show of defiance toward the United States.

“In any case, North Korea and Russia need to show that they’re working together, that they’re stepping up this cooperation,” Park said. “There clearly are practical areas of cooperation, and also some symbolic aspects they want to show to the United States.”

Taylor Swift and her ‘Anti-Hero’ top MTV VMAs in a show dominated by hip-hop, K-pop and Latin jams

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 22:21

By MARIA SHERMAN (AP Music Writer)

Taylor Swift took home the top prize at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards for her “Anti-Hero” music video on a night full of surprises.

“This is unbelievable. The fact that this is a fan-voted award means so much to me,” Swift said in her acceptance speech. “I can’t believe it was a year ago that I announced the ‘Midnights’ album.”

The show, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, was Swift’s from nearly the beginning. The night’s first presenters were none other than NSYNC, who reunited to hand the best pop video award to Swift.

In coordinating suits, Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and JC Chasez shared the stage with Swift. Bass handed her a friendship bracelet, just as fans do at the superstar’s shows. “You’re pop personified,” she told the group.

The night’s top nominee later returned to the stage to pick up the song of the year trophy for “Anti-Hero” and also the best direction award.

Swift took home nine of the 11 awards she was up for, including artist of the year in a category made up entirely of women nominees for the first time in VMA history.

Her “Karma (Remix)” collaborator, Ice Spice, won best new artist. “Oh my God, this is so cool,” she said. “I just want to thank my munchkins.”

New music was abundant throughout the show. Host Nicki Minaj performed her latest single, the dreamy “Last Time I Saw You” before jumping into a brand-new tease of a fiery new trap cut from her highly-anticipated “Pink Friday 2” album.

“I ain’t nothing like you,” she raps, “I’m on a whole other level.”

As much as Swift dominated, the VMAs centered on music’s global power. K-pop boy band Tomorrow X Together and Brazilian superstar Anitta premiered their new collaboration, the glossy retro-pop of “Back for More.”

Another K-pop group, Stray Kids, brought “S-Class” to the stage, regional Mexicana star Peso Pluma performed “Lady Gaga” and reggaetonera Karol G delivered “Oki Doki” and “Tá OK (remix),”

Comedian Tiffany Haddish presented the award for “Best Afrobeats” in the category’s inaugural year, given to Rema and Selena Gomez for their massive hit “Calm Down.”

“Africa in the house!” Rema started his acceptance speech. “Shout out to Fela (Kuti) who started Afrobeats in the first place…and I want to give a big shout out to the next generation of Afrobeats.”

Gomez stood a few feet from the microphone but jumped in when Rema asked her to, telling the crowd: “I want to send all of my love to Nigeria, thank you.”

Colombian icon Shakira received the Video Vanguard Award and performed an incredible bilingual medley of her decades of hits — “She Wolf,” her collaboration with Rauw Alejandro “Te Felicito,” the viral, record-breaking “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” with Bizarrap among them — in a set introduced by her “Hips Don’t Lie” collaborator Wyclef Jean.

“MTV, thank you for being such a big part of my career since I was only 18 years old,” Shakira said, also thanking her parents and her children, who she brought to the show.

“This is for you my people, my Latin American people, inside and outside this country,” she said, switching to Spanish. “Thank you for inspiring me and for injecting me with so much strength and so much desire to move forward, I love you so much.”

She also took home the award for best collaboration for “TQG,” her song with Karol G. The duo gave their acceptance speech entirely in Spanish. “If collaborating with the legendary Shakira had been impressive, having an award with her is something from another planet,” Karol G exclaimed.

Diddy received the Global Icon Award from Mary J. Blige and his daughter Chance Combs. He is third recipient of the award, following the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2022 and the Foo Fighters in 2021.

The legendary rapper also performed at the VMAs for the first time since 2005. It was an incredible collection of some of his biggest hits like “Bad Boy for Life” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” joined by some of his greatest collaborators: Yung Miami, Keyshia Cole, and sweetest of all, his son, King Combs.

“Love wins, y’all, love wins,” he started his speech. “I started out as a paper boy, I didn’t know I was going to be here.” He then led the audience with a chant of “bad boy.”

“This is for 30 years,” he continued. “I pray to God that you get to do what you love for 30 years.”

Lil Wayne opened the show with a performance of his new single “Kat Food.” Immediately afterward, Olivia Rodrigo brought her “Vampire” music video set to the stage, before launching into her cheeky pop-punk single “Get Him Back!”

Between the two tracks, snippets of her sold singles played aloud – at the same moment, she was rushed from the staged in a pre-planned “malfunction,” further mirroring the “Vampire” video and symbolizing a move from her first record to her second.

The live sets were many: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion brought “Bongos” to life with big choreography; Demi Lovato played a rock ‘n’ roll medley of her biggest hits: “Heart Attack,” into “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Cool for the Summer” before the best K-pop award was given to Stray Kids.

