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Nation & World Briefs


Friday, December 29, 2017
Enduring cold snap creates headaches at home, highways

TOLEDO, Ohio — Already winter-weary parts of the Midwest and East Coast are dealing with a mounting number of weather-related headaches, from highway pileups to frozen pipes and a rash of car thefts. And there’s more to come.

Bitter temperatures and snow squalls have been blamed for a handful of deaths and canceled a long list of New Year’s celebrations.

Icy roads in central Michigan caused more 30 crashes Friday on highways near Flint while a chain-reaction crash involving about 40 vehicles in the southwestern part of the state left three hurt.

Coastal South Carolina saw a rare bout of freezing rain and drizzle on Friday that forced bridges from Charleston to Myrtle Beach to shut down for de-icing.

Police in the Cincinnati area say a half-dozen cars have been stolen in recent days after being left running unattended by owners trying to warm them up. Cincinnati police warned in a tweet that leaving your car running means “the only person who will be warm is the thief who stole your car.”

Just half of Puerto Rico has power 3+ months after Maria

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico authorities said Friday that nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria.

Officials said 55 percent of the nearly 1.5 million customers have power, marking the first time the government has provided that statistic since the Category 4 storm hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph. Officials had previously reported power generation, which stands at nearly 70 percent of pre-storm levels.

“The damage was severe,” power company spokesman Geraldo Quinones told The Associated Press. “A lot of work remains.”

One of Puerto Rico 78 municipalities remains entirely without power, and it’s unclear when some electricity will be restored to the central mountain town of Ciales. Crews this week restored power for the first time to parts of the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, which received the first hit from Maria.

Among those still in the dark is Eileen Cheverez, a 48-year-old respiratory therapist who lives in Morovis, which borders Ciales. She said power was restored to homes around her, but that crews still need to set up a key cable so she can have lights.

Shootout kills at least 9 at Cairo Coptic church

CAIRO — A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire Friday outside a church in a Cairo suburb and at a nearby store, sparking a shootout that killed at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, authorities said. It was the latest attack targeting Egypt’s embattled Christian minority.

The gunman was also killed, along with at least one police officer, officials said.

The local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack late Friday, saying it was carried out by a “security detail” and that one of its men was “martyred” in the strike. The claim was carried by the group’s Aamaq news agency.

The attack began when the gunman tried to break through the security cordon outside the Coptic Church of Mar Mina. It was not clear how many assailants were involved. Egypt’s Interior Ministry referred to only one, but the Coptic Orthodox church mentioned “gunmen.”

Five people were wounded, including another police officer, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said.

Trump says East could use some ‘global warming’

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump says the East Coast “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming” as bitterly cold temperatures are expected to freeze large swaths of the country this holiday weekend.

Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday, “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record.” He added: “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”

The president did not acknowledge the difference between the weather and the climate. Weather refers to the atmospheric conditions during a shorter period, while climate is a longer view of weather patterns.

Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change science, calling global warming a “hoax” created by the Chinese to damage American industry.

He announced earlier this year his intention to pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement aimed at curbing greenhouse gas production. The accord set goals for slowing the rate of climate change by reducing the emissions that contribute to melting Arctic ice, increasing sea levels and changing weather patterns across the globe.

Sue Grafton, writer of ‘alphabet’ mysteries, dies

LOS ANGELES — Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling “alphabet series” of mystery novels, has died in Santa Barbara. She was 77.

Grafton was surrounded by family, including husband Steven Humphrey, when she died Thursday after a two-year battle with cancer, her daughter, Jamie Clark, posted on the author’s website.

“Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly,” the posting said.

Grafton began her “alphabet series” in 1982 with “A is for Alibi.” Her most recent book, “Y is for Yesterday,” was published in August.

From Associated Press