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NOAA issues pessimistic hurricane forecast as Atlantic enters peak of season

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The federal government issued a pessimistic new forecast for hurricane season Thursday, increasing its prediction for the number of expected storms.

The forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for:

-- 19 to 25 named storms, which means tropical storms and hurricanes. The preseason ...Read more

Florida reports 7,650 new COVID-19 cases as test sites reopen

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Florida reported some encouraging news on the COVID-19 front Thursday, with the lowest percentage of positive tests in more than six weeks.

The state Department of Health reported 7,650 new cases of the disease in its latest coronavirus pandemic report. That pushes the overall total to 510,329 confirmed infections.

But...Read more

Angry Beirut residents rail against Lebanon's leadership as Macron visits devastated city

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BEIRUT -- Beirut residents used a visit from French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to vent their anger at the country's leadership, two days after a huge explosion in the city's port left at least 137 people dead.

The French leader in turn all but disavowed Lebanon's political class as he toured devastated streets, saying he would be ...Read more

Florida Democrats wanted to add 1 million voters in 2020. They didn't come close

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MIAMI -- Florida Democrats have a problem: There was supposed to be more of them by now.

Following narrow losses in 2018 races for Florida governor and U.S. Senate, Democrats emerged from the midterms with a new resolve to register more voters in the nation's largest swing state as a path to victory in 2020. Former gubernatorial candidate ...Read more

Rep. Devin Nunes can't sue Esquire magazine over Iowa dairy story, judge rules

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WASHINGTON -- Rep. Devin Nunes cannot sue Esquire magazine over a 2018 story that described his family's farm in Iowa, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, marking the congressman's second loss in the cluster of lawsuits he filed against news organizations and critics.

The ruling by Judge C.J. Williams of the Northern District of Iowa federal court...Read more

Chicago 8-year-old shot twice in drive-by that injured 3 other people

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CHICAGO -- An 8-year-old boy was one of four people shot as they stood on a sidewalk on the West Side Wednesday night, authorities said.

The shots were fired from a black SUV shortly after 10 p.m. in the 700 block of South Karlov Avenue in Lawndale, police said.

The boy was in fair condition at a hospital after being shot at least once in each...Read more

Legalization of abortion and gay rights has Haiti churches up in arms, criticizing president

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An overhaul of Haiti's archaic 185-year-old criminal laws provides stiffer penalties for rape, decriminalizes begging and, for the first time, addresses modern-era crimes like cybersecurity and terrorism financing while giving a clearer definition of what constitutes sexual harassment.

But the language of the new penal code on the legalization ...Read more

US jobless claims fall to 1.19 million, a pandemic low

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U.S. applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week to the lowest since the pandemic started, in a broad decline across nearly all states, suggesting the labor market is improving.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 249,000 to 1.19 million in the week ended Aug. 1, Labor Department data showed ...Read more

Cancer diagnoses plummet during COVID-19, and experts fear that could mean worse disease later

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Diagnoses of six common cancer types dropped in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, as routine screenings were postponed by health systems and patients avoided going to the doctor for fear of contracting the virus, a new study suggests.

The study, an analysis of Quest Diagnostics data published online in the Journal of the American ...Read more

Climate activists urge Biden to shun Obama-era energy moderates

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WASHINGTON -- Climate change activists are pressuring Joe Biden to distance himself from former Obama administration advisers they view as either too moderate or too cozy with the fossil fuel industry, a sign of disunity on the eve of the Democratic convention.

Groups such as Data for Progress and the Revolving Door Project are building a case ...Read more

As private preschools prepare to reopen, California's poorest kids are stuck at home

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LOS ANGELES -- Darlene Bahena flounced around her dusty backyard in a sleeveless blue princess dress on a recent weekday morning, twirling among her three older sisters as she belted the "Frozen II" power ballad "Into the Unknown" into her new karaoke machine.

The dress and the toy were both presents for her fourth birthday -- a milestone for ...Read more

A coral sex milestone: Lab-grown and replanted corals to spawn in the Florida Keys

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MIAMI -- Not long after the August full moon, Florida's reefs are the scene of an annual show of sexual reproduction called the coral spawn, with coral colonies releasing masses of tiny white, pink and orange spheres into the ocean.

This year, for the first time, corals raised by scientists in a lab and transplanted to the natural reefs are ...Read more

Another COVID-19 inequity: Low-income and rural communities lack access to ICU beds, study finds

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PHILADELPHIA -- A new study provides another reason why the coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately killing people from low-income communities: Residents in these areas often lack access to intensive care unit beds, showing how patients' ZIP codes can affect whether they get lifesaving care.

Intensive care units, or critical care units, are ...Read more

The federal agency that enforces campaign finance laws can't even meet. Why?

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When President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. may need to delay the November election, the longest-serving member on the Federal Election Commission joined the chorus of voices pointing out that he does not have the authority to make that decision.

"No, Mr. President. No," Ellen Weintraub wrote. "You don't have the power to move the ...Read more

Another Washington dam removal — and 37 more miles of salmon habitat restored

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PILCHUCK RIVER, near Granite Falls, Wash. -- Washington's dam-busting summer is still rolling, with two more dams coming down on the Pilchuck River, opening 37 miles of habitat to salmon for the first time in more than a century.

The $2 million dam removal project is a collaboration between the City of Snohomish and Tulalip Tribes, and will ...Read more

Mayo Clinic's plasma program shows first signs of COVID-19 benefit

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Preliminary research by Mayo Clinic shows that high-dose plasma therapy is correlated with fewer deaths in patients with severe COVID-19.

A 10 percentage point difference in deaths was found when comparing hospitalized COVID-19 patients who received donor plasma with high concentrations of virus-fighting antibodies compared with ...Read more

Serious breakdown in California systems cause inaccurate coronavirus numbers

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LOS ANGELES -- A breakdown in the electronic collection of coronavirus test data is hampering California's pandemic response, with some public health officials resorting to counting results by hand and a growing number of counties warning the public that statistics provided by the state on infection rates are unreliable.

The ongoing technical ...Read more

Maintenance failure caused Minnesota Guard helicopter crash that killed 3

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The improper installation of an engine's hydromechanical unit was at fault in the December helicopter accident near St. Cloud that killed three members of the Minnesota National Guard, according to a summary of an investigation released Wednesday.

The crash killed James A. Rogers Jr., 28, of Winsted; Charles P. Nord, 30, of ...Read more

US offers millions in rewards for election interference information

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WASHINGTON -- The United States is offering rewards of up to $10 million for information on foreign government interference in the country's upcoming election, the State Department announced Wednesday.

Russia was accused of interfering in the last presidential election in 2016, with numerous reports, including by former special counsel Robert ...Read more

Japan's Abe renews calls to abolish atomic weapons at Hiroshima ceremony

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renewed calls to abolish atomic weapons and warned of a worsening global security situation on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, at a ceremony scaled back due to the coronavirus.

Elderly survivors, diplomats and politicians sat at socially distanced spaces in front of the bombed-out ...Read more