Later, Anitta would win the “best Latin” award for the second year in a row, delivering one of the more endearing acceptance speeches of the night — “I wanna thank myself,” she laughed. “Because I work so hard!”

French Montana used his position as best R&B presenter alongside Ashanti to draw attention to Morocco earthquake relief, spotlighting a relief fund that he said he would personally donate to. Montana grew up in Morocco.

Near the end of the show, the MTV Video Music Awards celebrated 50 years of hip-hop with a star-studded finale performance. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five started with “The Message,” which led to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show.” Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, LL Cool J and DMC of Run-DMC closed it out — an energetic celebration of a multigenerational culture.

North Korea’s leader is in Russia to meet Putin, with both locked in standoffs with the West

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 19:58

By KIM TONG-HYUNG (Associated Press)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un rolled through Russia on an armored train Tuesday toward a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, a rare encounter between isolated leaders driven together by their need for support in escalating standoffs with the West.

Kim is expected to seek economic aid and military technology for his impoverished country, and, in a twist, appears to have something Putin desperately needs: munitions for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

It’s a chance for the North Korean leader to get around crippling U.N. sanctions and years of diplomatic isolation. For Putin, it’s an opportunity to refill ammunition stores that the war has drained.

Any arms deal with North Korea would violate the sanctions, which Russia supported in the past.

Kim’s personal train stopped in Khasan, a station on the Russia-North Korea border, early Tuesday where it was met by a military honor guard and a brass band. He was met on a red carpet by regional Gov. Oleg Kozhemyako and Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov, according to North Korean state media and video posted on social media.

Kim said his decision to visit Russia four years after his previous visit — his first foreign trip since the COVID-19 pandemic — showed how Pyongyang is “prioritizing the strategic importance” of its relations with Moscow, North Korea’s official news agency said Wednesday.

The Korean Central News Agency said Kim then left for his destination, but it didn’t specify where.

Many had assumed he and Putin would meet in Vladivostok, a Russian city close to the border where the two leaders had their last meeting in 2019, and which Putin is visiting this week for an economic forum.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed only that Kim has entered Russia, and state news agency RIA-Novosti later reported his train had headed north after crossing the Razdolnaya River, taking it away from Vladivostok. The South Korean news agency Yonhap later published a photo it said showed the train in Ussuriysk, a city about 60 kilometers (about 40 miles) north of Vladivostok that has a sizable ethnic Korean population.

Some Russian news media speculate he is headed for the Vostochny spaceport, which Putin is to visit soon. At the forum, Putin declined to say what he intended to do there. The launch facility is about 900 kilometers (550 miles) northwest of Ussuriysk, but the route there is circuitous and it is unclear how long Kim’s slow-moving train would take to reach it. Workers on Wednesday were seen constructing a temporary wooden platform at a railway station in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, another city in the Russian Far East, for the arrival of Kim’s train. Citing unidentified Russian officials, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Kim was expected to visit a plant in that city that produces Sukhoi fighter jets after his meeting with Putin. Peskov said Putin and Kim will meet after the Vladivostok forum, and that the meeting would include a lunch in Kim’s honor.

Kim left Pyongyang on his train Sunday, accompanied by members of the ruling party, government and military, KCNA said.

Officials identified in North Korean state media photos could hint at what Kim might seek from Putin and what he would be willing to give.

Kim is accompanied by Jo Chun Ryong, a ruling party official in charge of munitions policies who joined him on recent tours of factories producing artillery shells and missiles, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will be part of the Russian delegation, Peskov said.

Kim’s delegation also includes Foreign Minister Choe Sun Hui and his top military officials, including Korean People’s Army Marshals Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon and Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam.

North Korea may have tens of millions of aging artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs that could give a huge boost to the Russian army in Ukraine, analysts say.

Also identified in photos were Pak Thae Song, chairman of North Korea’s space science and technology committee, and navy Adm. Kim Myong Sik, who are linked with North Korean efforts to acquire spy satellites and nuclear-capable ballistic missile submarines. Experts say North Korea would struggle to acquire such capabilities without external help, although it’s not clear if Russia would share such sensitive technology.

Kim Jong Un may also seek badly needed energy and food supplies, analysts say. Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said Russia may discuss humanitarian aid with the North Korean delegation, according to Russian news agencies.

Data from FlightRadar24.com, which tracks flights worldwide, showed an Air Koryo An-148 took off from Pyongyang on Tuesday and flew to Vladivostok. North Korea’s national airline has only just resumed flying internationally after being grounded during the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been speculation that North Korea could use a plane to fly in support staff.

Kim is making his first foreign trip since the pandemic, during which North Korea imposed tight border controls for more than three years. After decades of hot-and-cold relations, Russia and North Korea have drawn closer since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Lim Soo-suk, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said Seoul was maintaining communication with Moscow while closely monitoring Kim’s visit.

“No U.N. member state should violate Security Council sanctions against North Korea by engaging in an illegal trade of arms, and must certainly not engage in military cooperation with North Korea that undermines the peace and stability of the international community,” Lim said at a briefing.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood said Tuesday that Moscow’s potential deals with North Korea could include “the provision of raw materials that would assist Russia’s defense industrial base.” Wood’s comments came during a U.N. Security Council meeting called by Russia to protest Western weapons supplies to Ukraine.

According to U.S. officials, Putin could focus on securing more supplies of North Korean artillery and other ammunition to refill arsenals as Moscow seeks to show it can grind out a war of attrition. That could potentially put more pressure on the U.S. and its partners to pursue negotiations as concerns over a protracted conflict grow despite their huge shipments of advanced weaponry to Ukraine in the past 18 months.

The United States has accused North Korea of providing Russia with arms, including selling artillery shells to the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Both Russian and North Korean officials denied such claims.

Speculation about their military cooperation grew after Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, visited North Korea in July. Kim subsequently toured his weapons factories, which experts said had the dual goal of encouraging the modernization of North Korean weaponry and examining artillery and other supplies that could be exported to Russia.


Associated Press journalists Jim Heintz in Tallinn, Estonia; Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee in Washington; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Dake Kang and Ng Han Guan in Fangchuan, China; Haruka Nuga and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.


Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Speaker McCarthy directs the House to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 19:39


WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday he is directing the U.S. House to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over his family’s business dealings, launching historic proceedings ahead of the 2024 election.

McCarthy said that House investigations so far “paint a picture of a culture of corruption” around the Biden family as Republicans probe the business dealings of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, from before the Democratic president took office.

“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said at the Capitol, announcing he was directing the House led by the Oversight Committee “to open a formal impeachment inquiry.”

The White House shot back, calling the action in the midst of the presidential campaign “extreme politics at its worst.”

“House Republicans have been investigating the president for nine months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing,” said spokesman Ian Sams.

Acting on his own, the Republican speaker McCarthy faces mounting pressure from his right flank to take action against Biden or risk being ousted from his leadership job — while he also is struggling to pass legislation needed to avoid a federal government shutdown at the end of the month.

McCarthy is launching the inquiry without a House vote, and it’s unclear if he would even have enough support from his slim GOP majority. Some lawmakers have panned the evidence so far as not reaching the Constitution’s bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The White House and others pointed to McCarthy’s past statements when he insisted a speaker acting unilaterally to launch an impeachment inquiry would have no legitimacy. McCarthy “flipflopped because he doesn’t have support,” Sams said.

An inquiry is a step toward impeachment, which used to be rare, and McCarthy essentially outlined the potential charges ahead. With Donald Trump now the Republican front-runner to challenge Biden in next year’s election, GOP allies are working to detract attention from the indicted former president’s legal challenges and turn a negative spotlight on Biden.

The inquiry will be led by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, in coordination with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith. They are heading across the Capitol Wednesday to brief the Senate.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned House Republicans off the effort, but said Tuesday, “I don’t think Speaker McCarthy needs advice from the Senate.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries called it an “illegitimate impeachment inquiry” and said Democrats will defend Biden “until the very end.”

“There is not a shred of evidence that President Joe Biden has engaged in wrongdoing,” Jeffries said. “President Joe Biden is a good man. He’s an honest man. He’s a patriotic man.”

The Republican speaker is once again at a political crossroads — trying to keep his most conservative lawmakers satisfied and save his own job. It’s a familiar political bind for McCarthy, who is juggling the impeachment inquiry and a government shutdown threat with no clear end game.

Government funding is to run out on Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal fiscal year, and Congress must pass new funding bills or risk a shutdown and the interruption of government services.

Minutes after McCarthy spoke a chief Republican critic stood on the House floor deriding the inquiry as merely “a baby step” and reviving the threat of ousting the speaker. “We must move faster,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

The White House has insisted Biden was not involved in his son’s business dealings. And Democrats are stepping up to fight against what they view as unfounded claims against him ahead of the 2024 election as Republicans attempt to blur the lines with Trump.

Former President Trump was twice impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate. He now faces more serious charges in court, indicted four times this year, including for trying to overturn the 2020 election Biden won.

House Republicans are probing the business dealings of Hunter Biden but so far have not produced hard evidence linking them and the president. They have shown a few instances, largely during the time the elder Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president, when he spoke by phone with his son and stopped by dinners his son was hosting with business partners.

An impeachment inquiry would provide more heft to the House investigation, especially as the Oversight Committee battles in court for access to Biden family financial records.

Republicans contend the Justice Department has not fully probed the allegations against Hunter Biden, and say he received preferential treatment in what they call a sweetheart plea deal that recently collapsed. The Department of Justice has appointed a special prosecutor in that probe.

“We will go wherever the evidence takes us,” McCarthy said.

Comer, the Oversight chairman from Kentucky, is digging into the Biden family finances and is expected to seek banking records for Hunter Biden as the panel tries to follow the flow of money.

On Tuesday, Comer demanded the State Department produce documents about the work Biden did as vice president during the Obama administration to clean up corruption in Ukraine. Comer wants to understand the State Department’s views of former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and many Western allies wanted removed from office because of allegations of corruption.

As a government shutdown looms, conservatives who power McCarthy’s majority want to slash spending, and the hard right is unwilling to approve spending levels the speaker negotiated with Biden earlier this year.

McCarthy is trying to float a 30-day stopgap measure to keep government running to Nov. 1, but conservatives are balking at what’s called a continuing resolution, or CR, as they pursue cuts.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said late Monday exiting McCarthy’s office she has “red lines” against any new money being spent for COVID-19 vaccines or mandates or the war in Ukraine.

And Gaetz, a top Trump ally, said if McCarthy puts a continuing resolution up for a vote, he will face blowback from conservatives with a motion to vacate the chair and oust him from office.

At the start of the year, Gaetz and other Republicans secured agreements from McCarthy as he struggled to win their votes to become House speaker, including a House rule that allows opponents to call a vote to try to remove him from the speaker’s position.


Associated Press writers Stephen Groves, Kevin Freking and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

Josh Donaldson’s homer and Freddy Peralta’s strong pitching lift Brewers over Marlins

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 19:33


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Josh Donaldson homered for the first time with his new team and Freddy Peralta turned in another stellar outing as the Milwaukee Brewers downed the Miami Marlins 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Milwaukee (81-63) is a season-high 18 games above .500 and reached the mark for the first time since it finished the 2021 season at 95-67.

Donaldson hit a solo home run deep into the second deck in left with one out in the fourth off Edward Cabrera (6-7) to put the Brewers in front 2-1. It was Donaldson’s 11th homer of the season and first as a Brewer. Donaldson, who also singled and drew a pair of walks, began the season with the Yankees but was released in August and later signed by Milwaukee to a minor league deal. He was called up from Triple-A Nashville on Monday.

“Cabrera has great stuff and we didn’t have a lot of great swings against him. To put a run on the board with one swing, that’s what Josh offers,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s why we were interested and on a night like tonight it plays out big.”

Donaldson said he’s looking for ways to contribute as he adjusts to his role with the Brewers.

“Just coming in here and being positive and taking advantage of every opportunity that I can get and help the team win,” he said. “I feel good with my body right now and what I’m able to do.”

Peralta (12-8), who entered having gone 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA over his last eight starts, surrendered a leadoff homer to Luis Arraez on the third pitch of the game but then retired 19 of the next 20 batters and recorded nine strikeouts to reach 200 for the season.

“I’m excited about that and grateful,” Peralta said. “Before the season, that was one of my goals.”

Peralta gave up one run and two hits in 6 1/3 innings and didn’t walk a batter. He threw 95 pitches, 67 for strikes.

“I thought in a strange way that maybe the home run was a good thing for Freddy,” Counsell said. “It seemed to lock him in. I thought he was just excellent tonight. Both off-speed pitches were really, really good.”

Peralta has walked one batter over his last three starts.

Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said he thought his team would build on Arraez’s leadoff homer but Peralta didn’t give in.

“We had a lot of energy coming in today. But he was pretty dominant,” he said. “It was challenging for us tonight.”

Devin Williams retired the side in order in the ninth to record his 33rd save in 37 tries.

JT Chargois opened for the Marlins and faced the minimum in the first before Cabrera entered in the second and walked the first three batters he faced. After striking out Brice Turang, Cabrera walked Andruw Monasterio to force in the tying run. Cabrera retired the next two as the Brewers left the bases loaded.

Cabrera gave up one hit and two runs in 4 2/3 innings, while walking six and striking out five.

William Contreras’ sacrifice fly in the seventh extended the Brewers lead to 3-1.

The Marlins managed just two hits in losing for the fourth time in the last six games.

“It’s tough. We faced two of the best arms in the league the last two days,” Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings said. “But we’ve been a resilient group all year.”


Marlins: RHP Sixto Sánchez pitched for the first time in nearly three years, tossing 18 pitches in a one-inning rehabilitation appearance on Tuesday for Double-A Pensacola as he works his way back from shoulder issues. Sánchez, who threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday, gave up one hit while walking one and striking out two.

Brewers: LF Christian Yelich missed a fourth consecutive game due to lower back soreness but is progressing and could be back in the lineup in a day or two, Counsell said. … Mark Canha, who replaced Yelich in left, departed in the third for a pinch-hitter after experiencing left wrist soreness. … LHP Aaron Ashby (left labrum) isn’t expected to return to the Brewers bullpen this season. Ashby is expected to pitch at Double-A Biloxi this week and Triple-A Nashville next week.


LHP Braxton Garrett (8-6, 3.82 ERA) will pitch for the Marlins on Wednesday, while Trevor Megill (1-0, 3.38) will work as the opener for the Brewers.

Apple’s new iPhones get faster chips, better cameras and new charging ports

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 17:57

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE (AP Technology Writer)

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple on Tuesday unveiled its next generation of iPhones — a lineup that will boast better cameras, faster processors, a new charging system and a price hike for the fanciest model.

The showcase at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, comes as the company tries to reverse a mild slump that has seen its sales drop from last year in three consecutive quarters. The malaise is a key reason Apple’s stock price has dipped by about 10% since mid-July, dropping the company’s market value below the $3 trillion threshold it reached for the first time earlier this summer.

Investors apparently weren’t impressed with what Apple rolled out Tuesday. The company’s shares fell nearly 2% Tuesday, a steeper decline than the major market indexes.

As has been case with Apple and other smartphone makers, the four types of iPhone 15 models aren’t making any major leaps in technology. But Apple added enough new bells and whistles to the top-of-the line model — the iPhone 15 Pro Max — to boost its starting price by $100, or 9%, from last year’s version to $1,200. As part of the higher base price, the cheapest iPhone 15 Pro Max will provide 256 megabytes of storage, up from 128 megabytes for the least expensive version of the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Apple is holding the line on prices for rest of the lineup, with the basic iPhone 15 selling for $800, the iPhone 15 Plus for $900 and the iPhone 15 Pro for $1,000.

Although maintaining those prices are bound to squeeze Apple’s profit margins and put further pressure on the company’s stock price, Investing.com analyst Thomas Monteiro believes it’s a prudent move with still-high inflation and spiking interest rates pinching household budgets. “The reality was that Apple found itself in a challenging position leading up to this event,” Monteiro said.

And the price hike for the iPhone 15 Pro Max could help Apple boost sales if consumers continue to gravitate toward the company’s premium models. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives expects the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max to account for about 75% of the device’s total sales in the upcoming year.

All the new models will be available in stores Sept. 22, with preorders beginning this Friday.

One of the biggest changes that Apple announced is a new way to charge the iPhone 15 models and future generations. The company is switching to the USB-C standard that is already widely used on many devices, including its Mac computers and many of its iPads.

Apple is being forced to phase out the Lightning port cables it rolled out in 2012 because of a mandate that European regulators plan to impose in 2024.

Although consumers often don’t like change, the transition to USB-C ports may not be that inconvenient. That’s because the standard is already widely used on a range of computers, smartphones and other devices people already own. The shift to USB-C may even be a popular move since that standard typically charges devices more quickly and also offers faster data transfer speeds.

The basic iPhone 15 models have been redesigned to include a shape-shifting cutout on the display screen that Apple calls its “Dynamic Island” for app notifications — a look that was introduced with last year’s Pro and Pro Max devices. The basic models are also getting a faster chip used in last year’s Pro and Pro Max models, while the next generation of the premium iPhone 15s will run on an even more advanced processor that will enable the devices to accommodate the same kind of video games that typically require a console.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max also will be equipped with what Apple maintains is the equivalent of seven camera lenses. They will include periscope-style telephoto lens that will improve the quality of photos taken from far distances. The telephoto lens boasts a 5x optical zoom, which lags the 10x optical zoom on Samsung’s premium Galaxy S22 Ultra, but represents an upgrade from the 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.

In anticipation of next year’s release of Apple’s mixed reality headset, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will also have a spatial video option designed for viewing on that headset.

Apple is encasing the premium models in titanium that the company says is the same alloy used on some space ships.

Besides its new iPhones, Apple also announced its next generation of smartwatches — a product that made its debut nearly a decade ago. The Series 9 Apple Watch, available in stores Sept. 22, will include a new gesture control that will enable users to control alarms and answer phone calls by double snapping their thumbs with a finger.

Americans can now get an updated COVID-19 vaccine

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 17:44


Most Americans should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said Tuesday.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the new shots for everyone 6 months and older and the agency’s director quickly signed off Tuesday on the panel’s recommendation. That means doses should be available this week, some as early as Wednesday.

The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded, but there are still thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in the U.S. each week. Hospitalizations have been increasing since late summer, though the latest data indicate infections may be starting to level off, particularly in the South.

Still, experts worry that immunity from previous vaccinations and infections is fading in many people, and a new shot would save many lives.

According to a survey last month that CDC cited, about 42% said they would definitely or probably get the new vaccine. Yet only about 20% of adults got an updated booster when it was offered a year ago.

Doctors hope enough people get vaccinated to help avert another “tripledemic” like last year when hospitals were overwhelmed with an early flu season, an onslaught of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and yet another winter coronavirus surge.

Here is what you need to know about the new COVID-19 shots:

The Food and Drug Administration approved the updated shot s from Pfizer and Moderna for adults and children as young as age 6 months. FDA said starting at age 5, most people can get a single dose even if they’ve never had a prior COVID-19 shot. Younger children might need additional doses depending on their history of COVID-19 infections and vaccinations.

The CDC decides how best to use vaccines and makes recommendations for U.S. doctors and the general public. The agency’s panel of outside exerts recommended the updated COVID-19 shots by a vote of 13-1. The no vote came from a panel member who had argued that the new shots should initially be recommended only for older people and others at greatest risk of severe illness. But other panel members said all ages could — and should — benefit.

“We need to make vaccination recommendations as clear as possible,” said one panel member, Dr. Camille Kotton, an infectious diseases doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The new vaccine will be available at pharmacies, health centers and some doctor offices. Locations will be listed on the government’s vaccines.gov website. The list price of a dose of each shot is $120 to $130, according to the manufacturers. But federal officials said the new COVID-19 shots still will be free to most Americans through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. For the uninsured or underinsured, the CDC is working with health departments, clinics and certain pharmacies to temporarily provide free shots.

On Tuesday, a Pfizer official said his company expected to have doses available at some U.S. locations as early as Wednesday.

Similar to how flu shots are updated each year, the FDA gave COVID-19 vaccine makers a new recipe for this fall. The updated shots have a single target, an omicron descendant named XBB.1.5. It’s a big change. The COVID-19 vaccines offered since last year are combination shots targeting the original coronavirus strain and a much earlier omicron version, making them very outdated.

Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax all have brewed new supplies, and the FDA on Monday approved shots from Pfizer and Moderna. Novavax’s updated vaccine is still under review.

Health officials are optimistic, barring a new mutant. As expected, XBB.1.5 has faded away in the months it took to tweak the vaccine. Today, there is a soup of different coronavirus variants causing illness and the most common ones are fairly close relatives. Recent lab testing from vaccine makers and other research groups suggest the updated shots will offer crossover protection.

Earlier vaccinations or infections have continued to help prevent severe disease and death but protection wanes over time, especially against milder infections as the virus continually evolves. The FDA did allow seniors and others at high risk to get an extra booster dose last spring. But most Americans haven’t had a vaccination in about a year.

Yes. The CDC says there is no difference in effectiveness or side effects if people get those vaccines simultaneously, although one in each arm might be more comfortable. The CDC urges a yearly flu shot for pretty much everyone ages 6 months and up. The best time is by the end of October.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Hillary Clinton joins Jill Biden at the White House to honor recipients of a prestigious arts prize

Tue, 09/12/2023 - 17:34

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden and Hillary Clinton, the first lady and a former first lady, on Tuesday introduced the recipients of a prestigious Japanese award for lifetime achievement in the arts, an event that led Clinton to her first public appearance at the White House since the Obama administration.

“Secretary Clinton, Hillary, it’s an honor to welcome you back to the White House,” Biden said as an audience dotted with Clinton administration alums and some celebrities, including actor Debra Messing and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, burst into loud applause.

“Wow, you are so loved,” Biden exclaimed. “Your lifetime of work has left an indelible mark on this country. Thank you for always doing all the good you can by all the means you can in all the ways you can.”

Clinton introduced the recipients of the Praemium Imperiale, which is awarded annually by the Japan Arts Association in the categories of music, theater/film, painting, sculpture and architecture.

Three laureates who attended are trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, painter Vija Celmins and theater director Robert Wilson. Sculptor Olafur Eliasson and architect Diébédo Francis Kéré were absent. All five will be honored at a ceremony in Tokyo next month.

Clinton is the U.S. adviser to the Praemium Imperiale, helping select its laureates. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton hosted a ceremony like Tuesday’s.

Jill Biden said the artists being honored “invite us to join a conversation with the world, to step beyond the limits of our imagination.”

Clinton quoted President Joe Biden, who once said the arts “invigorate and strengthen democracy.”

“At a time when so much is happening to change the ways that we work and live and how we connect with one another, how we relate to the rest of the world, it’s so important for us to recognize the critical role that the arts play in helping us understand our past and present while inspiring us to create a better future,” Clinton said.

Her appearance was a reminder of her long association with one of America’s most famous buildings.

In her White House years, Clinton was a wife, a mother and the nation’s hostess, but also a wronged spouse and the head of a national health care task force. In later years, she became a visiting senator and Cabinet member, but never attained the long-sought role of Madam President.

Early on as first lady, she held a rare news conference where she was grilled about the Clintons’ past real estate dealings, declaring that she had been “rezoned” out of her sphere of privacy.

Former aides expected her return Tuesday to be sentimental.

“I have to imagine she’s really looking forward to being back and being back with the Bidens, who she’s been close to for a long time,” said Lisa Caputo, who was Clinton’s White House press secretary.

Clinton’s ties to the White House bracket her time as first lady.

Early visits came when she accompanied Bill Clinton to the executive mansion, when he was Arkansas governor from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, for annual receptions for the nation’s governors.

She was a regular at the White House in her post-first lady roles as a U.S. senator and as secretary of state, a position that came with a permanent seat next to the president at Cabinet meetings.

Twice she sought the ultimate White House perch, campaigning in 2008 and again in 2016 to become the first woman elected president. She fell short each time, and kept her distance from the White House during the Trump years.

Ellen Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, said going back to the White House evokes memories for any former first lady.

She recalled Jacqueline Kennedy’s trip back with her children years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The former first lady later told President Richard Nixon in a note that a day she had dreaded turned out to be one of the most precious she spent with her kids.

“I think for Hillary herself, I’m sure it will be quite a moment going back in,” said Fitzpatrick, author of “The Highest Glass Ceiling,” a book about women who run for president.

Clinton made some good and not-so-good White House memories.

“My eight years in the White House tested my faith and political beliefs, my marriage and our nation’s Constitution,” she wrote in “Living History,” her memoir. “I became a lightning rod for political and ideological battles waged over America’s future and a magnet for feelings, good or bad, about women’s choices and roles.”

In his first year in office, President Clinton made her head of a national task force charged with bringing health insurance to every American. No first lady had ever been responsible for shaping such major public policy. The work, largely done in secret, inevitably attracted criticism. The plan ultimately died without a vote in Congress.

In 1994, Clinton fielded questions for more than an hour in the East Room about her financial dealings as part of the Whitewater affair, an Arkansas real estate project the couple had lost money in and that federal authorities were investigating.

At one point, she said, “I’ve always believed in a zone of privacy, and I told a friend the other day that I feel after resisting for a long time that I’ve been rezoned.”

Another notable White House image of the Clintons came in 1998 after the president’s sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky was exposed. As the family kept plans for a two-week vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, the Clintons walked across the South Lawn to the waiting helicopter with a teenaged Chelsea as a buffer between her parents.

Hillary Clinton also was among those in the Roosevelt Room at the White House when the president declared to the nation that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” She went on national television and blamed their political problems on a “vast, right-wing conspiracy.”

Her public approval ratings ticked upward as her marital woes played out in public.

After the president was acquitted during a Senate impeachment trial in January 1999, she was elected to a U.S. Senate seat from New York in 2000. For a short period, she went about her duties as a freshman lawmaker while closing out her chapter as first lady.

After Clinton lost the Democratic presidential nomination to then-fellow Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, he persuaded her to become his secretary of state. She again was a regular presence at the White House, with a seat next to Obama at the Cabinet table. She’s prominent in the famous photo of officials crowded into the Situation Room when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

American researcher has been rescued from deep Turkish cave more than a week after he fell ill

Mon, 09/11/2023 - 23:48

TASELI PLATEAU, Turkey (AP) — Rescuers pulled an American researcher out of a Turkish cave early Tuesday, more than a week after he became seriously ill 1,000 meters (more than 3,000 feet) below its entrance, officials said.

Teams from across Europe had rushed to Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains to aid Mark Dickey, a 40-year-old experienced caver who became seriously ill on Sept. 2 with stomach bleeding. He was on an expedition to map the cave, which is the country’s third deepest.

Dickey was t oo frail to climb out himself, so rescuers carried him with the help of a stretcher, making frequent stops at temporary camps set up along the way before he finally reached the surface early Tuesday.

“Mark Dickey is out of the Morca cave,” said a statement from the Speleological Federation of Turkey. It said that Dickey was removed from the last exit of the cave at 12:37 a.m. local time Tuesday, or 9:37 p.m. GMT Monday.

“He is fine and is being tended to by emergency medical workers in the encampment above,” the statement said.

Lying on a stretcher surrounded by reporters following his rescue , Dickey described the ordeal as a “crazy, crazy adventure.”

“It is amazing to be above ground again,” he said, thanking the Turkish government for saving his life with its rapid response. He also thanked the international caving community, Turkish cavers and Hungarian Cave Rescue, among others.

The American was first treated inside the cave by a Hungarian doctor who went down the cave on Sept. 3. Doctors and rescuers then took turns caring for him. The cause of Dickey’s illness was not clear.

On Tuesday, Dickey said that in the cave he had started to throw up large quantities of blood.

“My consciousness started to get harder to hold on to, and I reached the point where I thought ‘I’m not going to live,’” he told reporters.

The biggest challenges for the rescuers getting him out of the cave were the steep vertical sections and navigating through mud and water at low temperatures in the horizontal sections. There was also the psychological toll of staying inside a dark, damp cave for extended periods of time.

Around 190 experts from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey took part in the rescue, including doctors, paramedics and experienced cavers. Teams comprised of a doctor and three to four other rescuers took turns staying by his side at all times.

The rescue began on Saturday after doctors, who administered IV fluids and blood, determined that Dickey could make the arduous ascent.

Before the evacuation could begin, rescuers first had to widen some of the cave’s narrow passages, install ropes to pull him up vertical shafts on a stretcher and set up temporary camps along the way.

Dickey, who is from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, is a well-known cave researcher and a cave rescuer himself who had participated in many international expeditions.

He and several other people on the expedition were mapping the 1,276-meter (4,186-foot) deep Morca cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association. Dickey became ill on Sept. 2, but it took until the next morning to notify people above ground.

Turkish authorities made a video message available that showed Dickey standing and moving around on Thursday. While alert and talking, he said he was not “healed on the inside” and needed a lot of help to get out of the cave.

After his rescue, the head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, Okay Memis, told a news conference that the health of Dickey was “very good.”

The European Cave Rescue Association said many cave rescuers remained in the cave to remove rope and rescue equipment used during the operation.

The association expressed its “huge gratitude to the many cave rescuers from seven different countries who contributed to the success of this cave rescue operation.”

“The fact that our son, Mark Dickey, has been moved out of Morca Cave in stable condition is indescribably relieving and fills us with incredible joy,” Mark’s parents. Debbie and Andy Dickey, said in a statement.

Can a warranty save you money?

Mon, 09/11/2023 - 23:05

For some people, a warranty means the length of time you can expect to use a product without troubles — an expensive repair always seems to be required just after your warranty ends. However, there’s much more to a warranty than that. A warranty is a legal agreement that not only protects you from inferior products but can also save you money.

What is a product warranty?

A product warranty is a promise. It extends from the warrantor to the consumer and outlines what can be expected of a product and what recourse the consumer has if the product fails prematurely. There are two types of warranties: implied and express.

Implied warranty

An implied warranty is created by state law, not the warrantor. It’s an unspoken, unwritten promise that the product will function as intended at the time of purchase. For example, if you buy a space heater, it must do what it says it can do: produce heat. If the product can’t perform as it was advertised to perform, the merchant must remedy the situation at no additional cost to the consumer.

Furthermore, an implied warranty covers the fitness of a product. If, at the time of purchase, the merchant promised that the space heater would heat a 400-square-foot garage, but in reality, it can only warm  200 square feet, the consumer won’t be stuck with a product that doesn’t perform as promised.

Express warranty

An express warranty is voluntary. It isn’t governed by state laws. It’s a specific promise that the warrantor makes regarding its product. The express warranty is often in the form of a document that has many points. However, it could simply be part of the advertising found on the product’s packaging. For instance, if a container of bleach is labeled “color-safe” but it contains actual bleach that damages your clothes, the consumer will be protected.

Full vs. limited warranty

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was passed in 1975. It’s a federal law that was written to protect the consumer, and it was also enacted to promote competition among manufacturers. One stipulation of this comprehensive act is it requires every product that costs more than $10 to be clearly designated as having either a full or limited warranty.

Full warranty

To be considered a full warranty, five conditions must be met:

Limited warranty

If one or more of the conditions of a full warranty are not met, it’s a limited warranty. When this is the case, the manufacturer must clearly state this fact. While a limited product warranty isn’t always a reason to be wary, it does mean the consumer isn’t getting all the benefits available. For example, when a product with a limited warranty is sold, the warranty coverage may end with the transfer of ownership.

How a product warranty saves you money

There are several ways a product warranty can save the consumer money. These benefits fall under three broad categories: protect the buyer from inadequate products, reduce the cost of ownership, and reduce the cost of medical bills.

Protect the buyer from inadequate products

If you purchase an appliance such as a washing machine, a dryer, a refrigerator, or an oven and it doesn’t work as intended, a warranty keeps you from being stuck with the expensive item. This might seem obvious and you would never expect to take the loss on a faulty appliance, but some people forget you get the same protection for low-price items. If you buy a 15-dollar waffle maker that doesn’t work, a warranty ensures you don’t lose that $15.

Reduce the cost of ownership

The cost of ownership is any costs that you incur from owning a product. For instance, filling up your vehicle with fuel is a cost of ownership. You wouldn’t be spending money on fuel if you didn’t own the vehicle. A good warranty may save you money in this area. If a product needs repair prematurely (and the part is covered under the warranty), the consumer is not responsible for the cost of that repair. Some tools, such as Craftsman, have a lifetime warranty. If you have a bow saw, for example, and the blade breaks due to normal use, you may be entitled to a free replacement blade.

Reduce the cost of medical bills

While it isn’t pleasant to think of the money saved because of an injury, this is another area where a warranty can help save you money. The warranty outlines the expectations of a product and how it should perform. If a consumer suffers an injury that was caused by a defective product, the warranty can help verify that you were using the product as intended and the manufacturer is liable.

FAQ Does the manufacturer have to put a warranty in writing?

A. Putting a warranty in writing is a voluntary act; the manufacturer does not have to do so. However, even if a warranty isn’t set in writing, the consumer is still protected by the implied warranty.

Does an express warranty have to be made available to the consumer prior to the sale?

A. If the manufacturer is offering an express warranty, it must be made available if the consumer would like to read through it before purchasing the product. If the transaction is not being carried out in person, there are provisions that dictate how this is to be accomplished.

Can a manufacturer refuse to honor its warranty?

A. An express warranty is a contract. If a manufacturer refuses to honor its warranty, you can sue for breach of contract. How this is handled varies from state to state, but it gives the consumer a way to settle any disputes that may arise. However, there a few reasons a manufacturer might deny your warranty claim, so make sure to read the warranty carefully.

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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